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Matt Smith Improvised Violence In One House Of The Dragon Season 2 Scene

Contains spoilers for "House of the Dragon" Season 2 Episode 3 — "The Burning Mill"

Anyone who watches "House of the Dragon" knows that Daemon Targaryen, played by Matt Smith, is a real piece of work. A violence and impulsive prince of the royal, dragonriding family, Daemon — who is married to his own niece, Queen Rhaenyra Targaryen — isn't having a particularly great time in the show's second season. After running afoul of his powerful wife, Daemon is told to go to the drafty, damp castle of Harrenhal and claim it in her name ... only to experience vivid hallucinations and terrors while he's there. According to an interview with episode director Geeta Patel in ScreenRant, one of Daemon's violent outbursts in the latest episode, "The Burning Mill," was his idea.

Matt and I talked about how he just came from being pushed away by the one person he let in," Patel said of Daemon and Rhaenyra's estrangement. "He's embarrassed; he's hurt. He told himself he would never let himself feel this again. As he's going through the hallways, it's not about, "What's going to come around the corner?" It's, 'I don't know where I am anymore on the map. I don't know who I am anymore. I hate myself. I hate my life' [...] Just all this madness that we've all been through." And then there's a guy down the hallway, and it's scripted that the guard sees him and then runs away. Matt did it, then he came up to me and goes, 'I just want to beat the hell out of that guy.'

Patel agreed, and the moment worked thanks to Smith's intensely emotional performance. "And it wasn't just, 'Beat the guy up.' It was, 'Feel everything you want to feel. Where you came from,'" Patel recalled. "He just kept going, and that's what made the cut in the end."

Young Rhaenyra and Daemon's scene is incredibly significant, according to Geeta Patel

While Daemon is having those visions in Harrenhal, they come to a head (pun intended) when he enters a room only to see a much younger Rhaenyra — played by her original Season 1 actress Milly Alcock in a surprising cameo — stitching the head of young Prince Jaehaerys back onto his small body. In the Season 2 premiere, Daemon arranges to have a prince of Team Green, the faction opposing Rhaenyra, killed, but instead of telling assassins to only kill the intended target Aemond Targaryen (Ewan Mitchell), he's apparently vague, and a child dies horrifically.. Clearly, this vision of Rhaenyra is a manifestation of Daemon's guilt, but it's also notable that it's the younger version of Rhaenyra that Daemon once seduced.

"And in that dream, she looks at him — and the way we talked about it is she doesn't need to say anything," Geeta Patel told the outlet about this moment. "We just worked on the look; the meaning that comes from all the episodes before she looks at him, and she cuts him. She says, 'Hey, you killed a boy. You don't do that.'"

Not only that, but Patel says this is the moment that forces Daemon to reckon with his actions: "People have said that to him all the way through. But when young Rhaenyra says it to him, it's the first time he feels it. It's the first time he processes his actions, though he's been killing people left and right since the beginning. This is the first time we see him regret. We see him feel. We actually kept talking, in between takes, about how this is something we've never seen before in Daemon."


Geeta Patel also revealed that, while crafting Daemon's scenes in Harrenhal, she and her production team wanted to make sure that it was as "disorienting" as possible, with winding hallways meant to baffle the prince in distress. "That was something we were constantly checking ourselves on; just that it was a metaphor for what was going on inside Daemon's head. He was in a space he'd never been before," she said. Still, she and Matt Smith said they felt like something wasn't quite right, eventually understanding that it's not really about Harrenhal."

I finally woke up one morning and realized, "Wait a minute, it's about Daemon's relationship with Rhaenyra. It's about Daemon and where he just came from,'" Patel said. "This is not an isolated scene because, if it's just him arriving in Harrenhal, you can put it anywhere at any time. But what's important is that Daemon gave his heart to Rhaenyra. He married her when he's not a marrying kind of guy. He doesn't let anyone in, but he let her in. And she, in [Episode 2], pushed him away and told him he was dirt; he was ugly. That hit him like a bullet, and he doesn't take bullets."

Daemon's pride is hurt, and Harrenhal is throwing him for an enormous loop, to say the least ... so we'll just have to wait and see what happens as he continues spending time in the run-down castle he's claimed. "House of the Dragon" airs new episodes every Sunday at 9 P.M. EST on HBO and Max.