Viserys Is Foreshadowing The Mad King’s Downfall In House Of The Dragon


WARNING! This article contains SPOILERS for House of the Dragon season 1, episode 3!House of the Dragon’s King Viserys Targaryen is increasingly presenting the signs of paranoia and mistrust that led to his descendant’s downfall: Game of Thrones‘ Mad King. House of the Dragon begins shortly after the reign of the greatest King of Westeros, Jaehaerys I Targaryen, after which time the family descends into chaos. Although King Viserys is a good man, House of the Dragon episode 3 hints that his ineffectual reign as king is beginning to reflect the early deterioration of his extremely cruel descendant, Aerys II Targaryen.

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House of the Dragon episode 3 begins three years after episode 2, revealing that Alicent has given birth to Viserys’ firstborn son Aegon. However, Viserys had already named his only child Princess Rhaenyra the heir to the Iron Throne several years before, and still has no intention to replace her. Despite this, Jason Lannister tells King Viserys that he would be happy to marry Rhaenyra and compensate her for her “loss of station,” elaborating that many assumed Aegon would be named heir instead, as has been tradition in Westeros. House of the Dragon’s Targaryen king responds angrily, informing Jason that if rebellion is stirring, he has a duty to inform him. Of course, Jason steadfastly denies any such treason is occurring, with Viserys letting the flustered Lannister leave after a warning.

King Viserys’ accusations of rebellion reflect the same underlying worries and unfounded paranoia that caused the Mad King’s undoing and the fall of House Targaryen. However, Viserys’ comments to Jason are more for show than truly based in concern for rebellion or treason, as the king is primarily using his power to threaten the lords to stop questioning his choice of heir. While Viserys is utilizing these largely not genuine accusations to put an end to the lords’ scheming, The Mad King was authentic in his paranoia of rebellion, treason, and insubordination. Viserys accusing Lord Jason Lannister of treason for a harmlessly-intended suggestion is exactly what Game of Thrones’ Mad King did with far more innocent offenses.

How & Why Aerys II Became The Mad King

Had it been King Aerys II Targaryen questioning Jason Lannister, House of the Dragon’s Lord of Casterly Rock would have been burned alive for mentioning that anyone undermined his decision. The Mad King earned his nickname for his unforgiving and cruel actions, which was a significant departure from the benevolent start to his reign. Aerys became spiteful of the power of those around him like Tywin Lannister, leading him to suspect even his family members and small council members of malicious intentions. When Aerys was imprisoned and abused during the Defiance of Duskendale, his paranoia turned into the madness that would define his reign, and would increase his sadistic, violent punishments of anyone he (correctly or erroneously) deemed to be against him.

Aerys’ madness was thought to be caused by the effects of House Targaryen’s incest, as the family was known for often producing cruel and tyrannical figures. While it was thought that Aerys had originally avoided inheriting the Targaryen madness, his later reign saw him become one of the most sadistic rulers in Targaryen history. House of the Dragon’s reveal of Aegon’s dream suggests that Aerys’ madness and delusions also could have been fueled by his need to bring dragons back to destroy the White Walkers and keep the Targaryens on the Iron Throne.

WARNING! Major SPOILERS ahead for Fire & Blood!

Does Viserys Targaryen Become A Mad King?

King Viserys certainly becomes more tragic and misguided as House of the Dragon progresses, but he doesn’t come anywhere close to the Mad King. While snapping at Jason was one of the first times King Viserys exhibited his cynical anger toward anyone outside his family, his punishments for those who threaten Rhaenyra’s position as the next queen will become more severe. Viserys supposedly considers executing Daemon for treason when he is rumored to take Rhaenyra’s virginity (but exiles him instead), takes out several Velaryons’ tongues for claiming Rhaenyra’s sons are bastards and cannot inherit Driftmark, and is accused of killing Rhaenyra’s rumored lover Harwin Strong. Despite such hostility over securing his succession and uniting his family, House of the Dragon’s Viserys was never truly mad or sadistic.

New episodes of House of the Dragon release Sundays on HBO/HBO Max.

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