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House Of The Dragon Episode 5 Made Some Major Changes To Ser Criston Cole's Story From Fire And Blood

"House of the Dragon" Episode 5 saw Ser Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel) wrestling with his own inner demons, as he reconsidered his loyalty as the sworn sword of Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen (Milly Alcock), and as a member of the Kingsguard itself. Thus far, we've watched the Dornish-born Cole transform from a successful tourney knight to one of the most prominent warriors in all of Westeros ... though his rise to power has certainly come at a price.

Indeed, Episode 4 saw Cole forsaking his sworn vows as a knight of the Kingsguard in order to start an affair with Rhaenyra — placing both of their futures in grave danger, and muddying his honor as a knight. Although the secret relationship between Rhaenyra and her closest ally seemed almost inevitable from the first moment the two met, Episode 5 makes it clear that the affair has left Criston Cole wracked with guilt and self-loathing. At this point, it's extremely unclear exactly where his story will go from here.

Although it's worth noting that Cole's story within the series is already a major departure from his story in "Fire in Blood" (since that novel is constructed like a history book, and presents conflicting reports on the nature of Cole's relationship with Rhaenyra), it's fair to say that the show has thus far presented the major beats of his storyline in a relatively accurate and concise manner — though there are two major moments from Episode 5 which drastically change the nature of Cole's story.

In Fire and Blood, Cole kills Ser Joffrey Lonmouth at a tourney, rather than the wedding itself

The first of these changes relates to the shocking confrontation near the end of Episode 5, in which Criston Cole is approached by Ser Joffrey Lonmouth (Solly McLeod): the secret lover to Rhaenyra Targaryen's fiance, Ser Leanor Velaryon (Theo Nate). Lonmouth confronts Cole after realizing that he and the princess are having an affair, offering that the two work together to make the most of their secret connection to the newlywed couple.

In an unprecedented display of rage (likely due to his immense anger at Rhaenyra's rejection, and his own self-hatred) Cole beats Ser Joffrey Lonmouth to death in front of the entire court – causing Leanor Velaryon to break down in tears at the sight of his former lover's corpse. As shocking as this scene was, it is a complete invention of the show — and is in direct defiance of Criston Cole's story in "Fire and Blood."

In the books, Cole staves in Lonmouth's helmet while the two are jousting in celebration of Rhaenyra and Leanor's wedding. Lonmouth would succumb to his wounds just six days later. While one could certainly argue that this incident may have been intentional on Cole's part (a retaliation against Leanor for taking Rhaenyra from him) the fact remains that the event is vastly different from the cold-blooded murder we see in the show — which makes this version of Ser Criston Cole seem more like a jealous, unhinged madman than a knight.

The show is planting subtle seeds for Cole to switch sides

The second major change to Ser Criston Cole's story relates to his unique relationship to Queen Alicent Hightower (Emily Carey). Shortly before Rhaenyra's wedding, Cole tells the Queen about his affair with the princess — that is, confessing to something which was only ever hinted at in the books.

Later, when Cole is about to commit suicide after murdering Ser Joffrey Lonmouth, Alicent appears unexpectedly and stops him before he can go through with it. These two interactions hint at a possible alliance forming between the Queen and Cole, though the way it's being set up is very different from the way it is explained in the books. Book readers will know that, following the death of Joffrey Lonmouth, Queen Alicent abruptly names Ser Criston her new sword shield. Although the book never provides a clear answer as to why this happens (other than explaining that it came after a falling out between him and Rhaenyra) the show seems to be planting the seeds for Cole's flip to the other side in a much more subtle manner.

With Cole's confession on top of Alicent stopping his suicide, the Queen now holds a remarkable amount of power over the Kingsguard knight. It's entirely possible that we will see him either blackmailed into her service or that he might feel some sort of loyalty towards her for stopping his suicide, though the fact remains that neither option is even hinted at within the books — where Cole's allegiance to Alicent seems more like an act of petty jealousy from the pair in an attempt to spite Rhaenyra.