House of the Dragon has just begun, and fans are already gasping for air with the twists and turns the show is taking. Episode 2, ‘The Rogue Prince,’ takes a six-month time leap after Queen Aemma’s (Sian Brooke) death. We see Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock) is still the cupbearer, and no one is taking her seriously even after being named the heir to the Iron Throne. The episode also brings to light the pressure on Viserys (Paddy Considine) to remarry, which he doesn’t want to do without his daughter’s blessing. While the father and daughter do bond over the memories of Aemma and the latter understands his decision to remarry, in true twisted Game of Thrones fashion Viserys declares his decision to marry Alicent Hightower. Leaving us as tongue-tied as Rhaenyra.
In a new featurette, the makers of the series discuss and reveal the real reason behind Viserys’ decision. Director of the episode Greg Yaitanes explains that “Alicent’s journey is that she’s holding space for the King while he mourns.” While the series ignores it, in the Fire and Blood book after Otto Hightower is named the Hand of the King by King Jaehaerys I Targaryen in 101 AC., 13-year-old Alicent becomes the caregiver for an ailing Jaehaerys. She eventually becomes his constant companion fetching his meals, helping him wash and dress, and reading to him. So Yaitanes’ remarks point toward a platonic beginning of the relationship between the two in the series.
Actor Emily Carey, further explains, “she does it out of kindness. She doesn’t go intentionally to court the King. She cares, and she has seen her father go through the same grief that Viserys is going through.” She also elaborates on the King’s point of view as for him, it’s “having someone who genuinely cares without having an ulterior motive of trying to get closer to him.” Adding, “And for Alicent, it’s just someone to be with where she feels comfortable and not overlooked.” In the books, Alicent is a complex character whose true intentions aren’t clear in historical context as Fire and Blood is an in-universe book written by a Maester based on two separate accounts. However, it is well understood that this is the starting point of the war between the Blacks and the Greens.
Showrunner Ryan Condal explains, “we really needed to take our time to show not only the courtship of Viserys and Alicent but also the political maneuverings to make it happen”. He further adds, “Viserys is choosing her kind of against his own self-interest.” From a storytelling point of view he reveals, “you can tell every story, so where are you going to focus your storytelling time? It felt like Viserys’ eventual decision to choose Alicent next was a big one as that’s going to have so many repercussions down the line.”
House of the Dragon episode 3 will air on September 5th, meanwhile, check out the new featurette below: