‘House of the Dragon’: Why Alicent Reached Her Breaking Point With Rhaenyra in Episode 5

House of the Dragon has been leading to the Dance of the Dragons, the civil war within the Targaryen family. While the series hasn’t gotten to that point yet, the lines are beginning to be drawn. Alicent Hightower (Emily Carey) made a massive statement in episode 5 of House of the Dragon as she decided to turn her back on Rhaenyra. Carey explains why Alicent ultimately reached her breaking point with Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock).

Why does Alicent wear green?

Emily Carey as Alicent in House of the Dragon
Emily Carey as Alicent | Ollie Upton/HBO

Rhaenyra and Alicent began House of the Dragon as best friends. However, their relationship has deteriorated with Alicent marrying Rhaenyra’s father, Viserys (Paddy Considine), and Rhaenyra lying to Alicent about her uncle. In episode 5, Alicent attends the wedding of Rhaenyra and Laenor Velaryon (John MacMillan), but she decides to send a message with her arrival.

Not only does she interrupt the king’s speech, but she is wearing a green dress. Green is the color of House Hightower and is used by the house as a declaration of war. With this color choice, Alicent is telling Rhaenyra that she will support her son, Aegon Targaryen, to ascend the throne once the king dies, which could be soon. Alicent makes another strategic decision by recruiting Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel), who has been scorned by Rhaenyra. 

Emily Carey explains why Alicent finally reached her breaking point with Rhaenyra in ‘House of the Dragon’

In episode 4, Alicent confronts Rhaenyra about a rumor about her and Daemon (Matt Smith). Rhaenyra denies it, even swearing upon her dead mother. Alicent finds out she was lying about this and later find out that she slept with Cole when she denies it. Alicent feels betrayed by Rhaenyra but is also frustrated that she has done her duty to the kingdom while Rhaenyra does whatever she wants. 

In an interview with Variety, Carey explains how all of these different moments led to Alicent finally turning her back on Rhaenyra and turning her loyalty towards her family. 

“First of all, there’s the betrayal of, ‘You lied to me.’ Then the betrayal of, ‘I swear this upon the memory of my mother,’ which is what you see in Episode 2 with their shared trauma,” Carey states. “It’s something that they bond over. Alicent took Rhaenyra to the Sept and showed this emotional vulnerability, and let her see this part of her that she doesn’t really show to anyone.” 

“And then it’s the betrayal of, ‘Hold on. You slept with him, and I’m in love with him, and you know this. That’s not fair,’” Carey continues. “Alicent is all about duty, through and through. It’s always duty versus heart with her… I’m glad that I got to show how she became this angry woman. And I think that scene is such a turning point.” 

Carey doesn’t know what happens with Alicent next

While Carey had an impactful moment as Alicent in episode 5, she does not know what happens to the character next in House of the Dragon. Episode 5 is Carey’s final performance as Alicent as the role is being taken over by Olivia Cooke, who is playing an older version. Since the producers wanted to keep everything secret, Carey never saw any scripts past episode 5. 

“It’s very strange, having this much this much freedom and this much ownership of a role, and then not even being able to read the rest of the scripts, because it was so top secret,” Carey tells Variety. 

Episode 5 of House of the Dragon is streaming on HBO Max. 

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