HBO Responds to Criticism of House of the Dragon Scenes Too Dark to See

House of the Dragon Episode 7 had one of the same technical stumbles that Game of Thrones did in its final season, as fans complained that the episode was too poorly lit to see many of the finer details in each shot. What's even more surprising is that House of the Dragon Episode 7, "Driftmark", was directed by showrunner Miguel Sapochnik – the same man responsible for directing the most infamous "dark" episodes of Game of Thrones – including the Battle of Winterfell in the Final Season.

With House of the Dragon viewers now (once again) in uproar about the poor technical presentation of the show, HBO has had to go so far as releasing a public statement about the matter. A Twitter user posted a complaint, stating: "I'm gonna need @hbomax to issue a written apology for literally a whole episode of black screen of #HouseOfTheDragon This is ridiculous."

The response posted by HBO Max reads: "Hi Stephen! We appreciate you reaching out about a night scene in House of the Dragon: Episode 7 appearing dark on your screen. The dimmed lighting of this scene was an intentional creative decision. Thanks! ^LL".

This debate has, as stated been raging since Game of Thrones' Final Season aired in Spring of 2019. In fact, after the Battle of Winterfell episode "The Long Night" sparked so much backlash over the dim lightning, director Miguel Sapochnik's cinematographer Fabian Wagner (Overlord) defended the stylistic choice in lighting, echoing what other makers of the show had said, namely that the it was a thematic and stylistic choice to make the shifting turns of fate, dark emotions, or ideas of darkness vs. light all part of the visual aesthetic: "I wanted to evolve the ... [to make the] storytelling of the lighting evolve with the storytelling of the characters," Wagner said. 

(Photo: HBO)

The "Driftmark" episode of House of the Dragon was certainly a springboard for some metaphorical musings on the shadows of death and darkness covering the Targaryen Family. The whole episode centered on the funeral of Lady Laena Velaryon, wife of Daemon Targaryen, who died during childbirth. That funeral (and the reality of Laena's death) brought out all kinds of tensions that split in the Targaryen and Velaryon family's into seriously feuding camps, bent on a path for war. A lot of futures shifted during the night following Laena's funeral, so the lighting was appropriate. 

Beyond artistic reasons, other Game of Thrones and House of the Dragon cast and crew – as well as fans – have all offered the counterpoint that choices in equipment could be a factor. As Twitter user @khyronson offers: "Ya'll need to get a grip and new TVs...the lighting was expertly done and added incredibly to the atmospheric tension...I freaking LOVED it."

Whether the issue is purely stylistic or also affected by technical factors, it doesn't seem like viewers will be able to settle on this issue anytime soon. 


House of the Dragon airs new Season 1 episodes Sundays on HBO and HBO Max.