Ser Criston Cole's Hatred of Rhaenyra Is Personal in 'House of the Dragon'

Their love affair ended on a sour now — and now the knight has ordered to have her killed.

Sara Belcher - Author

Jun. 24 2024, Published 3:03 p.m. ET

Ser Criston Cole in 'House of the Dragon'
Source: HBO

This article contains spoilers for Season 2, Episode 2 of House of the Dragon.

The Dance of the Dragons is well underway, even though Season 2 of House of the Dragon has only just begun. The season has seen some significant deaths and the rivalry between teams green and black amping up.

Despite the love that once seemed to blossom between Ser Criston Cole and Rhaenyra Targaryen, the knight now seems to hold a deep-seated hatred of the woman. But why does he hate Rhaenyra? Let's unpack this.

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Ser Criston Cole ordered to have Rhaenyra killed in Episode 2.

Episode 2 saw one of the more obvious displays of Ser Criston's hatred for the heir. Following a confrontation with Aegon in which he screams at the knight for being "abed" when his son was killed, Ser Criston orders for Arryk, another member of the Kingsguard, to kill Rhaenyra.

Arryk has a twin brother, Erryk, who he separated from when they became divided over who was the true heir to the throne. In his frustration, Ser Criston orders Arryk to impersonate his twin in an assassination mission.

Ser Criston Cole ordering Arryk to kill Rhaenyra in 'House of the Dragon'
Source: HBO
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This is not the only time Ser Criston has moved specifically with the intentions of harming Rhaenyra and her claim to the throne, though it's a move that rewards him the title as the new Hand of the King. Aegon, bent on seeking revenge for his dead son, sees Ser Criston's assassination order as a show of good faith and initiative, and removes Otto Hightower from the position in favor of the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard.

Why does Ser Criston Cole hate Rhaenyra so much?

The moves Ser Criston makes so early into Season 2 speaks of a pretty deep hatred of Rhaenyra. Though they were once more than friends, it seems that any resemblance of their former connection is long gone — and Ser Criston is staunchly on Alicent's side in the Dance of the Dragons.

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In Season 1, though, viewers saw a forbidden romance blossom between the two. Rhaenyra and Ser Criston begin their affair when the heir is only a teenager following her forbidden kiss with Uncle Daemon in a brothel in King's Landing. When Rhaenyra is later married off to the closeted Laenor Velaryon, continuing her romance with Ser Criston behind closed doors.

Young Rhaenyra and Ser Criston Cole in Season 1 of 'House of the Dragon'
Source: HBO
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Unfortunately, viewers don't get to see why exactly the knight of the Kingsguard developed a hatred for Rhaenyra, though it's presumed to have something to do with their failed love affair. Supposedly, Ser Criston asked Rhaenyra to run away with him, saying he would break his Kingsguard vows to become a sellsword and provide for them. Rhaenyra rejected his proposal, and not long after found himself allied with Alicent and the Hightowers.

As shown in the Season 2 premiere, not only is Ser Criston a devoted member of Alicent's personal guards, but he also has forged a sexual relationship with the former queen. Despite it's frequency, it's a relationship that Alicent seems to hold a significant amount of guilt over — though it's not clear if any of that guilt is connected to her former friendship with Rhaenyra.

House of the Dragon airs Sundays at 9 p.m. EST on HBO and Max.

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