- Warning: Spoilers ahead for “House of the Dragon” Season 1, Episode 3: “Second of His Name.”
- George RR Martin once said that the reduced budget of the first season of “GoT” led to a disappointing scene.
- Now, “House of the Dragon” has embarked on an episode that creates Martin’s vision of a royal hunt.
When HBO took on the monumental task of adapting author George RR Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” novel series, no one knew for sure that it would become one of TV’s most popular TV shows. all the time.
The first season of “Game of Thrones” had an average cost per episode of around $6 million, according to Variety. And that smaller budget — especially compared to later seasons, with $15 million episodes — was the reason for Martin’s least favorite moment over the eight seasons.
In 2020, “Game of Thrones” journalist James Hibberd published a book about the HBO series titled “Fire Can’t Kill a Dragon.” Speaking with Hibberd for the book, author Martin said King Robert’s royal hunt was totally different on the show than it was in his imagination.
“Where we really fell in terms of budget was my least favorite scene on the whole show, in all eight seasons: King Robert goes hunting,” Martin said. “In the books, Robert goes hunting, we find out he’s been gored by a boar, and they bring him back and he dies. So I never did. [a hunting scene].”
“But I knew what a royal hunting party was like,” he continued. “There would have been a hundred guys. There would have been pavilions. There would have been hunters. There would have been dogs.
Martin added: “He wouldn’t have just walked through the woods with three of his friends holding spears in the hope of encountering a boar.”
The “Game of Thrones” scene (from season one, episode six: “A Golden Crown”) was less than two minutes long and featured only King Robert, Ser Barristan Selmy, Renly Baratheon, and Lancel Lannister. The men discussed sex and the good old days (in Robert’s eyes anyway), and then all the rest of the hunting action takes place off-screen.
Showrunners David Benioff and DB Weiss had to make adaptation choices that would suit their tight budget. They added many scenes of a few characters speaking in rooms instead of filming expensive celebratory, ceremonial, and battle scenes that Martin had in his imagination.
But more than 10 years later, the first “Game of Thrones” prequel series has been given the green light with a bigger budget, coming in at less than $20 million per episode.
The latest episode of ‘House of the Dragon’ brings a lavish parallel to Kingswood’s brief scene in ‘Game of Thrones’
In season one, episode three of “House of the Dragon,” we see the full production of a royal hunt in Kingswood, complete with the lodges, hunters, and hounds Martin talked about in “Fire Can’t Kill. a dragon”.
Co-showrunners Ryan Condal and Miguel Sapochnik, along with episode director Greg Yaitanes, took full advantage of the budget to bring more scope to Westeros early in the series.
The episode takes time to zoom out, showing the Red Keep and King’s Landing in the distance, helping to orient the audience to this location. We see an elaborate miniature throne room that has been assembled into a tent for King Viserys, and he is accompanied by more than a dozen men, soldiers, and lords as he sets out to kill a deer.
Like King Robert, King Viserys savors many cups of wine during this little adventure, but the results of the day are drastically different. In “House of the Dragon”, we see how King Viserys’ men hunt down the stag first and tie him up, giving Viserys an easy hit (but he always gets it wrong the first time).
Although we never saw Robert’s attack on the boar, we do know that his drunkenness and refusal to let a more capable soldier help pull the animal out led to his death. The boar slaughtered King Robert, goring him in the chest.
“House of the Dragon” doesn’t stop at a parallel, however. The episode showed Princess Rhaenyra battling a boar in self-defense, eventually killing it with a flurry of close stab wounds, then confidently returning to the royal camp covered in the boar’s blood.
If there are two key takeaways from this episode, it’s that Rhaenyra Targaryen is capable where King Viserys and King Robert faltered, and “House of the Dragon” takes steps to bring the visions of Martin as much as possible.
“House of the Dragon” airs Sundays on HBO at 9 p.m. ET. For more on the show, read our breakdown of the 11 best details you might have missed in the latest episode.