House of the Dragon: Heartbreaking way episode 3 heightened Rhaenyra and Alicent’s rivalry

House of the Dragon is heartbreakingly heightening the tension between Princess Rhaenyra and Alicent Hightower with each new episode.

The Game of Thrones prequel spin-off aired its third episode on Sunday (4 September), showing the two former best friends growing further apart than ever.

There is a time jump between episodes – six months in episode two, and two years in the third instalment – and, in each one to date, there has been a key scene between Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock) and Alicent (Emily Carey).

Intriguingly, the moments have been set in two important locations in Westeros: the godswood and the Great Sept.

In Westeros, a godswood is a small wooded area within the walls of castles, and is primarily used as a place of worship by those who carry on the traditions of the First Men and pray to the old gods.

The Great Sept is the center of religious worship for the Faith of the Seven

These scenes between Rhaenyra and Alicent can be used to track their tumultuous relationship.

Episode one saw Rhaenyra and Alicent sitting in the godswood as best friends, with Rhaenyra lying on Alicent’s lap as the latter studies. At one stage, Alicent, who is reading, tries to get Rhaenyra to study with her.

Rhaenyra talks about her position in her family, suggesting she doesn’t want to be named as heir to the Iron Throne. Instead, she tells Alicent: “I want to fly with you on dragonback, see the great wonders across the narrow sea and eat only cake”.

Their scene in episode two strengthens their bond as Alicent kneels next to Rhaenyra in the Great Sept, teaching her how to pray in the wake of her mother’s death.

Rhaenyra and Alicent in ‘House of the Dragon’ episode one


In episode three, they’re back to the godswood, only the distance between them is bigger than ever due to Alicent’s marriage to Rhaenyra’s father, King Viserys (Paddy Considine).

The scene sees them placed far apart, with Rhaenyra refusing to not only take orders from her new Queen, but to even look at her. It’s in stark contrast to their first episode together, especially considering Rhaenyra is reading alone.

It is also their first solo scene together in which Alicent hasn’t been shown teaching (or trying to teach) her friend something, which perhaps highlights their estrangement, not to mention Rhaenyra’s loneliness.

Alicent and Rhaenyra in ‘House of the Dragon’ episode three


House of the Dragon is cleverly using these locations to track the dissolution of a friendship that once was, and seems to be heightening the stakes for future episodes to come.

Fans are cottoning on the fact that the time jumps between each epsiodes will soon lead to the departure of a main cast member who has swiflty become a fan favourite.

The latest episode of the show also seemed to “fix” a scene that author George RR Martin called his “least” favourite” in the entirety of Game of Thrones.

House of the Dragon continues Sundays in the US on HBO at 9pm. The episode is simulcast on Monday mornings in the UK on NOW, and is shown again at 9pm on Sky Atlantic.

Find The Independent’s episode three recap here.

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