At 1st look, Daemon Targaryen looks positioned as one particular of the heroes of Dwelling of the Dragon, nevertheless that impression doesn’t very last for long. He is played by Matt Smith, arguably the most very well-acknowledged actor in the original solid, and he’s slotted into the role of “character who snarkily deconstructs the items in which all people all around him is invested,” making him the closest thing the sequence has to a character like Game of Thrones’ supporter favourite Tyrion Lannister. Subsequent events have since designed it very clear that the Rogue Prince is far more rogue than prince, with Daemon frequently exiled by his brother, pushing boundaries with his niece, and frequently running afoul of every person else.
But if he’s not the hero of Dwelling of the Dragon, Daemon has by no means been its villain, both. That’s not to say he has not completed some awful matters in the training course of the collection. Ultimately, he falls somewhere concerning “morally ambiguous” at best and “morally reprehensible” at worst. But whilst loads of Daemon’s steps could be counted as “villainous” on the area, the series has been pretty cautious to preserve a selected degree of ambiguity, to pull absent and reduce the whole depiction of Daemon’s actions from currently being shown to the viewers. In undertaking so, a distance is created between his villainy and the audience, the greater to protect his esteem in our eyes. We hear about Daemon doing poor factors, but hardly ever do we see him performing those people points. And even when he does carry out an act of villainy on display screen, it’s generally introduced in a sympathetic way, the far better to continue to keep him from tilting into a comprehensive-on villain in our minds.
For instance, at the conclusion of “Heirs of the Dragon,” the series’ premiere episode, Daemon seems to be the sequence central villain: pursuing reviews of his toasting his dead infant nephew as the “heir for a working day,” Daemon is disinherited and banished from King’s Landing by King Viserys (Paddy Considine), soon after which Viserys appoints his daughter, Rhaenyra, as his heir. As Daemon skulks off into exile, the episode concludes with a conventional hero shot confirming Rhaenyra as the protagonist of the tale.
But pointedly, we never ever really see Daemon utter the words “heir for a day.” When identified as on it, Daemon neither confirms nor denies obtaining said “heir for a day” (in fact, his reaction to Viserys’ interrogation — “we have to all mourn in our very own way” — suits the cadence and rhyme of Daemon’s toast as relayed earlier in the episode, suggesting it may well be what Daemon truly stated that evening). It’s a telling preference: Even though Residence of the Dragon’s source material, the guide Hearth & Blood, is meant to be a subjective telling of Targaryen background written down by an in-universe creator drawing from a series of limited (and biased) sources, the producers of the show have claimed the tv display signifies an aim accounting of these gatherings.
Regardless of whether or not Daemon spoke the text doesn’t in the end matter the critical takeaway right here is the ambiguity. In this purportedly objective account of record, we never know for guaranteed if Daemon fully commited the sin which initially cast him in the role of series villain. And it is a approach the series will continue to make use of to command the seemingly objective gaze of the camera as it keeps Daemon from slipping into outright villainy. When he steals the dragon’s egg in “The Rogue Prince,” it also happens off display, pointedly focusing only on the reaction to it and his enthusiasm for performing it in the to start with put. It is not the motion of a villain looking to harm or trigger difficulty, but the action of a brother and uncle to get the consideration of his ostracized family members. Even when he kills one particular of Viserys’ messengers at the bottom of episode 3, the moment is a prelude to his most ordinarily heroic motion of the sequence, jeopardizing himself (through an motion sequence shot to place Daemon as the hero) and ending the fast menace of the Crabfeeder. That victory is what sticks in the minds of the audience, not the earlier assault on another person basically for offering information he did not like.
When he confronts his lawful wife, Rhea Royce, in “We Gentle the Way,” it seems obvious that murder is on Daemon’s mind. Still their encounter is filmed in these a way that it is unclear if Rhea’s horse reared as a immediate consequence of Daemon’s actions or not. And when Daemon techniques the now-paralyzed Rhea with a significant ol’ rock in his hand, the outcome is very clear, even if the digital camera cuts absent.
That cutaway is notable, sparing us the sight of Daemon caving in his wife’s cranium. We know it transpires, but not demonstrating the act keeps Daemon from remaining witnessed as as well a great deal of a remorseless villain. Assess this to later on in the similar episode, when the digicam is a lot less interested in defending our watch of Ser Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel), as we see him pound Joffrey Lonmouth’s encounter into pulp. Evidently, the creators have no concern inciting a visceral reaction in the viewers to Criston’s steps — they want us to be off-place by the severity of what he does to Joffrey, and to not like him as a consequence (the improved to cement his transition from a intense Rhaenyra ally to a staunch foe). However Daemon, who does considerably the identical thing to Rhea previously in the episode (when seemingly acting with malice and forethought versus the inflamed passion of Criston Cole), gets the more complimentary edit — mainly because he’s not genuinely the villain of the story.
This sympathetic framing of Daemon in the experience of what are, on paper, atrocious acts, is plainly a unique decision in a sea of morally ambiguous people, even when he does issues that may well offend sensibilities of the viewers. The crackling fourth episode, “King of the Narrow Sea,” could be explained as “the 1 the place Daemon seduces his niece.” But while which is technically precise, the presentation of their actions is significantly more complicated. Their actions in the “bowels of a pleasure den,” as Otto Hightower phrases it, are not introduced via the performances or direction as tawdry or illicit. Milly Alcock portrays Rhaenyra as enjoying herself all through their bodily interactions, and their scenes of physical intimacy are not shot in an exploitative way or in a way which indicates what they are accomplishing is improper. Daemon’s abrupt departure and crystal clear inner thoughts about the situation are straight at odds with the villainous issue he’s accused of. The rumors of their come across direct to sizeable problems for Rhaenyra (and yet another banishment for Daemon), but as soon as yet again, steps that appear to be outwardly villainous on paper are introduced in a a lot more nuanced, ambiguous way to the audience.
It is all the better to established up his arc in episode 7, when he’s reunited with Rhaenyra and the two come to a decision to wed. After again, he’s primarily on the outskirts of the principal action of the episode, but his commitment — and the way the viewers is getting advised to perceive him, even in the encounter of incest — is so a lot more rooted in his inner thoughts as a character than an archetype to which he’s adhering. Listed here, it becomes apparent why the display has persistently kept the audience at a remove from Daemon’s villainous actions. We are at a position where the struggle traces have been drawn, and it’s develop into crystal clear that Alicent, not Daemon, is the main antagonist to Rhaenyra. The selection of Rhaenyra and Daemon to wed cements that he’s been her ally, not her rival. In order for the viewers to settle for that, there desires to be some length between them and Daemon’s much more morally questionable actions, and so the series has been thorough from the beginning to existing Daemon in a sympathetic way, even when he’s executing matters the audience would or else jeer at as the steps of a obvious lousy dude. For Daemon to be the lover to Rhaenyra he’s been destined to be, he experienced to be retained at a clear away from his baser steps.
The stop outcome of all that obfuscation is clear: Daemon Targaryen is not a excellent person. But he’s also not the villain of this story, and the collection has been telling us that all alongside.