The first episode of HBO Max’s House of the Dragon, the anticipated prequel to Game of Thrones, dropped this Sunday with over 10 million households viewing it on premiere night.
***This article contains spoilers from the pilot episode of House of the Dragon***
Expected to be as violent and epic as its predecessors, House of the Dragon did just that by having scenes where a man’s face was bashed in; soldiers beating, killing, and castrating men on the street; and, the devastating childbirth scene which showed the pregnant queen Aemma (Sian Brooke) being held down for a forced C-section — resulting in her death.
The scene created some controversy at the idea of forcing a woman to bear a child when the woman’s life could have been spared if they’d let the child pass. Her husband, King Viserys Targaryen (Paddy Considine), was forced to make the choice between saving his wife or his son or lose them both. Viserys chooses his son — the potential future heir to his throne — over his beloved wife. Without consulting with his wife, he tells the Grand Maester to perform the C-section. In the most triggering and disturbing scenes, Aemma is held down and she screams in shock as her body is cut open to retrieve the child. The controversy stems from the idea of a man making the decision for the woman to risk her life to save the child.
Considine couldn’t recall the details of the scene during the press junket last month. The series was shot over a year ago but was surprised when it was mentioned Viserys choosing his legacy over his wife.
“It’s interesting you say “chooses his legacy over his wife,” said Considine. “I don’t know. There [were] a few interpretations of the scene that we did. I think if he could have saved anybody, he would have saved Aemma, but I can’t remember how that comes over in the actual finished show nor does it imply that he chooses.”
He remembered different versions of the conversation with the Maester being shot for that scene and didn’t know which cut would make it to the final editing.
“There [were] a few different versions of it and just in a way of what the intentions were,” said Considine. “And, what Viserys’ decision was — it was never fully clear.”
A lot of the dialogue from the maester was cut out and Considine doesn’t remember what remained in Viserys conversation. He does remember the long shooting day and how emotional it was to shoot that scene. As he thought about it further, he revealed that he believed Viserys was always going to lose Aemma whether the procedure was going to happen or not — so for Considine, the choice was whether to save the baby or let the child die with its mother.
“Sorry if I feel vague. I think he was always going to lose Aemma, right?,” Considine asked. “So it’s not like he sentences Aemma to death and makes a choice in that way. He was always going to lose her. So the I think the procedure was to save the child because Aemma was going to die. Anyway, that was my understanding of it.”
After he was told what the final version of Viserys’ choice, Considine sighed, “Yeah, so [Viserys] chooses the legacy over his wife? Yeah, that’s a tough one to live with.”
House of the Dragon streams on HBO Max on Sundays.