Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel) is easily the most hated character on House of the Dragonand it’s not hard to see why. Remember when Rhaenyra Targaryen rejected his romantic advances in season 1 and he got so angry that he beat an innocent man to death at Rhaenyra’s wedding and somehow got away with it? Or how it’s been almost two decades and he still obsessively hates the woman? Incels are an insufferable thing in our world, and in Westeros.

But Criston has made some big moves lately; he’s now both Lord Commander of the Kingsguard and Hand of the King to Aegon Targaryen, and he’s leading an army around the Crownlands to overthrow noble houses loyal to Rhaenyra. He’s also having an affair with the recently widowed Alicent Hightower, who also happens to be King Aegon’s mother. I have to say, I enjoyed Criston more this season, if only because he’s pushing the plot forward. It’s still hard to know what’s going on in that thick head of his.

Director Geeta Patel is determined to find out. She directed the show’s most recent episode, “The Burning Mill,” and tried to show us Criston’s more vulnerable side. “I hated him in the first season,” Patel told Variety. “I felt everything we needed to feel. The challenge as a director for Episode 3… was to really humanize him. The opening scene is him having a moment of fear, of being lost, and then he’s called into action. It’s his first day as Hand of the King, and I hope that moment is very relatable. We’ve all felt it, where you feel impostor syndrome, and you don’t really belong here.”

“With Criston Cole, I really wanted to insert a point of view. Watching him and having a moment of fear and walking down with him, passing the men in a continuous shot on the way to the council chamber, that was intentionally designed so that we would feel him once and for all. We would be in his space, rather than everyone else watching him. Oftentimes, the lack of sympathy for someone comes from not being in their point of view. When we’re in that space, we see everything that’s happening at that table. That was a technique to bring out his dimension and start building to what’s going to happen in the season finale, where I think you’ll really understand him.”

I think that worked for me! Criston does a lot of offensive things, but I would also be annoyed if I was in charge of the Kingsguard and the king made his lazy drinking buddies my burdens and they neglected their duties. I also think pairing Criston with new character Gwayne Hightower (Freddie Fox), who is a bit of a self-righteous prick, helped me sympathize with him. Patel may be right about that.

If Patel has her way, this humanization of Criston Cole will continue. She also directed the eighth episode of this season, which happens to be the season finale. Apparently, Criston Cole has a speech that will change the way we see him:

“He’s a really interesting character by the time you get to the season finale. There’s a lot of things that we can relate to and be embarrassed about. What he shares with us in Episode 8 is pretty amazing — we all have a little bit of Criston Cole in us. That’s what we’re building up to. There’s this vulnerability in Episode 3, and then it just keeps building from there and by the time you get to Episode 8, he has this beautiful moment where he shares what he thinks about the world and what he thinks about war.”

I’m so intrigued by this; what could Criston Cole, the incel in chief of Westeros, possibly say that would qualify as a beautiful moment? I’m interested.

This also basically confirms that Criston Cole will survive at least until the Season 2 finale. House of the Dragonwhich may come as a disappointment to some of his more ardent haters. Whatever your feelings about Criston, people certainly shouldn’t confuse hate for the character with hate for actor Fabien Frankel, who has received some backlash online:

Fabien Frankel Fan Backlash Proves Criston Is The Best House of the Dragon Character. dark. Next. Fabien Frankel Fan Backlash Proves Criston Is The Best House of the Dragon Character

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