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“Strange things happen in grief and in death”: Olivia Cooke and Ryan Condal discuss how Alicent and Criston’s relationship came to be

The relationship was long-planned.



Credits: Max

The premiere episode of House of the Dragon Season 2 gave us a surprising development in the relationship between Queen Alicent and Ser Criston Cole. Their secret affair has been hidden from the royal family and the Red Keep, especially from Alicent’s volatile sons, Aegon II and Aemond Targaryen.

Their relationship has severe consequences. Assassins sent by Daemon Targaryen infiltrate the Red Keep and kill Alicent’s grandson, Jaehaerys. Criston Cole, supposed to be on watch, cannot prevent the assassination because he is with Alicent.

On the official Game of Thrones podcast, Olivia Cooke discussed how Alicent and Criston’s romance began. Showrunner Ryan Condal also commented on the relationship between the two in an interview.

Read More: Biggest moments from House of The Dragon Season 2 Premiere

Olivia Cooke talks about Alicent and Cole’s relationship

Alicent Hightower

Credits: Max

In the official Game of Thrones: House of the Dragon podcast, Olivia Cooke discussed the many discussions that went into planning this plot point. You can watch the full video here:

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She mentioned deleted scenes that showed the beginning of the relationship between the two. Cooke stated:

“There were bits and bobs; like there were longing looks in the later half of last season that were sort of cut out and different asides to each other. And I think young Alicent sort of professes her instant attraction to Criston Cole with the ‘God he’s Dornish!’ you know? [Laughter] He’s gorgeous!… He’s Dor-geous!”

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“I think that sort of flame for him has sort of lived very quietly in Alicent this whole time,” Cooke continued. “And I think they became closer as he became her personal knight and her sworn protector. Strange things happen in grief and in death, and sex is sort of this, like, the antithesis of death, really. And I think she sort of – even though she’s grieving the loss of her husband – She sort of feels liberated from being this caretaker.”

“I mean this was our sort of headcanon stuff, it’s not written, but we sort of thought it happened maybe, like, literally days after the death of Viserys,” Cooke said. And they… became closer in Alicent’s grief. And I think it’s teenage: It’s really teenage for Alicent. She’s never been to have a relationship that’s born out of passion… She’s born all these children when she was just a child… It is just a bit like she’s lived for other people and she’s lived by the rules, so… that this is just a little thing that she’s taking for herself within her grief… And she can’t even have that… It is rough: I don’t think Alicent smiles this season.”

Read More: Alicent-Criston Cole bedroom scene in House of the Dragon Season 2 premiere throws fans off guard!

Ryan Condal talks about Alicent and Cole’s relationship


Credits: Jeff Kravitz

Showrunner Ryan Condal elaborated on the nature of Alicent and Criston’s relationship in an interview with Collider. Condal said:

“Are they comfortable with each other? It feels very awkward there. They’re literally talking about the weather. So, that’s the thing, it’s a brand new relationship. We don’t specifically get into, intentionally, when and where it started. Part of that is the fun of leaving it up to interpretation by the viewing audience. But it’s certainly a new thing, a new romance. And the idea is that these two characters have this very stunted emotional development, particularly in the world of intimacy with a partner. Cole, because he’s been a canned man his entire life in the order of the Kingsguard and his past sins with Rhaenyra and wearing that like a millstone around his neck.”

“And on Alicent’s side, she was married off at 14 years old to a guy that was 20-plus years her senior. She doesn’t really have a — certainly, she was physically intimate with Viserys, but I don’t know that they had a romantically intimate or emotionally intimate experience just because of the huge age gap between them. So it’s led us to this place where you see these two characters who don’t experience a lot of pleasure, experiencing great pleasure together in a nice way that I think makes the audience go, “Oh, okay. These are two humans enjoying themselves.” But they don’t have the emotional know-how and modeling for how to exist in something like that, particularly, something they have to keep a secret.”

Read More: Alicent Hightower finally gets it on with Criston Cole in House of the Dragon Season 2 premiere

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Ved Prabhudesai is an avid enthusiast of all things pop culture. He has a special interest in the field of animation and art, with a background in Fine Arts and Digital Media Arts. He has begun his first into the field of Entertainment Journalism with Wiki of Thrones, and has been writing for them since 2023. He also has experience working as a screenplay writer, animator and comic book artist. His hobbies include holding discussions and organising events focused around pop culture, dissecting the importance of media in today's world. He began reading A Song Of Ice And Fire shortly before Game of Thrones debuted on HBO. He has followed the series religiously and has spent hours reading Wikis learning about Targaryen history and possible plot points we will see in the Winds of Winter.


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