The Greens: Aegon, Aemond, and Helaena Targaryen, with Alicent and Ser Otto Hightower

The Hightower Family Generational Trauma Is Really Hurting the Greens

If there’s one wheel that does need breaking in Westeros, it’s generational trauma. That need is even more dire if your house is the one on the Iron Throne. Unfortunately, in House of The Dragon, the reigning king is a Targaryen and a Hightower, two houses with oodles of baggage.

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Spoilers for House of The Dragon season 2 episode 2 ahead

In HOTD season 2 episode 2, the Greens are dealing with the brutal murder of young Prince Jaehaerys. King Aegon is angry and not thinking straight. Queen Helaena is too stunned to register anything. The grieving parents need the loving arms of each other and their family holding them steady, as you would when you’ve lost a child.

Unfortunately, Aegon and Helaena, though siblings before spouses, have never shared a bond. As for their family, their grandfather, Ser Otto Hightower, Hand of the King that he is, is busy strategizing how to best use this moment to further their political agenda against Rhaenyra.

Alicent and Helaena Targaryen dressed in black for mourning in House of the Dragon season 2

Their mother, Alicent, is guilt-ridden that she was fornicating with the Kingsguard, thereby compromising the security of her house when this wretched incident occurred. She feels grief too, but her father has only ever taught her to hide her emotions and put her duty first. Instead of shielding Helaena, she cajoles her into going for the funeral procession for her son, his stitched-up body right in front of her eyes the entire time.

And then there’s the brother, Aemond, in a unique position where he is close to Aegon and good to Helaena. But the prince’s murder was a revenge plot for something that was his fault in the first place—Lucerys Velaryon’s death. And he still hasn’t admitted to anyone in the family that it wasn’t him but his dragon Vhagar who lost control and went for Luke’s dragon Arrax. Aemond, busy pretending he doesn’t regret what’s happened, has his own guilt to assuage.

Herein lies the chain of Hightower generational trauma, passed on from Ser Otto, the second son of his House who made his work his entire personality and forgot to actually strike a work-life balance. He passed it on to his daughter, Alicent, who unknowingly passed it down to her three children. And there are a couple of scenes in HOTD season 2 episode 2 that show just how much damage this has done to the Greens’ family dynamics.

It begins with the scene where Aegon and Helaena cross paths in the corridor—Aegon after killing Blood and Helaena after the procession. And neither has a word of comfort for the other. In a later scene, we find Aemond barring it all (both literally and figuratively) to a stranger he feels familiar with, instead of anyone from his own family, because he has always felt othered by his own parents. No wonder he clings to Vhagar and the hard demeanor it adds to his persona, because that way no one can see how truly sad and lonely he feels. 

And then there are two telling scenes that arrive one after the other. In the first scene, Alicent walks into Aegon’s room to find her son crying profusely. She hesitates but leaves without offering him any comfort. In another scene, Alicent tries to tell her father Ser Otto about her sin, in an effort to lessen her guilt over what happened between her and Ser Criston. But Otto tells her he does not wish to hear it.

In contrast, when Jaecaerys Velaryon returns home to Dragonstone upon his brother Lucerys’ death and breaks down in front of his mother, Rhaenyra hugs and cries along with him, duty and any pretenses of strength aside. The Blacks (except Daemon, because, well, it’s Daemon) actually pause their politics to mourn Luke together, while the Greens are fragmented. 

Nothing brings a family together like the tragedy of death. And this episode proves that no matter how strong the Greens may find themselves politically, they’re weak as a family, denying each other love and affection, and living with an emptiness that not even winning the war will remedy.

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Jinal Bhatt
Jinal Bhatt (She/Her) is a staff writer for The Mary Sue. An editor, writer, film and culture critic with 7+ years of experience, she writes primarily about entertainment, pop culture trends, and women in film, but she’s got range. Jinal is the former Associate Editor for Hauterrfly, and Senior Features Writer for Mashable India. When not working, she’s fangirling over her favourite films and shows, gushing over fictional men, cruising through her neverending watchlist, trying to finish that book on her bedside, and fighting relentless urges to rewatch Supernatural.