Throughout the entire first season of House of the Dragon, fans have watched the brothers Viserys (Paddy Considine) and Daemon (Matt Smith) bicker and battle for respect and power. But in this week’s episode, “The Lord Of The Tides,” all infighting is now water under the bridge.
Sunday’s showing was packed with sorrow, apprehension, and of course, a little bit of murder. The tension between the Hightowers and the Targaryens was palpable, as the campaign for the throne of Driftmark weighed over everyone.
But the character with the biggest burden on his shoulders is King Viserys. Now in a rapidly declining condition, his power over the Seven Kingdoms has diminished. The Red Keep has grown quiet and desolate as he withers away. With Alicent taking more of an authoritative and religious role, Kings Landing no longer holds the power it used to when Viserys was in his prime.
However, a king always knows how to make a dramatic entrance that no one will forget. As the feuding families campaign for their claim to the Driftmark throne, the doors open to reveal King Viserys, determined to sit on the Iron Throne, one last time.
All of us watched with bated breath as Viserys, in his gilded mask, limps, groans, and strains himself to sit in his royal seat. It was heartbreaking to see the king go from mighty and domineering, to feeble and sickly. Yet, none of us could take our eyes off the screen. Even in his weakened and deathly state, a king still commands respect.
While the group watches Viserys make the climb up the stairs, his crown falls onto the floor with a resounding clang. With no strength left, he can only stare at the ground beneath him. His power is gone, and at this moment, we see his mortality. Not as a king, but as a human being.
But, in an astonishing display of humanity, it is his brother, Daemon, who places the crown back upon his eldest brother’s head.
An Accidental Fall
This symbolic gesture of brotherhood and forgiveness wasn’t even written in the original script. Geeta Patel, director of episode eight, told Entertainment Weekly
When we were shooting that…the crown fell off of Paddy’s head and Matt picked it up and we just kept going. We didn’t stop [filming]…There was a discovery there of this moment. So then the three of us got together and they were like, ‘We felt this. This felt like the turning point in our relationship’”Geeta Patel, Entertainment Weekly
As a casual viewer of the show, I would have never guessed this scene wasn’t originally planned. The beautiful camera work highlights the fall of Viserys’ crown in a way that seemed intentional. The look of understanding between the two actors was genuine. The cast and crew truly had us all fooled. But sometimes, the unplanned moments are the ones that influence the show the most, and that certainly was true for this episode.
Even though this scene wasn’t planned, the effect it had on audiences was real as could be. The two brothers share a moment together and realize that even though they’ve had a strenuous relationship at times, they are here for each other now. Whatever wrongs they held onto from their youth, are righted in this instance. Blood is thicker than the mistakes of the past.
The message was made loud and clear to audiences. Everything between them was absolved. I also believe that Daemon got what he was always looking for from his brother: acceptance. While one of his missions in his early life was to obtain the crown, he understands that after losing so many people around him, there are more important things in life than sitting on the Iron Throne. Family is more significant than any crown, and Daemon has finally received the long-awaited compassion and benevolence from his brother.
With only two episodes left this season, questions still remain. What will fate hold for the Targaryen clan now that the King has fallen? Will the mistaken Alicent move for her son to take the crown? And, will there be any more improvised moments that make us do a double take?
Stay tuned for more answers in Sunday’s episode of House of the Dragon on HBO.
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