*Warning: Spoilers for both seasons of House of the Dragon ahead*


We’re now four episodes deep into House of the Dragon season 2, and you know what that means – yep, that’s right, hundreds of fans are taking to Twitter (or X, if you prefer) to project some of their most inventive insults on our scandalous Dowager Queen Alicent Hightower.

From some fans proclaiming simple statements such as "I hate her so much" to others subjecting her to more unnecessary, derogatory comments regarding her sexual history, Ms Hightower, played by the always brilliant Olivia Cooke, has been the recipient of relentless hatred for almost all of the 14 episodes of House of the Dragon so far – and now, I’m here to defend her.

Now, before I get into it, I’d like it to be know that I am by no means a militant Green supporter – in fact, I die a little bit inside each time I see Criston Cole’s self-righteous face on screen, and firmly believe in Rhaenyra’s claim to the throne (although I actually think Rhaenys is the rightful queen, but that’s a subject for another time) – but there is a burning part of me that understands why some of the Greens, specifically Alicent, behave in the way that they do.

Since season 1, I have maintained a firm belief that Alicent Hightower is nowhere near as heinous as House of the Dragon fans - and the show itself, on occasion - have made her out to be.

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Alicent was little more than a child when she was groomed and instructed by her power-hungry father Otto to marry a man that was not only twice her age, but who was also both the king and the father of her best, and only, friend, Rhaenyra.

Olivia Cooke in close up as Alicent Hightower in House of the Dragon season 2 standing looking off camera
Olivia Cooke in close up as Alicent Hightower in House of the Dragon season 2. HBO

Only a few years later, Alicent was forced to birth and raise four problemed children, all of whom disputed her best friend’s claim to the throne by birthright alone. It is a position that she did not choose – nor one that she was ever prepared for – and one that placed her in direct opposition with Rhaenyra.

It was when Alicent made the mistake of listening to Westeros’s worst dad (AKA her husband King Viserys I) when he uttered the name of their son, Aegon, moments before his death, that Alicent became, in many fans’ eyes, the ultimate villain.

At the time, I even saw some unfairly comparing her to Cersei Lannister, the Game of Thrones matriarch and brutally despised mass-murderess, for suggesting to the Small Council that Viserys wanted their son to be king, and for the subsequent war of succession.

But is Alicent really to blame? Maybe if the Targaryens stopped naming all their children the same thing and believing in melodramatic prophecies that, for some reason, they are oddly secretive about, then all this chaos could have been avoided.

Maybe if King Viserys, the true villain of HotD, actually encouraged some sort of harmony between his sons with his second wife and his grandchildren from his first marriage, rather than allowing them to quarrel over dragons and parentage, Prince Aemond wouldn't have 'accidentally' murdered his nephew.

Now we are over halfway through season 2 – and Alicent is as detested as ever online, despite a shameful lack of screen time (seriously – can we stop with Daemon in Harrenhal already?). She is sleeping with Criston Cole (a move which, I agree, isn’t the best look), drinking moon tea, and maintaining her son’s claim to the throne.

And yet, she appears to be one of the few characters who does not desire a war. She tells her father she wishes Aegon to rule peacefully, begs her royal son to "stay home" when he heads for battle, and mourns for Prince Lucerys, the son of her enemy, at the Sept.

She is by no means perfect, but she does not want bloodshed.

Olivia Cooke as Dowager Queen Alicent Hightower in a green dress and veil climbing into a carriage in House of the Dragon season 2.
Olivia Cooke as Dowager Queen Alicent Hightower in House of the Dragon season 2. HBO

Perhaps I’d have less reason to defend Alicent if fans offered the same amount of criticism to other characters in the ASoIaF universe.

Take Daemon Targaryen, for example. The same Daemon who murdered his first wife, cheated on his second, desired to usurp his brother and instructed the death of an infant. Daemon, who is adored on social media for little more than having a sharp jawline and marrying his niece.

Why is Daemon honoured with forgiveness, but Alicent is not? Alicent was a tragic victim of circumstance: with a life decided almost completely by her father. She is a woman who is undermined by the men in her court, who struggles to really love her children yet wants the best for them, who is just as complex as the rest of us in the real world.

Alicent deserves empathy, not hatred, and it feels wrong that many fans are unable to offer that to her.

Oh Alicent, they could never make me hate you.

(Let’s hope I don’t have to eat my words at the end of this season.)

House of the Dragon season two airs on Sky Atlantic and NOW in the UK – find out more about how to sign up for Sky TV.


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