Scene described as ‘terrifying’ and ‘traumatic’ in Game of Thrones prequel House of the Dragon – Aumag
The highly-anticipated Game of Thrones prequel House of the Dragon has landed on streaming services, and one particularly graphic crib has critics wondering if the gory details were necessary.
ABC radio podcast host Stop Everything! Beverley Wang described it as “the bloodiest and most terrifying and traumatic birth scene” she has ever seen on screen.
She sat down with TV and film critic Wenlei Ma and journalist and author Jenna Guillaume via her podcast to discuss.
This article covers events from the first episode of House of Dragon, so now’s your chance if you haven’t seen it yet.
What scene triggered this reaction?
If you’re unfamiliar with the new series, the clock rewinds 172 years before the birth of the dragon-riding Daenerys Targaryen and follows House Targaryen’s civil war, or ‘Dance of the Dragons’.
The first episode, which drew a record 9.9 million viewers according to HBO, sees a birth scene in which King Viserys (played by Paddy Considine) orders his wife Aemma Arryn (Sian Brooke) to have a cesarean section while she is conscious to save the male heir.
The episode alternates between this scene and a dueling sequence between Prince Dameon (Matt Smith) and Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel).
In true Game of Thrones fashion, it’s pretty graphic.
I’ll spare you the gory details, but Aemma doesn’t survive the birth and neither does the baby.
Was all that blood and gore necessary?
All the gore and blood wasn’t justified, according to Mom.
“I think you can show that it was brutal and horrific and violent without some of the lingering camera footage,” says Ma.
“I know the argument is ‘that’s how it was in the Middle Ages,’ I think we’re at a point now too where we know how it was.”
She says the directors could have chosen to show a shot of Aemma’s face and torso, rather than a wide frame with lots of blood.
As someone who had an emergency C-section, Wang found it difficult to watch the scene.
She says other people who have also had this experience may feel the same way.
Compare the birth with other violent scenes
Guillaume says she found the contrast between two scenes of violence particularly interesting.
“What I found interesting was the way it compared to the tournament that was happening at the same time, which was also quite violent, but the birth was so much more violent and bloody,” she says.
“It was an interesting contrast between these men playing in the war and this woman literally fighting for her life and dying.
“I think it was quite an intriguing combination. I think they could have gotten that message across with a little less blood on screen.”
Shyes from historical accuracy
Critics say the show’s directors insisted on including graphic and awkward scenes for the sake of historical accuracy, but Wang says historical accuracy is less important when a fantasy show features dragons.
Mom says there’s a fine line between what should and shouldn’t be on TV.
“There were no dragons in the Middle Ages, so I think we can take creative license when it comes to moving away from ‘so-called historical accuracy’ about sexual violence in our own past. But it’s a fine line. The industry is busy calculating what should and shouldn’t be shown,” says Ma.
You can listen to the full episode of Stop Everything! With Tahlea joins in and Beverly Wang on RN here