House of the Dragon showrunner Ryan Condal compared the incest scene between Rhaenyra Targaryen and her uncle Daemon Targaryen to Back to the Future.
During a lengthy interview about the show’s first season with Variety , Condal was asked by Adam B. Vary, “What did you make of so many fans appearing to ‘ship Rhaenyra and her uncle Daemon, given the incest of it all?”
Condal replied, “I mean, nothing surprises me these days. I really didn’t know what people were going to make of that at all. Look, it’s part of the story, and I think that’s what makes it fascinating, because it sort of is taboo in a way and in our modern sensibility.”
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In the show, Rhaenyra goes on a tour of Westeros in order to find a suitable husband. She ends the tour at Storm’s End where she meets her uncle Daemon who takes her on a tour of King’s Landing and specifically to the Street of Silk where the two enter a brothel. The two then attempt to couple, but Daemon is impotent. Instead of Daemon, Rhaenyra has sex with Ser Criston Cole.
In George R.R. Martin’s Fire & Blood novel, Rhaenyra does end up wedding Daemon when she is 23 and he is 39. Martin writes, “Yet hardly had Ser Otto arrived at the Red Keep to take up the Handship than word reached court that Princess Rhaenyra had remarried, taking to husband her uncle, Daemon Targaryen. The princess was twenty-three, Prince Daemon thirty-nine.”
He continues, “King, court, and commons were all outraged by the news. Neither Daemon’s wife nor Rhaenyra’s husband had been dead even half a year; to wed again so soon was an insult to their memory, His Grace declared angrily. The marriage had been performed on Dragonstone, suddenly and secretly. Septon Eustace claims that Rhaenyra knew that her father would never approve of the match, so she wed in haste to make certain he could not prevent the marriage. Mushroom puts forward a different reason: The princess was once again with child, and did not wish to birth a bastard.”
Condal would further elaborate on his original answer. He said, “Well, yeah. It’s even pretty taboo as far as “Game of Thrones” goes, maybe not for — well, I think even so for Targaryens, because it’s different generations.”
“But, yeah, it’s amazing what a great performance can do to make people accept things about a character. That’s credit to Matt and Milly, and soon, I think, to Matt and Emma, because you’ll see they also have a complex relationship,” he continued.
He then compared it to Back to the Future, “But look, I mean, I went back to Back to the Future, which is just like, you know, Marty goes to the prom with his mom and you’re kind of creeped out about it, but also you’re kind of like, ‘Huh! These are two good looking people. Are they’re going to make out tonight?!'”
“Look, it’s not your uncle. So, you know, I guess people are OK with it, or the original series did enough groundwork to normalize Targaryen mating rituals that we don’t have to worry about it,” he then added.
He concluded, “What Daemon does to young Rhaenyra is, in modern terminology, an act of abuse. And, as a traumatic event would, it shapes who Rhaenyra becomes.”
I’m not sure what Back to the Future movie Condal watched, but while Marty does take his mother to prom, he’s grossed out at the thought of his mother coming on to him.
When he wakes up in Lorraine’s bed and she attempts to make a move on him, he clearly backs away from her and even falls off the bed. Then when they come down stairs to eat dinner and she suggests Marty spends the night and even grabs his leg, he gets up and quickly leaves the house.
As for Marty taking Lorraine to prom it’s a ploy to get his mom and dad back together, which is made clear in the movie. He even tries to introduce them to each other earlier in the movie.
Doc Brown then details the plan for Marty, “The only way we’re going to get those two to successfully mate is if they’re alone together. So you’ve got to get your father and mother to interact in some sort of social…”
When Doc points out the Enchantment Under the Sea Dance is coming up, Marty exclaims, “They’re supposed to go to this. That’s where they kiss for the first time.” He then sets out to try and get the two to go to the dance together albeit his plan doesn’t necessarily go by the book.
Marty ends up taking Lorraine to the dance, but even when Lorraine goes for the kiss, Marty is visibly distraught and tries to move as far as way as possible.
When Lorraine notices his shocked face she then declares how wrong it is, “This is all wrong. I don’t know what it is but when I kiss you it’s like I’m kissing my brother. I guess that doesn’t make any sense, does it?”
What is damning about Condal’s comments is he talks about the original Game of Thrones normalizing this type of behavior, which he and HBO are clearly trying to cement with this show.
There is nothing normal about incest. It is wrong and is an offense against the dignity of marriage as noted by The Catholic Church in its Catechism , which states, “Incest designates intimate relations between relatives or in-laws within a degree that prohibits marriage between them. St. Paul stigmatizes this especially grave offense: ‘It is actually reported that there is immorality among you… for a man is living with his father’s wife… In the name of the Lord Jesus… you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh….”
“Incest corrupts family relationships and marks a regression toward animality,” the Catechism further declares. “Connected to incest is any sexual abuse perpetrated by adults on children or adolescents entrusted to their care. The offense is compounded by the scandalous harm done to the physical and moral integrity of the young, who will remain scarred by it all their lives; and the violation of responsibility for their upbringing.”
What do you make of Condal’s comparison of the incest scene in House of the Dragon to Back to the Future?