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House Of The Dragon Director Comments On That Traumatizing Birth Scene In Episode 1

Spoilers for House of the Dragon season 1 episode 1 below.

"House of the Dragon" is here, and it's already stirring up plenty of controversy after its very first episode.

The "Game of Thrones" universe is no stranger to pushback over sexist, gruesome, or otherwise horrifying scenes, and clearly, "GoT" vet Miguel Sapochnik, who serves as showrunner for "House of the Dragon," is continuing that storied tradition. The pilot has plenty of classic "Thrones" gore, nudity, and more, but one scene left viewers shocked and horrified thanks to its graphic nature.

As the series opens, King Viserys I (Paddy Considine) is eagerly awaiting the birth of his second child, convinced that the infant will be a boy and, therefore, become his unchallenged heir. Nine years into his reign, Viserys and his wife Queen Aemma (Sian Brooke) have only produced one child, Princess Rhaenyra (played in the first episode by Milly Alcock) — and because of her gender, Viserys is unlikely to name her his successor.

However, the birth of his child doesn't exactly go as planned, and the scene centered around it is making serious waves already. Here's what happens during that traumatizing birth scene in the inaugural episode of House of the Dragon, and what the creative minds behind the scene had to say about it.

Queen Aemma's labor goes horrifically wrong

Partway through "The Heirs of the Dragon," Viserys is pulled away from a tournament celebrating the impending birth of his son to be told that the baby is breech — meaning that the baby has flipped over in the womb with its feet at the bottom of the mother's uterus — and that the Queen may be unable to deliver the baby. Aemma, as seen in an earlier scene, was already nervous about this birthing process, as apparently, she has suffered multiple stillbirths and miscarriages after giving birth to Rhaenyra.

Tragically, Viserys is told that he must make a choice — if he doesn't cut into Aemma's stomach to deliver the child, they could both die. Without telling Aemma what is going to happen to her, Viserys take his wife's hand and repeats that he loves her while his terrified wife screams in pain as her baby — a son — is gruesomely removed from her stomach in a very archaic version of a C-section. Aemma dies of massive blood loss, and in a heartbreaking twist, the baby, named Baelon, dies only a few hours later.

Miguel Sapochnik has entered the chat about this House of the Dragon scene

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter on the heels of the first episode, Sapochnik, who directed the pilot, weighed in on the scene and explained the process behind it — and according to Sapochnik, it was never meant to be gratuitous.

"Aemma says, 'The child bed is our battlefield,'" the director told THR. "We felt that was an interesting way to explore the fact that for a woman in medieval times, giving birth was violence. It's as dangerous as it gets. You have a 50/50 chance of making it. Many women didn't. If given the choice, the father would choose the child over the mother as a cesarean would kill you. It was an extremely violent part of life. We have a number of births in the show and basically decided to give them different themes and explore them from different perspectives the same way I did for a bunch of battles on Thrones, where each time I tried to put a different spine in each so it wasn't just doing the same thing as I don't think putting a bunch of violence on screen for the sake of violence does any good in the world."

Aemma's childbirth scene may have been utterly upsetting, but according to Sapochnik, it needed to happen. However, as it already has some fans up in arms, there's bound to be some who disagree with the director.