The first season of House of the Dragon has just started and we’re already getting production news for the second season. And I don’t think this is news any of us could have possibly expected: director Miguel Sapochnik, showrunner for season one with writer Ryan Condal, is moving away from the show, while another Game of Thrones veteran is coming back for this prequel’s second season.
As you may recall, Sapochnik directed some of the most critically-acclaimed and grander-scale episodes in the later seasons of Game of Thrones: Hardhome, Battle of the Bastards, The Winds of Winter, The Long Night, The Bells… quite a resume! In this first season of House of the Dragon, he wasn’t only responsible for helming the series premiere and the sixth and seventh episodes (which we’ll see in a matter of weeks); he was also the co-showrunner, alongside writer Ryan Condal.
Per The Hollywood Reporter, Condal will now be the sole showrunner, although Sapochnik will remain credited as executive producer for the rest of the show. He’s also signed a “first-look deal” with HBO to work on new projects, so it seems the parting was as amicable as it could possibly be.
According to Sapochnik, “working within the Thrones universe for the past few years has been an honor and a privilege, especially spending the last two with the amazing cast and crew of House of the Dragon“, and he’s proud of all they accomplished, but, as “incredibly tough” as the decision was, he knows it’s the right choice, personally and professionally, to “move on.” Of course, he wishes Ryan Condal and the entire crew his best on season two, including Alan Taylor.
What’s that? “Alan Taylor”? Does he mean veteran Game of Thrones director Alan Taylor? The Alan Taylor who helmed season one’s show-defining final episodes, Baelor and Fire and Blood, as well as several season two episodes and season seven’s Beyond the Wall? Alan Taylor, the award-winning director of several Rome, Mad Men, and The Sopranos episodes? That Alan Taylor? Yes, that one.
Taylor’s joining the show, although not to replace Sapochnik exactly, as he won’t be showrunning the show with Condal. Still, he’ll be one of the several executive producers and direct “multiple episodes” in season two. Taylor says the following in a statement: “It’s a pleasure and an honor to be back at HBO, immersing myself in the world of the Targaryens. I look forward to working closely with Ryan as House of the Dragon grows into its second season. Ryan, Miguel and George have launched an extraordinary story, in a rich and fascinating world. Returning to Westeros will be a huge undertaking and I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
Meanwhile, HBO’s statement emphasizes the “amazing work” Sapochnik’s done on the first season, establishing “its signature look and feel.” As for the returning director, the statement says they’ve “had a decades-long relationship with Alan Taylor, and we are delighted to have him join Ryan and rest the talented team.”
So, how do you all feel about this? Happy? Sad? Neutral? Perhaps time will tell? Personally, I fell in love with Sapochnik’s direction in Hardhome, and that feeling didn’t change for the rest of Game of Thrones or, for that matter, when we saw his work again in the series premiere of House of the Dragon. That said, having Taylor back is a such a gift, and honestly I’d be more worried if the departing showrunner was Ryan Condal, who’s the one responsible for the show’s writing and appears to know this world inside and out. Still, I can’t help feeling sad. That feels appropriate. Please say your fondest farewells to Miguel!