House of the Dragon owes more to Rhaenyra and Alicent’s relationship

In just nine episodes, Game of Thrones prequel Dragon’s House covered a ton of ground and lasted for decades. Some characters got old many times, half a dozen children have been bornand heir to the throne that Rhaenyra had marriage, false widowhood and remarriage all in a few hours of TV. To depict such great times and quickly lay the groundwork for things to come The Struggle for the Targaryen Successionshowrunners made strategic choices about when to focus on character development and relationships.

As a result, Alicent and Rhaenyra – perhaps the movie’s central relationship – have a few precious scenes together after the first episode, making the reason why their civil war sometimes turns frenzied is unknown. clear: what? to be Alicent made a deal with Rhaenyra? Why is she? therefore angry about her old friend’s sexual exploitation? Why didn’t Rhaenyra tell Alicent the truth about sleeping with Ser Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel)? They are in love? Dragon’s House succeeded in bringing back the memorized history of George RR Martin’s Fire & Blood life, but it lacks the motivation of the two women at the center of the conflict.

The importance of this relationship and the intimacy between young women is forged in the family The first 10 minutes of the show. We see Rhaenyra get off her dragon and walk to a carriage where Alicent waits to go with her. Later, they happened to stroll past the arms of the Red Keep, and Rhaenyra fantasized about flying together on dragonback while lying in Alicent’s lap under a pine tree. We clearly understand this relationship is not just an obligation between the maid and the princess. But as the season progresses and the next fight for the crown begins, things get mixed up.

In Fire & BloodAlicent and Rhaenyra’s relationship soured on political grounds. Both are vying for the Iron Throne and, therefore, becoming enemies – plain and simple. There are many story possibilities, in addition to the vision of the storytellers in the book one can only observe so much. But at its core, the rift is simple and about power. In Dragon’s House, hosts Miguel Sapochnik and Ryan Condal elaborate on that source material by imagining how close the couple’s relationship is, inserting a series of personal conflicts into the story. The first of the blows to this friendship was Alicent’s marriage to Rhaenyra’s father, King Viserys. Urged on by her own father and the King’s Hand, Otto Hightower, Alicent comforted the king as he grieved over his wife’s death, gaining his support. But she also serves as Rhaenyra’s main confidant as the latter worries about challenges to her claim to the throne. (Seems like a conflict of interest!) Rhaenyra was blindsided by the engagement and understandably traumatized.

Alicent and Rhaenyra talked while walking

Photo: Ollie Upton / HBO

Over the next few episodes, their relationship changes dramatically, with warmth and closeness replaced by coldness and aloofness. But because time is so fast, we can’t see how. Furthermore, after the first three episodes aired, Greg Yaitanes, director of “The Rogue Prince” and “Second of His Name”, revealing that several key moments between Alicent and Rhaenyra were cut. The slashed scenes include A heated battle ensued between the two after Viserys announced his intention to marry Alicent, and Rhaenyra helped her old friend dress for her wedding. This seems like a pretty important piece of content to trim: We don’t know how Rhaenyra felt after her father announced her marriage or the feelings she shared with Alicent. We don’t know what terms they followed at the wedding. We also don’t know how Alicent reacted to Rhaenyra’s confrontation and how she sense of her own involvement. The story could go on without these, for sure. But these gaps reduce our insight into the pair’s dynamics as it evolves.

In episode 4, Rhaenyra and Alicent almost made amends, telling each other how they missed each other, but it was just a blip (one of many). The next nail in the coffin for their relationship was Rhaenyra’s night of sexual escapism, first at the brothel with her uncle, and then sleeping with Ser Criston. When Alicent caught the rumour, she was furious…for reasons that the audience was never fully given. And later when she found out about Rhaenyra Don’t Sleep With Daemon (Matt Smith)but to Ser Criston, Alicent seemed devastated.

Part of her anger can be explained by her father Otto (Rhys Ifans) firing Hand for bringing rumors to the king. However, her rage is directed at Rhaenyra, not her husband, and seems to be about her friend’s own actions, rather than their separation. To the fifth episodeviewers understand that Alicent is pious, docile and trapped in a marriage where sex is a duty, not a joy – is tied to the antics in the brothel of Rhaenyra. But without the additional context of Alicent’s values ​​and shared movie time to develop a woman’s relationship as it changes and falls apart, the Green Queen’s level of outrage doesn’t land: Did Alicent really declare war because her friend had sex?

Then, and with an extra push from her power-hungry father, placing her son on the Iron Throne became Alicent’s driving force. But when it comes to values, her anger seems to be a response to Rhaenyra’s exploration of her sexuality, which ends up being a pearl of shame. Compared to the princess’s reaction to Alicent marrying her father – supposedly bigger, lighter premarital sex – Alicent’s level of distress feels disproportionate to her complaints, politics court or not.

Milly Alcock as young Rhaenyra and Emily Carey as Young Alicent in a still from Game of Thrones: House of the Dragon

Photo: Ollie Upton / HBO

Alicent and Rhaenyra looked at each other nervously

Photo: Ollie Upton / HBO

In numerous interviews, Milly Alcock and Emily Carey, who played Rhaenyra and Alicent in the first five episodes of the season, confirmed that they play their characters as having a romantic connection, not just is a friendly, pure person. In a conversation with New York TimesCarey said, “As a weirdo myself, I read a short piece of the script that I knew was playable.”

Alicent and Rhaenyra in love? That would explain a lot of things, especially Alicent’s rampage. The point is that this is a choice of actors and a fan-driven theory, not a basis for writers and creators to intentionally insert. As Carey made it clear in the interview, “I don’t think Ryan Condal would sit there writing a Sapphic TV series.” Maybe he should have! Performers and viewers are inventing the context the show should have included in order to make sense and strengthen the base. Dragon’s Housecore conflict of. Without this storyline, Alicent’s motivations feel inadequate, and her anger becomes meaningless.

By bringing Martin’s profile of Targaryen ancestry with a deeper humanity – relationships, disputes, untold secrets – the showrunners created interesting characters from the characters. one-way history. However, the classic legacy struggle and these new interpersonal dynamics do not always come together. And time and time again, it was Alicent who bore the brunt of such imperfect changes. Amid the larger battle over who should rule Westeros, Alicent severed a childhood friend because she slept with someone who seemed petty and vindictive, and the story leaves no room for further exploration. this.

When the characters grow old in episode 6, viewers are once again allowed to fill in the gaps for themselves to understand how Alicent and Rhaenyra’s relationship has changed. And it seems clear from writing Alicent’s early scenes that the wound of their separation has calcified at least in part because she still has issues with Rhaenyra’s sex life. Speaking to the club’s co-president “I hate Rhaenyra because she plays”, Ser Criston, Alicent commented: “I have to believe that in the end, honor and decency will prevail”, referring to to an old friend’s extramarital affairs and resulting children with Harwin Strong.

One episode later, Alicent’s fury flared as she slashed Rhaenyra with The infamous Catspaw Dagger after a fight between their sons caused one of them to lose an eye. “What have I done beyond what is expected of me?” Alicent shouted. “Forever maintain the kingdom, the family, the law, while you let it all go as you please. Where is the mission? Sacrifice where? It gets trampled under your pretty feet again.” With these lines, the writer finally shows the audience Alicent’s feelings: jealousy, longing, bitterness. But it came too late.

After another time jump in episode 8, Alicent and Rhaenyra were again on the verge of reconciliation (it’s enough to give you a hit), but the brief truce cut Alicent down on all other things. She is fickle, her beliefs can change at will. It reinforces her infuriating nature and the extra development needed to happen to make Alicent’s motives less fragile.

It was episode 9, “The Green Council”, where Dragon’s House really took the time to unravel Alicent’s wounded nature. As a mother, a wife, a queen, and, yes, even a (once) friend, Alicent crossed the bell and stepped out to the other side isolated and stunned. Although Rhaenyra is not in the episode, the absence of their relationship is felt more deeply than at any point in the previous series.

Rhaenyra and Alicent’s relationship is the most fascinating part of Dragon’s House —And the most annoying. As matriarchs of the respective branches of the Targaryen family, they set the tone for the great impending conflict. The series relies on these two women, but it also neglects them. The showrunners have been plowing through the first season at breakneck speed to set up a fight that, since episode 9, is just underway, while deepening a new storyline in the process. But in doing so, they overlooked the show’s focus, building the season’s central conflict on shaky ground.


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