‘House of the Dragon’: Why Viserys Remains Loyal to Rhaenyra as His Heir

In episode 5 of House of the Dragon, people are beginning to put their support behind either Rhaenyra Targaryen (Milly Alcock ) or Aegon. Rhaenyra is not a traditional choice, and many influential houses will support Aegon’s rule as he is the first-born son of the king. Despite Aegon being the less controversial pick, Viserys (Paddy Considine) remains loyal to Rhaenyra, and there is a reason why. 

Viserys announced Rhaenyra to be his heir in ‘House of the Dragon’ episode 1

Paddy Considine as Viserys and Milly Alcock as Rhaenyra in House of the Dragon
Paddy Considine as Viserys and Milly Alcock as Rhaenyra | Ollie Upton/HBO

In episode 1 of House of the Dragon, Viserys is awaiting the birth of his first son and heir to the throne. However, his son and wife die during childbirth, leaving the heir to be his brother, Daemon (Matt Smith). After celebrating the prince’s death, Viserys denounces Daemon as his heir and names Rhaenyra as the successor to the throne. 

After marrying Alicent Hightower (Emily Carey), the two have a son, Aegon. While tradition dictates that the male would be the next heir, Viserys is adamant that Rhaenyra succeeds him. Rhaenyra might be a noble and great leader, but many powerful forces will not get behind a female as queen. This will eventually lead to the Dance of the Dragons as Rhaenyra and Aegon fight for control of the Iron Throne. 

Why Viserys still supports Rhaenyra as his heir

Despite the oncoming war, Viserys remains loyal to Rhaenyra, even if announcing Aegon as his heir might be a more peaceful decision for the realm. In an interview on The Official Game of Thrones Podcast: House of the Dragon, writer Sara Hess explains why Viserys won’t change his decision. Hess says the king feels guilt toward his wife dying while trying to have a son, and making Rhaenyra queen is a way of making up for it. 

“Viserys was deeply in love with his wife Aemma (Sian Brooke), and never stopped loving her, and doesn’t ever stop loving her,” Hess says. “And he realizes that his quest for a boy ended up killing her, and he feels horrible about it. And this is his way of making up to her. Like, ‘I should have realized [that] you gave me Rhaenyra,’ and he says in episode 1 [to Rhaenyra] ‘You are the best of your mother.’ And she is Aemma’s daughter, she is Aemma’s child, she’s the only thing he has left of Aemma, so he’s going to make her heir and he’s never going to change his mind because he’s never going to stop loving Aemma. Putting Rhaenyra as his heir is his penance for what happened.”

Episode 5 confirms war is on the horizon

While Viserys may want to atone for his wife’s death, the decision is leading to the downfall of the Targaryen family. Rhaenyra might be an adequate queen, but the rift in the family leads to the house losing its power. In episode 5, lines are drawn, especially with Alicent. 

Alicent wears a green dress to the wedding, which in House Hightower is a declaration of war. The queen is placing her loyalty to her son and turning her back on her old friend, Rhaenyra. It will be intriguing who joins each side in the upcoming episodes.

House of the Dragon is streaming on HBO Max. 

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