On House of the Dragon, fashion is a form of soft power.
*Spoilers for House of the Dragon below*
In the most recent episode of the Game of Thrones spin-off, Queen Alicent (Emily Carey) arrives late to the wedding of her step-daughter and former friend Rhaenyra Targaryen.
And when she finally does show up – in the middle of King Viserys’s speech, no less! – she’s wearing a heavy silk dress in a striking shade of emerald.
Why is this significant? The series doesn’t rely on viewers to understand the complex relationships between the houses of the realm and the colours of the rainbow for themselves.
Instead, two male wedding guests chitchatting at the dinner table decode Alicent’s conspicuous sartotrial choice for us.
“The beacon on the Hightower, do you know what colour it glows when Oldtown calls its banners to war?” one asks. You can bet the answer is green.
Alicent’s father, Ser Otto Hightower, was recently dismissed from King’s Landing based on the king’s suspicion that he’d been attempting to undermine Rhaenyra as his heir in favour of his own grandchild. Which, of course, Ser Otto was doing before being sent home to Oldtown.
But Alicent isn’t simply defending her father’s honour by adopting his colour here. She is signalling to Rhaenyra, dressed in white for her wedding day, that she’s going to start playing the game of thrones on behalf of her own child, the king’s firstborn son.
In some ways, the moment reads like a graduation to adulthood for Alicent, who has up until now been controlled and protected by her own father. In his absence, she has two choices. She can either remain in a position of subservience to her king and husband, or she can fight for her son to inherit the Iron Throne.
And she’s counting on the fact that all those in attendance at the wedding will be able to interpet her gown before the cake is cut. It’s a call to arms for fans of her father, as well as those who simply don’t want to see a woman wear the crown.
Her dress, then, isn’t just a dress. It’s a well-timed sartotial mic drop.