Daemon Targaryen’s war scene from House of the Dragon is as preposterous as it looked


The third episode of House of the Dragon, “Second of His Name,” climaxes with a battle in the Stepstones. Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith) seemingly offers himself up in surrender to the Crabfeeder, the guerrilla fighter he and Corlys Velaryon (Steve Toussaint) are trying to put down. But it’s a fakeout; Daemon charges, fighting what seems like dozens of the Crabfeeder’s soldiers before finally going into a cave and defeating the leader himself. Meanwhile, Corlys leads his men out to contend with the bulk of the Crabfeeder’s forces.

I’m not someone who knows much of anything about the way ancient battles were fought, but watching this for the first time back when the episode aired, even I could tell it was ridiculous. Daemon somehow mows down wave after wave of guys while dodging most of the arrows and blades coming his way? C’mon now. It didn’t matter, because the sequence was very entertaining, but realistic? Even to these untrained eyes, that’s a very clear no.

My suspicious were confirmed by Oxford historian Roel Konijnendijk, who analyzed the scene (and several others from movies and TV shows) for Insider. “Obviously, everytime he has to fight someone, he stops; that’s when he would get shot,” Konijnendijk said, finding it hard not to laugh. “And he has to do that several times and then find cover, which just happens to be there. He’s immensely lucky, he’s basically wearing premium-grade plot armor.”

Daemon Targaryen is wearing “premium-grade plot armor” on House of the Dragon

Konijnendijk points out a couple of other niggling details about the scene, starting with the now-familiar scene of someone telling a cadre of archers what to do with their bows. “Never happened,” Konijnendijk said. “The ‘nock, draw, loose’ thing, it’s not real.”

And then there’s the final part of the battle when the Crabfeeder’s forces go up against Corlys Velaryon’s “In terms of the fighting, it’s just chaos,” Konijnendijk said. “Everybody’s just running around just engaging the enemy one at a time, hacking at anything they can see. It’s very exciting, but this is not a battle, this is just a big mess.”

Overall, Konijnendijk gave the battle a 2/10 rating for historical accuracy, which feels about right. And again, this has no bearing on how entertaining the sequence is, but yeah, this is not one of the more believable fights in the history of the Game of Thrones universe.

The Wheel of Time’s battles are even less realistic than House of the Dragon’s

Fantasy shows in general don’t get high marks for historical accuracy. Konijnendijk also looks at the climactic battle at the end of the first season of The Wheel of Time, where Trollocs attack the Borderlands city of Fal Dara through a gap that the people of the city have supposedly been guarding for thousands of years. Konijnendijk wonders why those people didn’t do anything more than build a single simple wall in all that time. “The actual scene they show us is a 1/10. Absolutely worthless.”

So far as fantasy series go, the orcs-vs-humans battle from Episode 6 of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power gets the highest marks at 4/10. Konijnendijk gives the producers credit for thinking about how people would defend a village with no fortifications.

House of the Dragon season 2 will have more battles than season 1. We’ll see if the producers pay more attention to the feasibility of it all:

dark. Next. Take the Black: Prepping for the Battle of the Gullet in House of the Dragon

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