House of the Dragon Episode 5 “We Light the Way” ironically brought a ton of darkness to the nuptials of Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen (Milly Alcock) and Ser Laenor Velaryon (Theo Nate). What was meant to be a lavish welcome dinner kicking off a week of tourneys, balls, and festivities turned into a nightmare for House Targaryen. First Alicent Hightower (Emily Carey) chose this night to declare herself an active player in the Game of Thrones by arriving late dressed in her family’s war color, green. Then Ser Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel) went berserk on the Knight of Kisses, Ser Joffrey Lonmouth (Solly McLeod), beating the man to death for no apparent reason. Finally, King Viserys (Paddy Considine) himself collapsed during Rhaenyra and Laenor’s hastened private wedding.
Is Viserys dead? Did House of the Dragon just kill off the king? Why did Ser Criston kill Laenor’s boyfriend? (Yes, if you didn’t catch it, Rhaenyra’s new husband Laenor is definitely gay.) And what’s going on with Ser Criston and Alicent in the godswood at the end of House of the Dragon Episode 5?
Here’s everything you need to know about what just went down on House of the Dragon on HBO…
HOUSE OF THE DRAGON EPISODE 5 ENDING EXPLAINED: DID VISERYS DIE?
Well, it certainly was a rough week for good old King Viserys I. After puking his way to Driftmark and collapsing in the courtyard, his health only got worse at the welcoming ceremony for Rhaenyra’s wedding to Laenor. During the chaos that ensues when Ser Criston starts beating Ser Joffrey to death, the camera cuts to a struggling Viserys at the high table. The king appears to be bleeding from his nose onto his platter. Even worse, Viserys ruins Rhaenyra’s somber wedding ceremony by collapsing once more onto the ground. Everyone understandably freaks out while rats feast on a puddle of Ser Joffrey’s blood.
So did Viserys die at the end of House of the Dragon Episode 5?
Spoiler alert: Viserys is not dead. (Not dead yet!) He is obviously doing very poorly, though. His cuts from the Iron Throne have spread all over his back, he’s lost fingers, and is now suffering from some additional illness.
Maybe the most shocking thing about Viserys’s health is that he will still be alive when the show jumps ahead ten years into the future next week! Yes, there is a big time jump coming up in House of the Dragon Episode 6. Older actors Emma D’Arcy and Olivia Cooke will be taking over the roles of Rhaenyra and Alicent respectively from Milly Alcock and Emily Carey. And somehow — maybe thanks to Maester Orwyle’s poultices? — Paddy Considine’s Viserys will still be rattling around.
WHY DID SER CRISTON COLE KILL LAENOR VELARYON’S BOYFRIEND SER JOFFREY LONMOUTH AT RHAENRYA’S WEDDING IN HOUSE OF THE DRAGON EPISODE 5?
The most shocking moment of House of the Dragon Episode 5 is undoubtedly when Ser Criston Cole beats Ser Joffrey Lonmouth to death in front of everyone in court. What makes the Kingsguard lose his temper and literally murder a dude? Well…maybe because he can’t lash out at who he’s really mad at… Rhaenyra.
We learned last week that Rhaenyra lost her virginity to Ser Criston Cole. That scene was full of heartbreaking tension as Ser Criston took a beat to meditate on his white cloak — a symbol of his virtue — before succumbing to his desire. This week, though, Ser Criston makes his feelings for Rhaenyra known. He suggests that they run off to Essos together. They can get married and explore the world unfettered from their duties to the Iron Throne. Rhaenyra is not down with this idea. She explains that she is the crown and her duty is more important to her than any sort of love match. She also clearly wants the trappings of power that come with being queen. Ser Criston’s pitch is not appealing to Rhaenyra.
So Rhaenyra has broken Ser Criston’s heart. Then she does something worse. Rhaenyra explains that she and Laenor have agreed to have an open marriage so she and Ser Criston can keep boning if they want. Ser Criston is disgusted by this. He explains that all he has in life to his name is his Kingsguard appointment and the only way he could morally redeem his own name is by marrying Rhaenyra. He also realizes that Rhaenyra does not love him as he loves her. She wants to use him for pleasure, and nothing more.
For more insight into how this devastates Ser Criston, we need only to look at the scene where he reveals he’s slept with Rhaenyra to Alicent. Alicent, of course, is trying to figure out if anything happened between Rhaenyra and Daemon. Ser Criston literally asks Alicent to be merciful by killing him rather than gelding him. (For context: There had been a Kingsguard member named Ser Lucamore Strong — yes, related to those Strongs — during Jaehaerys’s reign who was discovered carrying on with three different women. He was castrated and sent to the Wall as punishment. Ser Criston is assuming that is how he will be punished.)
So basically Ser Criston would rather be literally dead. But what sets him off is the fact that Ser Joffrey Lonmouth figures out his secret and throws it in his face. Ser Joffrey thinks he is buddying up to someone else who is down for this open marriage situation. In fact, he is mocking Ser Criston and underscoring that their collective secrets could end up killing all involved.
While we don’t know exactly what was said or done that led to the altercation between Ser Criston and Ser Joffrey, Laenor is initially caught up in it. Ser Criston’s rage compels him to physically destroy this person who represents his greatest shame in mirror form. It’s worth noting that while Ser Criston Cole does kill Ser Joffrey Lonmouth, the Knight of Kisses, in George R.R. Martin’s Fire & Blood, he waits until after the wedding. Ser Criston loses control at a tourney melée and kills Ser Joffrey there. House of the Dragon clearly decided to change the timeline to give us another Game of Thrones bloody wedding…
WHAT IS GOING ON WITH ALICENT AND SER CRISTON IN THE GODSWOOD AT THE END OF HOUSE OF THE DRAGON EPISODE 5?
The final moments of House of the Dragon Episode 5 intercut Rhaenyra and Laenor’s somber wedding ceremony with Ser Criston Cole making the motions to die by suicide in the Godswood. As Rhaenyra pledges her life to Laenor, Ser Criston takes a dagger to his belly and prepares to end his life. However, he is stopped at the last second by Alicent arriving, still in Hightower green, saying nothing but his name.
While we’ll never know what was said next, what’s clear is that Ser Criston Cole is switching sides. His loyalty is no longer with Rhaenyra, the princess who made him a Kingsguard only to sully that honor, but with Alicent, the queen who showed him mercy by keeping his secret and saving his life. One mystery in Fire & Blood is how and why Ser Criston switched sides and now we understand why.
In the weeks ahead, expect to see Ser Criston as Alicent’s sworn protector and a key member of what is known as Team Green.