Spoiler warning: This article contains spoilers for House of the Dragon.
The maesters who treat Viserys in House of the Dragon use milk of the poppy to relieve his pain and make his final days just a bit more bearable. But for those who never watched Game of Thrones and learned about it before the spinoff came along, what is milk of poppy and what exactly does it do?
Viewers learn in the Oct. 9 episode of House of the Dragon that milk of the poppy is used to keep Viserys sedated, which Rhaenyra and Daemon seem to be strongly against. At one point, he refuses another dose, and Viserys is a lot more alert than usual. But it's clear that milk of the poppy is something he needs as he battles various physical conditions.
What is milk of the poppy in 'House of the Dragon'?
Milk of the poppy is introduced in Game of Thrones as a medicine to treat those who are especially wounded. It's made with crushed up poppy flowers, which are then turned into a white drink of sorts, which is where the name comes from. Using a bit of milk of the poppy can help ease pain, but a higher dose can actually cause someone to go unconscious.
This means milk of the poppy can also be used during surgeries. And in Game of Thrones, we see Robert Baratheon take milk of the poppy when he's wounded in a hunting accident. It's referenced at other times throughout the series and then, in Season 6, Arya is given milk of the poppy to help heal her after she's stabbed by the Waif.
Milk of the poppy is, essentially, morphine. It's used to take pain away, but it also leaves someone sedated, or unable to think straight. This explains why Viserys finds it difficult to concentrate when Rhaenyra and Daemon first visit him at King's Landing in the Oct. 9 episode of House of the Dragon.
But this isn't a modern world where there are many other solutions for helping a dying king.
Was Viserys poisoned in 'House of the Dragon'?
At the end of Episode 8, a servant for Alicent leaves the castle and heads into Flea Bottom, where she sees Mystaria, a brothel employee and Daemon's former lover. This is the same servant who had a tea on hand for Alicent to give a young maid who is raped by Aegon.
Right after we see the servant meet with Mystaria, we cut to a scene of Viserys and Alicent in bed. Alicent gives Viserys a liquid to drink which may be milk of the poppy.
Not long after, it looks like Viserys dies. Does this mean the servant poisoned the king on House of the Dragon? To be fair, he's already pretty close to death at this point. But if Alicent gives him a lethal dose of milk of the poppy, whether she means to or not, in those final moments of the episode, it could be what does him in for good.
Watch House of the Dragon on Sundays at 9 p.m. EST on HBO and HBO Max.