This article contains spoilers for House of the Dragon.
At the official Game of Thrones fan convention hosted in LA this weekend, House of the Dragon showrunner Ryan Condal showed a deleted scene from the season 1 finale that showed a brief, but emotional conversation between Princess Rhaenys Targaryen (Eve Best) and her granddaughter Lady Baela Targaryen (Bethany Antonia). This scene, which you can watch below, showcases an important element that this season of House of the Dragon is missing: more one-on-one moments between its female characters.
Part of why the estrangement of Alicent Hightower (Emily Carey, Olivia Cooke) and Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen (Milly Alcock, Emma D’Arcy) is so devastating is because of the few moments we witness between the young girls in their youth. Before the pressures of their patriarchal society interfere in their relationship, Rhaenrya and Alicent are best friends, and the series does a great job of showing just how close these two are. We get to see a more intimate side to the pair as they are able to share their thoughts candidly with each other away from the pressures of their stations, at least until Rhaenyra sleeps with Ser Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel) and lies to Alicent about it. These scenes are crucial for us to understand these women on a deeper level as the series progresses.
Once Alicent’s betrothal to King Viserys I (Paddy Considine) is announced, we lose these one-on-one moments between the young women as they grow apart and become more involved in the socio-politics of Westeros. Aside from the few conversations that Rhaenyra has with Rhaenys, it isn’t until episode 9 that we really see another important one-on-one moment between two women that isn’t in the presence of men.
When Alicent goes to Rhaenys to try and convince her to pledge fealty to Aegon II (Tom-Glynn Carney) rather than Rhaenyra, it’s more than just Alicent trying to be manipulative and keep her family in power. It’s about Alicent trying to appeal to Rhaenys as a mother and connect with her as another woman who has seen her potential squandered thanks to the rules of their society. Without this scene, Rhaenys’ decision to flee on the back of Melys rather than seeking vengeance through fire doesn’t have the same emotional impact.
While the deleted scene between Baela and Rhaenys isn’t long, it packs just as much emotional value as the scenes mentioned previously. We see Baela become a strong young woman like her grandmother, mother, and aunt as she argues against Rhaenys’ wishes for her and her sister to lay low and not get involved. In that moment, Rhaenys seems to realize that she does still have something and someone left to fight for, and is proud of Baela for speaking her mind as her mother would have.
Considering this season found the time to include three traumatic birthing scenes, I really wish the showrunners also could have seen the emotional value that this scene would have brought to the series. So much of the series so far is focused on how awful the patriarchy is to women, which is important, but it also missed the mark on showing how women find solace with each other in spite of this.
Even when they don’t agree on how to best adapt to the constraints of the patriarchy and the conflicts that arise from it, these scenes prove that the women of House of the Dragon are often still able to find ways to see the humanity in each other and empathize with each other’s struggles. Not including the scene between Baela and Rhaenys was a missed opportunity for House of the Dragon to show a more vulnerable side to its female characters. The series has done a great job thus far of showing us how strong and ruthless these women can be, but it means nothing if we don’t also get to see them be complex and emotional beings.