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Ser Criston Cole is still the worst

Ser Criston Cole is still the worst
Ser Criston Cole is still the worst


Warning: This article contains spoilers for Dragon House Season 2, episode 2.

Every time Ser Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel) appears on my screen in HBO Dragon House, I am in the grip of a familiar and tortuous inner conflict. On one hand, the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard is objectively the absolute worst, hot-headed, makes horrible decisions left and right, and, perhaps worst of all, is consistently insufferably self-righteous. But, ah, here's the thing: he's also ridiculously handsome, which maybe explains how he's able to breaking his vow of celibacy left and right.

In the world of Game Of Thrones, it's honestly unusual for a villain to be this hot. We've had our share of steamy antiheroes, like Nikolaj Coster-Waldeau's incestuous Jaime Lannister, but for the most part, characters coded as pure villains are similarly mushy and unappealing. In this sense, Ser Criston breaks the mold; at this point it's pretty unrecoverable, but have you seen those doe eyes? What's a girl to do?!

Ser Criston already made quite a mess in Season 1, when he had an affair with young Princess Rhaenyra (Emma DArcy) and, following their breakup, let his rage transform him into his most petty. Not for nothing did he also kill several people just because he couldn't control his temper. Only two episodes into this season, it has already developed this miserable track record. First, as we saw in the premiere, he failed to protect King Aegon II's heir (Tom Glynn-Carney) because he was[checks notes]in bed kissing the king's mother, Alicent (Olivia Cooke), and in episode 2, he managed to turn his feelings of guilt into defiance towards another member of the Kingsguard, sending her on a mission stupid to the point of certain death. And yet, somehow, he got promoted! Typical, isn't it? Even in Westeros, handsome men always fail.

Olivia Cooke, Fabien Frankel

We opened this week with Aegon in a fit of grief-fueled rage. Last week, assassins hilariously nicknamed Blood and Cheese infiltrated the Red Keep and murdered Jaehaerys, the young heir to the throne, in front of his mother. Alicent believes that the gods are punishing her, and Aegon is ready to declare war on Rhaenyra, whom he believes to be the culprit, even though she had nothing to do with the assassination; it was really his uncle, Daemon (Matt Smith).

While Alicent seems nervous that her affair might be exposed, Criston seems mostly guilty. It doesn't take long, however, for Criston to sublimate this guilt into mockery of another member of the Kingsguard, Ser Arryk Cargyll (Luke Tittensor). First, Criston scolded Arryk for daring to wear a soiled cloak, then he sent him on a mission to Dragonstone to kill Rhaenyra alone. How will he get in? By pretending to be his twin brother, of course! What could go wrong? Spoiler alert: When Rhaenyra frees the spy Mysaria, the white worm, she returns the favor by spotting Ser Arryk entering the dungeon. Although he almost succeeds in killing Rhaenyra, his brother kills him first. That’s why, I guess!

Fabien Frankel, Ewan Mitchell

Unfortunately, Aegon doesn't know any of this will happen when he hears Criston's plan, and given that he's primarily interested in revenge, it sounds awesome to him. And so, he fires his grandfather Otto Hightower, whose constant scolding he clearly doesn't like, and appoints Criston his new Hand of the King. As Otto implies on his way out, this is obviously a big mistake. Huge! But try telling that to the impetuous grieving man-child.

As one might imagine, Aegon isn't in his most strategic form right now, so he makes some terrible decisions. First, he had all the rat catchers in the castle killed after Blood confessed that his co-conspirator was one of them. As Otto tells him before being fired, hanging the corpses of all the dead rat catchers in the street is actually a terrible mistake, because even if only one of the men is guilty, they all have families who will probably now hate the Crown.

Unfortunately, logic will not prevail this week. If you need proof, just watch this ending, as Alicent and Criston can't help but repeat the same mistake that got us all into this mess in the first place. Because, yes, when extreme anxiety meets soul-rotting guilt, there's not much left to do but make love the old-fashioned way. Good luck, babies!




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