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House Of The Dragon Showrunner Explains Daemon's Violent Outburst In The Finale

Throughout the first season of "House of the Dragon," one thing has been pretty clear: Daemon Targaryen, played by Matt Smith, isn't exactly a stand-up guy. The chaotic and troublesome brother of King Viserys I Targaryen (Paddy Considine), Daemon kicks off the series at large by brutally executing criminals on behalf of the City Watch, and it's immediately clear that nobody on Viserys' small council thinks he should be anywhere near the Iron Throne. Unfortunately for those naysayers, Daemon gets pretty close to the crown... kind of. Eventually.

After a time jump that brings the events of "House of the Dragon" ahead by a decade, Daemon marries his niece and Viserys' daughter Rhaenyra Targaryen (Emma D'Arcy), with whom he shared an unfinished romantic tryst during her younger years. (Yes, everybody is cool with incest, because that's kind of just what Targaryens do.) Daemon, as consort to Rhaenyra, is supposed to watch as his wife sits on the Iron Throne, but after Viserys dies, the Targaryen civil war known as the Dance of the Dragons officially begins when Viserys' widow Alicent Hightower (Olivia Cooke) installs her son Aegon II (Tom Glynn-Carney) onto the Iron Throne.

Daemon wants to go to war for his wife, but one shocking realization leads to a particularly brutal moment in the finale. Now, showrunner and co-creator Ryan Condal is breaking down Daemon's latest dirty deed.

Daemon was in the dark about an important prophecy

Upon learning of Alicent's betrayal and army, Daemon is ready to go to war, but there's one thing he doesn't know: there's also a prophecy his brother never told him, because the prophecy was meant for a future ruler, and Viserys had already ruled Daemon out in favor of Rhaenyra. Furious in the moment, Daemon does something terrible: he wraps his hands around Rhaenyra's neck.

"It's a moment that I think is surprising and shocking for Daemon as a character, but I also think it's one of those things that's been set up over the course of the entire season," Condal told Deadline. "Daemon — while an incredibly charismatic and deeply interesting, complex character, I think — he's also capable of great darkness. It's simmering just beneath the surface. When he learns in that moment that Viserys never believed in him enough, as his actual heir to the throne, to pass this thing on that he clearly just easily passed on to Rhaenyra, it breaks him. He loved his brother so deeply and trusted him, even through all the problems that they had, and Viserys never shared it with him. He kept [Daemon] in the dark, and it just it breaks Daemon. Instead of reacting with grief or sadness that you see out of him later, he reacts with rage and he takes it out on Rhaenyra."

Daemon is capable of some pretty dark things

Daemon is definitely not any sort of hero throughout "House of the Dragon," frequently only doing things that could be construed as helpful when they directly serve his interests and needs. For this reason, Condal told The New York Times that he's actually pretty baffled over Daemon's popularity online.

After the interviewer mentions that writer Sara Hess said disparaging things about Daemon that caused some serious backlash, Condal admitted that he's totally confused. "I'm having trouble understanding it," Condal said. "We established right out of the gate, in the pilot, that Daemon is a fascinating guy, but he's not Ned Stark. So I didn't see it coming. To me, Daemon is the antihero of this story. He's a character with a real darkness to him, who's dangerous and charming in equal parts. I knew people would be fascinated by him and latch onto him, but I figured they'd do it in the way they did with Jaime Lannister or Bronn or the Red Viper. I did not think they would oddly apply this sort of super-fandom to him and try to justify every single thing he's done as being intrinsically heroic. It simply isn't. It's not the case. Nor will it be in the future."

Judge Daemon for yourself on "House of the Dragon" — the first season is now streaming on HBO Max.