Discussing S1 E2 of House of the Dragon
As always, spoilers ahead, if you have not watched this episode, you probably should stop now.
A very strong second set-up episode, let’s dig in
“The Stonemasons build the structures” — King Viserys Targaryen
The first scene of the second episode of House of the Dragon shows several ships of the realm destroyed and all of the men surviving the initial battle being executed by a man known as “the Crabfeeder.”
There is a storm coming, will King Viserys be up to the task?
When I used to write about the Game of Thrones series I would often say that the books and the television series often have at the root a form of realist politics. No matter how much you like a character, their strength and ability to act strategically are critical to remaining alive in Westeros. People who fail tests of strength die. As Lord Corlys says near the end of this episode, “our worth is not given, it must be made.”
I am not suggesting that I agree with realism or neo-realism here, I am saying that in this created universe, strength is critical to success (and often survival).
King Viserys is not well suited to keeping the people of his realm safe and is not invested in making himself worthy.
When we first see Viserys during Episode 2 of the House of the Dragon, he is refusing to act to deter the Crabfeeder, despite protestations by Corlys whose ships were destroyed in the most recent battle to happen in the Targaryen sea lanes. Instead, of sending an army or dragons, Viserys is sending “envoys” to the Free Cities (he also allows his hand to summarily dismiss the daughter he just named heir to his crown because she had the temerity to suggest that he should send dragons to answer the assault on the crown).
When next we see King Viserys, he is literally playing with toys.
Viserys is not working out military strategy or using his miniature military figurines to think through historic battles, he is literally playing with the figurines and with his models of old Valyria. As Allicent Hightower compliments him on the quality of his models, he responds by saying, “The glory of old Valyria will never be seen again.