Editor’s Be aware: The next incorporates spoilers for Season 1 of Home of the Dragon.
It’s protected to confess that HBO’s Sport of Thrones prequel Home of the Dragon has gotten off to a stellar begin. When the discourse across the sequence initially started, many have been largely cynical — and for good motive. The ultimate seasons of Sport of Thrones had culminated in one of the vital loathed finales in latest reminiscence and a prequel set nearly 200 years earlier than didn’t encourage a lot confidence. Nevertheless, there’s since been a change of coronary heart for the viewers who all agree that the debut season is pretty sturdy. That stated, there’s a personality that has continued to face followers’ ire and that’s Alicent Hightower (Olivia Cooke).
Whereas it’s pure for sequence followers to hate on the villain of their respective exhibits, what makes this case fascinating is that Alicent isn’t actually written like a villain. She’s definitely not performed like one by Cooke, who injects humanity and empathy in each scene she’s in. And in comparison with a few of the heinous issues the others have gotten away with, she’s not even probably the most morally doubtful one out of the lot.
Why Hate on Alicent?
But there appears to be some extreme apathy if not disdain reserved for Alicent, the origins of which appear beguiling. In spite of everything, if followers of the sequence are in love with Daemon (Matt Smith), who goes round casually murdering his first spouse Rhea (Rachel Redford), and choking his second one in matches of rage. Often one might blame this on poor writing or a nasty actor helming the function. As an illustration, possibly Smith is only a higher actor than Cooke. However even Alicent’s critics appear to agree that Cooke is each bit deserving of the Greatest Supporting Actress Emmy she appears destined to be nominated for. And whereas the dialogues within the present reached the extent of the best Sport of Thrones episodes, the sequence continues to be very nicely written, particularly contemplating the character arcs and the truth that the story hasn’t actually began but.
Alicent’s character arc is a superb demonstration of that. From an early age, the daughter of Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans) was somebody who fastidiously abided by all the principles. Regardless of spending a lot of her time within the Purple Preserve and forming a sisterhood with Princess Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock/Emma D’Arcy), Alicent didn’t neglect her place and accountability. The sequence made it some extent to underline the variations between the 2, with Rhaenyra being the rule breaker and Alicent at all times being somebody who adopted the principles. This was exemplified early within the sequence when Alicent is shocked at Rhaenyra casually ripping a web page out of a ebook however can be obvious in how intently she follows her father’s instructions.
The plan to “entrap” King Viseyrs (Paddy Constantine) was not concocted by her however was one other one in all her father’s instructions that she dutifully adopted. A lot of the idea of the hate generated in opposition to Alicent stems from her having grow to be queen, overlooking the truth that she was a toddler bride groomed by her father to satisfy his each bid and basically offered off to consolidate his personal place within the Purple Preserve. The truth that Alicent could be queen was additionally one thing he probably thought was in her greatest pursuits. Nevertheless it doesn’t take away from how little attraction Alicent felt in the direction of Viserys, a person sufficiently old to be her father.
Doing What She Thinks Is Proper
There are additionally scenes within the HBO sequence that categorical the discomfort Alicent felt as she was sexually utilized by a person older than her. The sequence additionally clearly defines the second her relationship with Rhaenyra turns into irrevocably fraught, and It is when Rhaneyra’s lie about not having hung out out with Daemon leads to her father’s expulsion from the Purple Preserve. This was necessary as a result of her religion in Alicent price her household dearly. It’s additionally very important to emphasize right here that Alicent by no means significantly needed energy or for her youngsters to be Kings and is a vocal advocate for Rhaenyra’s bid to be queen, which places her at odds along with her father. Alicent isn’t even conscious of the Small Council, which has been assembly behind her again to plan Prince Aegon (Tom Glynn-Carney)’s ascension, and though she in the end chooses to help the Small Council of their effort, it isn’t out of greed or the betterment of her household however as a result of she thinks (nevertheless, misguidedly) that it’s what the late king wished for.
In Episode 7, a pivotal scene places the youngsters of Rhaneyra in opposition to Alicent’s, resulting in a psychological breaking level the place Alicent appears to be carried out with how little consequence Rhaneyra appears to face for her actions, one thing that now appears to increase to her kids as nicely. Including insult to harm for the extra conservative Alicent is how unabashed Rhaneyra is in her affair with Harwin Sturdy (Ryan Corr) and the way all of Rhaneyra’s kids up at that time are bastards — one thing that Viserys appears to be turning a blind eye to.
After she goals to stab Lucerys (Elliot Grihault) for blinding Aemond (Ewan Mitchell), she is stopped by Rhaneyra and Rhaneyra remarks that it should be exhausting hiding below her personal cloak of righteousness. A really aptly put assertion that nails down Alicent’s nuanced character. As a result of Alicent has quietly suffered at first being a toddler bride after which baby mom, and carried out so with out criticism and in her worldview it doesn’t make sense for others who haven’t toiled away to return out winners.
A Girl of Custom
Alicent is a girl of customized and custom who always needs to do the precise factor, even because the sequence proves time and time once more that her naivete makes her a straightforward puppet to be manipulated, whether or not by Rhaneyra or her personal father, and leads her to unusual bedfellows from Criston Cole (Fabian Frankel) to Larys Sturdy (Matthew Needham). Alicent’s actions and the way they inadvertently harm Rhaneyra aren’t to be justified, however it’s fairly fascinating how one-sided the conversations are concerning the Home of the Dragon with the followers in love with Home Black and really dismissive if not antagonistic in the direction of Home Inexperienced.
Whereas these arbitrary divisions make sense — even its predecessor thrived on individuals pitting future Throne contenders in opposition to each other on the interwebs. The “‘good vs. dangerous” narrative concerning the Black vs. Inexperienced struggle at this level appears fairly simplistic since all of the characters, and significantly the villain the web needs, Alicent, is pretty nuanced and doesn’t need to be dismissed. It’s considerably alarming that persons are able to endorse an uncle grooming his niece and calling it romantic and are additional dogpiling on a personality virtually offered by her father into turning into a toddler bride and compelled to satisfy her sole obligation of making heirs even earlier than she is of age. There’s ample proof within the sequence that allows Alicent to be each bit as self-righteous as she is proven, and the sequence general does a reasonably respectable job of exhibiting us how harrowing her journey has been.
The place the sequence falters is in not having made three-dimensional characters out of Group Inexperienced, the place everybody apart from Alicent is outlined by their incel vitality. Going forth, the writers could be smart to maybe clarify what drives characters like Otto and why Ser Criston continues to be hell-bent on hurting Rhaneyra. With Rhaneyra able to strike again at Group Inexperienced following the loss of life of her son, the writers have a transparent method to humanize characters in Group Black.
As for Alicent, hopefully the sequence continues to write down her as strongly as they’ve within the freshman run, and hopefully the energy of the character wins her some followers because the conflict in Westeros formally begins come Season 2.