“House of the Dragon” will explore misogyny and patriarchy through Rainira and Alicent, according to stars Millie Alcock and Emily Carey. Based on George R. R. Martin’s 2018 novel Fire and Blood, The Dragon House takes place 200 years before the events of Game of Thrones and tells the story of the Targaryen war for the throne, known as the Dance of Dragons. It premieres on HBO later this month. The Dragon House will include all the familiar hallmarks of its popular predecessor, including sex, violence and, of course, dragons.
One of the most important differences between “House of the Dragon” and “Game of Thrones” is that the prequel will be told from the point of view of two complex female characters: Princess Rainira Targaryen and Lady Alicent Hightower. The series will introduce two central characters as children, played by Millie Alcock from Norton’s Forest and Emily Carey from Catastrophe, before Emma D’Arcy and Olivia Cooke take on adult roles. Despite a strong childhood bond, Rainyra and Alicent will end up feuding with each other over disagreements over the Targaryen line of succession, which will put them on opposing sides in the coming civil war.
During a recent round-table interview, Screen Rant and other media outlets had the opportunity to talk to Alcock and Carey about their characters’ relationships in The House of the Dragon and how Rainira and Alicent react to the misogynistic and patriarchal pressures of Westeros. While Alicent doesn’t resist them, Rainira does, illustrating the fundamental difference between the two characters and their conflict. Read below what they shared:
CARY: I think part of Alicent’s secret is that she doesn’t resist. I think she doesn’t know how to do it, and I think some part of her doesn’t want to—while she’s there. And then maybe she regrets certain decisions and certain choices. But I think she doesn’t have the strength to resist, mainly because she’s still a child when we find her.
But I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: what I like most about this series is that, yes, we demonstrate misogyny and show how it affects women in this world, and how it relates to these characters — whether it’s Alicent, or Rainira, or even Rainice. But when we take away the storyline and the theme of misogyny, these characters still have an arch, and they are still complex women on screen. They don’t exist just to serve a purpose and demonstrate misogyny; they are people on screen. And I think it’s a brilliant thing.
Alcock: I think in the end it all depends on the scenario. And what the show really relies on is how these two women meet with the same patriarchy, but react in completely different ways. Because of the circumstances given to them, and because of who they are, and because of the privileges they have received in their lives.
I think Rainira is especially a fighter. She fights for what she wants and doesn’t like to take rejection for an answer. But I think these two women handle it in completely different ways, and that makes the show quite interesting. Because I think a lot of people can see themselves in Rainier the same way as Alicent.
In the last few months leading up to the premiere of “House of the Dragon,” increased attention has been paid to the show’s different approach to portraying women compared to its predecessor. Screenwriter and executive producer Sarah Hess said that “House of the Dragon” will not show sexual violence on the screen, unlike “Game of Thrones”, which was notorious for its depiction of rape and sexual abuse of women. Instead of a graphic depiction of violence, the House of the Dragon will provide a more nuanced exploration of the inherent conflicts present in the patriarchal system. From a young age, Rainira and Alicent are often forced to follow the orders of their powerful fathers, King Viserys and his right hand Otto Hightower, who act with the best intentions, but are unable to see the despotic nature of their actions.
While Game of Thrones has had many strong and complex female characters, such as Daenerys, Cersei, Arya, Sansa and Brienne, House of the Dragon will stand out in the sense that it will focus on the relationship between two women. On the one hand, Rhaenyra will defend her rightful rights to the throne, while Alicent is trying to install her son, Prince Aegon. This will allow the House of the Dragon to provide a more meaningful exploration of misogyny and patriarchy, but it remains to be seen whether Rainira or Alicent will win Game of Thrones.