The House of the Dragon premiere had a tall task. Within 65 minutes, it had to establish a completely new era than the one we got so used to in Game of Thrones. This game has a new cast of players and a new set of rules, albeit with the same blood and gore. Within all the jam-packed worldbuilding and character development, there wasn’t much room for any Easter eggs aside from the occasional mention of Winterfell.
But for fans who listened closely, there was one key moment that not only referenced the franchise’s past, but also previewed its future.
Early in Episode 1, Rhaenyra is relaxing in a courtyard with her best friend, Alicent Hightower. While Rhaenyra just wants to talk about court and the imminent birth of her brother, Alicent is quizzing her on their studies, saying, “Septa Marlow will be furious” if they don’t learn their history assignment.
That assignment involves the story of the warrior queen Nymeria, who led her fleet of ships across the Narrow Sea to settle in Dorne and escape the Valyrians. Nymeria was Rhoynish, an influential civilization from the Eastern continent of Essos that was invaded by the Valyrians about 1,000 years before the events of Game of Thrones.
If you rewatched Game of Thrones recently, you might recognize Nymeria as the name of Arya Stark’s direwolf, which she was forced to abandon after it bit Joffrey’s arm.
In fact, Nymeria (the queen, not the wolf) was mentioned in Game of Thrones again, but in an obscure location. In a history of House Martell included as a featurette with the physical release of Season 4, Oberyn Martell (Pedro Pascal) narrates a history of Nymeria, saying:
Thousands of years ago, the warrior queen Nymeria crossed into Dorne from Essos, fleeing the dragonlords of Valyria. After she landed, she burned her ships, all ten thousand of them, so no cowards could slink home. What a woman. Dornish in spirit before she ever was in flesh.
Which leads us to 10,000 Ships, another spinoff in development HBO. The series hasn’t officially been announced yet, but writer Amanda Segal has signed on to tackle the project, and the Nymeria namedropping in House of the Dragon Episode 1 presumably wasn’t a coincidence. The first Game of Thrones spinoff is just starting, but we may have already learned about another one.
It’s still possible the series will never see the light of day. HBO’s properties are in flux right now thanks to Discovery’s merger with Warner Bros, and while House of the Dragon had a strong debut, it could need a whole season of good ratings to justify another spinoff. Still, keeping Nymeria and her nautical number fresh in fans’ minds might be a sign that 10,000 Ships is slated to move forward. Who knows how many other spinoffs will be teased by the time House of the Dragon ends?
House of the Dragon Episode 1 is now streaming on HBO Max.