Spoiler Warning: House of the Dragon Season 1Game of Thrones changed modern television. Very few shows had a grasp on the audience to the point that the new episode premieres had to be at the same time worldwide, not depending on the country’s timezone. That way, there wouldn’t be a single person that knew what happened in Westeros before the others. With its controversial ending, fans were pleased to know that that wouldn’t be the last time they would see these families with the prequel series House of the Dragon announcement.
With such a vast and carefully crafted world created by George R.R. Martin, fans of the books and the series were happy to know that the legacy of the Targaryens and their ruin from power to almost the end of their bloodline would be adapted to the small screen. Following characters such as King Viserys (Paddy Considine), his bloodlust brother Daemon (Matt Smith), and his daughter Princess Rhaenyra (Emma D’Arcy), the Game of Thrones is once again played — and this time, there are dragons.
The person on the Iron Throne, 200 years before Game of Thrones, is King Viserys. He has suffered from a debilitating disease since the early episodes. Here’s what he was sick with and how it affected the narrative — and seasons to come.
Diseases in Westeros
As shown in Game of Thrones and continued in House of the Dragon, the world of the show is brutal. It’s violent, political, and a reimagination of a world still in the Medieval historical moment, where dragons and magic are real. Therefore, there are many ways to die and get injured in this story, and with the lack of basic hygiene (leading to amputations and gangrene), and a nod to nearly perfect world-building, diseases are also a part of it.
One thing that the show does from the beginning is make the audience expect the unexpected. Some characters have grander and epic deaths, and some are more realistic and simple — creating a level of credibility with their viewers and a sense of unpredictability that many highlight as one of the best qualities of this story.
In the latter seasons of Game of Thrones, Jorah (Iain Glen) gets an infectious disease called Greyscale. In a mission that goes south, he gets the disease that turns human skin to resemble rocks and even has similarities to reptilian skin. The procedure to postpone the development of the disease is disgusting and, a lot of times, not an effective cure for it. The disease is transmitted by touch, and Jorah wasn’t the first one to get it; the daughter of the Baratheons, Shireen (Kerry Ingram), got it from a doll. The little girl didn’t die because her father, Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane), brought all the best healers to try to cure her, and they were successful, even if she still had markings on her face.
King Viserys’ Disease
In the first season of House of the Dragon, Viserys is the king and ruler of Westeros. There are many dangers to being king. However, the king’s demise comes from a relatively simple and conflict-free situation: a disease. By episode eight, when the character dies, he has slowly deteriorated to the point of serious physical consequences. However, they never explicitly say what caused the disease, not even the name of it, only showing that the king was in a lot of pain and losing body parts, including an eye.
The answer came from the actor in a podcast interview with Entertainment Weekly. “He’s actually suffering from a form of leprosy. His body is deteriorating, his bones are deteriorating.” There was no cure for leprosy in the Medieval Ages, as the show is set in a similar moment; even the king couldn’t escape from dying. Also, while the disease had a decent portrayal in the show, the Leprosy Mission clarified that some elements were exaggerated, such as losing an eye and part of a cheek. Nevertheless, this palace in King’s Landing is still full of dragons and witchcraft, so it fits pretty well with the top elements and makes sense with the show’s overall themes — as even the most powerful man on the continent is not invincible.
The Aftermath of the King’s Death
With the king gone, the moment fans were waiting to see happen is imminent. The heirloom fight that had already started when his health was deteriorating ramped up to full speed. Rhaenyra, the one her father chose to rule in her place, will have to fight Queen Alicent (Olivia Cooke), who wants her children with the king on the throne, as well as some outside sources that say they have a legitimate claim to the crown. An inside war threatens the Targaryen dynasty on the Iron Throne and the house’s survival. And, while the show is set centuries before Game of Thrones, the lust for being the ruler is no less intense.
The battle for the throne will continue in Season 2, which is set to be released in late 2024. There’s a lot of anticipation on how the show will continue this story in such a beloved world. As shown in the finale episode, one thing is for sure: while they tried to avoid war, there’s no turning back now. Dragons, fire, and blood will mark the map of Westeros, and there can only be one ruler of the Seven Kingdoms.
This story originally appeared on Movieweb