‘House of the Dragon’ Is A Tragic Love Story

Amongst all the chaos and death in ‘House of the Dragon,’ there were depictions of love and companionship, just not from whom you’d expect.

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House of the Dragon is a tragic love story. Alicent and Rhaenyra holding onto each other tenderly.

 I’ve had a sneaky suspicion of this couple since episode one of House of the Dragon. As a queer person myself, I’m always looking out for any interactions that seem a bit “fruity.” And all of my alarms were going off when Alicent and Rhaenyra appeared on screen together. As childhood best friends, their bond seemed to be unbreakable, but as we’ve all seen, this love story doesn’t survive long.

However, that hasn’t stopped fans online from pointing out the obvious connection between these two characters. Whether they loved each other platonically or romantically, there’s no doubt that this pairing’s struggling relationship sets the tone for the rest of the series.

Romantic Undertones

'House of the Dragon' is a tragic love story. Alicent and Rhaenyra laying together and reading.

Right out of the gate, I knew there was some deeper connection between Alicent and Rhaenyra. Between stealing glances at one another, subtle physical affection, and shared dreams of flying away from their troubles on dragonback, it seemed clear to me that all they wanted was the comfort of the other. Rhaenyra even makes a flirtatious comment to her friend as she rests her head on her thigh, “I rather like this position.”

At such a young age, it’s no wonder that the two girls grew fond of each other. They’re both strong characters who want to see the best in their counterpart. With not many people to turn to, Alicent and Rhaenyra rely on their bond to get through tough times. Especially in the earlier episodes, they’re constantly looking out for one another, even amongst the messiness of the royal court. A love that like doesn’t go unnoticed.

The Actors Agree

'House of the Dragon' is a tragic love story. Alicent and Rhaenyra walking together.

This childhood friends-to-lovers trope wasn’t just wishful thinking on the part of the fans. The character’s relationship was a deliberate action taken by the actresses themselves. In interviews with Entertainment Weekly and The New York Times, Emily Carey (Alicent Hightower) spoke about the conversations she had with Milly Alcock (Rhaenyra Targaryen) about the character’s bond. Each of them picked up on the romantic undertones in the script, and they decided to bring that emotion to the big screen.

“As a queer person myself, I read an undertone in the script that I knew could be played.”

Emily Carey, New York Times

“You want to be with that person all the time, and all in all just encapsulating you with love…Whether it’s friendship or more than that, I think it’s up to how you want to see it, but it was talked about for sure. As a viewer, I like to read into it because I also think that it makes the demise of the friendship more heartbreaking to watch”

Emily Carey, Entertainment Weekly
'House of the Dragon' is a tragic love story. Alicent confronting Rhaenyra

It wasn’t just the actresses who recognized the romantic tones of their characters. This unrequited romance might have been planned all along. On The Official Game of Thrones Podcast: House of the Dragon, showrunner and executive producer, Miguel Sapochnik, expands on the rumors that the two characters were romantically involved.

“They are good friends with this potential romantic entanglement from earlier on that has always been a big thing, for me, that I thought was an essential component of why they are such close friends. It seems like it’s a kind of unrequited love… But there’s something there, right? And Rhaenyra has this deep longing for her best friend.”

Miguel Sapochnik, House of the Dragon Podcast

Heartbreak Yields Jealousy

'House of the Dragon' is a tragic love story. Older Alicent and Rhaenyra looking at one another.

In quite Shakespearian fashion, the rest of the season plays out as one big feud between two ex-lovers. While many fanboys online didn’t want to believe that the two leading women could’ve been romantically involved, I think it only adds to the story. Why was Alicent so angry about Rhaenyra sleeping with other men? Why was she always interested in what the Targaryen Princess was doing? My answer to that is jealousy. 

Within the realm of love, Alicent never had a choice in who she would be married to. She was forced to become Queen at a young age, while her best friend could explore her sexuality in secrecy. They each had something the other wanted. Rhaenyra wished for the respect of her father, while Alicent wanted the power Rhaenyra held. All this tension would soon come to a head. So, while many think that Alicent “turned evil,” for no good reason, the true motivation might’ve not been hidden after all.

Fate Connects Them

'House of the Dragon' is a tragic love story. The story that Rhaenyra told Alicent as teens.

Alicent’s path is inadvertently tied to Rhaenyra’s and vice versa. They both become mothers who wish to protect not only their children, but the realm they rule over. And let’s not forget, these two women obviously still care for one another. Alicent was horrified the second she realized she physically hurt Rhaenyra in episode 7. In episode 9, while the royal council was telling Alicent to kill the rest of the Targaryen’s at Dragon Stone, she resisted. Then in episode 10, when Daemon tried to convince Rhaenyra to slaughter the Hightowers, she sought out peace instead. Even if they don’t mean to, they are continuously trying to protect the other. 

From lovers, to friends, to enemies, these two characters have a complicated past and present relationship. It’s a shame they can’t work in tandem to bring prosperity to the seven kingdoms (Aemond pretty much destroyed any chance of that). But no matter what, I know that I’ll be looking forward to future interactions between Alicent and Rhaenyra in season 2!

Until then, get caught up on all of Bookstr’s House of the Dragon content here!

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