King Viserys’ last words are shaping ‘House of the Dragon.’ What did they really mean? (2024)

In his final moments, “House of the Dragon’s” King Viserys was, well, not quite himself. Enfeebled and riddled with disease, his final words were spoken in an empty, darkened room. But those final moments are shaping not only the show’s second season — as two battling great houses head toward civil war — but the entire future of Westeros.

So what was so important about what Viserys said in his last conversation with his second wife, Queen Alicent? How is it pitting Alicent vs. her former best friend, Queen Rhaenyra (Viserys’ daughter), and how does it all trace back to a dream by legendary Westeros leader King Aegon I?

It’s time for a little Westeros history lesson.

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What did King Viserys say before he died?

Viserys and Alicent’s last conversation wasn’t much of a conversation at all. Viserys was shown moaning in bed in the eighth episode of Season One as Alicent tended to him. They spoke briefly:

Viserys: “I’m sorry. I’m sorry.”

Alicent: “Shh.”

Viserys: “But you wanted to know if I believe it to be true.”

Alicent: “Believe what to be true, my king?”

Viserys: “Don’t you remember? Aegon …”

Alicent: “Our son? Aegon?”

Viserys: “His dream. The Song of Ice and Fi— It is true. What he saw in the North. The Prince That Was Promised.”

Alicent: “I don’t understand, Viserys.”

Viserys: “The Prince.”

Alicent: “Prince Aegon?”

Viserys: “To unite the realm against the cold and the dark. It is you. You are the one. You must do this. You must do this.”

Alicent: “I understand, my king.”

Great. That’s about as clear as the bogs of The Neck.

King Viserys’ last words are shaping ‘House of the Dragon.’ What did they really mean? (1)

What did Queen Alicent hear in Viserys’ final words?

We all know how by now how Alicent interpreted what Viserys said: She took it as a mandate to put their son, Aegon II, on the throne — despite Viserys’ publicly stated intent to place his daughter Rhaenyra in charge once he was gone. A combination of “we’ve never had a queen on the Iron Throne” misogyny, mixed with the fact that Aegon II was the first son of Viserys’ who lived, plus the murky words of the king made things pretty easy once Viserys wasn’t around to change things back.

King Viserys’ last words are shaping ‘House of the Dragon.’ What did they really mean? (2)

And so, in Season One, Episode Nine, Aegon II is crowned — and Queen Rhaenyra is out Dragonstone, fomenting her takeover.

What is the Song of Ice and Fire prophecy?

Westeros fans who either read George R. R. Martin’s books or watched “Game of Thrones” are familiar with the phrase “A Song of Ice and Fire.” It’s the umbrella term for all of the Westeros books (“A Game of Thrones” is the first book in Martin’s series).

But it’s not just an enigmatic phrase; it has historical value to the Westerosi. Aegon I was the founder and first king of the Targaryen dynasty that Rhaenyra and Aegon II (and many of the other characters in “House of the Dragon”) are members of.

Aegon I had a purpose behind taking over Westeros, though. As King Viserys explained to Rhaenyra in Season One, there’s a secret prophecy that’s been passed down from ruler to heir since Aegon I about Westeros’ future. As Viserys and Rhaenyra stood under the skull of the gigantic Balerion the Black Dread — the dragon both Aegon I and Viserys once rode — he explained to her that their ancestor had a dream that led him to conquer Westeros.

According to Viserys, the dream indicated that the world of men will end starting with a long winter that begins in the North. Darkness will follow and destroy the world of the living — and Westeros can only survive if a Targaryen is on the Iron Throne.

This prophecy was engraved on a dagger that belonged to Aegon I, which Viserys shows to Rhaenyra: “From my blood come the prince that was promised and his will be the song of ice and fire.”

King Viserys’ last words are shaping ‘House of the Dragon.’ What did they really mean? (3)

Anyone who watched “Game of Thrones” knows that the prophecy has very, very long legs — it left Targaryens (like Daenerys and Jon Snow) with an almost religious sense of destiny. In the books, the Song of Ice and Fire referred to a Prince that was Promised, a prophecy where a hero called Azor Ahai will be reborn and bring the Long Night to an end. In the show, a non-Targaryen, Ayra Stark, actually killed the Night King — but she did use the steel dagger that Viserys showed to Rhaenyra.

So things may not be as murky as mud in The Neck, but there’s a lot of room for interpretation. Meanwhile, the “House of the Dragon” folks don’t know anything about the Night King or Arya Stark at this point. The prophecy is being used to lay a foundation to legitimize whoever ends up on the throne — and both Aegon II and Rhaenyra believe they have the divine right.

So who is the right king or queen?

This is still to be determined. Paddy Considine, who played Viserys, has his own thoughts. As he told the Los Angeles Times in 2023, “As (Viserys) finally passes, he says, ‘My love,’ as if his (first wife) has come to help him pass over. It made sense to me that in his dying moment he’d see the face of the person whose death he never got over, so he’s redeemed in a sense.”

King Viserys’ last words are shaping ‘House of the Dragon.’ What did they really mean? (4)

By seeing his first wife Aemma — and not Alicent — it seems much clearer that Viserys was thinking of her, as well as their daughter Rhaenyra by association. His mention of “Aegon” was almost certainly in relation to the dream and, so, Aegon I. That means Viserys didn’t change his mind in his final moments, no matter what Alicent wants to think.

Randee Dawn

Randee Dawn (she/her) is an entertainment journalist and author based in Brooklyn. In addition to writing for TODAY.com, Variety and The Los Angeles Times, her debut novel, Tune in Tomorrow, about a reality TV show run by mythic creatures, published in 2022. She's also the co-author of The Law & Order: SVU Unofficial Companion. When not interviewing the stars or dabbling in speculative fiction, she dreams of the next place she can travel to, or cuddles her Westie. More at RandeeDawn.com.

King Viserys’ last words are shaping ‘House of the Dragon.’ What did they really mean? (2024)

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