Fire & Blood

House of the Dragon’s opening credits sequence means more than you think

The blood of the dragon runs thick.

Game of Thrones viewers were treated to an unexpected surprise when they tuned in to watch Episode 2 of House of the Dragon Sunday night.

After initially premiering without an opening credits sequence, the series debuted one this past weekend, and it turned out to be much more familiar than viewers might have expected. Indeed, not only does House of the Dragon’s opening credits sequence boast the same animation style that Game of Thrones’ did, but the new fantasy series even reuses the Thrones theme song.

It’s clear that House of the Dragon is using its opening credits sequence to, once again, remind viewers that it exists within the same world as Game of Thrones. However, House of the Dragon’s title sequence also puts the biggest difference between it and its HBO predecessor front and center.

House of the Dragon finally revealed its opening credits sequence this past Sunday.HBO

The Ties That Bind — For most House of the Dragon viewers, watching the show’s opening credits sequence for the first time may be a bit of a confusing experience. Unlike Game of Thrones’ title sequence, which makes it very clear that viewers are being shown a map of the series’ world, House of the Dragon’s opening credits don’t make it explicitly clear what viewers are actually seeing.

The show’s opening credits follow several streams of blood as they pour through the tunnels and streets of a stone city, filling up various sigils before spilling off into different directions. But what is the House of the Dragon title sequence actually showing?

The answer is surprisingly simple: House of the Dragon’s opening credits don’t show the map of a world; they show the map of a family.

Paddy Considine as King Viserys I Targaryen and Milly Alcock as Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen in House of the Dragon Episode 2.Ollie Upton/HBO

The rivers of blood in the House of the Dragon title sequence represent the bloodlines of House Targaryen. The paths the bloodstreams take reveal how the branches of the Targaryen family tree have crossed over and grown in the years since Aegon the Conqueror was born. The sigils featured throughout the sequence are, therefore, meant to represent the members of House Targaryen who have followed Aegon I.

The streams of blood that flow into and away from the sigils represent the genetic connections that bind each post-Aegon I Targaryen (or Velaryon) to their parents and children. The city that the streams of blood flow through, meanwhile, is none other than Valyria, the destroyed city from which both the Targaryens and the Velaryons hail.

In fact, it seems safe to assume that the version of Valyria featured in House of the Dragon’s title sequence is the model of the city that King Viserys I Targaryen (Paddy Considine) is sculpting in the series itself.

King Viserys I Targaryen (Paddy Considine) and Alicent Hightower (Emily Carey) sit near a model recreation of Old Valyria in House of the Dragon Episode 1.Ollie Upton/HBO

A Tale of Blood — The emphasis on blood in House of the Dragon’s opening credits ultimately reinforces the biggest difference between it and Game of Thrones.

The latter show was a globe-trotting adventure, one that juggled storylines set in entirely different regions and continents. Consequently, Game of Thrones’ story frequently revolved around the feuds between the rulers of certain regions for control over their land. The threat of the White Walkers was one that put the entire world at stake, which only made the map aspect of Game of Thrones’ title sequence even more thematically significant.

House of the Dragon’s story, conversely, has little to do with land or feuds between the North and the South. Instead, House of the Dragon’s story is all about blood and, specifically, whose blood makes them the rightful ruler of Westeros. With that in mind, one thing that House of the Dragon’s opening credits sequence does exceptionally well is show how the bloodlines that bind House Targaryen together have become confusingly entangled with each other in the years since Aegon’s Conquest.

That’s important to know, especially considering it will be blood feuds and familial disputes that are going to drive so much of House of the Dragon’s story.

King Viserys (Paddy Considine) has made a decision he won’t be able to come back from.Ollie Upton/HBO

The Inverse Analysis — It will, of course, be up to fans to decide just how impactful House of the Dragon’s title sequence is compared to Game of Thrones’. The decision to simply reuse Game of Thrones’ opening theme for House of the Dragon does potentially diminish the impact the latter series’ title sequence might have had if it had been scored by a new, original piece of music.

That said, there’s no denying the thematic significance of House of the Dragon’s title sequence. By having the Targaryen bloodlines flow through the recreated streets of Old Valyria, the House of the Dragon‘s opening credits both reiterate where the Targaryens came from and foreshadow the family’s disastrous future, which tragically calls to mind the downfall of Valyria itself.

Of course, it’s also safe to say that, thanks to Viserys’ decision at the end of House of the Dragon Episode 2, it’s only a matter time before Targaryen blood is spilled once again.

New episodes of House of the Dragon air Sundays on HBO.