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HOTD Season 2: Creators Envision Women Being In Power During Patriarchal Dominance

By Mabel Judith Andrady
August 21,2022

Talks about HOTD season 2 have already begun. House of the Dragon is based on George R. R. Martin’s book Fire & Blood and gives readers their first look at the Targaryen dynasty before the events of Game of Thrones. House of the Dragon aspires to imitate Game of Thrones’s early popularity, which made the show one of the most influential cultural phenomena of the 21st century despite its divisive ending in 2019.

In a significant departure from the main series, the prequel will focus on two complex female protagonists, Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen and Lady Alicent Hightower. For the series, Milly Alcock and Emily Carey will play the younger versions of Emma D’Arcy and Olivia Cooke, respectively. The childhood friends Rhaenyra and Alicent would soon find themselves on opposing sides of the civil war because of their disagreements about the Targaryen line of succession.

Not too long ago, Alcock and Carey had a round table chat, where they spoke about the relationship between their characters Rhaenyra and Alicent in House of the Dragon and the sexism and patriarchy they encounter in Westeros. Alicent does not attempt to defend herself, whereas Rhaenyra draws attention to a critical difference between the two characters.

Women In Power

Whether it’s Alicent, Rhaenyra, or Rhaenys, the series highlights misogyny and illustrates how it affects the women in this world, and links these to these characters. However, when the narrative and concept of misogyny are removed, these characters still have a journey and are still multidimensional women on screen. They’re not simply propping to demonstrate sexism; they’re real people placed in the show.

HOTD

House of the Dragon

Writing is undoubtedly the deciding factor. The drama hinges on the contrast in the responses of these two women to the same form of patriarchy. Because of where they came from, what they look like, and the opportunities they’ve been given, Alcock believes these people have a leg up in life.

In particular, Rhaenyra strikes Alcock as a combative person. She is not one to take “no” for an answer and will battle for what she believes in. The show’s appeal, in her opinion, is in the contrast to how these two ladies handle the situation.

Dealing With The Patriarchy

Following their thoughts, HOTD creators have also shed some light on what they envision in season 2 for the women on the show. Screenrant pointed out that working in a fantastical setting adds a particular dimension to the actors’ performances.

When it comes to actual fighting, males tend to do it because of the time duration, whereas women focus more on the mental side. Keeping that in mind, the media outlet asked Condal if he could elaborate on the contrast between the two. Here’s his response:

“I think that’s certainly something that we deal with as storytellers. I think we have some incredibly active women in the story. The gift that this story has given us is that there are a lot of really cool women dragon riders. So, even though they haven’t been necessarily trained in the traditional art of warfare and haven’t been knighted, and we don’t necessarily yet have a Brienne of Tarth character in our show, you do have a bunch of royal women who are also dragon riders. Of course, in a time of peace as it is so far—not yet in the time of war. But that gives you a way to activate the women that doesn’t feel like you’re breaking the fourth wall and stepping out into a modern construct.”

Heading Towards Season 2

HOTD Season 2

Ryan Condal and Miguel Sapochnik

Towards the end of season 1 and into season 2, assuming there were to be one, Condal sees a lot of potentials for intriguing storytelling to emerge from the concept of women holding positions of authority in a society where patriarchy still reigns supreme:

“I think a lot of the interesting storytelling that comes out of this story, particularly further down the road—into the later parts of season 1 and into season 2, if there was to be one—is this idea of women being in power in a time where the patriarchy is still overshadowing everything. How are you to exercise that power as a woman when you can’t pick up a sword and get on a horse and ride into battle? And what happens, in Alicent’s case, if you don’t have a dragon? That doesn’t mean that you’re less powerful; it just changes the way that you wield that power.”

The creator of HOTD believes there is a wealth of material for the narrative to be mined from activating women, gaining some insight into their minds, and listening to the dissatisfaction of those who believe they are confined to a specific gender role due to the period and society into which they were born. This is especially true for women who want to speak up for their own families or protect their sons in a culture that does not always support them.

“I think activating women, getting inside their head a little bit, and hearing the frustration of these people that feel like they’ve been born into a certain gender role because of the time in the society that they were born into—particularly when they want to stand up for their own family or defend their son in a society that won’t necessarily allow them to do—does actually give you a lot of material for storytelling.”

Miguel Sapochnik elaborates that it was also humorous and intriguing to them because of the questions it raised, such as how women in authority interact. Sapochnik has seemingly been learning this over the last several years; it is novel and different from what he may have anticipated. Wonderfully, there is a tremendous deal of area to cover.

“And we also found it funny and interesting, because it also leads to further things, like how women treat other women in power. Which is something I feel like I’ve been learning about the last couple of years, and it’s surprising and different from maybe what I had expected. There’s a lot of ground to cover, which is great.”

Unlike Game of Thrones, which included several strong and complex female characters like Daenerys, Cersei, Arya, and Sansa Brienne, House of the Dragon will stand apart by centering on a relationship between two women.

Whether or whether House of the Dragon can recapture the magic of Game of Thrones’s early seasons is yet to be seen. Based on everything we’ve seen of the series, HOTD seasons 1 and 2 should be relatively well-known for their dishonesty, political intrigue, and violent conflicts.