House Of The Dragon’s Red Rehearsal Dinner, What Exactly Happened There?

While last night was not the season finale of House of the Dragon, in many ways, it felt like one. In part, because of the events that unfolded, but also because we are saying goodbye to key members of the cast, young Rhaenyra, Milly Alcock, and young Alicent, Emily Carey, who are now being recast with Emma D’Arcy and Olivia Cooke, respectively, as of next week, when the show jumps forward in time ten years.

But what a finale they had.

There was a whole lot going on yesterday, most of which ended up being centered around a surprising figure, Ser Criston Cole. Spoilers follow.

Cole had been pushed to a breaking point by Rhaenyra, who views him less like a love interest and more like a toy. Lest we forget, the Kingsguard is supposed to be chaste, so Cole broke his oath by sleeping with Rhaenyra. He posits a wildly implausible plan to her that they should run away together across the ocean, which she mostly laughs off.

Later, Cole is summoned by Alicent to try to get him to confess that yes, Rhaenyra slept with Daemon, as Alicent has learned about the abortion tea that Rhaneyra was given by the Grand Maester at the request of her father. It seemed like maybe this would get Rhaenyra off the hook, given that the situation then looks like she just slept with Cole, not Daemon, to Alicent at least, but it’s one more thing that Rhaneyra didn’t tell her supposedly best friend about.

It seems Alicent has been convinced by her father that she will have to face off against Rhaneyra directly unless she wants her children murdered in the future, as they will challenge her rule. She enters the welcome dinner late, wearing the Oldtown “war” colors of green.

At the dinner itself, Cole is provoked by Laenor’s love, who foolishly reveals that he knows that Cole and Rhaenyra have a relationship, while revealing his own with Laenor. This seems to be the final straw for Cole, who snaps, and beats the man to death in the middle of the dance floor, just as Daemon and Rhaneyra are having a moment in full view of everyone.

The end result? Rhaenyra and Laenor are married in a quiet ceremony just feet from the pool of blood where Laenor’s lover died, and he probably hates her now. Alicent stops Cole from killing himself out of “dishonor” and it seems likely that he will be recruited to be her ally and perhaps a spy against Rhaenyra going forward within the Kingsguard. Viserys collapses, but according to next week’s previews, he ain’t dead yet.

So it wasn’t quite the Red Wedding, full of massive betrayals and mass death, but it was pretty brutal and horrifying all the same, with just one death likely changing the course of the entire arc of the series. Next week, we’ll see how these characters evolve a decade later, and with new actors playing them. House of the Dragon remains gripping, as ever.

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