Alicent Hightower waved her “Women for Trump” flag

Image for article titled'House of the Dragon' Episode 7: Alicent Hightower raised her Women for Trump flag

photo: Ollie Upton / HBO

One thing about me is that I will definitely have beef with fictional characters on a TV show if its actors have the talent to make their characters despicable enough. Olivia Cooke as Queen Alicent Hightower in house of the dragon really get job done this week.

Ever since Alicent started the show as Princess Rhaenyra’s best and only friend, a young girl who was pushed into power by her overbearing and conniving father Otto, Alicent went through something of a transformation shortly after learning that Rhaenyra had lied to her lose their virginity. Alicent’s obsession with monitoring the sexuality of her former girlfriend-turned-stepdaughter has only grown with the show’s recent 10-year time skip, and takes a dangerous turn when she suspects Rhaenyra’s three children with her not-so-secretly gay husband, Laenor Velaryon in fact are hybrids sired by the late knight Harwin Strong.

On this week’s episode, with the Velaryons and Targaryens gathered for Laena Velaryon’s funeral, Alicent’s aggressive rumor mill about the parentage of Rhaenyra’s children finally comes to a head when Rhaenyra’s young sons engage in a dogfight leads to Aemond very publicly calling Rhaenyra’s children illegitimate Everyone. Unpleasant!

The above fight Also resulted in Aemond rightfully losing an eye (the boy literally stole Laena’s kite from her daughters and attacked her and Rhaenyra’s young sons Jace and Luke – who were smart enough to bring a knife!!). Shortly after, the whole family gets together for something of a high-stakes red table talk session. in which King Viserys – eventually forced to become parents – issues a stern warning to his family not to speak ill of Rhaenyra’s children. The lecture leaves Alicent predictably outraged that nothing is being done about her son’s lost eye, prompting her to have Luke, a literal baby his Eye removed, also a la Hammurabi’s Code. She goes so far as to command her sworn shield Criston Cole– who cheerfully gets his knife ready – to do the deed. When Viserys dismisses the idea, Alicent grabs a dagger, lunges, and attacks Rhaenyra instead of Luke, sparks a classic medieval girl fight.

The dialogue the women engage in while Alicent holds a knife about an inch from Rhaenyra’s eye is very revealing of the roots of Alicent’s almost pathological hatred of Rhaenyra. “What have I done but what was expected of me, forever upholding the kingdom, the family, the law while you disregard your duty? While duty, while victim is trampled under your pretty foot again? And now you’re looking at my son and you’re entitled to even that,” Alicent tells her former best friend. “Exhausting, isn’t it? Are you hiding under the cloak of your own righteousness? But now they see you for who you are,” Rhaenyra replies sickly burn for eternity.

At this point, it’s clear that Alicent isn’t just defying Rhaenyra because Otto convinced her long ago that Rhaenyra’s claim to the throne would mean the deaths of her two sons. Alicent, who has followed grueling, dehumanizing patriarchal traditions her entire life, is visibly jealous of Rhaenyra for living her life on her own terms — including experiencing sexual freedom — while still retaining the royal power Alicent spent her youth for and had to sacrifice all appearances to their identity. Alicent isn’t even aware that, oddly enough, Rhaenyra appeared on the scene just moments after being verbally abused by her uncle Daemon on the beach; Knowing all of Rhaenyra’s past affairs is enough to infuriate her.

Alicent’s zealous obsession with tradition and, in her words, “upholding forever the kingdom, the family, the law” is as blatant a reminder as any of Cooke’s being directed to portray Alicent as “Trump’s wife.” . cook said Weekly entertainment last month of her conversations with the show’s directors: “I could see what they were saying, with this complete indoctrination and denial of their own autonomy and rights.” From Cooke’s point of view, Alicent was completely immersed in her father’s endless sermons on the duty of women, to do anything to further her family’s interests, indoctrinated; to see as an honor the boring and miserable life chosen for her; and – like today’s conservative women – perceive all women who live their lives differently from them as a threat to their way of life that deserves punishment, which they are more than happy to dish out.

By almost putting a knife in Rhaenyra’s eye, the mask is completely removed: Alicent is as violent and dangerous as the hosts of powerful men who oppose Rhaenyra’s succession. While the inevitable conflict between Rhaenyra and her male enemies is purely political, Alicent’s opposition to her is also deeply personal. Whatever comes next, I’ll keep thinking about Cooke’s “wife for Trump” description of Alicent and his chilling message that women can be and often are are the most menacing purveyors of patriarchy because they genuinely believe life should be just as miserable as it was for all other women for her. That’s one hell of a motivation to ruin other women’s lives.

Next week is sure to be interesting after Rhaenyra and Daemon secretly married afterwards staging her husband’s death and allowed it to happen flee the country with his lover Charles (demonApparently he can excuse killing his first wife, but I almost respect that he draws a line on homophobia!) I think some people will be unhappy with this news – and Alicent is at the top of that list. Alicent Hightower waved her “Women for Trump” flag

Adam Bradshaw

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