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“It shows a mirror to how men truly behave”: House of the Dragon Latest Episode Becomes Meta-Commentary on Toxic Masculinity as Ser Criston Cole Personifies Incel Energy

Criston Cole and Rhaenyra

Ser Criston Cole in House of the Dragon has remained the ideal man — loyal, well-intending, brave, chivalrous, and the underdog who was able to rise above his station to become a Knight of the Kingsguard. But experience dictates not all is as it looks in the land of the politically charged Westeros. Every action underlies a deeper conspiracy and every decision hides a selfish truth. Ser Criston Cole did not rise to a station of power in a land reigned by corruption by depending on his good looks and heart of gold.

House of the Dragon
House of the Dragon

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Ser Criston Cole’s Recent Turn of Character was Necessary

Historically, all major events that happened in the fictional universe of George R.R. Martin have a minor, escapable trigger in the past that acted as a pinch point in the narrative building up to it. Whether directly responsible or not, the trigger and the major event almost always end up having devastating results in the aftermath. Take, for instance, Arya witnessing the beheading of Ned Stark and Robb Stark refusing to marry Lord Frey’s daughter and the repercussions of both led to the massacre of the House Frey at the hands of Arya, the agent of Death.

Milly Alcock and Fabien Frankel as Rhaenyra and Ser Criston Cole
Milly Alcock and Fabien Frankel as Rhaenyra and Ser Criston Cole

Also read: “They both married gay men and said ‘you do you’”: House of the Dragon Fans Call Rhaenyra Targaryen a True Scheming Queen After Episode 5, Compare Her to Margaery Tyrell

Although the path treaded by Ser Criston Cole is nether seven seasons in the making nor does it hold the grandeur spanning immense character arcs marred by harrowing tragedies, it still begs to be deconstructed. In the face of it, the character set up by Fabien Frankel at the very beginning of House of the Dragon starts warming up to the audience slowly with his affable demeanor. This makes the evil turn even more delightful to watch — and not simply because the monotony of politics was getting tedious, along with Viserys’s useless and overbearing moping.

The inevitability of Ser Criston turning sour was set in stone with the beginning of his non-starter relationship with Princess Rhaenyra. It was doomed from the very beginning because the society is built on fragile pillars of hierarchy and unwritten laws dictate the joining of houses that can match their powers. A decorated guard is not entitled to a transgression by publicly being beside the Targaryen heir, but the closed-room drama was too humiliating for a man to bear. The all-too-well-known label of “a woman scorned” soon swapped genders when the knight began to grow increasingly hostile after Rhaenyra’s wedding to Ser Laenor Velaryon, at first showing signs of disgust and betrayal which soon manifested into murderous rage and duplicity.

Ser Criston Cole turns villainous
Ser Criston Cole turns villainous after being spurned by Rhaenyra

Also read: “They were 69-in for hours”: House of the Dragon Star Milly Alcock Shares ‘Gnarly’ Behind the Scenes of Disturbing Incest Scene With Matt Smith’s Daemon Targaryen

Ser Criston’s Personality Mirrors our Contemporary Culture

The modern world has become familiar with the incel culture, i.e. a sub-section of the online crowd, mostly men, who are defined by their involuntary celibacy and grow resentful of women because of the latter’s lack of interest or attention in them. Theories now indicate a striking resemblance between what Ser Criston personifies in House of the Dragon to that of the incel culture. Beyond that, the formerly valiant knight also exhibits a singularly extreme toxic masculine behavior (aside from Ser Joffrey’s murder, which was downright psychopathic) once he realizes Rhaenyra will not give him exactly what he wants.

Ser Criston Cole was the once romantic character who would be adored by the audience as the voice of reason and the love interest for Rhaenyra. But even though Rhaenyra Targaryen takes the crown (pun intended) for being the entitled and petty princess that she is, it is no match for the misogynistic and vindictive bully who goes from bad to worse with his fragile ego and spurned sensitivity.

House of the Dragon is now streaming on HBO and HBO Max.

Written by Diya Majumdar

At 25, Diya Majumdar is inching closer to getting to the bottom of every film and television's history in existence. Having graduated with honors in literature from Miranda House, DU, her passion and profession both include dissecting the world of cinema, with more than 800 published articles on Fandomwire. She is a liberally opinionated person with an overbearing love for Monet, Edvard Munch, and Van Gogh and boasts of being an avid painter of all their troubled works.