‘House of the Dragon’ Showrunner Says [SPOILER] Was Going to ‘Die Either Way’

The HBO prequel series House of the Dragon premiere takes place during peacetime for Westeros, but there was still plenty of blood and gore in the first episode. Prince Daemon carries out a great deal of brutality, both in punishing criminals and during the tournament. King Viserys’ also makes a gut-wrenching decision that leads to a death, but showrunner Ryan Condal says this character was doomed either way.

Paddy Considine, Rhys Ifans, Eve Best, Steve Toussaint, Milly Alcock, and Emily Carey in House of the Dragon. The characters stand outside for Queen Aemma and Prince Baelon's funeral.
Paddy Considine, Rhys Ifans, Eve Best, Steve Toussaint, Milly Alcock, and Emily Carey in ‘House of the Dragon’ | Ollie Upton/HBO

Sian Brooke filmed a ‘bloodbath’ scene in the ‘House of the Dragon’ premiere

In the premiere episode of House of the Dragon King Viserys’ wife, Aemma, is heavily pregnant. Although the King already has a daughter, Rhaenyra, he is desperate for his wife to give birth to a son so he will have an heir. Of course, childbirth was extremely dangerous during this time, and Aemma’s pregnancy ended in a gruesome C-section that resulted in her death.

“It was a bloodbath,” Queen Aemma actor Sian Brooke said while speaking with Variety. “Behind that belly was a whole bag full of blood and fluid. When the incision was made, they would have to time it with pumping this blood out of the belly.” Brooke also mentioned that filming the brutal scene made her “quite hoarse” from screaming.

‘House of the Dragon’ showrunner says Aemma would have died regardless of King Viserys’ decision

When Queen Aemma goes into labor, the doctors inform King Viserys that the baby is breached. This means that it is in a position where its feet are facing the uterus. Usually, a C-section would be recommended if the baby does not turn to a head-first position. However, in the time of House of the Dragon, the procedure meant death for the mother.

King Viserys decides to have an un-anesthetized crude C-section performed on his wife in the hopes of saving the baby who will become his heir. Attendants hold down Aemma while the doctor slices into her stomach. In the end, Aemma dies, and the baby, Prince Baelon, only survived for a few hours after his birth.

While Viserys’ actions are disturbing, showrunner Ryan Condal believes Aemma wouldn’t have survived the pregnancy regardless. “We were trying to show how dangerous childbirth was but also to dramatize the terrible position that Viserys is put in because it’s made very clear to him that Aemma is going to die either way,” Condal said during an HBO interview shown at the end of the episode.

“The only choice that you really have in the matter is whether you try to save the child, and he knows that it’s his duty to put forth a male heir, especially if his wife is not going to make it and not be able to generate another heir for him. So that’s what motivates him to make that decision with the Grand Maester.”

Aemma’s labor is cute between Daemon’s fight with Criston Cole

Before going into labor, Queen Aemma talks to Rhaenyra about a woman’s duty in Westeros. “The childbed is our battlefield,” Aemma tells her daughter. “We must learn to face it with a stiff lip.”This line inspired the director Miguel Sapochnik to cut images of Aemma in labor with the Criston Cole fight.

Sapochnik said in the HBO interview, “We really wanted to see the female perspective because it’s a realistic portrayal of things that used to happen at the hands of men to women. Because the 50/50 chance you have of surviving a birth in those times is not good odds.”

New episodes of House of the Dragon drop Sundays on HBO Max.

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