October 9, 2022
The latest HBO fantasy series House of the Dragon, which premiered on August 21, takes place centuries before its hit predecessor, Game of Thrones. Both are dramas about succession: who takes on the Iron Throne — the one throne to rule the seven kingdoms of Westeros — when the king dies? House of the Dragon, however, is a more intimate tale — about the Targaryens, famed dragonlords whose power comes from their ability to ride and control dragons. King Viserys (Paddy Considine) is in power and has broken with tradition to name his daughter, Rhaenyra Targaryen (Emma D’Arcy), his heir and successor. But since his pronouncement, his second wife, Alicent Hightower (Olivia Cooke), has given him three sons, and some lords believe the first-born son is the rightful heir.
A lot goes down in “The Lord of the Tides,” the eighth episode of House of the Dragon’s debut season. Years have passed since the prior episode, and tensions have only grown between Rhaenyra and Alicent — former friends, but now bitter foes. Helming this pivotal episode was Illinois-born, North Carolina-raised Geeta Vasant Patel, one of only two female directors this season. In 2014, after making the comedy-documentary Meet the Patels with her brother Ravi Patel and struggling for years, Patel finally got an agent. Her one request? They help her land an episode of the fantasy epic. They laughed in her face. So for the next seven years, Patel toiled away at sitcoms, building up her skill set with shows such as The Mindy Project, Superstore, and The Great. And now, her moment has finally arrived.
We spoke to Patel about what goes into shooting a House of the Dragon episode, the art of building tension, and what’s next for the fantasy series.