(House of the Dragon spoilers will be found below.)
King Viserys Targaryen I deteriorated before our very eyes for two months of Sunday nights on HBO. This translated into many years of anguish for a monarch who suffered from mysterious ailments before finally succumbing while delirious on milk of poppy. In the process, he ended up sowing confusion on behalf of his wife, Queen Alicent (Hightower), which will undoubtedly put the real Targaryen civil war into action. Despite the unintentional damage he wrought, Viserys truly went through hell on earth. He was literally rotting away, randomly bleeding, exposing himself to maggots, and losing fingers. By the time he passed away, Viserys lost an eye and had a mouth full of rotting teeth. Over the season, there have been several theories on what ailed Viserys, who was an exception to the general belief that Targaryens remain resistant to disease.
Paddy Considine, The Outsider and Dead Man’s Shoes actor who brought this sad monarch to life (and death), has offered some insight into what went down with Viserys’ bod. He leaps right past the theories of the Iron Throne rejecting Viserys by injuring him or Otto Hightower dropping poison into tea. In short, the sadness may have killed him, and Paddy also sees the Iron Throne as a “cursed” mechanism.
While speaking with the New York Times, Paddy got real about his own shock at “how it’s so cancerous, this thing, that it eats into his face.” Not that Paddy is calling the illness cancer; rather, the weight of the crown and — even more than that — his guilt over what he greenlit during Queen Aemma’s childbirth/death essentially was “eating him alive.” Here’s more from the NYT:
“I watched my dad die of cancer, and it was a very rapid demise. So it certainly made sense to me, and I think it was pretty shocking and effective. It becomes a physical manifestation of all the infighting and skulduggery, really. The mystery is why so many people crave the Iron Throne. It’s not something Viserys craved; he just had a sense of duty. He knows the weight of being king, the weight of the responsibility, and the toll it can take.
“From the minute of his wife’s funeral, I think Viserys starts to die. It’s a slow death. Nowhere in the story does Viserys ask the maesters to cure him, to stop this thing from eating him alive. I think he accepts it as part of the guilt of the decision he makes to put his wife through a terrible, horrible procedure. It’s like people who surrender to illness. When they offer suggestions to cure him, he doesn’t bother with it. He lets it consume him. He surrenders. That was my thing for him, anyway.”
This makes perfect sense considering that Viserys’ final moments included him exclaiming, “My love!” He wasn’t talking to Alicent, that’s for sure. Heck, he didn’t even realize that he was actually speaking to Alicent (he believed that she was Rhaenyra) in the minutes leading up to that last utterance.
R.I.P. Viserys. It’s probably for the best that he didn’t live to see future Westeros.
HBO’s House of the Dragon airs on Sundays at 9:00pm EST.