Round-up: Matt Smith says Daemon loves to “create chaos,” Emma D’Arcy talks Rhaenyra’s inner “fire” and more

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Interviews with the cast and showrunners of House of the Dragon have have been flooding in the past few days, building hype for the upcoming Game of Thrones prequel, and dropping hints as to what we can expect from the show.

Empire Magazine‘s upcoming issue, which releases tomorrow (last minute pre-orders are available here), will include a feature on House of the DragonEmpire has released interview snippets that address a range of topics about the show.

Emma D’Arcy addressed potential fan concerns (re: mine) that House of the Dragon will try to hard too hard to emulate Game of Thrones, by assuring us that, “Fundamentally, House Of The Dragon is a different animal. I think we’d be really naive if we tried to mimic or emulate Game Of Thrones. I think the thing that’s distinct, and something I love about this season, is that it’s really rooted in the home. It’s domestic, it’s psychological, it’s interpersonal, it’s familial.”

Olivia Cooke concurred, saying, “It feels more intensely focused on one extended family, rather than many other families. It’s much more nuclear than the other TV show, but still incredibly thrilling and intense and all the things we were excited about when we watched Game Of Thrones.”

The different time period will also set the show apart. “It’s a time of greater decadence and influence,” showrunner Ryan Condal said. “That’s why the Iron Throne is dressed up so much grander. This particular story sees the Targaryens at the very apex of their wealth and power. I think that’s a fascinating story to tell.”


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Speaking of Targaryens at the apex of power, House of the Dragon is going to feature a lot dragons, and it was important to the creative team that each dragon look distinct  … though coming up with truly original designs proved harder than expected.

“The first thing you want is not to do Drogon,” showrunner Miguel Sapochnik said. “So I came up with a whole theory about how there were three different kinds of dragons, based on their different skulls. We came up with all kinds of stuff. But in the end, we ended up back at Drogon. There’s something about Drogon. It’s like the Millennium Falcon. It hit something.”

That said, the seventeen dragons we’re going to meet in season 1 aren’t carbon copies of each other. “Each new dragon has its own personality,” Sapochnik said. “That’s what’s going on now in our last part of the animation – we’re applying personal character traits to each of the dragons. One of them’s got a [bad] leg. Another one’s much more like an eagle, because she’s kind of neurotic. And another one’s like a curmudgeonly old granny.”

Matt Smith discussed the emotional bond between dragons and their riders. “There’s a very symbiotic connection between the dragon rider and the dragon,” he said, which supports Ryan Condal’s observation at San Diego Comic Con that Daemon and Caraxes share a lot of personality traits. “You’ve got to master it from an early age, and it’s a death-defying experience trying to tame it. For want of a better analogy, it’s a bit like Avatar.”

Though I don’t anticipate very many scenes of Targarens smiling and laughing while riding their dragons, Emma D’Arcy said that the process of filming flying sequences is really a lot of fun.

“We had an animatronic buck, which is controlled by a device that the director can use to plan each flight path. Honestly, having done my first day on the buck, my takeaway was that every member of production ought to have the right to have a go. They should allot time slots. The most acting I had to do was wipe the grin off my face, because I can’t overstress how thrilling it is.”


Though it was always a given that gender, as it relates to succession, would be a major topic in a show about the Targaryen Civil War, Sapochnik credits his wife, Alexis Raben (who is also a development executive at his production company) for suggesting that House of the Dragon build the story around the realities of sexism and patriarchy in Westeros.

“One day, she said, ‘This would be much more interesting if it was about the two main female characters, rather than the male characters. If you really focused in on the patriarchy’s perception of women, and the fact that they’d rather destroy themselves than see a woman on the throne.’ That wasn’t a perspective I have ever told before.” Sapochnik admitted. “I think it made this show feel more contemporary too. We said, ‘What if Alicent is like “Women for Trump,” and Rhaenyra’s like punk rock?’”

Emma D’Arcy also spoke of the similarities and differences between Rhaenyra and Alicent. “They grow up in the same backyard, which happens to be the royal court,” they said. “But Alicent is better at conforming to the requirements of court manoeuvres, and Rhaenyra is humming with the fire of old Targaryenism. It’s like an ally that lives inside her, and she has to learn when to dampen that fire and when to trust it. She’s surrounded by a trail of ashes.”

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Speaking of ashes, Ryan Condal hinted that the ideological factors behind Daenerys’ decision to destroy King’s Landing in the divisive season 8 episode “The Bells” will be thematically present in House of the Dragon.

“Daenerys resurrected this idea that, when you’re the only person in the world with nuclear weapons, you can either be a force for peace, or you can be a tyrant,” he said. “The line between those two things is very thin. That’s definitely something this show will explore.”

That said, the divided fan reaction to the ending of Game of Thrones isn’t something that the House of the Dragon team let dictate their creative decisions.

“It doesn’t really factor in at all,” Condal said. “I think the minute you as a creator start playing defense, you’re just taking the ground from beneath your feet. Should we be so lucky to have such a large and passionate fanbase that will debate our show! I think that in itself is a sign of success.”


We can look forward to some strong personalities on House of the Dragon … and some toxic ones too. Matt Smith said of his character, “Daemon is there to cause chaos and piss people off because, simply, it entertains him.”

A major rivalry in season 1 will be between Daemon and Otto who “loathe each other,” according to Smith. “They’re winding each other up, needling one another. And in the middle of it is Paddy, who plays Viserys. They’re both vying for his attention and his love.”

Rhys Ifans describes his character, Otto Hightower as “a high-flying political creature, a black belt in statecraft, a pragmatist and a manipulator” who is “the king’s kryptonite,” though he doesn’t think Daemon’s impact on Viserys is much better. “[Daemon is] volatile, violent and impulsive. Any influence he has on the king is detrimental to the status quo.”


Shifting away from Empire Magazine, House of the Dragon‘s executive producer, Sara Hess, spoke to Vanity Fair about how the show will handle the topic of sexual assault. This was largely in response to a Hollywood Reporter article published a few weeks ago which stated that “violence against women is still very much part of the world” and caused concerns among fans.

“I’d like to clarify that we do not depict sexual violence in the show,” Hess said. “We handle one instance off-screen, and instead show the aftermath and impact on the victim and the mother of the perpetrator. I think what our show does, and what I’m proud of, is that we choose to focus on the violence against women that is inherent in a patriarchal system.

“There are many ‘historical’ or history-based shows that romanticize powerful men in sexual/marriage relationships with women who were actually not of an age to consent, even if they were ‘willing.’ We put that onscreen, and we don’t shy away from the fact that our female leads in the first half of the show are coerced and manipulated into doing the will of adult men. This is done not necessarily by those we would define as rapists or abusers, but often by generally well-meaning men who are unable to see that what they are doing is traumatic and oppressive, because the system that they all live in normalizes it. It’s less obvious than rape but just as insidious, though in a different way.

“In general, depicting sexual violence is tricky,” Hess concluded, “and I think the ways we think about it as writers and creators are unique to our particular stories.”

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On a lighter note, according to Hollywood Reporter Emma D’Arcy and Olivia Cooke contacted Game of Thrones alumni Emilia Clarke and Maisie Williams, respectively, for advice on starring in the next big Westeros show.

“Emma gleaned a lot of knowledge from that, and Emilia from what Emma said was really generous,” Cooke said. “And me and Maisie had a few texts — I worked with Maisie when I was 18 and she was like 15, so I’ve known her for a long time.”

Cooke went on to talk about how immersive the elaborate costumes, wigs and sets are.

“You’re in this costume and you have hair down to here and you’re walking onto the Red Keep, the castle that they’ve built three stories of,” she said. “And it’s almost like they don’t really know how to make TV or film — they’ve just built the whole thing as one castle. It’s like no, no, you can have separate rooms! [But with the sets] you can do just one big long tracking shot all the way through the castle, it’s amazing.”

Matt Smith seemed to find the transformative costumes and makeup slightly overwhelming, telling THR that his first reaction upon seeing himself in costume was, “Bloody hell, how am I going to act through that?”

“I was like, ‘How can I act through this blonde wig?’ because all you can see is the blonde wig when you first put it on … but it’s like anything, you get used to it and learn to ignore it. It was cool in the end, I’ve got three sorts of distinct haircuts in this, which is lucky because everyone else has just one thing all the time.”


Lastly, Warner Media has announced that Game of Thrones is now available on HBO Max in 4K Ultra HD, HDR 10, Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos globally, on select devices.

Those select devices include:

  • Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K and Fire TV Cube
  • Android TVs
  • Apple TV 4K
  • Google Chromecast Ultra and Chromecast with Google TV
  • Cox Contour 2 and Contour Stream Player
  • 4K LG Smart TVs
  • Roku Ultra 4800x, Roku 4k TVs, Roku Premiere, and Roku Streaming Stick+
  • 4K Samsung TVs
  • VIZIO 4K Smart TVs
  • Xbox One S, Xbox One X, and Xbox Series X|S
  • Xfinity X1 (Xi6) and Flex
  • XClass TV

36 Comments

  1. Jack Bauer 24,

    Most of us move on to Reddit. Honestly, i stopped caring about this site when Luka Nieto took over the articles. He didn’t respect any opinion different from his. Wasn’t a fun site to talk and debate anymore

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  2. Jack Bauer 24,

    Game of Thrones was on for nearly a decade and it ended over 3 years ago. It already had it’s time. People move on.

    How much time should people realistically dedicate to a fictional universe?

      Quote  Reply

  3. Jack Bauer 24,

    They need to share articles about HoTD every day just for the hype. It is unacceptable for a site about a big show that debuts in less than 20 days to be without any new content for 5+ days. And those roundup articles don’t help the hype.

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  4. Jack Bauer 24:
    This went from the best GoT site to having articles with 0 comments on them. What happened?

    I feel the fact that majority of new comments need to go through moderation first also contributed to less activity here. Because it kind of “disables” communication here if it takes hours for some comment to appear in first place.

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  5. Multiple factors, as you’ve all noted, but mainly- I’m a healthcare worker in a pandemic. Kinda busy and permanently exhausted 🤷🏼‍♀️ The world has changed a lot in the last few years.

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  6. Alano:
    Jack Bauer 24,

    They need to share articles about HoTD every day just for the hype. It is unacceptable for a site about a big show that debuts in less than 20 days to be without any new content for 5 days. And those roundup articles don’t help the hype.

    Well, they just made this article today, but it wasn’t good enough for you. What specific articles would you suggest?

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  7. Mr Derp:
    Jack Bauer 24,

    Game of Thrones was on for nearly a decade and it ended over 3 years ago.It already had it’s time.People move on.

    How much time should people realistically dedicate to a fictional universe?

    This is a weird comment honestly. I mean many franchises that are decades old still get tons of activity, so I’m not sure what you’re implying here? I mean the subreddits and social media accounts for GoT, HotD, ASoIaF, LotR, Harry Potter, Star Wars, etc have tons of traction still. I understand that Sue is very busy, but is there not other staff? HotD is one of the most anticipated shows and this was the biggest GoT website. You can’t tell me 7 comments on an article is normal?

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  8. Mr Derp:
    Jack Bauer 24,

    Game of Thrones was on for nearly a decade and it ended over 3 years ago.It already had it’s time.People move on.

    How much time should people realistically dedicate to a fictional universe?

    Exactly. I think it’s fine. People naturally move on to new interests.

    It also takes time to get people invested in new series (like HotD) and it might not even be the same people as the last go-around should that series take off.

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  9. It should get much busier around here once the series premiers. Greetings Lady Sue of Fury, I see you. Thank you for all your hard work *profound bow*

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  10. Jack Bauer 24: This is a weird comment honestly. I mean many franchises that are decades old still get tons of activity, so I’m not sure what you’re implying here? I mean the subreddits and social media accounts for GoT, HotD, ASoIaF, LotR, Harry Potter, Star Wars, etc have tons of traction still. I understand that Sue is very busy, but is there not other staff? HotD is one of the most anticipated shows and this was the biggest GoT website. You can’t tell me 7 comments on an article is normal?

    You’re the only one who thinks my comment is weird and I’m not “implying” anything. I was very clear about my thoughts.

    Like I said, spending 8 years of one’s life living in a fictional universe is plenty long enough. GoT has been over for 3 years now. People have lives.

    and why is it the staff’s fault that people aren’t coming here?

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  11. Adrianacandle: Exactly. I think it’s fine. People naturally move on to new interests.

    It also takes time to get people invested in new series (like HotD) and it might not even be the same people as the last go-around should that series take off.

    Agree. I’m sure this site will have more traffic once the show actually premieres.

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  12. Jack Bauer 24: This is a weird comment honestly. I mean many franchises that are decades old still get tons of activity, so I’m not sure what you’re implying here? I mean the subreddits and social media accounts for GoT, HotD, ASoIaF, LotR, Harry Potter, Star Wars, etc have tons of traction still. I understand that Sue is very busy, but is there not other staff? HotD is one of the most anticipated shows and this was the biggest GoT website. You can’t tell me 7 comments on an article is normal?

    I fully agree with this. I believe that as much as SOME people may move on from TV show, WotW wouldn’t just grow completely quiet for the sole fact that GoT ended, especially with this spinoff coming up. Fandoms of something this big that GoT was don’t just disappear… why do we rewatch our favorite TV shows/movies and re-read our favorite books if we’re just meant to “move on” from something we have been deeply invested in? I feel there are many more reasons for WotW inactivity here than just the fact that GoT ended.

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  13. Erik, formerly Lord Parramandas: I fully agree with this. I believe that as much as SOME people may move on from TV show, WotW wouldn’t just grow completely quiet for the sole fact that GoT ended, especially with this spinoff coming up. Fandoms of something this big that GoT wasdon’t just disappear… why do we rewatch our favorite TV shows/movies and re-read our favorite books if we’re just meant to “move on” from something we have been deeply invested in? I feel there are many more reasons for WotW inactivity here than just the fact that GoT ended.

    and what would those reasons be? I’m curious since you’re so dismissive of my reasoning.

    In my experience, only the nerdiest of nerds are going to be fully invested in a work of fiction for their entire lives. Most people simply move on. There’s nothing weird about it.

    Considering how much you come here and complain about the way you get treated online, I would think you’d be a bit more sensitive to calling other people’s rational comments weird and such…

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  14. Jack Bauer 24,

    I’m just curious… As a non-book reader and latecomer to GoT (after binge watching S1 – S3 before the start of S4), I don’t know the answer to this: How much traffic was there on Watchers on the Wall’s predecessor site before the show started airing on HBO? While I believe ASOIAF readers were engaged during the casting process, didn’t it take a while before “Unsullied” show-only folks started flocking to the site?

    Maybe it’ll take a couple of well-received episodes of HotD before fans migrate back to this site?

    P.S. Good to see you back, Jack!

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  15. Erik, formerly Lord Parramandas: I fully agree with this. I believe that as much as SOME people may move on from TV show, WotW wouldn’t just grow completely quiet for the sole fact that GoT ended, especially with this spinoff coming up. Fandoms of something this big that GoT wasdon’t just disappear… why do we rewatch our favorite TV shows/movies and re-read our favorite books if we’re just meant to “move on” from something we have been deeply invested in? I feel there are many more reasons for WotW inactivity here than just the fact that GoT ended.

    You’re not wrong, but there’s nothing neferious to it.

    First of all, we’re all doing this for fun, as volunteers; our real jobs and lives take precedence. This was true back then too, of course, but we’re just busier than we used to be — all of the staff is, pretty much. New jobs, family… Life!

    There’s also the technical issues we had with the spam filter, which caught pretty much everything for a while. I’m sure that didn’t do our comment section any favors…

    But, alongside all of that, it’s still true that there simply was not much to report for a while, too. Or rather, with the original show over, the little there WAS to report didn’t excite our volunteer staff much; we don’t have a daily quota to hit here, unlike many other sites. So that’s part of it too.

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  16. Ten Bears:
    Jack Bauer 24,

    I’m just curious… As a non-book reader and latecomer to GoT (after binge watching S1 – S3 before the start of S4), I don’t know the answer to this: How much traffic was there on Watchers on the Wall’s predecessor site before the show started airing on HBO? While I believe ASOIAF readers were engaged during the casting process, didn’t it take a while before “Unsullied” show-only folks started flocking to the site?

    Maybe it’ll take a couple of well-received episodes of HotD before fans migrate back to this site?

    P.S. Good to see you back, Jack!

    Thanks, good to see you too! My comments seem to be going through fine now. I did try on and off the past couple years, but the spam filter got me. To answer your question, I’m not sure because I’m in the same boat as you. I binge watched Season 1-3 and started watching GoT live for Season 4. Hopefully it gains more traction again in a couple weeks with the HotD premeire!

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  17. Luka Nieto: You’re not wrong, but there’s nothing neferious to it.

    First of all, we’re all doing this for fun, as volunteers; our real jobs and lives take precedence. This was true back then too, of course, but we’re just busier than we used to be — all of the staff is, pretty much. New jobs, family… Life!

    There’s also the technical issues we had with the spam filter, which caught pretty much everything for a while. I’m sure that didn’t do our comment section any favors…

    But, alongside all of that, it’s still true that there simply was not much to report for a while, too. Or rather, with the original show over, the little there WAS to report didn’t excite our volunteer staff much; we don’t have a daily quota to hit here, unlike many other sites. So that’s part of it too.

    Yes, and I don’t blame any admins for this at all – after all, I was an admin in a FB group for a certain TV show (which ended years before that group was created) for over 3 years and as much as I loved it for majority of the time, I still had to step down there and eventually leave because it was becoming overwhelming to constantly moderate it as it grew bigger and fueled my already prominent anxiety problems. I’m just pointing out it’s likely several reasons that contributed to the site’s more inactive state, not just the fact that GOT ended. Like you said, that spam filter, lack of news, you admins having busier lives, I imagine also more heated discussions due to polarizing ending etc. Not just the fact that GoT ended and we’re supposed to just move on and never look back or else we’re “weird” as a certain comment up there seems to imply in my opinion

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  18. Mr Derp:

    In my experience, only the nerdiest of nerds are going to be fully invested in a work of fiction for their entire lives.Most people simply move on.

    Hmmm then I know surprisingly many “nerdiest of nerds” in my life, including my girlfriend.

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  19. Erik, formerly Lord Parramandas: Like you said, that spam filter, lack of news, you admins having busier lives, I imagine also more heated discussions due to polarizing ending etc.

    I didn’t mention it, but yeah, I’m sure we’d all had been more excited about continuing reporting just as we used to, and people would have come in greater numbers, if the reaction to the ending hadn’t made the community even more polarized and toxic than it’d ever been.

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  20. Erik, formerly Lord Parramandas: Hmmm then I know surprisingly many “nerdiest of nerds” in my life, including my girlfriend.

    There’s nothing wrong with that, just like there’s nothing wrong with being done with a fantasy show after spending a decade on it, which you dismissed and thought was weird.

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  21. Mr Derp:

    My point is that the vast majority of people who watch a fantasy show are not going to be consumed by it their entire lives.Some are, yes, and that’s fine, but most will not.

    But I believe this vast majority of people who watch and fully move on also do not actively participate on fansites and get all enthusiastic and emotionally invested about it. Some do, but majority doesn’t. I feel majority of people who actively participate for 8 years on fansite are indeed these “nerdiest of the nerds” as you label them and while some move on, I believe majority doesn’t in a way that they wouldn’t be invested in what they loved anymore. And yes, I know I’m annoying with this but I’ll give that LOST group as an example again… how would me and the rest of admins there manage to gather over 20 000 people in a group that was created over 5 years after the TV show that never had any spinoffs, stopped airing? Believe it or not, it was surprisingly simple… we simply needed to post link to our group in the comment section any time official LOST page posted something and people flocked to the group. Seems there were a lot more “nerdiest of nerds” out there than it seemed. This is why I agree with Jack Bauer that something this popular doesn’t just grow quiet for the sole fact that it ended, but that there are likely other reasons in play which I mentioned in my reply to Luka Nieto.

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  22. Erik, formerly Lord Parramandas: This is why I agree with Jack Bauer that something this popular doesn’t just grow quiet for the sole fact that it ended, but that there are likely other reasons in play which I mentioned in my reply to Luka Nieto.

    I never said my explanation was the only explanation though, which you and Jack keep intimating for whatever reason. It’s just one of several likely reasons why this site isn’t getting nearly as much engagement anymore. I agree with the other explanations you mentioned.

    I’ll bite my tongue on the Lost stuff as much as I can 🤢 🤮

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  23. I’m doing a re-watch of season 1 right now and I have to say, Varys’ actions make no sense to me.

    If Varys truly wanted what’s best for the realm then why did he want the Targaryens back in power in Westeros along with a Dothraki Horde? What made him think this was best for the realm?

    Maybe he didn’t realize how bad Viserys was. I could buy that, but what about the Dothraki in Westeros?

    Also, didn’t he already hear a voice in the flames during his castration and the Targaryens are all about fire and blood? You’d think this would all add to Varys being the biggest Targaryen hater in Westeros.

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  24. Jack Bauer 24,

    … I’m in the same boat as you. I binge watched Season 1-3 and started watching GoT live for Season 4.”

    In retrospect, that turned out to be perfect timing. For me, the last ten minutes of S4e1
    “Two Swords” was glorious, GoT was at its best in S4, and S4e7 “Mockingbird” was the overall #1 episode of the show.

    🍺 🐓🐓 🗡 🪡

      Quote  Reply

  25. Sue the Fury:
    Multiple factors, as you’ve all noted, but mainly- I’m a healthcare worker in a pandemic. Kinda busy and permanently exhausted 🤷🏼‍♀️ The world has changed a lot in the last few years.

    How dare you prioritize real life over fictional realities?

      Quote  Reply

  26. Mr Derp,

    Mr Derp, I think possibly the two Ds had not decided what to excise and what to leave in from the source material. I don’t know if you have read the books or not and I don’t want to spoil the books for folks who haven’t read them, but I’ll mention there is a character called Young Griff in ADWD who seems to provide possible motivation for book Varys’s actions. The Young Griff subplot was cut from the adaptation (says she stating the obvious – to book readers at least). Varys and Tyrion weren’t buddy-buddy in the edisting ASOIAF books.

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  27. Above comment was getting long, so if it wasn’t obvious, I thought it was possible that in the early(ish) stages of the adaptation process the two Ds considered keeping the sub-plot associated with Young Griff.

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  28. Dame of Mercia,

    I think that’s a pretty decent explanation. It’s really the only one that makes any sense in any way at all to me.

    However, Varys was still pro Dany until the last season or so, well after they abandoned the Young Griff storyline. I really don’t know why Varys would be pro-Dany at all to be honest, but I guess it is what it is.

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