WTH Is Going On with Ser Criston Cole in 'House of the Dragon'?

·3 min read
Photo credit: HBO
Photo credit: HBO

Ser Criston Cole, Princess Rhaenyra's handsome knight, watchful protector, and scorned lover, is really going through it. In last week's episode of House of the Dragon, his romantic gestures about running away with the princess are not only brushed aside, but his place in her life is demoted to that of a side-piece. After spending a passionate night together, his vow of celibacy to the king's guard forsaken, rumors spread that the princess slept with her uncle instead of him. He even murdered someone in front of everyone at Rhaenyra's wedding! Shucks. The embarrassment was enough to almost take his own life, but House of the Dragon has much more in store for arguably its most tragic character.

Speaking with The Wrap, Ser Criston actor Fabien Frankel said, "It was just being there and imagining what kind of a circumstance it would be to have stood at the wedding of the woman that you love, merely a few days after having made love with her and asked her to run away with you." Frankel described the murder of Laenor Velaryon's paramour as "a completely reactionary thing that happens very impulsively," and there wasn't "anything premeditated about him killing that character."

Though the knight may have surprised viewers with how much his character has intertwined himself in House of the Dragon's plot, his journey there was much more premeditated than his actions in the shocking Episode Five finale lead us to believe. In various interviews since the episode aired, Frankel has revealed countless details about the trials and tribulations he has gone through off-screen as well.

Frankel told Entertainment Weekly that, in the last episode, Ser Criston Cole "developed an understanding of the Machiavellian politics of this world." The actor reportedly wrote letters to his character to further get inside Ser Criston's head, revealing that "without going into detail, I was going through a really weird period in my own life at that time." He even prepped for that sex scene with Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock) for seven months before filming. His favorite part? Spending nearly five to ten minutes just removing all that armor. "It's important that it's a struggle to get the armor off," he told EW. "It's heavy. How do we get the buckle off? How do we get the boots off? These are all the things I really cared about."

That obsessive, panicked young knight may be gone come Episode Six, however, which follows a massive time-jump that replaces many of the actors with adult versions of the characters. Don't fret—Frankel is here to stay! "Slowly as the show goes on... Criston Cole, I believe, will become a very integral part of the 'Dance of the Dragons,'" Frankel teased. After being saved by Queen Alicent, he now has a renewed sense of duty and purpose beyond his fling with Rhaenyra. "I’ll say this: Think carefully about what that moment would mean were you in those shoes—i.e. the moment of Alicent stopping him from killing himself," he told The Wrap. "That’s all I can say, really... I’m still handcuffed for the rest of eternity, but you know, pretty nice handcuffs to be in."

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