House of the Dragon opened with Queen Aemma (Sian Brooke)’s brutal birth in the series premiere. The show’s depiction of birth was addressed following the episode airing. Now episode 6 features another birth scene. Executive producer Miguel Sapochnik assured fans they aren’t using birth gratuitously.
[Warning: This article contains spoilers for House of the Dragon.]
Sapochnik was a guest on the House of the Dragon podcast on Sept. 25 to discuss episode 6, with its 10-year time jump. Sapochnik not only said the show’s depiction of birth had to be “making the world a better place,” but he gave examples of how. New episodes of House of the Dragon premiere Sundays on HBO Max.
What happens in ‘House of the Dragon’ birth scenes?
Aemma does not survive childbirth in the House of the Dragon series premiere. Later, Rhaenyra (Emma D’Arcy) does. Sapochnik himself compared the show’s depiction of childbirth to a battlefield, but now he hopes viewers are seeing it’s more complicated than that.
“Then it became the thing of OK, and then how are we making the world a better place if we show births?” Sapochnik said on the House of the Dragon podcast. “What are we bringing to the table? That’s where I think both the parallel from the female perspective that it is the battleground came about, but also the thematics of we need each birth to be different because if they’re the same thing then that’s all we’re doing is repeating ourselves. The first one is interesting, everything else becomes boring.”
The many different ‘House of the Dragon’ birth scenes
Since the House of the Dragon premiere, Laena (Nanna Blondell) also gave birth.
“Laena’s birth is different to Aemma’s birth in that Laena has agency,” Sapochnik said. “She has a choice, she makes a choice. We actually had named that thematically impasse. There was insurmountable obstacles. She could not pass it, and she had to make a choice, but it was hers.
“Aemma’s birth was torture which very much is what people took away from it. There was a lot of discussion about the images we were using. It’s interesting if you were actually to dissect that scene, there’s only one incision. There’s very little gory violence. They’re holding her down, her screaming and her performance, Sian [Brooke], absolutely amazing.”
Rhaenyra’s birth was empowering
Rhaenyra’s birth scene introduced D’Arcy taking over the role from Milly Alcock. Immediately after the birth, Alicent (Olivia Cooke) requested to see the baby. Rhaenyra wouldn’t hand the baby off, so got up and trudged up the stairs to present the child herself.
The second birth which is Rhaenyra’s episode 6 opening we call the agony and the ecstasy because we wanted to make sure that there was an understanding that birth isn’t just a horrific experience. It’s multifaceted. The endorphins that are released after giving birth are strong enough that you forget that you squeezed an infant out of you. You made a human being. It’s crazy. That’s why we did it all on their face. It was very important for us at that point, we were introducing a character. What better way to introduce a character than at their most traumatic moment? And also to see what that character is made of because especially when Rhaenyra gives birth, gets the baby… then she’s immediately faced with a challenge which is her relationship with Alicent. It’s the functionality of giving birth that you’re producing heirs, that they need to be checked, etc.Miguel Sapochnik, House of the Dragon podcast, 9/25/22
And there’s still one more coming, Sapochnik teased.
“There’s one more which I’m not going to spoil,” he said.