With the conclusion of the eighth episode of House of the Dragon came the conclusion of a season-long journey toward death for one of the series’ main characters. After a long and gradual decline in health over the first season, King Viserys I Targaryen died in his sleep in the final moments of Sunday’s latest episode. In an interview, actor Paddy Considine gave some insight into the cause of the suffering and death for the now-deceased King of Westeros.
He’s actually suffering from a form of leprosy. His body is deteriorating, his bones are deteriorating. He is not actually old. He’s still a young man in there. He’s just, unfortunately, got this thing that’s taken over his body. It becomes a metaphor for being king, and the stress and strain that it puts on you, and what it does to you physically, what it does to you mentally.Paddy Considine
This shouldn’t really come as a surprise to viewers based on the telltale signs of Viserys’ body gradually falling apart as the season progressed. It was certainly noticeable in this past episode in which the king had to wear a golden mask to hide the fact he had lost an eye due to the disease. Considine’s physical performance in struggling with leprosy and his overall portrayal of the character should place the actor high in award consideration in 2023.
Ultimately, the death of Viserys is the gateway for the civil war brewing amongst the Targaryen family. The conflict between Rhaenyra Targaryan and Alicent Hightower has been the main storyline of House of the Dragon to this point and while this episode left the two characters at potentially the closest they’ve been since the premiere, the feelings of resentment have been passed down to their children which makes the upcoming boiling point all the more inevitable. With two episodes remaining, it certainly will be interesting where the status quo stands heading into the future of the series with the Dance of the Dragons.