'House of the Dragon' Had Another Traumatic Birth Scene — Without A Trigger Warning
The Season 1 finale included a graphic and heartbreaking labor and delivery scene.
There are spoilers below for House of the Dragon!
Season one of House of the Dragon wrapped up Sunday evening after a ten episode arc including dragons, the never-ending desire for the Iron Throne, and yet another ridiculously graphic, over the top, traumatic birth scene with absolutely zero trigger warnings.
If you recall, halfway through the pilot episode, King Viserys Targareyen (Paddy Considine), desperately hoping for a male heir, chooses to sacrifice his pregnant wife, Aemma Arynn (Sian Brooke), to save their unborn child, who is in breech position. Aemma is then forced to have a C-section after her baby is unable to be manually turned head-first in the uterus.
During the procedure, Aemma bleeds out and the infant dies hours later.
During the finale episode of the first season, a similar, but even more horrifying scene takes place. As Rhaenyra Targaryen (Emma D’Arcy) finds out her father died and her half-brother Aegon Targaryen (Tom Glynn-Carney) has taken the Iron Throne, even though she was named by her father to be the new queen, she goes into premature labor.
What takes place next is something that definitely deserved a trigger warning. While screaming in pain, Rhaenyra literally pulls her stillborn baby out of her own body, all the while her husband, Daemon, couldn’t really care less. He ignores her screams while planning for war with his army. After Rhaenyra delivers the stillborn child, the scene, very graphically, shows her cradling the lifeless child who she then later wraps up herself, before the body is cremated as part Targaryen tradition.
Several people, mostly women, have called out the fact that the episode had zero triggering warning specifically mentioning infant loss and the disturbing birth scene, while also remarking that maybe the scene did not need to be that graphic.
One Twitter user wrote, “Bruh... does this scene need to be this graphic .. there should be a trigger warning.”
Another echoed, “If you’re healing from miscarriage, infant loss, still birth, please do not watch this week’s episode of #HOTD HBO said f—k a trigger warning.”
HBO not including any sort of trigger warning also sent some women into PTSD episodes. “#HouseoftheDragon really needed a trigger warning for the season finale. I was completely unprepared and emotionally wrecked by the episode. If you have child loss PTSD, you may want to prepare yourself or skip the first 20 minutes entirely ... “ one user warned.
Another wrote, “Warning to anyone who is watching over here: severe trigger warning on the birth scene in the premiere of #HotD. It sent me into a severe ptsd episode. I tried, but wasn’t able to finish the episode. If you have any trauma around birth, be warned of the tournament sequence.”
So, why did House of the Dragon choose to include such a graphic scene? The creators would say it was necessary for the plot, character development and progression of the show. Show runner Ryan Condal told Deadline that there was a purposeful link between “the horrific birth that goes terribly wrong in the pilot with another horrific birth that goes wrong in the finale.”
“It’s mother and daughter,” he explained. “It’s the daughter of the woman who died in the pilot now having this very difficult birth. That was always her fear, birth is a battlefield and now Rhaenyra finds herself at war and this is her going through her own battle. She’s having a miscarriage. She knows she’s not far enough along in her term that she’s going to have a viable infant. It’s medieval times. There is no premature baby unit in the maester’s hospital.”
After the first shocking birth scene at the beginning of the season, Condal sent the same message.
“It's not meant to be gratuitous. It's meant to show there's a heavy theme in this particular period,” he told Vanity Fair. “In Fire and Blood, there's a lot of very difficult births. It was something we wanted to carry over the season. There's this whole idea in Game of Thrones, or in the Middle Ages, or in historical age like this, that the men marched off to the battlefield and the women's battlefield happened in the child bed.
Even if the multiple traumatic birth scenes are all for the plot, when will the show runners realize that trigger warnings do no harm? 1 in 4 women experience pregnancy loss. 1 in 175 pregnancies end in stillbirth. Clearly from all the tweets and viewer criticism after the episode’s airing, women watch this show and are also fans of the Game of Thrones universe.
So, why not do a solid to those who are just trying to watch a television show and not go into a PTSD episode?