Milly Alcock in House of the Dragon (2022)

This Face Returning to ‘House of the Dragon’ Is So Deliciously Symbolic I Might Just Lose My Mind

The layers this has!

Many fans have been hoping that season one of House of the Dragon would not be the last time we saw the faces of young Rhaenyra Targaryen and young Alicent Hightower, played by Milly Alcock and Emily Carey respectively in the first half of the show’s first season.

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Since Rhaenyra and Alicent are obviously well and truly grown, most speculated that we could have had a flashback to their girlhood together—but a weirwood dream works just as well.

Spoilers ahead for season 2, episode 3 of House of the Dragon, “The Burning Mill”

During his first night spent at Harrenhal, the largest castle in the Riverlands which has been transformed into the most perfect of Gothic locations, Daemon is plagued by a strange dream that sends him walking through the castle and then wake up in the roots of the great weirwood tree in Harrenhal’s courtyard. While it’s not yet clear what sends him this dream—his own guilt, the curse of Harrenhal, the wretchedness and weirdness of the Riverland’s, Alys Rivers, or a mix of them all—the vision he sees in it is instead impossible to misinterpret.

In his dream, Daemon enters a room where he sees a silver-haired woman sitting in front of a fire. And that woman is revealed to be none other than young Rhaenyra Targaryen, sewing little Prince Jaehaerys’s head onto his corpse and scolding Daemon for always having to step in and clean up after him. Matt Smith’s brilliant performance gifts us a harrowing look as Daemon’s response, and really, the layers in this brief interaction drive me up the walls.

It’s a representation of Daemon’s guilt over his part in the events of Blood and Cheese, of course, but the fact that he sees Rhaenyra as she was when she was a teenager instead of the adult woman he married is so significant. Does he miss a time when things were simpler? When Viserys was alive since his most complex relationship arguably remains the one with his now-dead brother? Is it a symbol of his desperate but also misguided desire to be loved? 

Possibly, but it’s also undeniable that a younger Rhaenyra was easier to manipulate—she idolized Daemon and put him on a pedestal which is something that adult Rhaenyra doesn’t do anymore, as she herself said during their fight in last week’s episode that actually drove Daemon to Harrenhal. 

A grown-up Rhaenyra, who incidentally doesn’t share Daemon’s thirst for war, is harder to control which is something that doesn’t quite help a man who is going around and making people call him “Your Grace”—the title meant for the ruler of the Seven Kingdoms, who he is not.

Still, whatever your interpretation of the scene might be, I think we can all agree that it was great to see Milly Alcock back in Westeros again. Here’s to hoping this might not be the only time!

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Benedetta Geddo
Benedetta (she/her) lives in Italy and has been writing about pop culture and entertainment since 2015. She has considered being in fandom a defining character trait since she was in middle school and wasn't old enough to read the fanfiction she was definitely reading and loves dragons, complex magic systems, unhinged female characters, tragic villains and good queer representation. You’ll find her covering everything genre fiction, especially if it’s fantasy-adjacent and even more especially if it’s about ASOIAF. In this Bangtan Sonyeondan sh*t for life.