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House Of The Dragon Season 2: Why Alicent's Drink In Episode 4 Is So Important

Contains spoilers for "House of the Dragon" Season 2 Episode 4 — "The Red Dragon and the Gold"

Alicent Hightower is having a weird time during Season 2 of "House of the Dragon" so far, to put it lightly. Played perfectly by Olivia Cooke, Alicent, the mother of the unstable and awful boy king Aegon II Targaryen (Tom Glynn-Carney), is under a lot of stress — and in the fourth episode, "The Red Dragon and the Gold," she has a really nasty cocktail meant for a very specific purpose.

Specifically, Alicent requests a cup of moon tea ... which, in Westeros, is used to both prevent and terminate pregnancies. Traditionally made from ingredients like herbs, wormwood, honey, moon tea is actually forbidden by the super-conservative Faith of the Seven — whom we saw trying to take over King's Landing as religious extremists during "Game of Thrones" — as it's considered murder. We've seen other characters drink moon tea during "House of the Dragon," including maids who may or may not have been violated by King Aegon II himself, and when Alicent takes the tea from the maester in the scene, she tells him that she'll make sure the girl drinking the tea is well cared for (as the tea is known to cause stomach discomfort). The fact that she wants to hide her consumption of the tea is definitely notable, and fans on social media also had some comments about Alicent's cocktail of choice.

Fans had a lot to say about Alicent's moon tea moment

Over on X (formerly known as Twitter), fans have a lot to say about Alicent's potential pregnancy — which, it should be said, would be a huge scandal within the show's universe (considering that she's the dowager queen and is still, ostensibly, mourning her late husband King Viserys I, played by Paddy Considine in Season 1). @ALFREDOSAYSO posted a video of Chloe and Halle Bailey laughing and reacting alongside a simple caption that reads, "Alicent being pregnant with a bastard child." @rhaenyrasrealm couldn't believe Alicent's predicament and gave a shoutout to her dubious secret paramour, Ser Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel): "LMFAOO ALICENT IS PREGNANT WITH CRISTON'S BABY AND SHE'S TAKING MOON TEA." @jjmileo was of the same mind, writing, "not alicent being pregnant with criston's baby and taking the moon tea" with a crying-face emoji.

@drac3rys brought last season's unexpected meeting between Alicent and her childhood friend turned enemy Queen Rhaenyra Targaryen (Emma D'Arcy) into it, writing, "alicent getting pregnant after her reunion with rhaenyra ohhh you can't make this up." (In Season 1, a younger Rhaenyra, played by Milly Alcock, had her own fling with Ser Criston.) As for @WickedNFine, they brought up Alicent's cruelty towards Rhaenyra, who mothered a few children out of wedlock in her day: "Alicent getting pregnant out of wedlock & by someone deemed a lower class than her. But had so much to say about Rhaenyra..."

Alicent and Ser Criston Cole's relationship is causing plenty of problems this season

If it feels like Alicent is getting an undue amount of heat from fans over her potential pregnancy — or desire to prevent a pregnancy in the first place — it might have something to do with her choice of paramour. If there's one truth universally acknowledged about "House of the Dragon," it's that the audience absolutely hates Ser Criston Cole. In Season 1, after one night with Rhaenyra, the Dornish native and newly appointed knight of the Kingsguard impulsively asks the princess — and, at that point, the only acknowledged heir to the Iron Throne — to run away with him and abandon her future, her title, and her responsibilities. When she (understandably) says that she can't, Ser Criston forms a grudge against a teenage girl he slept with one time and aligns himself with Alicent, Rhaenyra's eventual nemesis.

It's revealed in the Season 2 premiere, "A Son for a Son," that Ser Criston and Alicent are carrying on in secret, though they keep saying that each time is "the last time" (a promise they break over and over again). Ser Criston is, to be sure, a frustrating character who has risen to prominence — at this point, he commands the Kingsguard and serves as Hand of the King, somehow — despite being pretty bad at a lot of his jobs, but holding Alicent responsible for Ser Criston's boneheadedness seems unfair. She's been having a tough go this season.

Season 2 of House of the Dragon has been pretty rough for Alicent Hightower

Yes, Alicent can, in her own right, be a deeply frustrating character, particularly as she digs her heels in time and time again regarding Aegon's place on the Iron Throne. Still, it's undeniable that Season 2 has been difficult for her. As the sophomore season of "House of the Dragon" begins, Alicent is shaken up by the dragon battle that claimed the life of Rhaenyra's second-eldest son Lucerys Velaryon (Elliot Grihault) at the end of Season 1, particularly because her eldest son Aemond Targaryen (Ewan Mitchell) was responsible for the other boy's death. (While alone, she lights a prayer candle for Lucerys in one of her more vulnerable moments.) Then, when Rhaenyra's husband-uncle Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith) seeks revenge for Lucerys' death, he hires two assassins to sneak into King's Landing's royal chambers ... and they beheaded Alicent's eldest grandson, young Prince Jaehaerys. (Alicent and Ser Criston do not notice this, because they're in bed together.)

Between her attempts to win over the people of King's Landing by villifying Rhaenyra and having to deal with whatever Aegon's deal is at any given moment, Alicent definitely has a rough go of it on "House of the Dragon," despite her powerful position. Drinking moon tea is definitely indicative of yet another curveball heading Alicent's way, so we'll just have to wait and see if anything comes of this moment.

"House of the Dragon" airs new episodes on Sundays on HBO and Max at 9 P.M. EST.