By Bianca Coleman20 December 2022
10 most brutal moments in House of the Dragon
Based on George RR Martin’s book Fire & Blood, House of the Dragon is the beginning of the end for House Targaryen.
While they’re two distinctly separate series, it’s impossible to watch House of the Dragon without comparing it to Game of Thrones (GOT). Whether one is better than the other is subjective.
The facts: both have 10-episode first season runs produced by HBO. Both series are fantasy dramas that take place in the same fictional world of Westeros and Essos. Moreover, both of them are adaptations of Martin’s books, respectively A Song of Ice and Fire and Fire & Blood, says Screen Rant, in an article that goes on to cite arguments for both series (warning, contains spoilers).
Dragon had a much bigger budget, if you can even imagine that, knowing the millions-of-dollars price tag of GOT, and it was well spent on special effects – the dragons themselves are superb, playing supporting roles to the humans.
Another expense was the wigs, and it has to be said, the characters look more attractive as white-haired descendants of Legolas than in real dark-haired life. What has been noted by viewers and critics is that the approach to sex and violence is different, toned down even. This is not to say it is absent: oh no. They’re still there, and Nerdist has a comprehensive list of the most stomach-turning moments (again, spoilers).
The family drama pits nephews against uncles and husbands against wives, questions illegitimacy, and is steeped in betrayal. Blood is thicker than water be damned. Tongues are cut out, heads are smashed into tables, arms and legs hacked off, and incest is not the taboo it is in our world, as we well know from GOT. It’s a complex story but still easier to follow than GOT; it’s only the first season, give it time.
10 of the most brutal moments in House of the Dragon Season 1
1. Childbirth: Dragon comes out the gates strong in episode 1. Queen Aemma Arryn (Sian Brooke), wife of King Viserys I Targaryen (Paddy Considine) is labouring to bring forth a child, the son he has been hoping and praying for. The infant is in the breech position and Viserys is advised to make the choice whether to save one or lose both. The meister performs a crude caesarean, no anaesthetic.
2. The raid: The City Watch carry out a raid in Kings Landing at the behest of Prince Daemon (Matt Smith) for no reason other than to flex, and show criminals there is zero tolerance. Arms, legs and other appendages are removed by the cartload.
3. Jousting: There’s a jousting tournament to celebrate the imminent birth of an heir to the Iron Throne, which is violent and murderous, and the crowd is delirious with joy.
4. Infections and cures: Technically not brutal, but extremely icky, we witness the early stages of Viserys’s disease brought on by a wound (incurred from a nick by a sword while sitting on the Iron Throne) that becomes infected. The “cures” throughout the season are equally disgusting.
5. Crabfeeder: Everything about the Stepstones, where a war is being fought. Myrish prince-admiral Craghas Drahar (Daniel Scott-Smith) aka Crabfeeder has a penchant for nailing captured enemies to wooden crosses and letting the crabs feed on them. This story arc continues over time and includes Daemon unleashing his fury on the messenger who brings word Viserys will send military aid, and then goes on into an epic battle worthy of any GOT ninth episode (which traditionally contained violent scenes).
6. Murder at the wedding: Weddings are not particularly joyful events in Westeros hashtag redwedding. Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen (Emma D’Arcy), daughter of Viserys and his named successor, finally agrees to marry Ser Laenor Velaryon (John Macmillan). They have come to a mutual agreement that they will discreetly pursue their own interests (okay, let’s not beat around the bush: he is gay). At the time, Rhaenyra is sleeping with handsome Ser Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel), who previously defeated Daemon at the jousting tournament, and once had this crazy idea Rhaenyra would give up her throne and run away with him, shame. He loses his temper at the rehearsal dinner and commits a cold-blooded murder.
7. Childbirth – again: After he murders his first wife, Daemon marries Laena Velaryon (Nanna Blondell), a powerful dragon rider. We’re back to childbirth, and she is in agony; the baby will not come. She takes desperate and dramatic steps to end her suffering.
8. Killing for love: This frees twice-widowed Daemon to remarry; this time it’s the perfect match. Except for one niggly little detail: his bride-to-be must also be rid of her current husband and the only way to do that is to kill him. There’s a twist to their plot but the surviving spouse will always be held accountable.
9. Even more childbirth: House Of The Dragon comes full circle from episode 1 to episode 10 with another bloody birth scene. Upon hearing the news of her father’s death and subsequent treason by Queen Alicent (Olivia Cooke), once her childhood companion, Rhaenyra goes into premature labour with tragic consequences.
10. Dragons: In the season finale we also see the capriciousness of dragons, and like any wild beast, they cannot ever be bent to humans’ will. The actions of two of them set up Season 2, and because of that, we can expect much more violence as a queen who wishes to maintain peace is pushed to her limit.