This article contains spoilers for House of the Dragon season 1.
We love a good anti-hero, and from Breaking Bad’s Walter White to The Sopranos’ Tony Soprano, rooting for the wrong character feels right sometimes. George R.R. Martin is no stranger to delivering TV anti-heroes, with the likes of Lena Headey’s Cersei Lannister from Game of Thrones being a masterclass on how it’s done.
When it comes to House of the Dragon, some call Alicent Hightower (Olivia Cooke) the “new” Cersei, but let’s be honest, there’s only one villain we’re really rooting for here… Matt Smith’s Daemon Targaryen. Now that House of the Dragon season one has wrapped, there are some fan complaints that the blonde-haired baddie made too many wild swings. If you’re struggling to understand what makes the Rogue Prince tick, it could have something to do with the writers butchering his character arc like he butchered the Crabfeeder.
Following that shocking finale, social media was flooded with angry bannermen over the scene where an enraged Daemon strangled his wife, Rhaenyra (Emma D’Arcy). There was no mention of this in Martin’s Fire & Blood novel that provides the show’s source material, and although House of the Dragon has had wins with book changes like Laenor’s fate and Rhaenys crashing Aegon II’s coronation, this has been branded a miss by many. Additionally, several key scenes showing a more sympathetic Daemon have been cut throughout the season, including one that could have added to the show’s LGBTQ+ representation.
Before Uncle Daemon shacked up with Rhae, he was unhappily married to Lady Rhea Royce (who he promptly killed) and kept a mistress of Mysaria the White Worm (Sonoya Mizuno). Although the show implies Daemon is heterosexual, some noted the throwaway line that he told Laena Velaryon that she was almost as beautiful as her brother. More than being a joke, it’s seen in a whole new light thanks to a scene that was cut from Rhaenyra and Laenor’s wedding. In the aired episode, Daemon shared a longing stare with a male servant, but in an axed moment that was shared on Twitter, there’s confirmation Daemon is bisexual – kissing the unnamed man in the background.
Later in the series, there’s the heartbreaking death of Laena, after she commands her own dragon to torch her due to the pain of childbirth complications. It’s a key moment in the series because it frees Daemon up to marry Rhaenyra once they’ve got Laenor out of the way. If it wasn’t for the union between the pair, it’s unlikely the war would be going in the direction it’s going – with Daemon a massive part of the Blacks. Despite moving on from Laena at seemingly breakneck speed, a still from a cut scene shows Daemon consoling his daughters (Baela and Rhaena) following Laena’s death. It proved that he cares for the girls, and likely, had a lot of love for his dearly departed wife. Instead, we’re left with a pretty cold Daemon.
Emotional breakdowns aren’t out of Daemon’s reach, and when House of the Dragon was filming, leaked set photos showed Daemon lying in the sea at what we now guess is Dragonstone. Close-up shots in the finale prove this comes following the death of Daemon and Rhaneyra’s child. Sticking with the birth, others claim a scene of him caring for Rhaenyra was also cut. Apparently, he tended to her in the immediate aftermath and tragically told her they needed to burn the baby. Leaks for episode 10 have also said a scene of Daemon training in a modified version of his tourney armor was cut. This moment would’ve shown a different side to Jacaerys (Harry Collet) because he disagrees with his mother’s calls for peace by saying they can’t trust a usurper (Aegon II).
Finally, Paddy Considine confirmed to the New York Times that a scene between King Viserys and his wayward brother was also given the boot. Here. Viserys was going to tell Daemon about Aegon the Conqueror’s dream, which becomes a major tie to Game of Thrones and the fight against the Night King. Even though Daemon isn’t told, the implication that his brother nearly confided in him but stopped short would again change the dynamic between them. For the time being, Rhaenyra is the only one who knows about the full prophecy, which she used to laud over Daemon during the finale’s strangulation scene. Putting all of these together, Daemon lashing out at Rhaenyra starts to make more sense because he continuously felt like he lived in the King’s shadow.
As the Dance of the Dragons heats up and the Blacks declare all-out war on the Greens, expect Daemon to be back to his villainous best as an anti-hero we can’t help but feel a little bit sorry for. Even as the closing shot focuses on a vengeful Rhaenyra ready to torch her former friends and family, we’d be just as worried about what an emotional Dameon is capable of. At least we know there’s more than just staring and smirking beneath the war-ready Targaryen’s helmet. Come on House of the Dragon, release the Daemon Cut and let us see his softer side.