Well, that was fast: Game Of Thrones prequel House Of The Dragon has already had its first major behind-the-scenes shake-up, just two episodes into its run, with THR reporting that co-showrunner Miguel Sapochnik—a long-time veteran of the franchise, who spent the last three years developing the spin-off alongside fellow showrunner Ryan Condal—is bailing on the series.
To be clear, everything about Sapochnik’s departure from House sounds pretty amicable, down to HBO offering him a new first-look deal for whatever project he develops next that presumably does not involve people staring at each other very hard while whispering about succession and dragons. Sapochnik also issued a strong note of support for his old Thrones pal Alan Taylor, who’ll be joining the series as an executive producer and director on its second season.
The vibe, really, seems to simply be that Sapochnik—who directed the House Of The Dragon pilot, as well as several other episodes in its first season—has just reached the end of what sounds like a very tiring process of getting people to give two shits about Game Of Thrones again. “I am so proud of what we accomplished with season 1,” he said in a statement, “And overjoyed by the enthusiastic reaction of our viewers. It was incredibly tough to decide to move on, but I know that it is the right choice for me, personally and professionally.”
THR notes that, per an earlier interview, Sapochnik actually waffled pretty hard about coming back for House; he never outright came out and said that it was because people were, you know, not nice about Thrones’ last season—for which he directed two episodes, including the Battle Of Winterfell sequence from “The Long Night”—but it feels like an easy thing to infer. (He was eventually convinced after attending a Game Of Thrones fan experience concert and seeing that love for the series was still in evidence.)
Taylor, meanwhile, has had his fingerprints all over the rise of prestige TV over the last two decades, with credits that include The Sopranos, Lost, Sex And The City, Mad Men, Deadwood, and, of course, Thrones, where he directed a decent chunk of the show’s second season. He issued his own statement about the move—it’s a real avalanche of TV guys saying nice stuff about each other over there at the moment, apparently—noting that, “It’s a pleasure and an honor to be back at HBO, immersing myself in the world of the Targaryens. I look forward to working closely with Ryan as House Of The Dragon grows into its second season. Ryan, Miguel and George [R.R. Martin] have launched an extraordinary story, in a rich and fascinating world. Returning to Westeros will be a huge undertaking and I’m looking forward to the challenge.”