HBO’s new ‘Game of Thrones’ series is a meditation on governing, politics, and how weapons of mass destruction are — or should be — constrained.

By Maureen Ryan, Outrider

House of the Dragon asks a compelling question: If you had the ultimate weapon, could you rule in a relatively untroubled way forever?

hbo house of dragons ph

In the fictional Westeros, dragons are the ultimate power, as wielded by ruling the Targaryen clan. But even they know their grip on the world order is tenuous.

“The idea that we control the dragons is an illusion,” King Viserys Targaryen tells his daughter in the first episode. “They are a power man should never have trifled with.”

Sundays episode introduces even more political instability, with a young royal, Aemond, swiping a dragon out from under another powerful clan. This plot twist adds yet another wild card to an extremely tense situation in Westeros and serves as something of a reminder of the dangerous number of nuclear weapons that have been lost, including at least three by the U.S. alone.

Of course, dragons arent perfect analogues for nuclear weapons; but in a medieval-ish world of swords, clubs, and crossbows, dragons are the mic drops of weapons.

When the original Game of Thrones series aired from 2011-2019, the political landscape was different. Though U.S. President Donald Trump threatened North Korea with “fire and fury” as nuclear tension escalated, it passed as dangerous rhetoric. Since then, Russian president Vladimir Putin has invaded Ukraine, threatening the world with the dragons of his own atomic arsenal through nuclear blackmail.

“No matter who tries to stand in our way,” Putin said in February, “they must know that Russia will respond immediately, and the consequences will be such as you have never seen in your entire history.”

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