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I could spend all day looking at House of the Dragon’s glowing map table

It should absolutely be the show’s new opening

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A close-up of the painted table in House of the Dragon, with rivers running red, almost like lava, through mnany locations written on the map. Photo: Liam Daniel/HBO

A lot happened in the season finale of House of the Dragon: Dragon fights! Court intrigue! Impending war!

But one thing stuck out more than the rest for me, and it’s that sick glowing map table at Dragonstone. Westeros has never looked better.

Known as the Painted Table in Thrones lore, it was originally commissioned by Aegon I while he planned his conquest of Westeros. The table is shaped like Westeros and glows, almost like lava running through molten rock, because of candles placed underneath. And the effect jumps off the screen.

An overhead shot of the Painted Table mostly lit up Image: HBO

First of all: love a good fantasy map. That’s the stuff the genre is made of, and the more tactile, the better. (Here, have an interactive map of Westeros, enjoy.)

And that’s the thing with this map. It’s not just that it looks cool, although it undeniably does. The intricate design and different visible textures make you just want to run your hands over it. Or maybe you just want to play a giant game of Risk (I know I do, and clearly so do some of Rhaenyra’s advisors).

The Painted Table made a few appearances in the Game of Thrones show; it’s where Stannis Baratheon meets with his advisors in Dragonstone, and it shows up later again during Daenerys’ own conquest. But it never looks as cool as it does here.

Daenerys Targaryen and her advisors stand around the painted table (without sick lighting) in Game of Thrones) Image: HBO

This is something a great prequel can (and here, does) do well, elevating the world of the show as we know it and deepening even the most rote historical facts as we know them. Here we see the world as it was, at its peak, when people knew how to use the cool-as-fuck looking lava table. It’s not too dissimilar from the show’s relationship to dragons; in Thrones, they are a relic of a bygone era, but here we see them in full force.

House of the Dragon’s production design has been stellar throughout its run, elevating it above some of its competitors in the fantasy TV space with props like this. It’s sick, and should be the show’s new opening in season 2.

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