Milly Alcock and Emily Carey as Rhaenyra and Alicent

In the first episode of “House of the Dragon,” I fell head over heels for the friendship between Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock) and Alicent (Emily Carey). They have been candy, affectionate, and humorous. There was a bit of aggressive streak between them, and their closeness bordered on romance. I cried with them in episode two when Alicent associated her grief over the loss of her mom to Rhaenyra’s newer loss of hers. But the entire season that is adopted has been an train in how issues can disintegrate, culminating in Alicent’s grand arrival at Rhaenyra’s wedding feast in a green dress, proudly declaring what facet she stands on. When Alicent known as her “stepdaughter,” I gasped. All affection is gone, seemingly for good.

In the aftermath of episode 5, there’s rather a lot of blame being thrown round by followers. It’s all Alicent’s fault, some say. She seduced the king. She ought to have forgiven Rhaenyra, or not less than not been so harsh in her judgement. But neither Alicent nor Rhaenyra is the villain. They’re two younger ladies in an unimaginable state of affairs, made worse by the patriarchy. In the Red Keep, they’re the solely two ladies round the overwhelming majority of the time. They don’t have any moms or mentors to speak to or open up to about their friendship, jealousy, or fears. They’re attempting to thrive in a system that does not need them to thrive as a result of they’re ladies.

Alicent would not have good selections out there to her. Her father, Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans), ordered her to consolation the king. The king (Paddy Considine) ordered her to marry him. Now he orders her to his mattress chamber so she will be able to hold having kids and proceed the royal line. It’s not “proper” that Alicent is jealous of Rhaenyra, however it’s comprehensible and relatable (who desires characters who’re proper all the time, anyway?). Alicent is jealous that Rhaenyra can seemingly pick any man to be her husband. She’s jealous she will get to sneak out of the fortress, go on adventures, and kiss good-looking males. She’s jealous Rhaenyra had individuals to defend her towards allegations that she slept along with her uncle; if Alicent had been revealed to not be a virgin earlier than her marriage to the king, she can be achieved for.

And it needs to be stated that – regardless of Viserys’s main flaws as a husband, father, and king – he loves Rhaenyra in a method Alicent’s father would not love her. Otto sees Alicent solely as a pawn; her value is in her connection to the crown. Viserys, on the different hand, tries arduous to not use his daughter in the identical method (although he would not all the time succeed). That’s what Alicent sees and resents. Otto is, nevertheless, her predominant ally, and when she chooses Rhaenyra over her father, she seemingly loses him fully, making the indisputable fact that Rhaenyra misled her much more painful.

The story is simply as brutal from Rhaenyra’s perspective. She’s the inheritor in title solely, understanding mainly nobody desires her to take the crown. Her father says he does, however he does nothing to again up her declare with actions. He desires to marry her off to males she would not know, and she or he has to belief that these males will do proper by her. But why ought to she belief that when her personal father murdered her mom in the birthing mattress? Plus, as she tells her father, if she was a male inheritor, she can be thought-about unusual for not sleeping with each individual she might get her arms on. And when she does assume she’s discovered somebody who will get her and loves her in Ser Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel), he turns his again on her virtually instantly. The entire realm is ready for her to lose all her standing and energy, and her personal father took away her greatest pal when he determined to marry her. Woof.

Neither perspective is totally the fact, however they’re each comprehensible. The tragedy is that if Alicent and Rhaenyra might have discovered a option to converse brazenly to one another about these emotions and what was going on, perhaps the dissolution of their friendship might have been averted.

“House of the Dragon” is a present involved with the patriarchy and the way it takes energy from ladies and retains them from gaining it. Aemma’s brutal death in the first episode is an enormous and daring instance. The finish of Rhaenyra and Alicent’s friendship is a much less splashy illustration of the identical factor. In a world the place ladies are property — chess items in a bigger energy battle and broodmares for the males round them — it is virtually unimaginable for them to return collectively. Rhaenyra and Alicent will bear the brunt of their fathers’ selections ceaselessly.

In the preview for episode six, which can air Sept. 25, viewers be taught that there can be an enormous time bounce, and teenage Alicent and Rhaenyra are left behind. Their relationship appears to have solely deteriorated additional. It’ll be sadder as a result of of the friendship they did have and cherished so way back.

Sign up for HBO Max now to look at “House of the Dragon.”

: .