CULTURE

The House of the Dragon Actresses Definitely Picked Up on the Queer Subtext

Milly Alcock as Rhaenyra and Emily Carey as Alicent holding each other in 'House of the Dragon'
Courtesy of IMDb

No matter how unlikely the relationship, if you’re sensing romantic or sexual tension between two characters in the realm of Game of Thrones, you’re probably right. And if you’ve watched all five available episodes of the prequel series House of the Dragon and are wondering if Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock) and her former best friend Alicent (Emily Carey) will be our next unexpected couple, know that you aren’t alone. Even Alcock and Carey, who will exit the show as their characters age up next episode, have been wondering what exactly is up between the pair. (Yes, Alicent is the wife of Rhaenyra’s father—but seeing as Rhaenyra has already hooked up with her uncle, anything is possible.)

“As a queer person myself, I read an undertone in the script that I knew could be played,” Carey said when the New York Times asked her about the possibility of “sublimated romantic or sexual tension” between Rhaenyra and Alicent. “That being said, I don’t think Ryan Condal [a creator and showrunner] sat there writing a Sapphic drama. If you want to see it, you can. If you want to pretend it’s not there, you can also do that.” Carey went on to posit that the characters don’t have a concept of a binary between romantic and platonic. “There’s just a closeness between two young women that cannot be verbalized, especially in the world they live in,” she continued. “I don’t think they fully understand the feelings; it’s just all-consuming love.”

That all sounds pretty vague, but Carey and Milcock also pointed to a moment in which they felt the tension got pretty explicit. “There’s an underlying jealousy that I read into it, especially coming off the back of episode 4,” the former said. “It was this scene where we were on a bench, and it’s the first time we’ve seen these two women reconnect after losing this closeness they had. I remember in rehearsal at the end of the scene, we were like, ‘Did you feel like we were about to kiss?’” Alcock enthusiastically agreed. “Yeah, dude, it felt like we were going to kiss,” Carey continued. “That was really strange.”

Still, Carey and Milcock were careful not to push for any changes or interfere with the script. “We didn’t do anything to make them gay, or to force ‘the gay’ upon anyone,” Carey said. “It felt so natural. As I said, it’s easy to ignore if you really don’t want to look at it. But if you’re rooting for them and you want to make the story more heartbreaking, then choose to see it.”

So, is a kiss actually in store? Don’t ask Carey or Milcock: Their time on the show has come to an end. They haven’t read the remaining scripts, nor even met the older actors replacing them as their characters. Like us, they’ll just have to wait and see what happens in the rest of season 1.