House of the Dragon: Brutal Episode 5 Death Changes Series Trajectory for Another Important Character

The fifth episode of House of the Dragon took the show's death toll up a couple of notches. It opened with a surprising murder and closed with a cliffhanger that teases a major death in the future. There was one other death in the episode and, on the surface, it feels like it may not be that big of a deal in the long run. That couldn't be further from the truth.

WARNING: This article contains major spoilers from the latest episode of House of the Dragon! Continue reading at your own risk...

House of the Dragon's fifth episode, "We Light the Way," features the wedding between Rhaenyra Targaryen and Laenor Velaryon. This is a purely political move, as the two don't have any feelings toward one another, but they make an agreement as to how their marriage will work. They will try and produce heirs, but both will allow the other to have love lives outside of their marriage. Rhaenyra can keep things going with Criston Cole, while Laenor can continue on with his lover, Joffrey. 

Cole isn't happy about the arrangement, preferring instead to leave Westeros with Rhaenyra and live freely together, away from the drama of her family. At the wedding festivities, Joffrey approached Criston to say they should work together to protect each other's secrets. Still ashamed of his actions, Criston is upset by the whole thing, and ultimately attacks Joffrey at the party, beating his face until he doesn't have much of a face left. It's a brutal murder that sets up big things to come.

What Happens to Criston Cole?

Cole is shown later in the episode preparing to take his own life. He only stops because he's interrupted by Queen Alicent, who already knows about his secret relationship with Rhaenyra. That's the last time we see either one of them in the episode, but thanks to Fire & Blood, we know a little bit about what will happen next.

In George R.R. Martin's book, Alicent convinces Criston not to kill himself, instead taking a position working with her. As time goes on, he becomes a key member of the guards who watch over her and her children. When Viserys dies, Rhaenrya is away from King's Landing, and Alicent crowns her son, Aegon II, as the new king. Criston Cole is put in charge of the King's Guard, making him one of the most important figures in the lives of Alicent and Aegon.

Aegon and Rhaenrya eventually go to war over the Iron Throne, and Criston Cole ends up on the opposite side of the woman he once loved, whom he'd hoped would run away with him and live a life free of politics. 

What did you think of the latest episode of House of the Dragon? Let us know in the comments!