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House of the Dragon’s sex scenes kick off with Matt Smith as the saddest boy at the orgy

The Game of Thrones prequel is figuring out what it wants to say with its sex scenes

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Daemon (Matt Smith) holding up his lance in HBO’s House of the Dragon Photo: Ollie Upton/HBO
Zosha Millman (she/her) manages TV coverage at Polygon as TV editor, but will happily write about movies, too. She’s been working as a journalist for more than 10 years.

In a world where Game of Thrones made sexposition rampant, House of the Dragon has little choice but to follow suit. Though the showrunners have said they plan to “pull back” over time on prolific sex scenes that earned Game of Thrones a certain reputation, the first chapter of House isn’t a huge break from the tradition.

Matt Smith is the star who, in the pilot of House of the Dragon, gets saddled with helming two sexposition scenes, in very different ways. The first is your standard Game of Thrones fare: Daemon (Smith) is visiting his mistress, and he’s having trouble focusing because he’s stressed about his relationship with his brother. The second is more profoundly comical: Daemon rents out a brothel to reward his soldiers for a job well done. Still melancholic over a (different) run-in with his brother, he sits and sort of glooms until his mistress inspires him to make a speech.

Which of course leads to the whole brothel stopping what they’re doing — several of them very much mid-coitus — going quiet, and listening to his toast.

“Well I don’t think it’s exactly nice to be the saddest person at the medieval orgy, is it?” Smith laughs in a roundtable interview with Polygon. “But I think it tells you something about Daemon.”

Matt Smith as Daemon Targaryen standing and looking fierce with guards in front of him Photo: Ollie Upton/HBO

And indeed, for all their situational comedy, they’re an example of how sex scenes on TV can be used to further the plot. The brothel scene is certainly one way of showing how devoted Daemon’s men are, and how much their relationship is, in some ways, built on mutual respect. And as Smith notes, each moment let him show another layer to his character.

“People keep saying he’s a villain and all this, and he does really bad stuff. That’s true. But I think deep down there’s a real sense of fragility about him. There’s a strange vulnerability. And such a strange moral compass — which is warped, but it is a moral compass, in his own way.”

Ultimately, Smith acknowledges that scenes like this are far from his favorite, but that he sees how they fit in with the show (assuming the set feels safe).

“No one likes doing sex scenes. They feel quite exposing, you know what I mean? But luckily Sonoya [Mizuno], who played Mysaria, was just really wonderful. And then we had an intimacy coordinator, and that all felt quite good and safe and stuff,” Smith says. “But you know, that’s the world that we’re representing. That’s the world that George [R.R. Martin] has written. That is the world of House of the Dragon. And we’re trying to represent the books as truthfully as possible.”

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