“Where we really fell down in terms of budget was my least favorite scene in the show, in all eight seasons,” Martin said at the time. “King Robert goes hunting. Four guys walking on foot through the woods carrying spears, and Robert is giving Renly shit. In the books, Robert goes off hunting, and we get word that he was gored by a boar… so I never did [a hunting scene]. But I knew what a royal hunting party was like. There would be hundreds of guys. There would have been pavilions. There would have been dogs. There would have been horns blowing—that’s how a king goes hunting! He wouldn’t have just been walking through the woods with three of his friends holding spears, hoping to meet a boar.”
Of course back in 2010 when Game of Thrones’ first season was filmed, the fledgling fantasy series was a major gamble for HBO. So it lacked the resources or expectation to properly realize a medieval king’s hunting party onscreen.
House of the Dragon doesn’t have that problem.
Arguably the best stuff of the third episode in the Game of Thrones prequel is not the showy battle sequences involving dragons and man-eating crabs; it’s what happens when Paddy Considine’s King Viserys holds court in the woods. If memory serves, the sequence does not occur in Fire & Blood, the fictional Westerosi history text on which House of the Dragon is based. But on television, it provides a subtle chance for showrunners Ryan Condal and Miguel Sapochnik to dramatize the grandeur which Martin spoke of: Viserys’ whole court rests under building-sized pavilions (as opposed to mere camping tents). And when the king does “hunt,” his men have horses and dogs at the ready.
Visually, it once again provides an opportunity for House of the Dragon to realize the lavish details—both based on actual history and Martin’s own flights of fancy—that Game of Thrones simply could not afford until its later and more expensive final seasons.