'We had a clear path to the end': House of the Dragon's co-creator speaks out in defence of season 2's eight-episode arc

Daemon Targaryen sits in his armor in a leafy green area in House of the Dragon season 2
House of the Dragon season 2 only consists of eight episodes. (Image credit: HBO/Theo Whitman)

House of the Dragon's showrunner has clarified why the hit fantasy show's second season is shorter than the first.

Speaking to TechRadar, Ryan Condal admitted "there were a host of factors" that played their part in House of the Dragon season 2's reduced episode count. Primarily, the decision to cut it down to eight episodes, rather than the 10 entries that the series' inaugural entry had, was based on the story that its creative team wanted to tell.

This isn't the first time that such a creative decision has been taken. Like House of the Dragon's first installment, the first six seasons of Game of Thrones (GoT) also comprised 10 episodes. It was only in GOT's final two seasons, which carved their own narrative path in the absence of any more of George R.R. Martin's source material to adapt – he's yet to finish book seven or start on GoT's eighth and final novel – that shorter seasons were developed.

Queen Alicent Hightower (Olivia Cooke) looks flustered in a green and gold dress in House of the Dragon season 2

Despite being two episodes shorter, House of the Dragon season 2 will be as fraught as the first season was. (Image credit: HBO)

By contrast, House of the Dragon's TV adaptation has a complete literary text – Fire & Blood, which was also penned by Martin – to draw inspiration from. Even so, that book is nothing more than an outline of events that transpired during the brutal Westerosi era known as The Dance of the Dragons, aka the incendiary civil war that engulfed House Targaryen and led to its inevitable downfall.

Condal, Martin (Condal's fellow co-creator), and the Max series' other writers had to not only expand on Fire & Blood's skeletal descriptions of the years-long interfamilial conflict, but also determine what events they'd depict this season, and which one would serve as a fitting seasonal ending. All of that, plus the "finite" resources available during production, resulted in one of the best Max shows' second installments being slightly shorter than its forebear.

"There was a host of factors that went into that decision," Condal told me. "It's a big, ambitious show, and it can become unwieldy in terms of the number of shoot days [you have], and certainly the the amount of resources that you have to make it. We have a phenomenal amount of resources, but those those are still finite.

"In the final analysis of it all, once season one landed and we knew where we were in the narrative, we had a clear path of view to the end and knew what the end of this particular chapter in the Targaryen history was. Looking at that, and knowing essentially how much storytelling time we needed to get there, there was a bit of a rebalancing of the narrative that was necessary to happen. This eight-episode cadence helped us to find that."

With House of the Dragon season 2's trailers teasing the arrival of mystery characters and fiery showdowns aplenty between House Targaryen and House Hightower, there's plenty to look forward to ahead of its premiere. Indeed, with season 2 marking an explosive return to form for Warner Bros' GoT franchise – find out why in my spoiler-free review, which goes live later this week – I feel vindicated in picking it as one of 10 epic shows I can't wait for in mid-2024.

I'll also have many more exclusives from Condal and the show's cast in the weeks ahead, so check back in with TechRadar regularly for even more House of the Dragon season 2 content.

House of the Dragon's second season will make its Max debut in the US on Sunday, June 16. It'll air on Sunday, June 17 on Sky/Now TV (UK), and Foxtel and Binge (Australia).

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