House Of The Dragon Couldn't Cut Corners With King Viserys' Grueling Walk To The Throne

Now that all we have left of "House of the Dragon" is the long wait between now and season 2, let's talk about what was perhaps episode 8's most necessary moment: King Viserys' (Paddy Considine) final walk to the Iron Throne. The scene comes amidst more challenges to the current line of succession — which the king himself further complicates by episode's end. Due to Viserys' rapidly declining health, the king had been spending much of his time in a milk-of-the-poppy-induced haze, no longer exactly fit to rule. However, he forces himself to make a grueling walk to sit on the Iron Throne for what winds up being the last time. He may be shuffling off this mortal coil, but the king is there for his daughter when it counts.

One of the most striking aspects of the scene is how long it takes for Viserys to actually reach the throne. Some have complained about the slow burn of "House of the Dragon" and while the show is not without its flaws, this sequence resonates so much because of all the time we've spent getting to know these characters — that and Considine's incredible performance. Everything comes together perfectly: The reactions of those at court over Viserys' sudden appearance, the way he looks at Rhaenyra (Emma D'Arcy) as he trudges towards her, and Daemon (Matt Smith) picking up his ailing brother's crown and placing it back upon his head. We know what a struggle it is for the king to make it to the throne because we witness the whole thing from start to finish. 

It turns out there was some debate behind-the-scenes about showing the entire sequence. What made the showrunners and director choose to linger so long on Viserys' walk?

Making an entrance

When speaking to Entertainment Weekly, director Geeta Patel was asked about the process of shooting Viserys' emotional and exhausting walk in the scene. She explained:

"That was a very, very big sequence. We had a lot of logistical obstacles during that time. Not worth getting into, but it was already the biggest thing that we had to do as far as Paddy [Considine's] turnaround. He had so much time in prosthetics getting ready for that, and then there was a conversation about him walking down the aisle. The real time of him walking down the aisle is just, like, you're looking at your watch as a producer and director going, 'Oh my God, that's just the first take and it took, you know, 20 minutes.' It's one of those things where I was approached at one point, I can't remember who came up to me, and said, 'Maybe we should just cut around this.' Like not really do it. 'Let's just do it once.'"

Ultimately, Patel decided the scene needed to be as long as it ended up being to pack a more powerful emotional punch. 

"I was like, 'No, we are gonna do the walk because the story is actually that he is walking down this aisle.' He is in an extreme amount of pain. He is walking towards something. He wants to save the realm. If we cut it short, we would lose that element forever in the edit room. We would never have that possibility. So we just put our heads down and shot Paddy walking. Even for Paddy, that was a hard thing to do because he's got that cane and it hurts your back doing that walk more than once. But I'm very proud that we stuck to our guns because I do feel like that is what helps the emotion come out."

Walking through fire

Patel also discussed what Viserys was actually walking towards in that scene. She continued:

"When Ryan [Condal] and Miguel [Sapochnik] and I discussed that scene, we'd always thought his eyes are towards the throne. It was gonna be shot that way. You see Viserys exerting himself and then you see he's trying to get to the throne to help the realm. While we were rehearsing, Rhaenyra just happens to be standing there in the middle. I was like, 'Oh, wait a minute. He's not walking to the throne, he's walking to her.' 

And apparently, this entire sequence made Patel shed a tear or two.

"At least from my own understanding, that put tears in my eyes right there during rehearsal, 'cause I'm the daughter of a father who loves me so much and he would've walked on fire for me. That's when all of a sudden, even though we had no time as usual because we're always maximizing, we did what we could to get that moment of Rhaenyra and Viserys. That was a wonderful discovery. I wish I thought of it a day before even. I would've shot more of it. But I'm so glad that we were able to get the shots we did and they did make it to the cut."

It's quite powerful following Viserys as he makes this several-minute trek to the Iron Throne. The momentum of the scene would've been completely different if they had cut around it. Seeing how much pain he's in, how difficult this is, but that he's doing it anyway, we get a much truer sense of what this means to him: not just his duty to the realm, but also to protect his daughter. Viserys might not have been the most effective king, but Paddy Considine has left a lasting impression on "House of the Dragon."