House Of The Dragon: Alicent Hightower’s 9 Biggest Mistakes In Season 1
The penultimate episode of House of the Dragon proved once again how much perseverance and determination Queen Alicent of House Hightower possesses. She was instrumental in usurping the Iron Throne for her eldest son Prince Aegon, now King Aegon II, whose coronation was quickly interrupted by Rhaenys Targaryen and her intimidating entrance to the Dragonpit.
Despite Alicent’s intentions to do the right thing, she has been making mistakes left and right since marrying Viserys Targaryen (from returning Criston Cole to Kingsguard to establishing a compromising relationship with Larys Strong). With a civil war now breaking out between the two families, it’s likely that these mistakes will end up having great consequences in the future to come.
The marriage of Alicent and Viserys was a carefully constructed affair by Ser Otto Hightower. Their connection was built on false pretenses, as Alicent didn’t love the king truly and Viserys never got over the tragic death of his first wife, Aemma Arryn.
While Alicent was certainly placed in a difficult position (considering she was ordered by the King to not tell Rhaenyra about their meetings), some House of the Dragon fans have wondered what could have happened if she did tell the dragon princess of the talks. It’s likely that their relationship wouldn’t have been as fractured or that Alicent would have eventually become Queen.
After confirming Rhaenyra’s rendezvous with Criston Cole, Larys Strong has quickly wormed his way into being one of Alicent Hightower’s spies (and has been acting as executor of her darkest thoughts in the game for the Iron Throne).
Based on episode 9, it’s easy to see how Larys Strong’s presence in Queen’s life has affected and influenced her judgment (particularly as he seems to be isolating her from her most trusted allies – including her father). By making her believe she had no one to trust, he was making her believe that he was the only one she could rely on. Unfortunately, as everyone has witnessed, Larys is motivated by self-interest. Only time will tell what he has in store.
For some time, Alicent was free of her father’s power-seeking influence when Rhaenyra requested King Viserys to expel Otto Hightower from his position as Hand of the King. All was good until the next Hand of the King, Lyonel Strong, was killed by his brother Larys Strong a decade later.
Because Alicent needed a lot of knowledgeable powerful supporters to be able to participate in small council meetings, returning her father, one of the most powerful Hands of the King in Westeros, to King’s Landing seemed like the most logical decision but in hindsight. However, it’s one of the worst decisions Alicent’s ever made, as Otto has his agenda about the fate of the Seven Kingdoms.
Initially a charming sworn protector of princess Rhaenyra Targaryen, Criston Cole has quickly become one of the most hated characters in House of the Dragon. After a violent incident during the festivities for Rhaenyra and Laenor’s marriage, Cole ended up being rewarded by becoming a protector for Queen Alicent Hightower.
Safe to say that at a teenage age Alicent desperately needed someone by her side that could match her resentment for Rhaenyra and do anything to protect the Queen. Over the years, Alicent and Criston developed a bond, but Cole’s impulsive actions haven’t represented Alicent’s beliefs or the methods she stands for. And yet, after killing Lord Beesbury for refusing to betray Rhaenyra’s claim to the throne, Criston was, once again, rewarded for his violence and became Lord Commander of the Kingsguard.
At a certain point, Alicent becomes obsessed with the notion that her firstborn son will be under constant threat unless he takes the Iron Throne instead of Rhaenyra Targaryen. With a sick father like Viserys, who favored Rhaenyra, the home environment for their kids was far from understanding and nurturing.
One of the facts that is misunderstood about Alicent is that she actually was trying to protect her kids, especially Aegon, but he grew so hateful of the idea of becoming a king that it begs the question of how well he was guided into that path by his parents. While focusing most of her energy on Aegon, the Queen kind of neglected Aemond and Helaena: their minds, hopes, and dreams. Moreover, because Alicent passionately denied the legitimacy of Rhaenyra’s children, she planted many seeds of hatred and resentment between the Queens and Princess’s kids.
From best friends to resentful enemies, Alicent and Rhaenyra’s relationship has gone through many twists and turns. Still, it was Alicent who decided to “do revenge” on Rhaenyra after she allowed the grudges she had been holding finally come to the surface.
Alicent resented that Viserys’s daughter got to get away with such blatant lies, particularly in regards to the legitimacy of her and Laenor’s children, and her hatred grew more and more, till it reached the point when the Queen literally put a knife to Rhaenyra’s face. With war now breaking out between the two families, there’s no going back for them.
Right after Alicent started to realize the very obvious fact that her son, Aegon, was unfit to take the Iron Throne, she became much more accepting of Rhaenyra as the true heir. But, as luck goes, Alicent got to be the last person Viserys ever spoke to, which resulted in Aegon eventually taking the Iron Throne.
Unfortunately, it looks like the Dance of the Dragon is going to be caused by a huge misunderstanding as Alicent believed the last words Viserys spoke to her were about their Aegon. Of course, the thing was that the dying king thought he was having a conversation with his firstborn daughter Rhaenyra and referred to the Song of Ice and Fire (which Alicent knew nothing about). The Dance of the Dragons could have been avoided if Alicent just dismissed his words.
Viserys’s death was, in many ways, heartbreaking and his last premonition inadvertently set in motion a series of unfortunate events. As soon as Alicent knew about her husband’s death, she began plotting the scheme to overtake the Iron Throne. Granted, she wished to resolve the situation with Rhaenyra in the most humane way possible, but the reality was that usurping the throne would inevitably declare war.
The other major issue fans had was her choice of successor. Given that Alicent had expressed her disappointed with her son Aegon, she practically forced him to accept his fate as the next king after his dad, not quite considering just what kind of person she was putting in charge of the Seven Kingdoms.
In the process of usurping the Iron Throne, Alicent Hightower was hoping to convince Princess Rhaenys Velaryon to betray Rhaenyra as a true heir to the Iron Throne. And even though The Queen Who Never Was had many rational and valid reasons to go ahead and turn her back on Rhaenyra, she had a very different strategy of her own in that matter.
Alicent’s big mistake backfired big time when Rhaenys interrupted the ovations for the new King Aegon II Targaryen by entering the event in the Dragonpit by coming through the floor. The Queen’s look of pure terror and fear is exactly what the greens should be awaiting in the continuation of the story. Alicent underestimated how wise, intelligent and badass Rhaenys Velaryon is.