Apparently sensing that the internet’s limited attention span for TV shows where people wear armor and glower at each other might have drifted away from it for a bit—on account of this weekend’s release of Amazon’s uber-expensive The Lord Of The Rings: Rings Of Power—HBO’s House Of The Dragon has pulled a very sneaky move today: Releasing the whole first episode of the Game Of Thrones prequel onto YouTube, for free.
“Don’t you remember the dragons?” the show seems to be asking, luring viewers back with the siren call of watching a whole buttload of people getting slaughtered by torchlight. “Sure, Rings Of Power has epic sweep and grandeur, but does it let you watch Matt Smith act with every single inch of his prodigious forehead?”
In addition to making “The Heirs Of The Dragon” available to the online viewing public, the move is also fascinating in so far as it highlights what an odd moment for TV fantasy we’re at at the moment: Almost exactly five years after King Amazon demanded that his writers bring him a Game Of Thrones of his very own, Jeff Bezos now has a massively expensive, critically acclaimed fantasy series going directly head-to-head with HBO’s revived juggernaut, both debuting within weeks of each other
Of course, it’s going to take forever—and might stay permanently nebulous, given how much spin streaming numbers tend to get—to figure out which of these two shows will ultimately “win” this little sparring match; Rings Of Power does seem to have a slight advantage, in so far as it’s been made pretty clear at this point that there is no amount of money that Amazon—whose budget is basically infinite at this point—won’t throw at the series in order to come out on top.
We do have one suggestion, though, Jeffrey: Why not toss the first episode of Lord Of The Rings on YouTube, too, and let the view count sort it out? (And, look, we’re not just suggesting this because we don’t feel like digging our Prime password out to watch the show; we’d genuinely be curious to see which offering would ultimately come out on top.)