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‘House of the Dragon’ shocker: Criston Cole breaks bad

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So much for Criston Cole being Rhaenyra Targaryen’s prince charming. That didn’t last. 

[Warning: Spoilers ahead for Episode 5 of “House of the Dragon.”]

On Sunday night’s fifth episode of the “Game of Thrones” spinoff series “House of the Dragon,” the dreamy Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel) breaks bad. So, to any viewers hoping that Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock) could have a happily ever after with her sworn protector who she lost her virginity to, wave goodbye to that possibility. 

In this episode, Cole gets furious that Rhaenyra rejects the idea of abandoning her crown to run off with him. So he reacts in a calm and logical way by dramatically murdering somebody who doesn’t deserve it — thus ending anyone’s hopes of “maybe Criston is the nice guy who Rhaenyra should end up with!”

Here’s what happens. Rhaenyra goes to marry Laenor (Theo Nate), Corlys Velaryon’s (Steve Toussaint) son, in a political arrangement that both families have agreed on. It turns out that Laenor is gay and has a boyfriend, Joffrey (Solly McLeod), so Rhaenyra and Laenor agree that they’ll have their marriage for show, and both date other people on the side. 

Unfortunately, Cole isn’t keen on this. He wants Rhaenyra to run off and marry him and make a new life together far away, but she’s unwilling to ditch her crown. Instead, she tells him about her arrangement with Laenor, and explains that they can continue seeing each other. 

Cole is so enraged — “You want me to be your whore?” he sneers — that he betrays her immediately.

Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock) with her fiance, Laenor (Theo Nate) on a beach on "House of the Dragon."
Rhaenyra with her fiancé, Laenor (Theo Nate) on “House of the Dragon.”
HBO
Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock) and Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel) standing close together looking flirty in "House of the Dragon."
Rhaenyra and Cole in “House of the Dragon.”
Photograph by Ollie Upton / HBO

When her former best friend and current stepmother, Alicent Hightower (Emily Carey) asks him about Rhaenyra’s activities during the sex-fest last episode, he confesses that they were intimate. This shocks Hightower, since she tried to help Rhaenyra (when rumors were flying around about her sex life) and she now knows that Rhaenyra lied to her (when she denied participating in any hanky-panky whatsoever).  

Later at the wedding feast, Cole’s true colors come out even more. Laenor’s boyfriend, Joffrey, makes a fatal error of not realizing what story he’s in. (Doesn’t this guy know that nothing good ever happens to guys named Joffrey at weddings in Westeros?) Joffrey tries to bond with Cole about both being the side partners to the bride and groom at this wedding.

Cole responds to this rationally. Just kidding, he responds like a psycho, brutally murdering Joffrey in front of everyone as the crowd panics and the party dissolves into chaos. 

Fabien Frankel as Ser Crison Cole on "House of the Dragon" kneeling.
Frankel as Cole on “House of the Dragon.”
Courtesy of HBO
Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel) entering a room looking serious.
Cole is no longer Prince Charming on “House of the Dragon.”
Photograph by Ollie Upton / HBO

Later, Cole is shown taking his knife to his chest, apparently planning to kill himself after going off the rails, but Hightower appears and stops him.

[Warning: Spoiler alert from book source material.]

In the George R.R. Martin book “Fire & Blood” that the show is based on, this story is leading to a civil war between factions that are basically Team Hightower and Team Rhaenyra. So, although the scene ends there, this paves the way for Cole’s loyalties to be on Team Hightower. 

It’s worth noting that Rhaenyra didn’t even outright reject Cole — she was just unwilling to give up her life’s ambitions for him. She was open to a workaround to continue seeing him. But, since the situation didn’t go exactly his way, Cole violently lashed out. 

King Viserys (Paddy Considine) and Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock) at her wedding feast sitting at a table.
King Viserys (Paddy Considine) and Rhaenyra at her wedding feast that Cole ruins.
HBO
Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock) with Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel) during happier times walking with a horse between them in a forest on "House of the Dragon."
Rhaenyra with Cole during happier times on “House of the Dragon.”
Photograph by Ollie Upton / HBO

Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith), Rhaenyra’s other love interest, is inappropriate in a slew of ways (he’s her uncle, he’s significantly older, and he’s also a psycho who murders someone this episode too – his wife!) but at this point, he’s starting to look like a better choice for her than Cole. 

Star Alcock agrees, since she recently told The Post about Cole, “I think that she genuinely likes him. But I don’t think she would pick him over Daemon, ultimately.”

Sorry, fans of Cole, it turns out that he’s not a good dude. He’s the kind of guy who reacts to a girl rejecting him by doing something utterly unhinged.  

“House of the Dragon” airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on HBO. 



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