Warning: Contains spoilers for House of the Dragon

After the tragic season finale massacre above Storm’s End, House of the Dragon showrunner Ryan Condal talks about the nuanced portrayal of Aemond Targaryen. Aemond has been a fascinating character ever since the beginning of the series. He has demonstrated political acumen by acknowledging that he would uphold his obligation to the Greens, but he has also shown a rogue nature by claiming Vhagar before Laena Velaryon’s daughter could. These are just two examples that show his intelligence as well as his capacity for chaos.

Aemond’s childhood bullying by his own brother and the two Targaryen children, Jacaerys and Lucerys, was a significant life event that undoubtedly shaped him. It has been clear that a rivalry between Alicent’s son and Rhaenyra’s two boys would probably have regrettable results from their taunting of Aemond about not having a dragon in his youth to their engaging in a fight that cost Aemond his eye after claiming Vhagar. Aemond quickly transforms into a menacing figure as a result of his resentment toward his nephews, riding Westeros’ largest dragon and honing his combat abilities. Aemond’s ability to fly and engage in combat, however, backfired on him in the House of the Dragon season finale when he lost control of Vhagar and was left helpless to watch as the arrogant Dragon ate Lucerys as prey above Storm’s End.

Ryan Condal, speaking about the tragedy with THR, argues that despite Aemond’s involvement in his nephew’s death, the young Prince is still more of a complex character than a clear-cut bad guy. Even though Aemond is partially to blame for what happened, he even goes so far as to claim that he is not a psychopath. Here are some comments from the showrunner,

Aemond is definitely not blameless in what happened to Luke. But Aemond was also a kid who was bullied and was made a mockery for part of his life for not having a dragon. Now he does, and he rides the biggest dragon in the world. I think he was showing his rival that he will not be intimidated and trifled with is probably more in play there than trying to become a kinslayer – that would be very un-calculated and stupid of Aemond to do at the outset when the pieces are moving about the board and loyalties are being set and figuring out who is going to make marriage pact to guarantee whose army … for Aemond to launch nukes right out of the gate and go for an all-out dragon war would be very foolish, but that’s exactly what he ends up doing because things get out of hand and out of control. It’s a complex scene. Aemond is not blameless, but he’s also not a psychopath without a logical line of thinking.

is aemond a psychopath

Readers of Fire & Blood might not have anticipated how complexly young Lucerys’s demise unfolded. In George R. R. Martin’s book, Aemond hunts down and kills his nephew on purpose as a form of retaliation. The show’s depiction of the events, however, emphasizes Aemond’s relative inexperience with real war and violence while retaining his menacing and chaotic nature and his demand for Lucerys’ eye as a gift for his mother. Both Arrax and Vhagar demonstrate the pride and instincts of the flaming beasts as they engage in combat against the wishes of their riders, echoing the words of King Viserys I in the first episode of the series, “The idea that we Targaryens control the Dragons is an illusion.”

The show’s approach to portraying the relationships between dragons and their riders has been improved by this change, which gives Aemond more depth. At the same time, it keeps pushing the notion that Westerosians of this generation are woefully unprepared for the horrific realities of war. Finally, as the story develops in House of the Dragon season 2, Aemond is now simpler to sympathize with, and the time spent highlighting his loyalty to his mother and sister may still turn out to be redeeming traits. On the other hand, it could be argued that this modification, along with the theory that the Dance of Dragons was started by a miscommunication between Viserys and Alicent, demonstrates that the authors are overly fond of ambiguity and ought to be more open to exploring the villainous sides of specific characters from the book.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter