George R.R. Martin once said the hunting scene in 'Game of Thrones' was his least-favorite moment of the show — but HBO brought his vision to life in 'House of the Dragon'
Warning: Spoilers ahead for "House of the Dragon" season one, episode three: "Second of His Name."
George R.R. Martin once said the smaller budget for "GoT" season one led to a disappointing scene.
Now "House of the Dragon" went all-in on an episode that creates Martin's vision of a royal hunt.
When HBO set out to tackle the monumental task of adapting author George R.R. Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" novel series, no one knew for certain it would become one of the most popular TV shows of all time.
The first season of "Game of Thrones" had an average episode cost of about $6 million, according to Variety. And this smaller budget — especially compared to later seasons, with $15 million episodes — was the reason behind Martin's least favorite moment in all eight seasons.
Back in 2020, "Game of Thrones" reporter James Hibberd published a book about the HBO series called "Fire Cannot Kill a Dragon." When speaking with Hibberd for the book, author Martin said King Robert's royal hunt was totally different in the show than in his imagination.
"Where we really fell down in terms of budget was my least favorite scene in the entire show, in all eight seasons: King Robert goes hunting," Martin said. "In the books, Robert goes off hunting, we get word he was gored by a boar, and they bring him back and he dies. So I never did [a hunting scene]."
"But I knew what a royal hunting party was like," he continued. "There would have been a hundred guys. There would have been pavilions. There would have been huntsmen. There would have been dogs. There would have been horns blowing — that's how a king goes hunting!"
Martin added: "He wouldn't have just been walking through the woods with three of his friends holding spears hoping to meet a boar."
The scene in "Game of Thrones" (from season one, episode six: "A Golden Crown") was less than two minutes, and only included King Robert, Ser Barristan Selmy, Renly Baratheon, and Lancel Lannister. The men discussed having sex and the good old days (in Robert's eyes anyways), and then all the rest of the hunting action takes place off screen.
Showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss had to make adaptation choices that would suit their tight budget. They added in many scenes of a few characters talking in rooms instead of filming expensive scenes of celebration and ceremony and battle that Martin had in his imagination.
But over 10 years later, the first "Game of Thrones" prequel series was greenlighted with a larger budget, coming in under $20 million per episode.
The latest episode of 'House of the Dragon' brings a lavish parallel to the brief Kingswood scene in 'Game of Thrones'
In season one, episode three of "House of the Dragon," we get to see the full production of a royal hunt in the Kingswood, complete with the pavilions and huntsmen and dogs that Martin spoke about in "Fire Cannot Kill a Dragon."
Co-showrunners Ryan Condal and Miguel Sapochnik, along with the episode's director Greg Yaitanes, took full advantage of the budget to bring a bigger setting scope to Westeros early on in the show's run.
The episode takes the time to zoom out, showing the Red Keep and King's Landing in the distance, helping orient the audience to this location. We see an elaborate miniature throne room that was assembled in a tent for King Viserys, and he is accompanied by well over a dozen men and soldiers and lords when he sets out to kill a stag.
Like King Robert, King Viserys enjoys many cups of wine during this little adventure, but the outcomes of the day are drastically different. In "House of the Dragon," we see how King Viserys' men actually track down the stag first and tie it up, giving Viserys an easy kill shot (but he still messes up the first time).
Though we never saw Robert's attack on the boar, we know his drunkeness and refusal to let a more capable soldier help take the animal out led to his death. The boar took out King Robert, goring him right in the torso.
"House of the Dragon" doesn't stop with one parallel, though. The episode showed Princess Rhaenyra fighting off a boar in self-defense, eventually killing it with a flurry of up-close knife stabs and then walking confidently back into the royal camp covered in the boar's blood.
If there are two key takeaways from this episode, it's that Rhaenyra Targaryen is capable where King Viserys and King Robert faltered, and "House of the Dragon" is taking avenues to bring Martin's visions to life wherever possible.
"House of the Dragon" airs Sundays on HBO at 9 p.m. ET. For more on the series, read our breakdown of the best 11 details you might have missed in the latest episode.
Read the original article on Insider