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'We Light the Way': House of the Dragon Episode Titles Reimagined as Succession Episodes

Two great HBO dramas about dynastic strife. Eight episode titles that could absolutely apply to both of them.
  • HBO/Primetimer illustration
    HBO/Primetimer illustration

    The similarities between House of the Dragon and Succession are most apparent in the HotD series premiere, where questions of succession were paramount. King Viserys (Paddy Considine) inherited his throne after a contentious selection process that passed over his cousin Rhaenys (Eve Best). Many years later, he finds himself with another crisis of succession — with no male heir to his throne, he’s left to choose between his ostentatiously underhanded brother Daemon (Matt Smith) and his dragon-riding daughter Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock).

    It was impossible to miss the connections between HBO's new high-profile drama and Jesse Armstrong's acidic take on family and capitalism Succession has spent three seasons following the jostling and backstabbing within its own house of dragons, the Roy family. Yes, one series takes place in a fantasy realm where fire-breathing dragons shift the balance of empires, and the other takes place in a contemporary setting where tweets do the same. But there's a lot of overlap, thematically.

    The thematic parallels are incredibly apparent in the House of the Dragon episode titles thus far, nearly all of which would fit perfectly as Succession episode titles. The trick is deciding which Succession episode would best fit.

    Episode 1: "The Heirs of the Dragon"

    The House of the Dragon premiere episode title would naturally be a perfect fit for the Succession series premiere (1.1 "Celebration"). It sets the stage, with Logan Roy's (Brian Cox) four children waiting for what, in hindsight, seems like the hilarious impossibility that he'll step down and appoint one of them his successor. "The Heirs of the Dragon" would also work quite well for the most recent episode, the Season 3 finale (3.9 "All the Bells Say") where three of those heirs of the dragon — Kendall (Jeremy Strong), Shiv (Sarah Snook), and Roman (Kieran Culkin) — finally decide to team up and take their father down.

    Episode 2: "The Rogue Prince"

    Obviously the rogue prince of Succession is Kendall. He's spent three seasons either preparing to go rogue on the family, going rogue on the family, or curling up into a ball emotionally because he failed at going rogue on the family. The question then becomes which episode about Kendall planning to get one over on his dad and siblings is the right one. The choice has to be the Season 3 premiere (3.1 "Secession"), where Kendall has just publicly declared his father a criminal menace, and is now rallying his team to make his next move. It's pretty much the only episode in the show's entire run where Kendall even briefly seems like he has the upper hand, and thus the only episode where calling him "The Rogue Prince" wouldn't seem like a sarcastic taunt.

    Episode 3: "Second of His Name"

    This is one of the tougher titles to match with a Succession episode since, obviously, none of the Roy children are named after Logan. And before you ask, no, cousin Greg isn't named after his grandfather (Ewan!) either. So we're gonna have to go a bit more metaphorical with this one. The Season 2 episode where Logan and his family return to Logan's native Scotland (2.8 "Dundee") feels appropriate here, as it reflects upon Logan's estrangement from his own upbringing. His reinvention as a self-made master of the universe represents him taking on a second identity… look, this one was hard.

    Episode 4: "King of the Narrow Sea"

    This is another one where the title will need to serve as a metaphor, but we've got quite a few options for this one. "King of the Narrow Sea" feels like what you'd call someone who lords over a relatively meager dominion. This happens kind of a lot on Succession, and quite often to Tom Wambsgans (Matthew Macfadyen), specifically. Early in Season 1 (1.4 "Sad Sack Wasp Trap"), Tom is placed in charge of the cursed Theme Parks & Cruises division, which will ultimately turn into a toxic pit of scandal, and nearly land him in prison down the line. In the Season 2 premiere (2.1 "The Summer Palace"), Tom Wambsgans is given a promotion to head up ATN's deeply corrupt news division, though that development isn't nearly important enough in the episode to warrant the title.

    You could go a bit darker with "King of the Narrow Sea," too. In the Season 1 finale (1.10 "Nobody Is Ever Missing"), an intoxicated Kendall drives his car into a body of water, ultimately leaving a cater waiter trapped inside.. It's not quite a narrow sea, but declaring Kendall its king definitely seems like the kind of knife-twisting that Logan would do.

    Episode 5: "We Light the Way"

    This one's easy. "We Light the Way" may be a bit too coherent by comparison, but it does have a syntactical similarity to the infamous "We Hear for You" slogan that Tom and Greg ineptly come up with (2.6 "Argested") to help Waystar Royco acknowledge the horrifying scandals in which they've been implicated without accepting responsibility or saying anything of substance at all really.

    Episode 6: "The Princess and the Queen"

    Okay, so we need a Shiv-focused episode for this one. A few appropriate ones come to mind: When the family travels to England for Shiv and Tom's wedding (1.9 "Pre-Nuptial"), she has a scene where she strong-arms Gerri (J. Smith-Cameron) into getting ATN to back off of Gil Eavis (Eric Bogosian), whose presidential campaign she's running (remember when Shiv was a Democrat??). In the second season (2.5 "Tern Haven"), Shiv makes a bold move and declares that Logan has named her his successor even though he hasn't, really. And in the third season (3.8 "Chiantishire"), Shiv and her mother, Caroline (Harriet Walter), have a rather illuminating conversation that's probably the closest they're ever going to get to a heart-to-heart where Caroline admits she probably never should've had children. The princess and the queen, indeed.

    Episode 7: "Driftmark"

    House of the Dragon's road episode at the island stronghold of Driftmark scans perfectly onto the many occasions where the Roy family has jetted off to some vacation destination. "Driftmark" sounds exactly like a name that would be given to the Roys’ Hungarian hunting lodge (2.3 "Hunting") or their Italian vacation estate (3.8 "Chantishire"), or Connor's New Mexico ranch (1.7 "Austerlitz"), which the self-aggrandizing eldest Roy child named after a battle in the Napoleonic Wars that, for all he knows, may as well have happened on the coast of Westeros.

    Episode 8: "The Lord of the Tides"

    Another episode title that sounds like a sarcastic and humiliating moniker Logan would derisively call one of his kids. Perhaps this is what we'll call Roman in the Season 1 episode with the failed vote to oust Logan (1.6 "Which Side Are You On"). The vote fails in part because Roman loses his nerve and lets his father intimidate him out of casting a vote against him. Roman, forever going with whichever way the tide is flowing, stayed afloat at Waystar but certainly earned no one's respect.

    Joe Reid is the senior writer at Primetimer and co-host of the This Had Oscar Buzz podcast. His work has appeared in Decider, NPR, HuffPost, The Atlantic, Slate, Polygon, Vanity Fair, Vulture, The A.V. Club and more.

    TOPICS: House of the Dragon, HBO, Succession, Alan Ruck, Brian Cox, Jeremy Strong, Jesse Armstrong, Kieran Culkin, Matthew Macfadyen, Sarah Snook