House of the Dragon’s fifth episode is the most dramatic yet.
Warning – major spoilers for ‘House of the Dragon’ episode five ahead
Prince Daemon’s (Matt Smith) wife is killed, the king’s health appears to be in serious decline and we have a royal wedding on our hands between Princess Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock) and Laenor Velaryon (Theo Nate).
However, it is the king’s wife, Queen Alicent Hightower (Emily Carey), who steals the show.
In a scene lasting less than 30 seconds, decades of unrest are foreshadowed.
Queen Alicent’s dress is steeped in symbolism
As guests arrive at the welcome feast for Rhaenyra and Laenor’s wedding, there is one notable absentee: Queen Alicent.
Her lack of attendance is remarked upon repeatedly, drawing the viewers to its significance. “I understand the queen is still readying herself for the celebrations,” King Viserys (Paddy Considine) explains to Jason Lannister (Jefferson Hall).
“This is why men wage war,” Lannister jests, “because women would never be ready for the battle in time.”
Ironically, it seems readying herself for battle is exactly what Alicent was doing.
In the midst of a speech to his guests, Viserys is interrupted by Alicent who dramatically appears alone in the hall’s entrance.
She is dressed in all emerald green. “The beacon on the Hightower, do you know what colour it glows when Old Town calls its banners to war?” Larys Strong asks another guest. “Green.”
As she passes the crowd, Alicent glances at the contingents of House Hightower, also all dressed in green, who share a look with her.
When she finally approaches the head table, Alicent calls Rhaenyra “stepdaughter” for the first time, despite the fact that the two were formerly close friends.
The scene marks a major character shift for Alicent
Though it might not seem like much at first glance, this arrival is arguably the most important scene in the series so far.
Previously, we saw Otto Hightower, Alicent’s father, on his way out of King’s Landing, giving his daughter a grim warning.
“The king will die,” Otto tells his daughter, “and if Rhaenyra succeeds, war will follow. The realm will not accept her and to secure her claim, she’ll have to put your children to the sword, she’ll have no choice. You know it.”
Alicent, who had previously seemed peaceable if not meek, lays her intentions bare in the wedding scene – her allegiances are with her children and the Hightowers, not Rhaenyra.
That point is made clearer still by Alicent’s uncle, Hobert Hightower (Steffan Rhodri), who says to her: “Know that Oldtown stands with you.”
Green has an important significance in George RR Martin’s original source material
In George RR Martin’s book Fire & Blood, on which House of the Dragon is based, the greens come to symbolise her faction in the upcoming war, which Martin calls “The Dance of the Dragons”.
The rift between Alicent and Rhaenyra is further indicated in the titles for the upcoming episodes, which HBO has released the names of. Episode six is entitled, “The Princess and The Queen” while episode nine is titled “The Green Council”, and episode 10 “The Black Queen”.
If the series follows the narrative of Martin’s book, which it so far has, the green dress signifies the beginning of a whole lot of action to come.
House of the Dragon airs weekly on Sundays in the US, with the UK premiere arriving 2am the following morning on Sky. The episodes are then repeated at 9pm on Mondays, and will be available to stream on Sky and NOW after their initial airing.