The ongoing HBO series – House Of The Dragon (HOTD) has introduced us to many strong and memorable characters. These characters are – King Viserys, Otto Hightower, Alicent Hightower, Daemon Targaryen, and Rhaenyra Targaryen. However, the character of Alicent Hightower likely stands tallest among them. Those who have seen its prequel series – Game Of Thrones (GOT), know that House Hightower is one of the long-lost houses of Westeros during the Dance of Dragons of Targaryens.
Therefore, we all know the fates of those who belong to this house. However, Alicent (played brilliantly by Emily Carey), has proved that she was more than just a pretty face. Next week onwards, the series is set to take a 10-year leap in its story. The older version of the character shall now be played by another actress – Olivia Cooke. With the series already in the middle of its first season, let’s look at Alicent’s character development and Carey’s take on the character in the series so far.
When the series begins, Alicent is shown to be the best friend of Rhaenyra Targaryen. She is Rhaenyra’s confidant and trusted companion. She accompanies her in almost all matters. They even love to spend time with each other, read each other the history of Westeros, and even share their inner thoughts with each other.
In fact, they seem so close together, that some fans even began speculating about some kind of romantic, intimate relationship between them. They both are well aware of each other’s wishes as well as fears. Alicent even comforts Rhaenyra in Sept after she tragically loses her mother and infant brother.
In one of the first scenes when Alicent Hightower meets her father – Otto Hightower, for the first time, we see a different side of her personality. The scene is brief but screams a lot of the kind of relationship they share with each other. Queen Aemma Targaryen dies during the birth of her son (who also passes after a while), this leaves King Viserys broken and devastated. He seemed to be emotionally shattered.
Then Otto Hightower decides to roll his dice in the game. He advised Alicent to go to Viserys’s chambers and ‘provide him comfort’. Otto even suggests she wear one of her mother’s green dresses while she does so. Just like a dutiful daughter, Alicent gives her consent to her father’s wishes.
Alicent keeps on comforting the King in her grieving days. Otto sees this as a perfect opportunity to raise his house to a higher position. He pushes her daughter further. Viserys finds warmth in Alicent’s caring nature and loved how she used to easily understand his feelings and turmoils. Finally, when Viserys realizes that he has to remarry ‘for the realm’, he chooses to marry Alicent Hightower, instead of the very young Laena Valaryon (as suggested by his council members).
However, the relationship between Viserys and Alicent became even better with the passage of time. Due to his deteriorating medical condition day by day, Viserys become weaker and weaker. Alicent, however, always stands by his side and cares for him in his illness. She even advises him on grave matters like helping his brother Daemon Targaryen during the ‘Battle of Stepstones’. They both share a loving and respectful relationship with each other.
Soon after marrying Viserys, Rhaenyra starts distancing herself from Alicent. She feels cheated and betrayed because her own friend took such a drastic step without her knowing. However, Alicent tries her best to make amends with Rhaenyra. She knew that her marrying Viserys was being looked at as if she was threatening Rhaenyra’s position as the next heir to the king.
When she approached Rhaenyra, while she sat alone in the Godswood, Rhenyra refuses to pay any attention to her. Rhaenyra instead asked a Fool sitting with her to keep playing music for her. Alicent then firmly commands him to leave them alone and asks Rhaenyra to join her as her father wished to see her. Alicent, who now seemingly realized her power of authority over others, always kept a softer side to Viserys and Rhaenyra.
But, things go sideways when Viserys dismisses Otto from the King’s Landing and strips him of his position as ‘The Hand of the King’. Viserys feels that Otto intentionally wants Alicent’s son – Aegon, as the next heir, and that is why he is lying about a ‘rumored’ one-night-stand between Rhaenyra (the next heir) and her uncle – Daemon. Rhaenyra, however, tells Alicent that this all was a lie and she remains a virgin to date. Alicent is heartbroken, seeing her father leave the palace in such a way. But Otto advises her to ‘prepare Aegon to rule’ because he knows that if Rhaenyra becomes the Queen, the first thing she shall do is murder Alicent’s children.
Later, Alicent learns that Rhaenyra had lied to her, as she indeed had slept with Ser Criston Cole. She feels that she should have stood beside her father but instead, she chose to believe her friend who was lying to her all along. She also realized that Rhaenyra was the one who convinced Viserys to dismiss Otto. Alicent feels betrayed. Then at Rhaenyra and Ser Laenor’s wedding, she arrives by cutting Viserys’s speech in between. She wore a beautiful green gown and looked stunning, the green color being the signature color of House Hightower whenever they raged war against others. Later, she goes to Ser Criston Cole and stops him from killing himself, as he felt that Rhaenyra had betrayed his love and had just used him.
Alicent now is clearly adamant about standing with her house instead of with Targaryens. She has also found a strong ally in Ser Criston Cole. With Visery’s health degrading even more, she is now at her strongest as the Targaryen queen. The story is slowly inching towards a war between ‘the blacks’ (Targareyns) and ‘the greens’ (Hightowers). A war which shall be known in history as Dance of the Dragons. The war that shall end with the end of Targaryen’s rule on Westeros.
Emily Carey has clearly played the character beautifully so far and it shall be interesting how the older version of the character will be handled by Olivia Cooke from the next episode. In whatever direction the compass stops, the series shall clearly see some highlights and twists in the upcoming episodes.