In House of the Dragon episode 5, Ser Criston Cole finally snaps. He reaches his breaking point and does something truly violent and gruesome during Princess Rhaenyra and Laenor Velaryon’s wedding celebrations that we will be exploring later. The episode ends with Ser Criston Cole and Queen Alicent essentially becoming allies. This means that Princess Rhaenyra’s sworn protector is no longer by her side and will prove to be another thorn in her way to the Iron Throne.
The Targaryens were sailing back from the High Tides after fixing the marriage between Princess Rhaenyra and Ser Laenor Velaryon. This is when Ser Criston Cole lays it all on the line and tells Rhaenyra how he feels. He wants to run away with her, far away from all the responsibilities and duties and forge a path to freedom. After becoming free they could also get married and live a happy life. However, Rhaenyra turns him down. She tells him that she is the Crown and cannot exchange that life for what he was suggesting.
Rhaenyra then proceeded to tell him that she and Laenor had come to an understanding that would allow both of them to pursue their own interests while being married. She suggests that he could continue being her paramour. Naturally, to a man who had broken his vow and dishonored himself, this came as quite a devastating blow. He felt reduced to a whore and started to regret his actions. After all, he had sworn chastity and the night with Rhaenyra had sullied his white cloak. Fans have definitely never seen Ser Criston this frustrated and outraged but this is just the tip of the iceberg.
In this episode, Queen Alicent is going on a turbulent journey of her own . She calls in Ser Criston hoping that as Princess Rhaenyra’s sworn protector he might know what happened on the night of Daemon’s return. While Alicent tries to question him regarding Rhaenyra and Daemon’s dalliance and the rumors that followed. Ser Criston mistook her to be talking about him and the Princess. However, he is still an honest and honorable man and cannot lie to the Queen. This stance is also a result of the bitterness he holds towards Rhaenyra. Its also a sign that he will no more protect her and her honor. He tells Queen Alicent the whole truth while also asking mercy for himself. Instead of being tortured all he wants is a swift death.
During the wedding festivities, Ser Joffrey Lonmouth notices Ser Criston Cole and his glances of disdain toward Rhaenyra and Laenor. He figures out that that’s Rhaenyra’s paramour. However, he takes it a step further and approaches Ser Criston. Joffrey’s words once again make him feel like a whore and he realized that that’s what he had become in the eyes of others as well. Overwhelmed with frustration, anger, guilt and regret Ser Criston Cole finally snapped. He attacked Joffrey Lonmouth right in the middle of the festivities and bashed in his face with his helmet thus killing him in one hell of a gruesome fashion.
The last we see of him is when he decides to take his life. House of the Dragon definitely handled his character arc very well in this episode. Ser Criston is a noble and honorable man and would not just turn into a barbaric animal for nothing. His attempt at suicide also goes to show how he had lost faith in himself and knew the gravity of his actions. With every passing scene, Ser Criston’s pain, shame, anger and sense of betrayal grew right in front of the viewers. In the future, he will most certainly support the greens or rather Aegon and Alicent. In fact, his words will essentially cause the Dance of the Dragons. Unfortunately we most likely wont be seeing a confrontation between him and Rhaenyra as the series will be jumping forward in time. Nonetheless, Ser Criston Cole will be integral to the storyline of House of the Dragon and this was just the beginning for him.