Game of Thrones always had an eye for combat. The smaller-scale confrontations were often interesting, like the Hound facing off against Brienne of Tarth, but the larger-scale confrontations were usually top performers. But one thing that was always missing from the show was the in-between. Thanks to House of the Dragon, we have already had the Game of Thrones franchises first great medium-sized confrontation.
[Ed. note: This post contains spoilers for House of the Dragon.]
Daemon Targaryen gets to explain why he is one of the most feared warriors in the Seven Kingdoms. The two receive confirmation from Daemons brother, King Viserys, that the crown is sending help. This serves as a less-than-significant evidence of their martial ability. They devise a whole-or-nothing strategy hidden from the enemy and the House of the Dragons audience.
House of the Dragons' first big fight begins with a sneaky beginning and becomes instantly recognisable as a Game of Thrones battle. There are tens of thousands of extras joining the fray, as well as montages of close-up kills full of blood and mud, and the slow focus on the main characters that most of Thrones best battles include.
Corlys and Daemon may lead the Stepstones' final battle, but Laenor Velaryon's fight against his dragon, Seasmoke, is ultimately won. It's also the first indication that the House of the Dragons' scale is significant.
One of the most significant events in Game of Thrones' eight-season run would have been a dragon soaring onto the battlefield and fierce Targaryen waves of adversaries. In House of the Dragon, everyone is expected to participate, except the poor Crabfeeder, who is wishing him the best of luck. Aside from the Seasmokes appearance, the battle itself is an indication of just how big House of the Dragon might be.
The majority of Game of Thrones' most important battles were separated into separate episodes. Things like the Wildling assault on Castle Black, Hardhome, the defense of Kings Landing, and the Battle of the Bastards all received the majority of an hour dedicated to them. While some fights later in the series, during seasons 7 and 8, featured shorter battles, none of them lived up to the standard of previous conflicts and were easily overshadowed by House of the Dragons' first open combat attempt.
The Stepstones Battle feels like the perfect length to both demonstrate Daemons' ill-advised bravery and dragons' dominance on the battlefield.
This first battle in the show makes it clear that, due to the show's huge budget, huge battles are ready to strike anytime in House of the Dragon. Each episode has a bit more spontaneity and unpredictability, and, as you might expect, the ability to pull off some surprising big battles will come later on.