An Emmy-Worthy Performance Comes To An End On ‘House Of The Dragon’

The post was republished on 10/11.

House of the Dragon continues to fly forward in time with each new episode, sometimes only now stopping in a certain period for a single week. And every time we leap forward, the same question gets asked:

“Viserys is still alive?”

Spoilers for this week’s episode follow.

I think we are now at around 16 years ago when it seemed like Paddy Considine’s Viserys was getting sick with some sort of unknown disease that gives him open sores and causes him to waste away while his brother, Daemon, doesn’t even seem to age. After this latest time skip, another six years added onto the decade before that, he’s quite literally the walking dead, barely able to stand, covered in sores, half his face dissolved so you can practically see through to his skull. And yet, he lives. Or lived, rather. The episode ends with his final breaths, at long last.

No matter what you may think of House of the Dragon on the whole, Paddy Considine’s nuanced performance as Viserys is easily one of its highlights, and last night, buried under what has to be eight hours of makeup and CGI greenscreen strips on his face to create the zombie effect, he put on the performance of his life in the role. Last night, Viserys arrives to preside over the debate over the succession of Driftmark, and by proxy, his own throne. He pulls himself out of bed to side with his daughter to declare his (clearly illegitimate) grandchildren legitimate heirs in a powerful scene that has him practically crawling to the Iron Throne to do so. An incredible moment for an incredible character.

Of course, he did end his life by screwing something up, thinking he was speaking to Rhaenyra but instead telling Alicent bits and pieces of the Song of Ice and Fire prophecy, indicating to her that her son, Aegon, was the prince that was promised and she must do everything to ensure he takes power. This is…not the Aegon he’s referring to, but since there are like 50 Targaryens named Aegon, this misunderstanding will now likely result in war between the different parts of the family. Though honestly, given the boys in question, that does seem like it probably would have happened anyway.

As for Considine, his performance as a decaying Viserys since the start of the show absolutely deserves some recognition. He would likely be submitted as Best Supporting Actor in a drama, given the ensemble nature of the series, though in that category he would likely be fending off a few Succession actors. Here were the nominees last year:

  • Nicholas Braun (Succession)
  • Billy Crudup (The Morning Show)
  • Kieran Culkin (Succession)
  • Park Hae-soo (Squid Game)
  • Matthew Macfadyen (Succesion)
  • John Turturro (Severance)
  • Christopher Walken (Severance)
  • Oh Young-soo (Squid Game)

A stacked category (Macfadyen won, I’d argue deservedly), but he at least deserves to be on next year’s list. If not win it outright. Come on, the Succession guys will have plenty more chances.

In any case, even if he’s not given any statues, it was an absolute hell of a performance from Considine these last eight weeks. Excellent work, and out of every character in Westeros, Viserys will stand the test of time as one of the best-performed.

Update (10/11): You know who else was extolling the virtues of Paddy Considine’s Viserys performance long, long before last night’s episode? George RR Martin, where I’ve seen some old quotes making the rounds that now seem to have new relevance, given the events of this week’s episode and the performance Considine put on.

Here he is in the podcast Game of Owns back when we were still on episode 3:

“In some ways, I think they’ve made some improvements. I’m particularly thinking of Paddy Considine’s portrayal of King Viserys. Viserys, when I wrote Fire and Blood, was I guess not a character who particularly engaged me. I saw him as … I kind of liked him, but what Paddy Considine has done has, to my mind, made him much more of a tragic figure and less of an amiable guy who doesn’t really realize what’s going on around him. This is not the first time this has happened to me with adaptations. Sometimes you get an actor, director or screenwriter who changes your stuff in a way you like. You kind of wish you could go back and do that version.”

Then, all the way back in June before the show was even out, Martin had similar sentiments that he posted to his famous blog:

“I am vastly impressed by the show’s version of King Viserys, played by Paddy Considine, who gives the character a tragic majesty that my book Viserys never quite achieved. Kudos to Paddy, Ryan and his writers, and Miguel and the other directors. (There are a lot of great performances in HOUSE OF THE DRAGON — or HOTD, as I hear some are calling it. You may never have heard of some of our actors, but I think you will learn to love them, just as you did with the cast of GAME OF THRONES).”

He’s right about that, as in addition to Considine’s Viserys, there has been lavish praise for Milly Alcock, Olivia Cooke and Matt Smith in their respective roles, in addition to other members of the cast. Turns out the man knows what he’s talking about!

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