Episode 1 of HBO's Game of Thrones prequel House of the Dragon was as blood-drenched and violent as fans have come to expect, but the emotional aftermath of those harrowing scenes was also explored in full, and actually precipitated what looks set to be the major conflict of the season.
After reluctantly making the choice to save his heir at the expense of his wife Aemma during childbirth, a decision which ends in the death of both the queen and their baby, King Viserys is shown to have been laid incredibly low. And it isn't long before his judgment as ruler of the Seven Kingdoms is impacted, as psychotherapist Georgia Dow points out in a new YouTube video.
"When you're in the stages of grief, it's so much easier to be manipulated, because your brain is slightly wiped out when dealing with intense emotions; the cognitive part of our brain is numbed," she says.
This manifests in the first episode in Viserys' burgeoning feud with his brother, Daemon, whom he perceives to be disrespecting the memory of Aemma and Baelon.
"When we have all this pain built up inside us... we often project that onto the world, onto anything, we need to let it out," explains Dow. "In this case, Daemon makes that perfect placeholder, because he's already done all kinds of horrible things, and someone has already whispered in the king's ear."
Dow goes on to say that this makes for a "perfect storm" in which Viserys is able to focus on his anger towards Daemon and deflect from the true cause of his pain, which is of course the death of his wife and child. "We can lash out at people that don't deserve it, because it's so hard to keep it all inside us," she says. "It's easier to have something else, something tangible that we can be angry at."
Ultimately, Viserys banishes Daemon from King's Landing, creating a schism in House Targaryen that he will almost certainly live to regret. "You should never be making big decisions when you're in periods of intense emotional distress," says Dow. "He's set something in motion that's going to be really hard to pull back."
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