This article contains spoilers for episode 5 of House of the Dragon
Episode 6 of House of the Dragon is about to take the series’ biggest time jump yet. “The Princess and the Queen” will be set 10 years after the deadly brawl at Rhaenyra’s wedding feast, Alicent’s dramatic entrance, and King Viserys’ (Paddy Considine) latest health scare. While the series has jumped forward before, it’s only been by a few years or so at a time, so actors Milly Alcock and Emily Carey have been able to portray the young Rhaenyra Targaryen and Alicent Hightower, respectively, without issue. But now that we’re halfway through the first season, and House of the Dragon is jumping forward an entire decade, it’s time to say goodbye to these young actors we’ve come to know so well.
We’ve known since the beginning that Emma D’Arcy and Olivia Cooke would eventually portray Princess Rhaenyra and Queen Alicent, so their appearance isn’t necessarily a surprise. However, Alcock and Carey have given such strong performances in the first half of the season that D’Arcy and Cooke undoubtedly have big shoes to fill while showing us how Rhaenyra and Alicent have changed, or how they haven’t, over the last ten years and as the season progresses.
Each pair of actors were discouraged by the showrunners from communicating with their counterparts or influencing each other’s performance in any way. Cooke told Entertainment Weekly that she was shown some of the scenes that Carey had done with King Viserys actor Paddy Considine as though they were “memories” for her to draw on while shooting. Cooke describes the experience, saying that “I had those memories locked in my brain for when I’m doing a scene that mirrors that relationship” but that ultimately she was able to bring her own talents and experiences into the role.
But just because the actors didn’t have any influence on each other doesn’t mean that Rhaenyra and Alicent will be totally unrecognizable, they’re just at different stages of life than they were before. In this short episode 6 sneak peek from HBO, D’Arcy’s Rhaenyra has just given birth to a boy, but at the behest of her queen immediately brings the child for her to see. Rhaenyra, still as stubborn as she was in her youth, refuses to let Alicent perceive her as being weak, so she pushes through her pain and marches through the castle. Even in this brief clip, it’s obvious that the tension between Rhaenyra and Alicent has only grown since we last saw them and the official trailer for episode 6 makes it abundantly clear that they are no longer friends.
While we will miss Milly Alcock and Emily Carey, D’Arcy and Cooke are more than prepared to take on these characters. Before House of the Dragon, Emma D’Arcy starred in the Prime Video series Truth Seekers and the Netflix series Wanderlust with Toni Collette, while Olivia Cooke has appeared in Ready Player One as Art3mis/Samantha as well as Sound of Metal, Thoroughbreds, and Bates Motel. Both actors have proven their worth on screen in their other projects, but only time will tell how they fare in Westeros.