Why House of the Dragon season 2 has new opening credits

House of the Dragon has finally graced our screens once again after HBO released season two on Sunday (16 June), but the new faces and locations aren’t the only changes to the series.

Fans will notice that the opening credits have had a drastic makeover, moving from a model of Old Valyria tracing bloodlines and rulers of the Targaryen dynasty to a tapestry illustrating the rise of House Targaryen and the beginning of its demise.

This also moves away from the original opening credits of Game of Thrones, which was a 3D model of the fantasy world with the theme music playing in the background as significant landmarks and castles rise up from the ground.

Showrunner Ryan Condal said that the original credits, which served the first season perfectly, had “run out of runway” for the second.

While season one depicts the complex history of Targaryen rulers, continuing this style would have stopped dead in its tracks as season two focuses on Rhaenyra Targaryen’s (Emma D’Arcy) and Aegon Targaryen’s (Tom Glynn-Carney) fight for the Iron Throne.

“In season two, now that this war has kicked off, it felt like it was something else, something different,” Condal told Elle.

“We’re taking you through this really important living history of the Targaryen dynasty.”

He explained that, to him, a “living history” looks like a tapestry, which he noted was one of the most used methods of story-telling in medieval times. He added that he is “thrilled” with the results.

So what do the new opening credits actually show?

To sum it up as concisely as possible, the tapestry highlights key points in Targaryen history, bringing us up to date with the final events of House of the Dragon’s first season.

Now for the non-concise description: the tapestry kicks off with the Doom of Valyria ,when an unknown catastrophe destroyed the Targaryen ancestral homeland, pushing the family to migrate to Dragonstone – an island off the east coast of Westeros.

The next scene shows Aegon and his sister-wives (remember: they are Targaryens), Rhaenys and Visenya, starting their conquest of Westeros about one century later, depicting them flying on their dragons, Balerian, Meraxes and Vhagar.

One of the key ways the three siblings got Westerosi rulers to bend the knee was the harrowing Burning of Harrenhall, with both of these scenes being included in the opening credits.

Filming for a spin-off series, A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms,  has started in Belfast (Steffan Hill/HBO)
Filming for a spin-off series, A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms, has started in Belfast (Steffan Hill/HBO)

This is followed by depictions of King Maegor the Cruel and King Jahaerys with his sister-wife (remember: Targaryens) Alysanne.

Finally, the credits move into scenes we all recognise from season one, the first being the Great Council of 101 AC when Jahaerys named Viserys (Rhaenyra’s father) heir on account of his cousin, Rhaenys, being a woman.

The next two scenes show the divide within House Targaryen by illustrating Team Green and Team Black on opposite sides of a table, and illustrating Rhaenyra’s half-brother and “usurper c*** of a King” Aegon sending crows to call for support, while she sent her sons and cousin Rhaenys on dragonback.

And this brings us to the brutal reminder, as if we needed it, of Lucery Velaryon’s and his dragon’s gutting and gory death at the jaws of Vhagar and her rider, Aemond Targaryen.

The original opening credits of the series changed as rulers married, had children, and died, meaning we can expect this tapestry to morph and grow longer as the latest season progresses.

With two new Game of Thrones spin-offs on the horizon, A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms and Ten Thousand Ships, it will be interesting to see what new ideas showrunners can conjure up to put their own spin on their respective opening credit sequences.