Olivia Cooke Reveals The Reasons Behind The Shift In Relationship With Ser Criston Cole In House Of The Dragon Season 2, And Totally Understand Why This Happened Now

Olivia Cooke Reveals The Reasons Behind The Shift In Relationship With Ser Criston Cole In House Of The Dragon Season 2, And Totally Understand Why This Happened Now

Spoilers for the premiere episode of House of the Dragon Season 2 ahead! If you're not caught up, you can watch the episode with a Max subscription, and you can catch new episodes in the same place every Sunday as part of the 2024 TV schedule.

The premiere of House of the Dragon Season 2 has come and gone, and I'm sure, like many, you were surprised by the sudden change in Ser Criston Cole and Alicent Hightower's relationship. But thankfully, we do have a reason as to why that happened – and it's not just because of pleasure. Olivia Cooke (Alicent) and Phia Saban (Helaena) both had specific explanations about what's going on with the Lady Queen Dowager and the knight and it made me understand their relationship even more.

When it comes to House of the Dragon, there are almost too many characters and stories to follow, from the intense Targaryen family tree to which Targaryen rides which dragon. But the two characters who have been a significant part of the Targaryens' lives for a very long time now are Alicent Hightower and Ser Criston Cole. So, when their relationship turned much more intimate in the premiere of House of the Dragon Season 2, questions came up.

In an interview with Olivia Cooke and Phia Saban for House of the Dragon Season 2, the Alicent actress was asked about the timeframe of this shocking relationship between her and Criston Cole, how long it had been going on, and why. Cooke's reasoning was simple as she referenced a combination of the amount of death Alicent has been facing and the building of a bond between her and Criston:

I think there have been things that have been building for sure. And especially when Viserys became more bedbound. There's been a closeness that has formed and an intensity that has sort of ramped up between them. But I mean, we don't know because it's not in the script, but me and Fabien [Frankel] would talk, and we think it happened days after [Viserys'] death. There's something, there's something quite, I dunno, like life-affirming about sex and grief and the finite amount of time we're on this earth for. And I think she's sort of liberated from this caregiver role and caring for Viserys in his illnesses.

Cooke also said that this moment was almost "teenage" like for Alicent as well, as she was never able to act on these impulses when married to Viserys and when she was trying to be a high-born lady and queen:

I think it's really teenage for her as well. It's really passionate and she's not been able to act on any of her impulses really, apart from lashing out at Rhaenyra. And so this is the first time she's allowed herself to go there.

With any Game of Thrones romance, it usually ends in disaster. I can't tell you how many times Game of Thrones has shocked me mainly because of something horrific happening at a wedding or with a coupling.

Cooke also said that while normal sex would be pleasurable, for Alicent, she feels "deep, deep shame" after every time she couples with Cole. So she's always going to the sept to "atone:"

The duality of that is, after the fact, she feels deep, deep, deep shame and guilt. And I think her trips to the crypt ramp up even more. She's atoning constantly.

Phia Saban, who plays Alicent's daughter, Helaena Targaryen (who just had her big (and tragic) moment in the long-awaited Blood and Cheese scene), also commented on why this all happened, saying that it's sexy because it's "forbidden" in the eyes of the world of House of the Dragon. Cooke was quick to agree, saying it was "forbidden fruit."

Whether this romance will end well or terribly (which is my prediction), there's no denying that Alicent and Criston's relationship has lit up social media since the premiere – and who knows how else this romantic involvement will affect the universe of A Song of Ice and Fire?

Count me in as excited but also terrified for the wars to come – and the drama to follow.