And... it works? What follows is the closest House or even Thrones has come to John Wick. Daemon power runs like the Terminator as arrows sing all around him, less like volleys and more like machine gun fire as he just legs it fast enough to avoid them all (well, for the most part). No one can challenge him as he slices and stabs through one man after another, most of them barely getting a sword swing in or a deflection before Daemon just brutally offs them. It’s only after Daemon has single-handedly killed, like, 10 to 15 men that he’s hit by a few arrows, and even those barely stop him, only enough to give himself the time to remove one from his body completely and then snap off most of the other before he can stand up and prepare to keep fighting. Even when Ceraxes and the Velayron forces arrive just in time to save him, Daemon keeps fighting like he’s alone, power running to go tear the Crabfeeder in half—with his own hands or with his sword is left unseen, but he returns remarkably blood-caked—and drag that said half out into the sea.

It’s unhinged. It’s so badass that it borders on almost the comical. We’ve seen feats of martial skill and prowess on Game of Thrones before of course, but nothing quite like this, even by its most fantastical in the series’ climax. Game of Thrones always prided itself, even with ice zombies and eventually dragons, on this sort of grim, grounded fantasy realism—that even the greatest warriors could be bested in battle, that death was sudden and brutal and unjust. But Daemon runs, leaps, and slashes through the Crabfeeder’s men—good soldiers, attested to by the fact we’ve been constantly reminded that they’re winning the war—like a video game character with God Mode switched on... or like a mythic, epic figure, like what we watched was a heightened retelling, a tall tale for a Maester’s history books that’s not entirely accurate.


It makes sense of House of the Dragon’s casually more fantastical world than the one we first encountered in Game of Throneswhere dragons are just a fact of life—to see this sort of heightened surreality play out. Its fantasy is grounded not by the outlandish action, but what drives it; it speaks to Daemon’s character and his very real feelings, so easily vindictive and angered, that what it would take to achieve this sort of wild fury was little more than the chance to prove to his brother that he did not need help, like two sullen teenagers arguing with each other instead of the elites of the realm.

Image for article titled Daemon Targaryen, Westeros' John Wick
Screenshot: HBO

It’s what makes it, in a way few Game of Thrones battles have been before it, grimly funny. One of the most wild, unrealistic feats of bloody combat in the entire franchise, stretching the suspension of a disbelief that already allows us dragons, hinged on the very real, often silly emotions of two squabbling siblings. There’s something Game of Thrones-ian about that, in and of itself: something real and human at the heart of something so fantastical.

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