(Warning: This article contains SPOILERS for House of the Dragon)
The highly-anticipated premiere of House of the Dragon reached a record-breaking viewership record on HBO Max. The long-awaited prequel to the most brutal yet beloved series Game of Thrones centers on House Targaryen set 172 years before Daenarys Targaryen was born and single-handedly conquered for the Iron Throne.
House of the Dragon's jaw-dropping first episode introduced the main players who would compete to sit on the Iron Throne, but one menacing villain creeping in the shadows is no other than Alicent Hightower, who would, later on, be one of the show's main antagonist, according to George R.R. Martin's source material, Fire and Blood. But how evil is Alicent? and can she really top Game of Thrones' sinister yet fan-beloved villain Cersei Lannister?
Is Alicent Hightower More Evil Than Game of Thrones Cersei Lannister?
Both Cersei and Alicent's villainous traits are tied to their monstrously motherly love for their children. Just like Cersei, Alicent's moral decay will start when her children come into jeopardy due to the conflicts and greediness of those around her. At one point, even series lead Rhaenyra Targaryen would somehow face an internal conflict that could surely paint her as a villain – just like Daenerys. Alicent and Rhaenyra's motherly qualities would surely be a significant aspect of House of the Dragon, which reflects the far lengths that Catelyn Stark, Cersei Lannister, and Daenerys Targaryen (mother of dragons) resorted to when their children were tormented.
However, to answer the question, Alicent is undoubtedly not as evil as Cersei. In fact, she is quite more sympathetic and less immoral than Cersei. She may be pitted against Rhaenyra throughout the show and would play a substantial part in provoking the bloody Dance of the Dragons battles, but still, she can't be compared to the ever-wicked Cersei in Game of Thrones who lied about helping the battle against the White Walkers, emotionally tormented Sansa, and massacred an entire population at once by bombing The Sept of Baelor.
Nonetheless, Alicent will certainly have her fair share of distinctive villainous qualities for wanting her son to be seated on the Iron Throne as badly as Cersei wanted the power. With that said, the character is still a complex one and will be established as the prequel progresses.
Who is The Main Villain in House of the Dragon?
Although Game of Thrones heavily emphasized Cersei as the main villain, the series still introduced extremely hated side villains like Littlefinger, Ramsay Bolton, and Joffrey Baratheon. Now, it seems that House of the Dragon intends to follow the same approach, and that is to let the audience figure out who the villain actually is. According to George R.R. Martin, House of the Dragon consists of complex "grey characters" who aren't distinguishable as good or evil. See Martin's full quote at the House of the Dragon panel at San Diego Comic-Con 2022 below:
“It depends on how you define those terms, we’re not gonna have anyone who’s called Lord Evil or Mister Atrocity or anything like that, we don’t have orcs or… anything like that, but there’s certainly evil, I believe the most interesting characters as grey characters… capable of generosity, and love, and doing good, then next week they do something selfish and bad. We all have things to be proud of and ashamed of.”
If that's the case, this means that just like Game of Thrones, the prequel would take the fans on a roller coaster ride in witnessing their favorite characters stumble upon internal dilemmas that would massively shift either their protagonist or antagonist roles.
House of the Dragon is available to stream on HBO Max.