“House of the Dragon” Season 1 has been a wild, 20-year journey, full of backstabbing and incest and the occasional death by small metal ball. HBO’s “Game of Thrones” prequel pulled in audiences and is clearly trying to raise the bar set by “Game of Thrones” in every department — including disgust and shock value. As Season 1 draws to a close, we look back on the violence, body horror, and feet. Even when this show has us bringing up our dinner, it doesn’t fail to entertain.
Here are the 10 grossest things in “House of the Dragon” Season 1.
“House of the Dragon” is a hit, and it’s clearly trying to raise the bar set by “Game of Thrones” in every department — including disgust and shock value. Just shy of half a season in, this show is on track to out-gross its predecessor with violence, body horror, and incest. It might be nauseating to watch sometimes, but it’s still impressive.
To celebrate this perverse achievement, here are the 10 grossest things in “House of the Dragon” Season 1 (so far).
10. The Death of Lyman Beesbury
George R.R. Martin’s “Fire & Blood” actually offers several options as to how Viserys’ master of coin was killed by the Green Council — none of which made it into the show. Instead of a boring old throat-slitting or having his head thrown out a window (melodramatic), Beesbury is killed when Criston Cole grabs him by the shoulders and pushes him too firmly down in his seat. Beesbury’s torso falls forward onto the table, where he is impaled upon a little ball that council members use to take roll. Criston’s ineptitude barely registers, and the rest of the room treats the growing pool of blood around Beesbury’s head as a minor inconvenience for the rest of the meeting.
9. “The Heir for a Day”
The only verbal and not visual item on this list still bears noting. After Queen Aemma is killed in childbirth, her baby Baelon lives for a few hours before he also dies. Not one to lose out on even a day’s worth of smugness, Prince Daemon gets drunk and parties with his City Watch buddies, referring to baby Baelor as “the heir for a day.” This disgusting comment makes its way back to the King, who is honestly not mad enough about it.
8. Daemon and Rhaenyra
Originally much higher on this list, the affair and subsequent courtship and marriage of this uncle and daughter has won over “House of the Dragon” viewers to the point that it is basically unremarkable. Daemon and Rhaenyra’s attraction was far more disquieting when she was clearly a teenager in love with her uncle, but goes down much easier with two consenting adults. These two have been making all kinds of eyes at each other since Episode 1, basically begging anyone to deliver on the family legacy of incest while speaking in High Valyrian like their own secret sexual language. Low points include their first date in a brothel after Daemon murdered his first wife, and having sex on the beach the same day as the funeral for his second. High points include getting married, not killing Rhaenyra’s first husband Laenor, raising three legitimately normal children (even by Westeros standards), and Daemon’s transformation into full-on Wife (Niece) Guy.
7. The Fixation on Childbirth
“House of the Dragon” pulled no punches in its premiere episode, when Queen Aemma is subjected to a medieval C-section while fully conscious. Brooke gives a hell of a performance — as does Emma D’Arcy during Rhaenyra’s birth in Episode 6, and Nanna Blondell later in the same episode, when her character Laena’s fetus is stuck and can’t be delivered.
“House of the Dragon” may actually have some valuable messages about bodily autonomy and the dangers of childbirth, but Season 1 certainly has a conspicuously high total of traumatic delivery scenes. Part of that comes from covering 20 years in 10 episodes, but there are other ways to show the passage of time (like giving characters gray hair). It’s the rare fantasy horror that looks almost exactly the same in the modern world, where many viewers could face complications with pregnancy and labor, but don’t have to worry about being struck by a sword in battle or burned alive by a dragon.
6. Larys Strong’s “Arrangement”
We’re not here to kink shame anyone, even on a show just overflowing with incest, but what Larys and Alicent are up to in the castle at night is extortion at best. This is a pretty complex and power play between a literal Queen who should be able to do whatever she wants but is constantly manipulated by men, and a man who was born with a bad foot and can’t get enough of her sweet, sweet feet! Alicent is clearly afraid of Larys, and rightfully so because he murdered his entire family to prove his loyalty and seems ready to do the same to anyone so much as breathes too loudly in the queen’s presence (this is something he and Criston Cole have in common). Alicent herself wants the information of Larys’ spies, so she obliges by removing her socks for his sexual arousal. As depicted in Episode 9, it seems like they’ve been at this for years (he’s seen looking hungrily at her removing shoes in Episode 6), and it is not healthy for anyone involved.
5. R.I.P. Other Joffrey
Ser Criston Cole’s transformation from star knight to the realm’s Number One D-Bag can be traced back to the day of Princess Rhaenyra’s wedding. Mad with jealousy that his lover has committed to marrying someone else (and still having affairs, but not with him), Criston goes ballistic at her wedding and beats Laenor’s paramour Joffrey to death right there during the feast. He does at least feel bad about this, but then Alicent seizes the opportunity to switch his allegiance. Criston openly sucks at his job, but the Queen would rather have a vindictive and erratic sadboi on her side than leave another sword for Rhaenyra’s army.
4. All the Dismemberment
“Game of Thrones” loves a little casual dismembering (anyone else fast forward through all Theon’s scenes in Season 2?), and “House of the Dragon” wants to invoke those fond memories right off the bat in Episode 1. As commander of the City Watch, Daemon metes out justice to all kinds of criminals, mainly by cutting off their body parts. Later on, he cuts the Crab Feeder cleanly in half and drags his torso out onto the battlefield with organs trailing behind it. Larys Strong employs Daemon’s methods to cut out the tongues of King’s Landing convicts so that they can avoid execution and serve him as silent spies.
3. The Crab Feeder’s Schtick
There are a lot of creative ways to kill people in Westeros, but Crab Feeder’s methods might take the cake. Ol’ Crabby is killing Westerosi soldiers in the Stepstones — but not with old-fashioned execution. Fatally injured soldiers are held hostage on the beach, where they roast in the sun while crabs feast upon their flesh. Not only is this disgusting to look at, but the screams of agony are especially potent, as if somehow conveying the perverse and drawn-out death these men experience. Throughout Episodes 2 and 3, the show cuts between King’s Landing and the Stepstones, often with a jarring, crab-centric transition and close up. No thanks!
2. Viserys’ Decay
Something isn’t right with King Viserys, and it’s not just the fact that his parents were siblings. After being treated for an oozing sore in the first episode, Viserys begins to rot before our very eyes, from the hand that becomes maggot food to an entire arm a few episodes later and half his face in Episode 8, before he finally breathes his last. We never did get a clear diagnosis of what killed Viserys Targaryen, first of his name, but a licensed physician told IndieWire that it was because “his family is full of absolute insufferable turds.” May he rest in peace.
1. Corlys and Otto Pimping Out Their Daughters
In the world of “House of the Dragon,” men want sons so they can continue their bloodline or rule of the kingdom. They do not want daughters, but when they have them, you best believe they’re using those little girls to form strategic alliances, elevate their social status, and wed them to a significantly older man in the hopes that he’ll die and daddy can take his money. Otto Hightower slides metaphorically into King Viserys’ DMs by ordering his daughter Alicent to slide into the King’s bedchamber and comfort him after the death of his wife. This Westerosi equivalent of a “u up” continues for months before Viserys decides to marry the teenaged Alicent and almost thinks it was his own idea.
But before he names Alicent as his betrothed, Viserys receives an offer from House Velaryon in the form of literal child Laena. It’s bad enough that her parents are so ready to offer the young girl up as a bride, but then they make Laena herself meet with the King for…I guess a date?? They walk in the gardens like so many potential spouses seeking arranged marriage, but one of them is under four feet tall and talks about being 14 as something in her future. It’s not incest, but it’s pretty damn gross.
Oh and in Episode 3 it is suggested that Rhaenyra be betrothed to her two-year-old half brother. Nope!
“House of the Dragon” air Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO.