Emily Carey is leaving. Unless you’re well-practiced in the particular art of spoiler-dodging online, you knew this was coming. HBO has been forthcoming about very little when it comes to their hit Game of Thrones prequel series, House of the Dragon, but they’ve been transparent about this: After episode 5, the actresses portraying Rhaenyra Targaryen and Alicent Hightower will be replaced with older ones, thanks to a significant mid-season time jump. Emma D’Arcy will take over for Milly Alcock, and Olivia Cooke for Carey. But anticipating the move does little to soften the actual blow, given how audiences have connected with Alcock and Carey’s version of these characters.

Carey, 19, is thankful for the appreciation, if a little relieved she’s not locked into a multi-year contract. And she’s perhaps not unhappy she needn’t portray the more ruthless version of Alicent, a…

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