House of the Dragon’s New Alicent Has Fans Divided

House of the Dragon season 1 episode 6 took a huge time-jump of ten years to introduce the older versions of some of its central characters, though the new version of Alicent Hightower, played by Olivia Cooke, has left fans divided. The prequel series set 200 years prior to Game of Thrones explores the Targaryen rule over Westeros before the events of the original series. Adapting the events of Martin’s history of the Targaryens from his book Fire & Blood, the series is expected to build up to the fabled Dance of Dragons and the conflict between the Blacks, who side with the fiery Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen, and the Greens, who side with a vengeful Alicent Hightower.

So far, the series has chronicled the rule of Paddy Considine’s King Viserys I, father of Rhaenyra, as he battles with politics, family, and disease to keep control of the realm. Alongside the King’s tumultuous rule, fans have been introduced to the heir to the throne, Princess Rhaenyra, as she battles for agency in a male-dominated court; Alicent Hightower, wife to Viserys and Queen of an increasingly unsettled kingdom; and the rogue Prince Daemon Targaryen, brother and constant thorn in the side of the ailing King. Similar to Game of Thrones, the series explores the dangers of familial strife and power, both in the political intrigue of the courts and the fields of battle.

Opening the series’ most recent episode, « The Princess and the Queen, » a ten-year time jump introduced fans to Cooke and Emma D’Arcy for the first time, playing the adult iterations of Alicent and Rhaenyra, respectively. This new version of the Queen of Westeros, who has clearly hardened over the last decade, has left the fanbase divided on where their loyalties should lie in the series’ growing conflicts. See some of the reactions to the new Alicent from Twitter below:

From out right animosity to sympathy and understanding, the aged-up Alicent has completely divided the House of the Dragon fans. Twitter is awash with humorous confusion at and criticism of Alicent’s new-found political aggression and fury at the seeming fan-favorite Rhaenyra, while sections of the audience are more than keen to express their loyalty to the Queen in green. Due to the complex motivations and histories of each character, developed nicely in the series’ opening episodes, a split of loyalties between the two warring factions on-screen was always likely. It appears that season 1 showrunners Ryan Condal and Miguel Sapochnik can rest easy that, regardless of what side fans are settling on, the drama is definitely having the desired effect.

What Alicent’s reception has revealed is that Rhaenyra still remains the fan-favorite for the time being, but this is also likely due to the characters that surround her. Matt Smith’s darkly charismatic Daemon seems eternally devoted to Rhaenyra, despite their own troubled past, and as another, beloved character to the fans so far, he certainly gives her an edge. Compare this to Alicent’s closest ally, Ser Criston Cole, who has plummeted in fan approval with shocking speed since House of the Dragon season 1 episode 5, which really isn’t doing the Queen any favors. Either way, what is evident, and of great credit to the cast, is that little negativity or criticism has been issued surrounding the actor switch from Emily Carey and Milly Alcock to Cook and D’Arcy. Such a big time jump may have been a concern for parts of the fanbase, but the team behind House of the Dragon have taken the task in their stride, the exciting drama playing out as naturally as ever.

Source: Twitter (see links)

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