Long live Queen Alicent.
Editor’s Note: The following contains spoilers for Season 1 of House of the Dragon.
It’s secure to confess that HBO’s Game of Thrones prequel House of the Dragon has gotten off to a stellar start. When the discourse around the collection to begin with started, many were largely cynical — and for proper cause. The very last seasons of Game of Thrones had culminated in one of the maximum loathed finales in latest reminiscence and a prequel set nearly two hundred years before didn’t encourage plenty self assurance. However, there’s considering been a trade of heart for the visitors who all agree that the debut season is fairly sturdy. That stated, there’s a person that has persevered to stand lovers’ ire and this is Alicent Hightower (Olivia Cooke).
While it’s miles herbal for collection fans to hate on the villain in their respective suggests, what makes this case exciting is that Alicent isn’t absolutely written like a villain. She’s virtually not performed like one through Cooke, who injects humanity and empathy in each scene she’s in. And compared to some of the heinous matters the others are becoming away with, she’s no longer even the most morally dubious one out of the lot.
Why Hate on Alicent?
Yet there appears to be a few excessive apathy if no longer disdain reserved for Alicent, the origins of which appear beguiling. After all, if enthusiasts of the series are in love with Daemon (Matt Smith), who goes round casually murdering his first spouse Rhea (Rachel Redford), and choking his 2nd one in fits of rage. Usually one should blame this on bad writing or a awful actor helming the function. For example, perhaps Smith is only a higher actor than Cooke. But even Alicent’s critics seem to agree that Cooke is each bit deserving of the Best Supporting Actress Emmy she appears destined to be nominated for. And at the same time as the dialogues inside the show reached the level of the greatest Game of Thrones episodes, the collection remains thoroughly written, specially thinking about the man or woman arcs and the truth that the story hasn’t certainly began yet.
Alicent’s character arc is a excellent demonstration of that. From an early age, the daughter of Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans) was someone who carefully abided by all of the guidelines. Despite spending lots of her time in the Red Keep and forming a sisterhood with Princess Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock/Emma D’Arcy), Alicent didn’t overlook her area and obligation. The collection made it a factor to underline the variations among the two, with Rhaenyra being the rule of thumb breaker and Alicent continually being someone who accompanied the regulations. This become exemplified early inside the series while Alicent is taken aback at Rhaenyra casually ripping a page out of a book however is likewise obvious in how carefully she follows her father’s instructions.
The plan to “entrap” King Viseyrs (Paddy Constantine) was now not concocted through her but became some other one in all her father’s commands that she dutifully followed. Much of the basis of the dislike generated towards Alicent stems from her having grow to be queen, overlooking the fact that she turned into a child bride groomed by using her father to fulfill his each bid and essentially offered off to consolidate his own vicinity inside the Red Keep. The reality that Alicent would be queen became also some thing he probable concept changed into in her fine hobbies. But it doesn’t remove from how little attraction Alicent felt in the direction of Viserys, a person antique enough to be her father.
Doing What She Thinks Is Right
There are also scenes within the HBO collection that specific the soreness Alicent felt as she became sexually utilized by a man older than her. The collection additionally in reality defines the instant her dating with Rhaenyra becomes irrevocably fraught, and It’s while Rhaneyra’s lie about no longer having spent time out with Daemon consequences in her father’s expulsion from the Red Keep. This became important due to the fact her religion in Alicent fee her circle of relatives dearly. It’s also important to strain here that Alicent never especially desired power or for her kids to be Kings and is a vocal propose for Rhaenyra’s bid to be queen, which puts her at odds along with her father. Alicent isn’t even privy to the Small Council, which has been assembly at the back of her back to plan Prince Aegon (Tom Glynn-Carney)’s ascension, and even though she in the end chooses to assist the Small Council of their attempt, it isn’t out of greed or the betterment of her own family but because she thinks (but, misguidedly) that it’s miles what the late king wished for.
In Episode 7, a pivotal scene puts the youngsters of Rhaneyra in opposition to Alicent’s, leading to a mental breaking point where Alicent appears to be performed with how little outcome Rhaneyra seems to face for her movements, something that now seems to extend to her children as properly. Adding insult to damage for the extra conservative Alicent is how unabashed Rhaneyra is in her affair with Harwin Strong (Ryan Corr) and how all of Rhaneyra’s children up at that point are bastards — some thing that Viserys appears to be turning a blind eye to.
After she pursuits to stab Lucerys (Elliot Grihault) for blinding Aemond (Ewan Mitchell), she is stopped by Rhaneyra and Rhaneyra remarks that it need to be exhausting hiding under her personal cloak of righteousness. A very aptly placed assertion that nails down Alicent’s nuanced individual. Because Alicent has quietly suffered at the beginning being a child bride after which toddler mother, and executed so without complaint and in her worldview it doesn’t make sense for others who haven’t toiled away to pop out winners.
A Woman of Tradition
Alicent is a girl of custom and subculture who continuously wants to do the proper factor, even as the series proves time and time again that her naivete makes her an smooth puppet to be manipulated, whether or not by means of Rhaneyra or her very own father, and leads her to odd bedfellows from Criston Cole (Fabian Frankel) to Larys Strong (Matthew Needham). Alicent’s movements and the way they inadvertently harm Rhaneyra aren’t to be justified, but it’s miles quite fascinating how one-sided the conversations are about the House of the Dragon with the lovers in love with House Black and really dismissive if no longer adversarial towards House Green.
While those arbitrary divisions make experience — even its predecessor thrived on human beings pitting destiny Throne contenders towards each other at the interwebs. The “‘suitable vs. Horrific” narrative regarding the Black vs. Green fight at this factor seems pretty simplistic since all of the characters, and specially the villain the internet wants, Alicent, within reason nuanced and doesn’t should be dismissed. It is somewhat alarming that people are equipped to recommend an uncle grooming his niece and calling it romantic and are further dogpiling on a character practically offered via her father into turning into a child bride and compelled to meet her sole responsibility of making heirs even before she is of age. There’s ample evidence inside the series that lets in Alicent to be each bit as self-righteous as she is shown, and the collection general does a fairly decent process of showing us how harrowing her journey has been.
Where the series falters is in no longer having made three-dimensional characters out of Team Green, wherein all and sundry apart from Alicent is defined by means of their incel power. Going forth, the writers might be smart to possibly give an explanation for what drives characters like Otto and why Ser Criston remains hell-bent on hurting Rhaneyra. With Rhaneyra equipped to strike again at Team Green following the dying of her son, the writers have a clean way to humanize characters in Team Black.
As for Alicent, with any luck the series keeps to write down her as strongly as they’ve in the freshman run, and with any luck the power of the character wins her some enthusiasts as the battle in Westeros officially starts offevolved come Season 2.
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