As a disclaimer for those who don’t like House of the Dragon, MiscelAna will be a bit monothematic until October… but I promise to try my best to diversify!
Moving into the third episode, we’re seeing the differences and respect for characters from the Fire and Blood book, which is the basis of the series. Before the production went on the air, we only had the non-impartial narrative of the work, which was not always correct or affectionate with some characters. In the pages, the mystery surrounding Alicent Hightower makes her one of the most curious characters of this first season, not least because her dubiety still doesn’t give us much material for a judgment of her personality or intentions, but it’s worth the discussion.
Alicent, daughter of the Hand of the King, Otto Hightower, comes from one of the wealthiest and most influential families in Westeros. She was brought by her father to the Court at a very young age, circulating peacefully among the most important names in the kingdom.
In the series, they do not mention the role he played so close to Jaeherys I, but confirm that his friendship with Rhaenyra was deep and relevant to the princess. Without many young women her age in King’s Landing, Rhaenyra had in Alicent the sister she didn’t have, trusting her innermost secrets. The two were inseparable, always rooting for each other.
We haven’t seen Olivia Cooke in the role yet, but Emily Carey has brought a vulnerability that humanizes Rhaenyra’s future nemesis. Quiet and observant, we see that Alicent’s exterior doesn’t match her feelings, with wounds on her hands showing incredible pain, as well as anguish from her role in the kingdom. This is mainly due to the fear and reverence he has for his father, the enigmatic and pragmatic Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans).
On Reddit, there is a theory for Alicent and Otto’s strange relationship, the one that suggests that the young woman may have been sexually abused by him, generating his self-harm by ripping the skins around his nails until they bleed. She is clearly afraid of her father but obeys him without question. Once Viserys I (Paddy Considine) is widowed, Otto commands his daughter to “give comfort” to the king. Without any doubt, he orders her to wear “one of her mother’s dresses”, that is, the order was to seduce Viserys as soon as possible.
Alicent’s clothes, in shades of green (from her house) or blue, are generally modest, but gradually gain revealing nuances, with more cleavage and cuts that reveal more of her skin.
Avid reader, history lover, and shy, Alicent doesn’t arouse Rhaenyra’s concern. In fact, with an almost servile attitude, she went unnoticed by everyone. With both Rhaenyra and Viserys, it was made clear that her mother’s death was sudden and traumatic for the girl, who was left without affection or feminine reference to guide her. In the book – and in the series – she admires Rhaenyra’s relationship with her parents, keeping to herself if she is also jealous and envious.
Until Otto used Alicent for his power plan, the friendship between the princess and the young noblewoman was genuine and loving. However, without needing to point out, Alicent understood the secret of her father’s command. and – unlike Rhaenyra – she doesn’t open up about anything with her friend.
Viserys, in his insecurity of wanting to be popular and a pacifist, didn’t stand a chance with Otto. The Hand managed to manipulate him out of taking Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith) out of the line of succession, but the only one who didn’t realize it was a temporary “promotion” was Rhaenyra. No man ever took seriously that Viserys I, still relatively young, would not remarry and finally produce a male heir. What Otto did was buy time, and realizing that he would have no control over the princess, he quickened his pace. By the time everyone suggested the union with the child Laena Velaryon, Viserys was already in Alicent’s and her father’s hands completely. And, we didn’t see, but Otto ordered his daughter to spend the night with the King, unsurprisingly the next day she was chosen as his wife.
Starting in the next episode, Alicent and Rhaenyra will begin to fight for Viserys’ attention and the most influential female position in the kingdom. To make her ex-friend even more resentful, Alicent soon bears a son for the calm of the patriarchy and Rhaenyra’s anguish, since she will already be pregnant again.
In the first years, of the book, the relationship between the two was still cordial, but when Otto and Alicent start to pressure Viserys I to review the line of succession, everything goes down the drain. Unable to hurt his firstborn, the king who delays decisions and hates confrontation, has to deal with the mutual antipathy between the women he loves most.
In the book, Rhaenyra begins to be pressured to marry and Alicent wants her to marry her half-brother, Aegon II, as a boy. That way, the Hightowers would ensure that the man was in charge, as he would be on equal terms with his wife. In other words, Alicent becomes obsessed with ensuring that her children have the privileges of princes, with the priority being men. Her husband’s denial only worsens his relationship with his stepdaughter.
From what the episodes and trailers suggest, Season 1 will advance the drama from Episode 4, with Rhaenyra’s marriage to Laenor Velaryon. The couple’s children will not look like the two of them, but rather like the princess’s personal guard, alluding to an open relationship between her and her husband. Something Alicent, of course, wants to use against Rhaenyra.
Rhaenyra’s children, that is, nephews of Alicent’s children, hate the Hightowers and whenever they get together there is a fight. The fight I mean armed fight. One of the sons of the official heir to the throne will gouge out one of her uncle’s (Aemond’s) eyes, leading Alicent to lose her line and attack Rhaenyra with a dagger. To appease tempers, Rhaenyra moves to Dragonstone, but it is too late to remedy anything.
To make matters worse, Viserys has confidence in his new wife and shares with her some doubts about Rhaenyra as Queen after having a precognitive dream. Using truncated and misinterpreted information, Alicent builds on this conversation for her coup d’etat, when Viserys dies. With the support of Ser Criston Cole, they will make a proposal that no one can refuse to crown Aegon II in Rhaenyra’s place.
The princess, who is in Dragonstone without knowing anything, receives all the news at once: her father has died and her half-brother has usurped the Crown. To be fair to Rhaenyra, she doesn’t go into open warfare right away but tries to argue. It is only when her other half-brother, Aemond kills Rhaenyra’s firstborn, Lucaerys, that war is declared. This is how season 1 should end.
To see how Alicent will be with the Crown. So far, it seems to be hard to root for the greens…