[This story contains spoilers for House of the Dragon’s ninth episode.]
Home of the Dragon‘s ninth episode chronicled the fallout of Viserys’ dying in King’s Touchdown as Queen Alicent Hightower and her scheming father Otto scrambled to consolidate their energy and deny the king’s daughter Rhaenyra her declare to the Iron Throne. And all climaxed with one of many best exits the franchise has ever seen: Eve Greatest’s long-suffering “Queen that By no means Was” Rhaenys Targaryen, on her dragon Meleys, exploding by the ground of Aegon’s coronation. Under, the episode’s writer-producer Sara Hess and director Clare Kilner speak about a few of its burning questions, together with: Why Rhaenys didn’t simply “dracarys” the whole thing of them.
The consensus on-line is the present retains getting higher because it goes. I’m questioning why you guys suppose that’s. Was it the difficultly of pulling off early episodes which needed to cowl so a few years in such a brief stretch? Or the entire crew usually enhancing as they discovered the present? Including more and more older and extra skilled actors in key roles? Or all or not one of the above?
SARA HESS The primary half of the season is, by its nature, scene-setting. There may be some actually good things in there, however it’s a windup. After we lastly arrive in episode eight, that’s after we lastly have the entire forged collectively for the primary time. I might like to say it’s as a result of we’re all so good — and naturally we’re! — however I feel to a big extent that’s after we all arrive by the character of the way it’s arrange. It’s a ball that features momentum because it rolls.
CLARE KILNER And likewise, individuals are beginning to get to know these characters. You get to see inside their hearts and minds and what they concern and what they love. You increasingly are connected to them and begin to perceive them, and you then begin anticipating what they may do, and also you have interaction with them.
HESS By this time, the actors have additionally settled into their roles. We shot episode seven first, after which went again and shot the primary six. By the point you get to 9, Olivia Cooke had been enjoying Alicent for [a while].
Talking of Alicent, one query that saved occurring to me watching this episode: Does Alicent need this? Sure, she misunderstood the king’s dying phrases. However was that what she wished to listen to anyway?
HESS I do know what my feeling is, and I later talked to Olivia about it and she or he had the identical feeling: When she misunderstood him and hears him saying “I would like Aegon to be king” — which isn’t what he’s saying, however what she sincerely understands him to be saying — that her thought in the intervening time was, “Oh, fucking Christ.” She was genuinely able to let it go. She was like: “You already know what? Rhaenyra goes to be the queen. It’s advantageous. I’m uninterested in being offended on a regular basis. I’m accomplished. That is the tip.” Then he says that and she or he’s tremendous aggravated.
KILNER I felt that as properly. Then she goes and tells her dad, Otto thinks: “Oh, she’s pretending she didn’t actually know what he stated, however she is aware of precisely what she’s doing and going up in my estimation as a result of she’s enjoying this recreation now.” He can’t let go of the concept she’s mendacity.
Proper, as a result of that’s what he would have accomplished. It generally feels just like the present is attempting to maintain the viewers on Alicent’s aspect whereas her story arc calls for that she’s mainly a villain. Like in a state of affairs like on this episode — the place they’re hanging all these nobles who don’t bend the knee fast sufficient — she’s complicit on this homicide spree, proper? She has energy and company on this state of affairs that she’s both exercising or selecting to not train.
KILNER However she desires to avoid wasting her buddy’s life.
HESS I feel in her thoughts, all this was a mandatory evil. She’s centered on: “We’re not going to kill Rhaenyra, that’s ridiculous, she’s Viserys’ daughter, he would by no means have wished this, I’m not gonna let that occur.” And so far as the sympathetic factor goes, in [George R.R. Martin’s Targaryen history book Fire & Blood] the historical past was written by these unreliable narrators and no person actually is aware of what occurred in these rooms. They know the large occasions that occurred traditionally, however they don’t know what anybody’s intention was. And historical past is usually written by males who write off ladies as loopy or hysterical or evil and conniving or gold-digging or sexpots. Like within the [book], it says Rhaenyra had youngsters and bought fats. Nicely, who wrote that? We had been in a position to step again and go: The historical past tellers need to consider Alicent is an evil conniving bitch. However is that true? Who precisely is saying that? That’s a part of the factor we’re enjoying with on this and in season two.
So I’m curious then: Alicent was holding Rhaenys captive and asking her to bend the knee. She gave her time to consider it after which Rhaenys escaped. However what if she hadn’t escaped and refused to bend the knee? In case you had been tasked with writing what occurs subsequent, Sara, what would Alicent have chosen to do to Rhaenys in that state of affairs?
HESS I really feel like she simply retains on being a prisoner. Alicent’s not going to cut her head off. She’s extra passive. She tends to let the lads steamroll her typically. So I don’t know what would have occurred, however Alicent was clearly OK with simply holding right here there. I don’t suppose she would have let her get murdered, however I don’t suppose she essentially would have set her free, both.
KILNER I feel Alicent believes that she is attempting to maintain peace and cease battle, however she’s simply working inside the patriarchy.
HESS She believes: “If we will simply get the lads to do the best factor!”
Numerous time was spent searching for Aegon, who was discovered wallowing in self-pity. I spoke to Tom Glynn-Carney about his character and he expressed concern that when you introduce a personality as a toddler rapist that it’s powerful to determine the place to go from there. There are moments you watch him within the episode — like when he asks his mother if she loves him — the place it looks as if we’re actually presupposed to really feel for Aegon. However can his character be sympathetic? Is there one thing even wrong-ish about attempting for that? I’m not hinting there’s some right reply right here, as I’m unsure myself.
KILNER Once I’m directing a personality, I’m at all times on the aspect of the character. You simply see this boy who has been uncared for and can’t ever see a future for himself outdoors of what everybody has advised him his life is gonna be. He’s railing towards that. In the true world, I don’t have sympathy for rapists. However for character, we’re very sympathetic in the direction of him as a result of we had been very acutely aware that we didn’t need him to be Joffrey [Baratheon from Game of Thrones]. He’s not a sadist.
HESS He’s the one firstborn son within the historical past of Westeros, and within the Targaryen household, who was not named his father’s inheritor. What does that do to you? He tosses it off by pretending he doesn’t give a shit, that it’s silly anyway. However he deeply cares and he’s deeply crushed by it. His father’s lack of belief in him eats away at his soul. He wants validation in no matter methods he can get it.
It’s just a little laborious to speak about this in a manner that’s … I feel simply because any individual has dedicated this act that it’s not a motive that we will’t have a extra nuanced dialogue — or to even really feel sympathy for him — whereas acknowledging that what he did was indefensible. It’s simplistic to say: “He raped somebody, he’s horrible and evil and we will by no means discover something likable or attention-grabbing in him.” I labored on a narrative about this in Orange Is the New Black the place we had a personality who was raped after which we handled the emotions of her rapist who, on the time, didn’t perceive he was raping this girl as a result of he thought like, “Oh, she’s my lady, I really like her and she or he’s simply not into it.” I feel there are numerous in any other case pretty respectable, upstanding males strolling round this world who presumably dedicated some type of undesirable sexual advance in school and do not know what sort of impact it had on the particular person and genuinely consider themselves as an excellent particular person. Whereas for the particular person within the room with them, it was acquired in a very totally different manner. No one’s ever taught Aegon about consent or what a relationship is meant to appear like and his mom married his father when she was 16. So this can be a very great distance of claiming: It’s extra sophisticated than, “You raped any individual, that is the tip of your story.” And, really, we improvised [the “do you love me?” line] on set.
KILNER We did the scene and I generally love to do a little bit of improvisation. I stated [to the actors], “OK, when you might say no matter you wished to one another’s character, what would you say?” And Sara rushed in [with the idea].
So from the start, we now have been ready for Rhaenys to do one thing badass and also you gave us this unbelievable second. It’s very cool, however does it did make me marvel: Does it make sense that she doesn’t kill them? She murders a bunch of civilians by busting out anyway …
HESS It’s Sport of Thrones — civilians don’t depend!
So why not pull the “dracarys” set off and save numerous lives — presumably together with her personal — by stopping battle? Why simply flip round and fly away?
HESS I feel she simply can’t do it. It’s not her battle. The combat is between these two sides and she or he’s type of not in it. She doesn’t really feel like she’s the one to return in and do this. However you’re proper. If she had simply incinerated all people, it’s recreation over, Rhaenyra wins and we’re accomplished right here. However the fee is large. I additionally really feel like that second, she appears Alicent within the eye and Alicent walks in entrance of her child to defend him. It’s one mom to a different. Rhaenys is offended, however in her earlier scene with Alicent, she revered her, even when she doesn’t agree along with her. So she’s not going to kill one other girl like that.
KILNER We talked to Eve Greatest about this, and within the earlier scene she felt that Alicent actually noticed, Rhaenys for the primary time in a very long time. In that second, they’re moms on this horrible world created by males and she will’t do it.
Lastly, Sara, this can be a manufacturing query on your government producer aspect, and, Clare, maybe you’ll need to take this from a director’s perspective: Are you guys pleased with the amount LED wall? I really feel like when Dragon first began manufacturing, it was this shiny new toy [used to replicate exterior backgrounds on a studio stage, popularized by Disney+ shows like The Mandalorian]. And during the last yr, each producer I’ve spoken to about it says they hate the best way it makes content material look. Some followers are beginning to discover too and complain about it. There have been some photographs (just like the Dragonstone bridge assembly scene in episode two) which can be nice. However there are others which can be just like photographs in Thrones the place the Dragon model appears flat and fuzzy by comparability. Have there been conversations about utilizing the amount wall much less, or in a different way, in season two?
HESS Sure. (Lengthy pause.)
So, simply “sure” then a interval?
HESS I don’t know that I’m allowed to elaborate. I don’t know what I’m allowed to say. All of us walked in there blind. Nobody had ever used it earlier than. It was like, “Right here’s this factor.” From the get-go, all people was attempting to determine the best way to use it and the best way to use it greatest. It’s an excellent instrument to have. What was your expertise of working with it, Clare?
KILNER It was a giant studying curve and I feel it labored rather well for some moments and fewer properly for others. It’s particularly good for unending sunrises and sunsets, for instance. However for exteriors, like I wished so as to add leaves blowing right into a scene — you need some matter within the air when taking pictures an exterior [scene on a stage] as a result of in any other case you miss that. However then you’ve hassle with wind machines and defending the display.
HESS And audiences are getting extra subtle, too.
KILNER There are different issues when constructing the set. You’ll be able to’t have the furnishings too near the screens and that may be limiting. After which there are doorways — you clearly can’t have entrances and exits. So after we’re within the grand set and the twins and Aegon run out, you may’t even have them go away. I feel that may possibly make it a bit much less plausible for the viewer. We’re all evolving, and [the technology is] evolving, as we progress.
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