‘Tis the wedding season in Westeros and another Joffery is dead! House of the Dragon did not disappoint when it came to the midseason high notes. In Episode 5, ‘We Light the Way,’ the expected explosions came from really unexpected directions. Ser Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel), who had been pushed to his limits, finally snaps, but he isn’t alone. Alicent Hightower (Emily Carey) has had enough of the lies and decides to rebel in her own silent way! In a new featurette, the makers explain what pushed her over the edge.
Alicent is in a similar position as Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner), the dutiful daughter of the Hand of the King, married for prominence and naïve enough not to see her misplaced trust can get her father ‘removed’ from his position. But when Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans) leaves, he doesn’t mince his words and tells her plainly either to step up or be willing to die in this game of thrones. Ifans thinks he wants to say, “‘I love you and am scared for you.’ But those words aren’t in this world’s vocabulary.”
Certainly, the father-daughter farewell scene is by far the most honest emotion we’ve seen between the pair in the series, and it’s heartbreaking. Carey reveals that when Alicent says goodbye to Otto, “It’s a lot for her to try to process because it’s a conversation that she wasn’t expecting. And I don’t think she sees this side of her father often. These characters really struggle to get vulnerable. And, yet, in this moment, there’s desperation there.” She further acknowledges Alicent’s naivety that as much as she doesn’t want him to leave at this point, she trusts Viserys’ (Paddy Considine) and Rhaenyra’s (Milly Alcock) words and “more than anything else, that duty part of her mind says “this is the right thing. This is what needs to happen.”
Show creator Ryan Condal explains that this episode is Alicent’s “coming out”, as Otto challenges her, “Who you are going to be with me not here to guide your way?” In previous episodes, we’ve seen Alicent awakening towards the scheming that went into her marriage with the king which made her feel utterly alone and frustrated. However, discovering Rhaenyra’s deceit which led to the dismissal of her father seems to be her final straw. Director Clare Kilner explains that now, “she’s ultimately completely alone. And that’s when she has to dig deep and find out what she’s truly made of.” Adding, “Sometimes that’s what it takes, anger and betrayal, and then people rise out of the ashes of that and know who they are.”
Per co-showrunner, Miguel Sapochnik, Alicent snaps when “she realizes she’s been lied to by Rhaenyra and decides to make a statement about where her allegiances are.” And to mark her silent protest, she arrives late to dinner, dressed in green, standing tall (like a high tower) in a room full of dragons. Carey reveals that Alicent, an observer, doesn’t like to be observed, but in her protest, “she comes in and holds the room. For once, she looks like the queen.” It was a very subtle statement that was being made; Kilner explains Alicent’s state of mind in three words, “Rebellious, strong, powerful.” Carey sums it up stating:
She doesn’t need to come in and shout and scream at Rhaenyra. Because of the dress she’s wearing, that says enough. She is a Hightower through and through. She’s representing her father. This is her saying, “Screw all of you. I know the truth, and I know where I stand.”
House of the Dragon Episode 6 drops on September 25; meanwhile, check out the featurette below: