Movie Reviews

Why Criston Cole Cuts His Hair In House Of The Dragon Season 2, Episode 3

SPOILERS for House of the Dragon season 2, episode 3.


Summary

  • Ser Criston Cole’s haircut symbolizes his attempted transition to a warrior and leader.
  • The practicality of the haircut highlights his preparation for battle.
  • The haircut also externalizes his emotions, reflecting his internal struggles and shame.


Ser Criston Cole gets a fresh haircut mid-way through the episode in House of the Dragon season 2, episode 3, and there are multiple reasons why. Actor Fabien Frankel does a phenomenal job playing Ser Criston in the House of the Dragon cast, as he’s made the Kingsguard knight one of the most detestable characters in the show. The Game of Thrones universe is packed with uniquely despicable figures, from Cersei Lannister to Joffrey, and Frankel offers an entirely new persona for Criston, exploring ideas of toxic masculinity in Westerosi society.

One of the biggest book changes in House of the Dragon season 2 is Criston Cole’s romantic relationship with Alicent Hightower. He was her sworn guard for years before ascending as Lord Commander of the Kingsguard. In season 2, episode 2, he received an even further promotion, as Aegon II made him the new Hand of the King. Cole is underqualified for the position, but he fulfills Aegon’s need for strength and action. Episode 3 sees him amassing the Greens’ forces, beginning their march to war.



Criston Cole’s Haircut Is Because He’s Going To War

There’s Practical Use In Criston Cole’s Short Hair

There’s undoubtedly a practical aspect to Ser Criston’s haircut. Having long hair works as a bodyguard in King’s Landing and sees very little real action, but this is the first time Cole has marched to proper battles. In an interview with Decider, Frankel mentions, “Well, for me, the haircut was a really big thing because it’s a military thing. You know? It’s impractical to have long hair in a battle. It just is. And short hair is practical.” But with every choice in House of the Dragon, there’s a deeper level to examine.


Related

Criston Cole’s Riverlands Plan & The Importance Of Rook’s Rest In HOTD

Criston Cole’s first move as Hand of the King sees him hatch a plan to gain control over the Riverlands. Here’s what he’s thinking and why it matters.

The Deeper Meaning Behind Criston Cole’s New Haircut

Criston Cole’s Appearance Is An Externalization Of His Emotions

Criston Cole is a complicated figure, as are most of the antagonists in Westeros. He internalizes much of his emotion, and he carries a lot of hatred for both Rhaenyra and himself. Cole has repeatedly broken his Kingsguard vows, and he’s seen taking this anger out on Arryk Cargyll in episode 2 when he catches him with dirt on his cloak. There’s a showmanship that comes with the white cloak that allows Cole to hide his shame, meaning he’s someone he promptly conveys his emotions through his outer appearance.


The moment before the Greens’ small council meeting in episode 3 sees Cole reckoning with his new role as Hand, realizing how fraudulent he really is.

With that in mind, Criston Cole is deeply ashamed of his actions this season. He’s broken his vows to sleep with Alicent, causing him to fail at his duty during the Blood & Cheese incident. The moment before the Greens’ small council meeting in episode 3 sees Cole reckoning with his new role as Hand, realizing how fraudulent he really is. Cutting his hair could be a way of washing away his recent mistakes, attempting to start anew in House of the Dragon season 3 as a warrior and leader. The question is whether he has those things in him.


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