House of the Dragon: Daemon fans didn't understand he was dangerous, according to the showrunner

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Ryan Condal, showrunner of House of the Dragon, doesn't understand those who idealize the character of Daemon Targaryen.

After the excellent final episode of House of the Dragon, many comments from fans pointed out alleged inconsistencies , accusing screenwriter Sara Hess of betraying the writing of certain characters. Among them is the charismatic Daemon Targaryen, played by Matt Smith, who became extremely popular with viewers during the first season.

Following a scene where Daemon strangles Rhaenyra on a mood swing, many claimed that this move went against his development. Part of the public would thus have idealized his relationship with the queen, excusing all his crimes in the name of a certain tenderness, at least perceived as such. An interpretation of the character that Ryan Condal, showrunner of the series, does not share or understand.

In his interview with The New York Times, Condal expressed his confusion over Daemon's fan reaction this way:

“I really struggle to understand. We established from the start, in the pilot, that Daemon is a fascinating man, yes, but absolutely not a Ned Stark. […] For me, Daemon is an anti- hero in the story. He is a character with a real element of darkness, which makes him as dangerous as he is charismatic. I suspected that people would be interested and attached, but like for Jaime Lannister, Bron or the Red Viper. […] I didn't think a community of fans would try to justify all of his actions as heroic. They aren't, and they won't be in the future.”

The comment is unequivocal. As shown in the first episode of the series, Daemon is impulsive, violent, but also anxious and arrogant. Full of faults (which even pushes his brother to be wary of him), he orders an arbitrary massacre in the street of Port-Réal and, a few episodes later, murders his own wife in cold blood. A portrait that, logically, should not inspire admiration.

However, some of his qualities managed to outweigh his undeniable vices in the eyes of many fans. In particular, his attachment to his family and his strength in combat remind him the archetype of a hero of the songs of gesture (there is Roland in his fight against the crab feeder). And beyond any moral, the character remains one of the most captivating in the series due to his unpredictability and his poise – well helped by the talent of Matt Smith. This, Condal doesn't deny by the way, but he still doesn't see it as a valid reason to see Daemon as a good guy in history:

I get Daemon having heroic sides and people can see them. I mean, he's incredibly charismatic, he's handsome with his wig, he rides dragons, and he has a super cool sword. But if you're looking to find in him a Han Solo, who will always come back to the good side of the force, you're in the wrong franchise.

The Daemon Fan Club President

It's all about nuance with characters like House of the Dragon. Daemon, like all the others, is neither Aragorn nor Sauron.He embodies no value of good or evil, and no romantic ideal. Closer to a Shakespearean character (whose work greatly inspired George R.R. Martin), he cannot, in the long term, be “the internet's boyfriend” – as says Condal.

As for Game of Thrones, the trap remains that of identification. The painful experience of Daenerys (and all the children named after her) may not have served as a lesson, but no protagonist in Martin's work is made to be a role model. If empathy is possible, these characters have no mirrors other than themselves and their conduct often leads to tragedy. Like Macbeth or Othello, Daemon Targaryen is both fascinating and mediocre. A formidable duality, perfectly respected by the writing of Sarah Hess and Ryan Condal.

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