House Hightower
Emily Carey as Alicent Hightower in House of the Dragon

This HOTD Character Just Proved The Targaryens Can Trust No One

Loose lips sink ships…. and dragons.

by Ani Bundel
Ollie Upton/HBO

House of the Dragon Episode 4 ended with Rhaenyra accepting her father’s demand that she marry in exchange for the overdue removal of Otto Hightower as his Hand. Hightower had been working against Viserys’ interests (and Rhaenyra specifically) since the series premiere, and it was long past time for Viserys to fire him. But as Episode 5 showed, things had progressed way too far for one move to end the brewing discord. Viserys’ new Hand may not be trustworthy, and the Hightowers still have the upper hand.

Warning: Spoilers for House of the Dragon Season 1, Episode 5 follow. Viserys won’t pass away for another decade and a half, but his trip to Lord Corlys Velaryon to negotiate Rhaenyra’s marriage left him profoundly weakened. The sea journey made him sink, the carriage ride was rough on him, and he all but collapsed during the audience with Corlys and Rhaenys. The whole time, his new Hand, Lyonel Strong, the Lord of Harrenhal, stood quietly by, watching. He was there to help the King at every moment, yet he never made a move to make things easier on him or argued against leeching him once they returned home.

But if Lyonel stood by taking in all the relationships between his Targaryen overlords, including Daemon and Rhaenyra, his son, Larys Strong, was not so quiet.

When Otto Hightower left, he berated Alicent for siding with Rhaenyra over him as the reason he was fired. He told her not to rely on Rhaenyra’s generosity, as the woman would have Alicent’s children slain if it sealed her position as Queen. Rhaenyra protested that she and Rhaenyra were friends and trusted the Princess completely.

Ollie Upton/HBO

When she came across Lord Larys in the King’s Landing gardens, it seemed like a chance meeting — two children of Viserys’ Hands who have to make nice despite the politics of it all. But then Lord Larys began asking about Rhaenyra’s health and dropped the bomb about Viserys having the Maester send “tea.” Lord Larys played the fool as if he could not think why a maester would brew tea for a Princess, knowing full well as the mother of two (and counting) Alicent would make the math — Moon Tea.

Driven to know the truth, Alicent summoned Criston Cole to find out if Rhaenyra had slept with Daemon. Cole, more fool, shocked her by confessing that he was the one bedding her. Had this been Cersei, she would have rolled her eyes at his begging for death, but Alicent was far kinder. After all, Cole wasn’t the one who made her a fool. Rhaenyra was.

If the Strongs are working for Hightower, they certainly accomplished in dividing Alicent from Rhaenyra, leaving the Princess deeply vulnerable. Either way, it seems the Strongs are not on Viserys’ side here, and the King again lacks anyone to trust in his court.

House of the Dragon Season 1 continues with new episodes every Sunday at 9 p.m. ET on HBO and HBO Max.