House of the Dragon Post-Mortem of “We Light the Way” | Watchers on the Wall


Weddings in Westeros are never dull affairs (even if they don’t always live up to Dothraki standards), and the marriage of Rhaenyra to Laenor in last night’s episode of House of the Dragon did not disappoint. In “We Light the Way” there were several broken hearts – and a couple of broken skulls – as well as plenty of intrigue and backstabbing, setting up the conflict to come. While we wait to see what excitement next Sunday will bring, let’s make like Criston Cole on Joffrey Lonmouth and tackle today’s interviews and videos!

House of the Dragon Young Rhaenyra Milly Alcock Young Laenor Velaryon Theo Nate HOTD 105 1x05

Complex talks with Milly Alcock, who will be replaced by Emma D’Arcy moving forward. She shares her perspective on her character’s face in the first half of the season, saying, “I think she has the strength within her that I recognized within myself. So centering Rhaenyra’s beliefs became something I held onto and tried to project in every scene.”

That strength was key for both actor and character, as she and fellow actor Emily Carey were both relatively new to the industry coming into the show. Alcock explains, “It’s interesting because both of our experiences within the show were reflected within our personal lives. We were both under-experienced young women in this world of men, and so much is at stake.” She adds,” We bonded over that because it’s such a unique and niche experience, and there’s no one who can really relate to what me and Em are going through right now and in the process of filming. That’s very similar to Rhaenyra and Alicent; there’s a parallel there that I think translates on screen.”

On discovering she would be filming a wedding scene (a potentially scary prospect in the world of Westeros), Alcock reflects that “it was incredibly exciting. When you’re given anything that’s a bit of a challenge, you have to get excited about it, otherwise, the fear overtakes you, and you realize you spoiled something that actually wasn’t that scary to begin with. We worked with Clare Kilner, who is a phenomenal director, and she brought so much duty and joy to the episodes that she directed. As actors, she was so willing to listen and to play. It was just a lot of fun.”

Read more about Alcock’s experiences working on the show here.

1x05 King's Landing Red Keep Throne Room Wedding Young Alicent (Emily Carey) (1)

It’s also the end of the line for Emily Carey, who will be replaced by Olivia Cooke in future episodes. She tells Variety that she knows where her character is headed, but that she takes care to show a different side to her. “I read the books. In the future, she does make some questionable choices — let’s put it that way. But that’s not the adolescent that I play. I’m playing her in the beginning of her life. The ‘villain origin story,’ in quotation marks, because I personally don’t believe the Alicent that I play is a villain.”

Carey goes on to express her thoughts on the shared experiences of both Alicent and Rhaenyra. “What’s so heartbreaking about this whole situation is these two young women, neither of them are in control at any time. Their lives are basically being dictated by their fathers.” As for the relationship between the two young women, she says, “We weren’t ‘making them gay’ or ‘queerbaiting,’ or anything like that. It’s just, if you want to read into it and see it like that, do it. If you want to see them as more than friends, do it. If you don’t, then don’t…Being a queer woman myself, it was something that I was conscious of. But I wasn’t consciously putting it out there.”

As for how Alicent feels about Rhaenyra after Criston Cole’s shocking confession, Carey explains, “First of all, there’s the betrayal of, ‘You lied to me.’ Then the betrayal of, ‘I swear this upon the memory of my mother,’ which is what you see in Episode 2 with their shared trauma. It’s something that they bond over.” She adds an interesting third point, “And then it’s the betrayal of, ‘Hold on. You slept with him, and I’m in love with him [emphasis mine], and you know this. That’s not fair.’ Alicent is all about duty, through and through. It’s always duty versus heart with her… I’m glad that I got to show how she became this angry woman. And I think that scene is such a turning point.” I’m not sure Alicent’s feelings about Criston were made clear to viewers, but this certainly adds more emotional weight to Alicent’s turn if true!

Read the rest at Variety.

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For both Alcock and Carey it’s difficult to leave their characters behind, and in an interview with Newsweek they express interest in reprising their roles should there be a future need. Says Alcock, “I adore Rhaenyra and I adore the cast and I adore the way that they’ve told this story, so, you know, if they would have me I’d love to come back. But I know that Emma’s going to continue Rhaenyra’s journey for the next season or whatever. So I don’t really want to take away from that performance or anything, you know what I mean? I have to give her up in a way.”

Carey echoes that sentiment, saying that she has “such a strong connection to this character and it feels strange to leave her story halfway and just let someone else take over. As much as I adore Olivia – I cannot wait to see what she does with it – it felt strange, you know…So if I ever had the opportunity to be able to revisit Alicent, I guess depending on where I am and what I’ m doing, I’d love to, but who knows what’s going to come in Season 2.” She adds, “I’m just excited to sit back…and actually appreciate the show from the audience’s perspective and take it all in, and not be cringing at myself.” No need for cringing – the performances by both actors were outstanding, and we’ll all be sad to see them go!

Head here for more.

1x05 Driftmark High Tide Viserys (Paddy Considine), Corlys Velaryon (Steve Toussaint), Rhaenys Velaryon Targaryen (Eve Best) (1)

In a show full of unhealthy and dysfunctional pairings, Corlys (Steve Toussaint) and Rhaenys (Eve Best) are couple goals by comparison. They tell Polygon – in unison – that “all of the other relationships are damaged!” Toussaint adds, “Trash! Obscene!” as Best chimes in, “Incestuous! Weird!” Okay guys, tell us how you really feel!

Best goes on to compare the marriage to the other example of a loving couple (which we only get a brief look at in episode one), saying, “You get the feeling with [Viserys and Aemma] they’re not necessarily peers. I mean you hardly see their relationship, but I think she’s quite a bit younger, isn’t she?” In contrast, Corlys and Rhaenys “really feels like a partnership. And it’s very modern in that respect. And it’s very, very equal, and very based on mutual respect, in terms of power. It’s absolutely 100% an alliance.” That’s a rare quality when you’re playing the game of thrones.

Check out Polygon for more insight into the Westerosi power couple.

1x05 King's Landing Red Keep Throne Room Wedding Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel) (1)

Speaking of dysfunctional relationships, the budding romance between Rhaenyra and Criston Cole (Fabian Frankel) fell apart in dramatic fashion this episode. Speaking with Entertainment Weekly, Frankel explains his character’s progression. “I don’t think there’s anything premeditated about him, at least in the beginning of the show. He’s very much set up as one thing, and as the show goes on, changes a great deal…He’s very much set up as a noble, well-meaning knight there to protect Rhaenyra. And for those who’ve read the book, he isn’t that by any means.”

As for Criston’s killing of Joffrey, Frankel says, “I don’t think he’s searching for any form of conflict at this wedding at all. If anything, he wants to be as far away as humanly possible.” He continues, “I don’t think it’s because [Rhaenyra] says she won’t go away with him. I think it’s the way in which she says she won’t go away with him. That scene could so easily have been written [as] he asks her to run away with him, she understands why he feels this way, she can’t give up her role as queen, but what she will offer him is an out if he would like to leave the Kingsguard. That very much could be the scenario that happens. It isn’t. That to me is very interesting. She chose to keep him there. She made him stand through that wedding. That’s where the animosity builds.”

What should we expect to see Criston do moving forward? Frankel won’t give much away but remarks, “I f—ing love that, in a week’s time, the audience is gonna very much change their opinion of him. I think that Criston is, in a lot of ways, a fly on the wall, but without the Machiavellian nature of a character like Otto. Otto is constantly planning and plotting and ears-to-the-ground. Criston Cole is ears-to-the-ground, but there’s no planning and plotting going on. You have a very interesting dynamic of someone who is overhearing every conversation that is happening, be it when he’s on the side of Rhaenyra or on the side of any of the other characters. And slowly as the show goes on… Criston Cole I believe, will become a very integral part of the Dance of the Dragons.” Prepare yourselves, Criston fans.

Be sure to read the full interview at EW.


In this week’s “Inside the Episode,” showrunners Ryan Condal and Miguel Sapochnik, director Clare Kilnerand cast members Milly Alcock, Rhys Ifans, Theo Nate, and Emily Carey discuss the complicated relationships and machinations going on behind the scenes as the royal family prepares for Rhaenyra’s wedding.

In case you missed it, here is the preview for episode six:

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