How Olivia Cooke Interpreted Viserys' Final Words On House Of The Dragon

The latest episode of "House of the Dragon" absolutely relishes in getting our hopes up just a tiny bit and then crushing it instantly. A fateful family dinner with both the black and the green faction of the Targaryen family had an awkward start but seemed to be heading in a good direction after a heartfelt speech by the decrepit King Viserys.

Viserys makes an impassioned plea for the warring sides of his clan to stop fighting, and for a second, it seems like it works out. Princess Rhaenyra toasts her childhood friend-turned-bitter-enemy Alicent. Alicent toasts her back. Things seem like they're finally looking up for the extended Targaryen brood.

Of course, the divisions within the family are far too deep to be solved by mere words. Even when the parents are open to making amends, the children, who have their whole lives only known hating the other faction, won't learn as quickly. A brawl breaks out between Rhaenyra's sons and Alicent's after the terrifying bad boy, Aemond, calls the legitimacy of Jace and Luke's birth into question (correctly, but that's beside the point), leading to a disappointing end to the dinner.

Even after this confrontation, the icy relationship between Rhaenyra and Alicent seemed to be thawing. There was still, maybe, some hope for the two to come to a peaceful resolution. Unfortunately, the episode's penultimate scene featured Alicent entering Viserys' bedroom, where the sickened king was delusional. In this state, Viserys spoke some final words to his wife which may have a great impact on the show's future.

Warning: spoilers follow for "House of the Dragon" episode 8.

Cryptic final words

Viserys addresses Alicent, believing her to be Rhaenyra, and answers the question about Aegon I's prophecy that Rhaenyra asked earlier, saying, "The Prince. To unite the realm against the cold and the dark. It is you. You are the one. You must do this. You must do this."

Of course, Alicent had no idea that Viserys was referring to the Song of Ice and Fire prophecy. According to Alicent's actor, Olivia Cooke, Alicent took it to mean that Viserys wanted her son, Aegon II, on the throne, and how Alicent wasn't even necessarily happy about this.

"There was a massive amount of relief when Alicent told Rhaenyra, 'You will make a great queen.' She's so over the fighting and having this ball of bitterness and anxiety in her stomach: Just let it go, Rhaenyra is the heir, this is fine. When Viserys says that, I genuinely think she thinks he's talking about Aegon, her son. And I think she's furious. She's like, 'After all that?' But Viserys is on his deathbed; that's what he requested, and so she must follow it through. Whether that's unconscious wishful thinking, I don't know, but that's how I played it."

Alicent, like all of us, was grateful that the tension between the greens and the blacks was perhaps finally coming to an end. Like all of us, though, she quickly realized that it will not be.

Not quite Cersei

People have been harsh on the Alicent Hightower character since the debut of "House of the Dragon," with her often receiving comparisons to the villainous Cersei Lannister from "Game of Thrones." While the comparisons are certainly easy to make, with both being mothers bent on securing the Iron Throne for their children, I believe they're often unfair to Alicent.

While Cersei spends her whole series blindly and cruelly seeking power, Alicent's motivations are often far more sympathetic. While the show clearly wants us to root for Rhaenyra and her family to come out on top, looking at the situation from Alicent's point-of-view makes things far more complicated.

Alicent and Rhaenyra spoke in their youth about their duty to the realm, and their responsibility to be loyal wives and produce heirs for their husbands. Alicent has done that duty to the fullest, staying by Viserys even in his waning health and providing him two new potential male heirs. Meanwhile, Rhaenyra has scorned the duty they spoke about, first with her affair with Criston Cole, and later by having children by Harwin Strong. While it's easy to sympathize with Rhaenyra wanting to follow her heart rather than her political aspirations when it comes to relationships, it's easy to see why Alicent would be upset by this flouting of responsibility.

Additionally, Rhaenyra being the heir puts Alicent's children's lives on the line. At any point, if Rhaenyra is made queen, she could have Alicent's children killed in order to eliminate any other potential heirs. If the possibility of the death of her children isn't a reasonable motivation to do some drastic things, I don't know what is.

The war's still on

So with Viserys seemingly kicking the bucket in the final scene of the episode, war between the blacks and the greens seems imminent. With Alicent now believing that Viserys' final wish was to put Aegon on the throne, she will pursue that goal with a renewed fervor, even if she was ready to give it all up.

This aspect of the conflict is really a tragedy for all involved. What essentially is just a mistake on the part of a delusional, dying old man will surely cost many lives in a conflict that could have been over peacefully. Both Rhaenyra and Alicent were ready to put their differences aside for the sake of themselves and their children. But now, all due to a case of mistaken identity, the war is back on, and blood is sure to be shed.

But we know what show we're watching. As Viserys' actor Paddy Considine himself said in a Vulture interview, "It's just wishful thinking, isn't it, that they could get on?"