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‘House of the Dragon’ Premiere Episode Postmortem: Paddy Considine and Matt Smith on That Throne Room Argument (Video)

Plus, executive producer Ryan Condal and Rhaenyra actress Milly Alcock weigh in some of those big scenes from the premiere

(Spoiler alert! This story contains discussion of plot details from “House of the Dragon,” Season 1, Episode 1.)

Familial bonds were broken and possibly left unrepairable in the premiere episode of HBO’s “House of the Dragon.” 

King Viserys Targaryen (Paddy Considine) broke with his brother Prince Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith) in the Season 1 premiere of the “Game of Thrones” prequel series, removing him from the line of succession after he heard that his younger sibling had called his late newborn son, “the heir for a day.” 

“That’s the first sort of wedge that’s driven between the brothers. And, you know, it’s a very – it’s a big moment,” Considine told TheWrap of the Throne Room scene. “Because Viserys has his responsibility as king, his brother’s insulted him. He’s always defending his brother. He tells him, ‘You’re the only ally I have in that room. And this is how you’ve treated me?!’ I mean, it cuts deep because [Queen] Aemma’s the absolute love of his life. Another baby’s lost and his wife with it. And I think it’s probably that, however it was said, it was just Viserys in his grief interprets it as a terrible insult.”

The “heir for a day” comment was recounted to the king by Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans), his Hand, after Daemon was heard saying it the night before while drinking in a pleasure house with his City Watch men. Smith, though, doesn’t think his character meant the comment as a jest of any kind.

“[T]hey cut away from it, but actually, when you see it when he plays it, it’s not – I don’t think he’s doing it like taking the piss. I think he’s saying it, like with a degree of sincerity, ‘The heir for a day,’” Smith said (the audience never actually sees Daemon say it on screen, just Hightower recounting it). “I suppose the point is, he said it and … then I think he’s just really frustrated at his brother. And he wants to shake him and go wake up. I love you more than everyone else. It’s just, you know, misplaced love is what it’s all about.” 

It’s a sentiment echoed by “House of the Dragon” co-creator and co-showrunner Ryan Condal, who told TheWrap the brothers aren’t trying to become enemies. 

“It’s a complicated relationship between the two of them. What makes that relationship really compelling to watch and I think to write, and to watch the actors perform, is that they both do really deeply love each other. They both just want the other one to be a different person,” Condal said. “And it’s not a classic, you know, black sheep of the family, ‘no one likes the brother.’ Viserys really loves Daemon … just don’t be such an a–hole all the time, and think of somebody other than yourself. And Daemon wants for Viserys to value the classic tenets of House Targaryen – fire and blood. And Daemon desperately wants to be Viserys’ Hand and be trusted by him. Be held at his side, and not, you know, go over there and run the City Watch, run the treasury, to keep him at arm’s length, to keep Otto Hightower between them. And it’s that constant play between them of just – instead of embracing what the other is, wanting something different out of their kin.”

During their argument, Daemon chastised his brother for being “weak” and for allowing others to take advantage of him, insisting he has always been on Viserys’ side. 

“He’s not weak,” Considine said about that comment from Daemon. And addressing the one about used by others, Considine said, “Well, that’s the game.”

“And Viserys is fully aware of it because in the same episode, he tells that to Rhaenyra. I think people underestimate – maybe it’s just the way I was playing him, but I never underestimated anybody around that table and what their motives were,” Considine continued. “It was my job to keep the peace. And, you know, the prophecy, the dream that I speak of in that first episode, it’s important that I pass that on to the right person, and give them the responsibility. And it has to be somebody who can carry that.”

For King Viserys, the person he decided deserved that responsibility was his daughter, Princess Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock). In that moment, as she is told she will be his heir, her father passes on a secret kept and shared from king to king, about a dream from a previous Targaryen ruler – Aegon – that a Targaryen must sit on the Iron Throne and unite the people of Westeros in the battle to come, which will begin following a terrible winter – his song of fire and ice. But Rhaenyra may not buy into her dad’s warning at that moment. She does know, however, that something is afoot.

“I don’t know if she’s buying into it, but I think that she ultimately, at that moment, realizes how big of a deal this is,” Alcock said. “I think she’s thinking, ‘Dad, what is going on? Like, why are you thinking – what are you not telling me? If this is one thing that you’re not telling me, there must be so much more that I don’t know about.” 

Being recognized by her father, though, as his heir, is a huge moment for the princess.

“I think ultimately … that’s what she wants [over] the whole show is to be seen by her father and to be heard by her father. And we kind of get to see how that shift happens when she develops and matures as a young woman and understands the world more,” Alcock said. “She kind of has this weird battle where she’s kind of like, bought into this new game that she doesn’t know how to play.”