WARNING! This article contains SPOILERS for House of the Dragon season 1, episode 6!Young Alicent Hightower may have been used as a pawn by her own father in House of the Dragon, but the Queen’s manipulation of her son Aegon is far worse for the stability of the realm. The 10-year time jump before House of the Dragon’s heavily-recasted episode 6 reveals that Alicent has three children with Viserys and Rhaenyra has three children with Laenor (though the Velaryon boys are actually fathered by Ser Harwin Strong). Over the past decade, the feud between Alicent and Rhaenyra has grown deeper, with such animosities being passed onto their children.
Just as Otto Hightower had turned his daughter against Rhaenyra Targaryen by suggesting the Princess would have to kill Alicent’s children in order to ascend the Iron Throne, Alicent is planting the same delusional seeds into Prince Aegon’s mind. Alicent and Rhaenyra were best friends before Otto manipulated Alicent, with Aegon similarly having gotten along well with Rhaenyra’s children Jacaerys and Lucerys before Alicent manipulated him into perceiving them as enemies. However, Alicent’s manipulations have far more dire consequences, because once Prince Aegon believes he either has to steal the throne or be killed, there’s no way that war can be prevented. Alicent ultimately had the power to start House of the Dragon’s civil war by turning Otto’s warnings into a self-fulling prophecy. Had Alicent ignored Otto, the Targaryens could have remained as one, especially since Rhaenyra’s marriage proposal between Jace and Helaena proved she had no intentions of killing her half-siblings.
Alicent made the feud between the greens and blacks worse by essentially forming said tensions. Alicent had the choice to either listen to her father, a self-serving man who ultimately wanted his own grandson on the Iron Throne, or help gain support for Rhaenyra divisively succeeding Viserys. Had Alicent and Otto decided to uplift Rhaenyra and the legitimacy of her claim to the Iron Throne, all the Targaryens would have been united as one front in the realm. Instead, the Queen instilled in her own children the notion that they either needed to ascend the throne or risk being killed, which House of the Dragon episode 6 implies Rhaenyra was never going to do.
Aegon genuinely had no interest in becoming the King during House of the Dragon episode 6, even saying that he would make sure he was no source of competition for Rhaenyra. Young Prince Aegon instead prioritized enjoying his privilege in King’s Landing while bullying his younger brother with his nephews Jacaerys and Lucerys, indicating that his desire to ascend the Iron Throne was only ever due to Alicent’s insistence that this was his stolen birthright. If Alicent had remained cordial to Rhaenyra between House of the Dragon episodes 5 and 6, their children likely would have been great allies growing up in King’s Landing. Instead, Alicent repeated the cycle of manipulation and multi-generational tensions on Aegon that Otto had used on her.
WARNING! Spoilers ahead for Fire & Blood!Certainly some families in House of the Dragon would have rejected a woman sitting on the Iron Throne, but if Rhaenyra and her half-siblings had all been fighting on the same side, no lords would have stood a chance rebelling against the power of the Targaryens’ 17 dragons. Additionally, Alicent and Rhaenyra could have married their children to the sons or daughters of any significant lords who opposed the Princess’s ascension, as the power of proximity to the crown would more than likely restore their fealty. There still would have been controversy over the legitimacy of Rhaenyra’s declared heir Jacaerys Velaryon, but the Princess does end up having full-blooded trueborn Targaryen sons before the Dance of the Dragons begins. As such, even if Jacaerys, Lucerys, and Joffrey’s claims to the throne were removed, Rhaenyra and Daemon’s son Aegon the Younger would have been a legitimate heir. Tensions over the succession of the Iron Throne would have been inevitable, but the catastrophic nature of the Dance of the Dragons could have reasonably been avoided or reduced in House of the Dragon.
New episodes of House of the Dragon release Sundays on HBO/HBO Max.