House of the Dragon proves Alicent (Emily Carey) knows how to make an entrance. Her grand entry during King Viserys I’s (Paddy Considine) opening address at Rhaenyra Targaryen (Milly Alcock) and Laenor Velaryon’s (Theo Nate) wedding caused a stir in Episode 5. The queen, who was mysteriously absent at first, abruptly joined the party wearing a striking green gown. Not only did it stop Viserys in his tracks, but it turned the heads of all the partygoers at once. The dress, however, is significant for more than just its beauty — it could be considered an act of war.
Rhaenyra and Alicent’s relationship has been slowly splintering for the better part of the season. The muted climax of their conflict was probably the moment in Episode 5 when Alicent referred to her former best friend as “step-daughter.” And Alicent’s arrival at the wedding serves as the first glaring sign of division, one that may ultimately lead to civil war. But all this over a dress? Well, there’s definitely more to it.
What Does Alicent's Green Dress Mean?
In George R.R. Martin’s book, Fire & Blood, Alicent makes her green dress debut at a fifth-anniversary tourney, celebrating her union with King Viserys I. At the opening feast, Alicent notably wears a green gown, in contrast to Princess Rhaenyra’s red and black gown. Thus, two factions of supporters are created, those that support the Queen are known as the “greens,” and the princess’ supporters are known as the “blacks.” These contingents proved to be important as the Targaryen civil war began to unfold. It divided supporters of Rhaenyra’s claim to take the throne and those who sought to see the queen’s bloodline in power with Aegon II as king.
In Episode 5, we learn that when House Hightower means to call its banners to war, they light a green flame atop a tower. When Alicent enters the ceremony, she gives a knowing look to her family and house representatives, almost as if signifying her allegiance to House Hightower. Her dress, therefore, serves as a sort of call to action — an indication that she’s chosen her side in the unspoken conflict regarding the throne. She is for her own bloodline and opposes Rhaenyra’s succession.
Ser Criston Cole Joins Alicent's Green Party
Even before the Targaryen civil war began in Fire & Blood, major players had already begun choosing their allegiances. The green council was composed of Alicent Hightower, a reinstated Otto Hightower, and Tyland Lannister, the twin brother of Jason Lannister, who we’ve already met in House of the Dragon. There is also Jasper Wylde, Larys Strong, the brother of Ser Harwin Strong who plays a significant role in Rhaenyra’s future, Grand Maester Orwyle, who we’ve seen tend to King Viserys’ many ailments, and ironically, Ser Criston Cole.
In the book, Ser Criston and Rhaenyra strike up a romantic relationship, despite being her sworn protector. After Rhaenyra turns down the knight’s proposal to run away together, Criston turns cold toward the princess. Before Rhaenyra and Laenor’s wedding, Criston wins a ceremonial tourney and does so while wearing Queen Alicent’s favor. At the wedding, a brawl commences, during which a heartbroken Criston bludgeons Ser Harwin Strong and kills Ser Joffrey Lonmouth, aka Laenor’s secret lover. Alicent, however, assigns Criston as her sworn shield thereafter, and he would become one of the primary members of her green council. He becomes so integral that he is the one who crowns Aegon II as king, in addition to murdering dissenters on behalf of the queen’s party.
In House of the Dragon, we see a version of the above events. First, Criston (Fabien Frankel) creates a deeper fissure between Rhaenyra and Alicent after he accidentally confesses to sleeping with the princess. His admission proves that Rhaenyra indirectly lied to Alicent, which led to Otto’s (Rhys Ifans) banishment. He also has a painful breakup with Rhaenyra, which happens just after she tries to reassure him that they can keep up their secret affair since Laenor only has eyes for Ser Joffrey (Solly McLeod). Offended by her suggestion, Criston refuses the arrangement.
At the wedding, Ser Joffrey notices Criston’s discomfort and attempts to talk to him about an agreement where all parties involved can continue to sleep with whomever they like. It leads to Criston murdering Ser Joffrey, just as he does in Fire & Blood. The episode ends with a lone Criston attempting suicide. He’s driven by guilt and dishonor, having forsaken his vows by sleeping with Rhaenyra. Just as he’s about to drive a blade into his stomach, Alicent calls out his name and stops him. Presumably, this is the beginning of Alicent and Criston’s friendship, which will likely lead to him becoming her shield and a staunch supporter of Aegon II’s claim to the throne.