The drama of House of the Dragon is now at its highest peak as far as the series is concerned because episode 5 showed a lot of different scenes that could end up contributing to the implosion of House Targaryen. Of course, the character who became a victim of all of the different actions that the Targaryens were making was Ser Criston Cole, the sworn defender of Princess Rhaenyra. Clearly emotionally affected by everything that has happened, Ser Criston was about to kill himself at the end of the episode. So, why did Ser Criston want to commit suicide?
Ser Criston Cole wanted to commit suicide because he could no longer live with the shame of breaking his vow as a sworn knight of the Kingsguard for nothing. He originally thought that he could redeem his name by marrying Rhaenyra, but he ended up getting nothing but a broken heart in return.
It is worth mentioning that Ser Criston was never someone who had any political self-interests in the things going on with House Targaryen, as he simply wanted to perform his duties as Princess Rhaenyra’s sworn protector. However, with everything going on with the princess, he got dragged into the mess and was at an emotional low. Now, that said, let’s look at the reasons why he wanted to commit suicide.
What Is Ser Criston’s Relationship With Rhaenyra?
Ever since the earlier portion of House of the Dragon, a character that was clearly going to become important in the grander scheme of things was Criston Cole, who was able to impress lords and ladies (and even princesses) alike when he was able to defeat Prince Daemon Targaryen in the tournament held in honor of King Viserys’s firstborn son.
Eventually, as the series proceeded, Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen chose Criston Cole to become a knight of the Kingsguard when she was told to choose a knight after one of the men of the Kingsguard passed away. And knowing what Criston Cole could do as a knight and learning that he was the only one among the candidates with real battle experience, Rhaenyra chose him as her sworn protector.
Of course, it was already clear as early as the first episode that Rhaenyra was attracted to Ser Criston Cole. And they even had a moment in the Kingswood during the time when Rhaenyra killed a wild boar that attacked them in the middle of the night.
There was also the fact that after Daemon nearly slept with Rhaenyra, the princess finished her night off by seducing Ser Criston. The two slept together as it was Ser Criston that took the princess’s maidenhood. That means that, as a knight of the Kingsguard, he broke his vow as these knights swore an oath to never engage in any sexual relations. And it was this act that got him entangled with the entire mess and drama surrounding Princess Rhaenyra and House Targaryen.
As we already know, it was the rumors surrounding Rhaenyra and Daemon that ultimately forced King Viserys to order her daughter to marry Ser Laenor Velaryon. And we saw in episode 5 that the Targaryens and the Velaryons had agreed to this arrangement, all while Rhaenyra and Laenor had their own arrangement as well.
Knowing that Laenor had a preference for men, Rhaenyra proposed that they marry one another and fulfilled their duties to their families, all while they were seeing other people they preferred. They clearly weren’t interested in marrying one another, but the two agreed to these terms to shut their families up and put an end to the drama between the Targaryens and the Velaryons without having to sacrifice their own choices of people that they wanted to love and be with.
Criston Cole, however, was clearly in love with Rhaenyra and told her that he wanted to be with her, even if it meant that they had to leave everything behind to start fresh somewhere else. But Rhaenyra was interested in what Ser Criston had to offer. Instead, she had her own counterproposal of marrying Laenor and continuing her affair with her knight.
Ser Criston was not agreeable with what Rhaenyra wanted to happen because he did not want to be her whore. He still had honor left in him to reject the princess’s offer of continuing their affair as he still saw himself as a sworn knight of the Kingsguard. And that meant that his oath still meant something to him.
Why Did Ser Criston Try To Commit Suicide?
After the entire event with Rhaenyra, Ser Criston was summoned to Queen Alicent’s chambers. The queen wanted to ask him about the night of Daemon’s return to make sure that Rhaenyra was telling the truth about not losing her maidenhood that night.
However, thinking that the queen was accusing him of sleeping with Rhaenyra, Ser Criston was quick to admit that he did indeed have sex with the princess, as the queen was surprised about what she heard. The knight, of course, was equally surprised about the fact that Queen Alicent simply allowed him to go about his day without even dismissing him from his role as a knight of the Kingsguard.
During the banquet in honor of the betrothal of Rhaenyra to Laenor, Ser Joffrey Lonmouth, who was Laenor’s lover, was quick to deduce that Ser Criston was the princess’s lover because he didn’t look too happy during the event. And Joffrey even approached Criston to tell him about their relationships with their own lovers, as the knight of the Kingsguard clearly wasn’t happy about the accusations against him.
Without even knowing what happened between them later that night, Criston and Joffrey got into a fight that ended with Joffrey Velaryon’s lover getting killed by an emotionally unstable Ser Cole. King Viserys, meanwhile, rushed through the entire wedding process by having Rhaenyra wed Laenor while Joffrey’s blood was still fresh on the floor. While that was happening, Criston Cole was seen out in the garden about to commit suicide. So, why did Ser Criston try to kill himself?
Ser Criston Cole wanted to commit suicide because he believed that he had nothing else to live for. He had just reached the height of his prime when he was made a knight of the Kingsguard, the greatest honor that any member of House Cole, a small house in Westeros, had ever had. In that regard, he was proud of his accomplishment as a knight of the Kingsguard but was still ashamed of the fact that he broke his oath by sleeping with Princess Rhaenyra.
But Ser Criston believed that he could remedy his transgression by marrying Princess Rhaenyra. Nevertheless, the princess didn’t want to forget about her status as the heir to the Iron Throne and simply wanted to have an affair with Ser Criston. And because he didn’t want to sully his white cloak anymore, Ser Criston wasn’t willing to have a continuing affair with her.
He finally snapped when Ser Joffrey Lonmouth knew that there was something going on between Ser Criston and Rhaenyra. He was already emotionally unstable before that, but it was Ser Joffrey’s words that caused him to snap as he killed Laenor’s lover. And that was what made him think that he could no longer continue living with all of the shameful things he did in his life as he realized that his only escape was to commit suicide.
Did Ser Criston Kill Himself?
Ser Criston was about to kill himself until Queen Alicent, who knew about him and Rhaenyra, stopped him from doing so. And that was how Ser Criston found a new purpose in life when the queen saved him from committing suicide.
Considering that Queen Alicent also had her own grudge against Rhaenyra for her lies and deceit, she wanted Criston Cole as an ally because she understood what the knight felt about being betrayed by someone dear. They now had a common enemy in Rhaenyra, who lied to them for her own selfish reasons.
In that regard, it is quite possible that Ser Criston Cole’s new purpose in life was to work alongside Queen Alicent to bring about the downfall of Rhaenyra, who is still the heir to the Iron Throne. This allows the future of the series to progress as we all know that we are now heading to the final portion of the events leading up to the Dance of the Dragons.