The next episode of House of the Dragon is set to shake up the popular fantasy show in a very significant way. That’s because in between episode 5 and episode 6 there will be a 10-year time skip, and this means we’ll be waving goodbye to some of the show's breakout stars.
While the creative team at HBO could have opted for aging up its younger actors with makeup or by using special effects, the decision instead was taken to recast some of House of the Dragon’s most important characters as they get older. Therefore, the most recent episode, We Light the Way, marks the final appearance of Milly Alcock as Rhaenyra Targaryen and Emily Carey as Alicent Hightower (for now at least).
Alcock and Carey have seen their profiles rapidly rise over the last few weeks as a result of the show’s intense popularity, and both actors have been widely praised for their performances to date. There is perhaps the possibility that the two could reappear via flashback sequences, but there has been no confirmation that any such scenes exist in the remaining five episodes of House of the Dragon season 1.
Going forward, the roles of the now all-grown-up Rhaenyra and Alicent will be played by Emma D’Arcy and Olivia Cooke respectively. The latter has been the more prolific performer in recent years and has featured in well-received indie movies such as Me and Earl and the Dying Girl and Sound of Metal as well as blockbusters such as Ready Player One. Meanwhile, D’Arcy has a smaller filmography but did feature in the TV show adaptation of Hanna for Prime Video.
Of course, a 10-year time jump affects plenty of the younger characters on the show, so it’s not just Rhaenyra and Alicent who will look a little different in House of the Dragon episode 6. Aegon Targaryen, the firstborn son of Alicent and King Viserys, was just a baby last time we saw him, but going forward he will be played by Tom Glynn-Carney, and he’s definitely not a kid anymore — he’s even riding dragons when we next see him.
Meanwhile, John MacMillan is taking over the role of Laenor Velaryon from Theo Nate. The last time we saw Laenor he was being wed to Rhaenyra while still reeling from watching his lover beat to death in front of him, and it’s likely that even a decade passing hasn’t healed that particular wound. Nanna Blondell is also stepping into the role of Laena Velaryon, and will be the third actor to play the character after Nova Foueillis-Mose earlier in the season and Savannah Steyn in episode 5.
It’s a shame to have to say goodbye to these young actors, especially Alcock and Carey, as both have quickly become very popular within the Game of Thrones fanbase. However, in a show spanning such a lengthy period of time as House of the Dragon recasting was always going to be necessary. At least the likes of Paddy Considine, Steve Toussaint, Eve Best and Matt Smith are sticking around through the whole season, assuming they don’t unexpectedly snuff it before the finale that is.
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