The events of “Driftmark” were tough on Alicent, but Rhaenyra came out of it all a clear winner. When she first enters the courtroom, it feels like Rhaenyra is trapped in a corner, but luckily she’s got one incredibly effective strategy up her sleeve. “Rhaenyra is playing quite a basic game,” Emma D’Arcy explained. “Lie hard, do not back down, and weaponize this word ‘treason.'”
Rhaenyra isn’t really trying to hurt anyone in this scene, but she knows that from Viserys’ perspective, Aemond accusing her sons of being bastards is a far bigger deal than Lucerys cutting one of Aemond’s eyes in the heat of the moment. It helps that Viserys has always loved Rhaenyra far more than he’s ever loved the kids he’s had with Alicent, so defending Rhaenyra’s honor is always going to be his top priority.
In fact, Viserys’ response in this episode, regardless of the actual outcome, is the biggest win for Rhaenyra in this episode. “She so rarely gets definitively the backing of her father,” D’Arcy noted. “Early on, she loses both her best friend and her father because they get married. These moments where she gets publicly chosen, and chosen instead of [Alicent] — there’s a really violent quality of vengeance for her.”
Although Viserys’ exact loyalties weren’t always clear up until that point — he’s certainly seems annoyed with Rhaenyra plenty of times — from that moment forward, it became obvious to everyone that he will always defend his first daughter no matter what. Even though he definitely knows those kids of hers aren’t Velaryon, he loves her so much that he’s more than happy to look past it.