What exactly triggered Ser Criston Cole? Why did he punch Ser Joffrey’s face until it resembled rare ground aurochs? And why couldn’t he even wait until the wedding was over to do it? As is often the case on House of the Dragon, the answer isn’t clear cut but there are some educated guesses to be made. For starters, it might be helpful to know a little about Ser Criston’s upbringing…
Where is Ser Criston Cole From?
Culturally speaking, Ser Criston Cole is slightly different from his fellow Kingsguard and many of the other royal individuals at court. House Cole is a small noble family in Westeros with no actual land holdings to speak of. Ser Criston was born to a mere steward of the Dondarrions, a far more powerful house in the Dornish marches region of the Stormlands.
The Dornish marches (“marches” being pronounced as and meaning “marshes”) are a geographical feature that fit neatly between the southern portion of The Stormlands and the independent kingdom of Dorne. That’s right: Dorne is not technically a part of the Seven Kingdoms at this point in history, despite the Targaryen dynasty claiming it to be. House Dondarrion and House Cole just happen to reside in or around Blackhaven, an area that is geographically and culturally Dornish, but still firmly under Westerosi control.
As such, Ser Criston Cole is often the odd man out at court – the one Dornishmen in a sea of First Men and Andals. In an interview with EW, Fabian Frankel likens the experience to being Irish in England during the mid 1900s. Ser Criston has been operating on unfamiliar territory this whole time but that alone doesn’t explain his violence outburst. Some other events prior to the wedding just might, however…
Ser Criston Cole: The Soiled Knight
You probably don’t need me to tell you this but a Kingsguard sleeping with a princess is generally frowned upon. When they don the white cloak, Kingsguard knights swear an oath to protect and defend the king and his family above all else along with a vow of chastity. To engage in sexual acts with a member of the king’s family is to soil that white cloak in historical fashion.
After Rhaenyra seduced Ser Criston in episode 4, the duo have clearly kept up their regular sexcapades. Now that Rhaenyra is on the verge of getting married to Ser Laenor, Ser Criston finally sees an out. He invites her to run away with him to Essos. He will work as a sellsword in the Disputed Lands while Rhaenyra will…well, it’s not entirely clear how a royal familymember will operate unseen and unbothered in the Free Cities or anywhere else. It’s not a great plan on Ser Criston’s part but it’s all he has.