House of the Dragon: The Princess and the Queen

Photograph by Ollie Upton Olivia Cooke, Emma D'Arcy HBO House of the Dragon Season 1

Synopsis: In Season 1 Episode 6, House of the Dragon bids goodbye to its young cast members Milly Alcock and Emily Carey when it makes a 10 year time jump after Rhaenyra’s wedding to Ser Laenor. By this time, Rhaenyra (Emma D’Arcy) has given birth to her third child, heavily rumored to be sired by Harwin Strong, commander of the City Watch. As King Viserys strives to keep the peace within his family, Rhaenyra and Alicent’s (Olivia Cooke) enmity grows worse.

I feel for Alicent’s backstory. I do. But how she turned out after 10 years, along with the immature Criston Cole and the continued poisoning of Ser Larys Strong was truly scary. It was like they developed into the Queen of Bitterness and the Emperor of Pettiness in one go.

Alicent’s bitterness clouds her every action , her malice dripping with every command. It is true that with a decaying husband, politics that won’t go her way and basically a lack of sound advice, its hard to move up in the world but Alicent frames herself as a powerhouse when she is not. The way she treats her kids, especially Aegon is also horrible. Aegon would have been a good sort, if not for her brainwashing.

It was a joy to watch Ser Harwin with the young princelings. He tried to be a good dad to them even though he could not claim them for his own. Throughout this series, he has been loyal and loving to Rhaenyra. He was an honorable man, and so was his father as Hand of the King so it was painful to see their story end in such a tragic manner.

On the other hand, it was refreshing to watch Rhaenyra and Laenor and see that their relationship was not perfect. Yet, at the end of the day, they supported each other and respected the agreement that they made when they entered into their union.

In terms of parenting, the episode did a good job illustrating parallels about how Rhaenyra and Alicent handled their kids. While Rhaenyra was stubborn and impatient with everyone else, she was caring and supportive to her kids. On the other hand, the only trigger for Alicent’s parenting was the competition between her kids and Rhaenyra’s. I give her kids a free pass for being the weirdos that they are.

It was stressful to watch the battle between Rhaenyra and Alicent as the episode wore on, and by its end, it was a good call on the Princess’ part to regroup and take her seat in Dragonstone as her uncle Daemon once did. In Dragonstone, no one will dare question her authority on the basis of her gender, as so many others have done in the Small Council under the prying eyes of rumormongers. HoTD is doing a good job covering diversity and gender issues, actually without being too preachy about it. Its just part of the realities of the narrative and the show needs not explain itself overmuch about what it is trying to say. Its an intelligent way to treat its audience and it is something, I think that is not lost on the show’s viewers. So thank you, HBO.

As for Daemon, I wish HoTD would have fleshed out his relationship with Laena more since in the books, it seemed like they were genuinely happy together during their time as husband and wife. While it was implied that Daemon cared about his wife and daughter , he still seemed cold and unfeeling so you never really know what he’s thinking.

All in all, I think HoTD will cover a lot of ground in terms of Blood and Fire its source material. Perhaps, it was the uncertainty of a second season that compelled showrunners to move things along but now that a season 2 and 3 are all bit guaranteed, I wonder if there is enough material to sustain the next installments. I’m just waiting on Rhae Rhae to flex her muscles as she does best when Daemon finally comes to her aid.