Why House Of The Dragon Episode 6 Didn’t Recast Criston Cole

Warning: This article contains spoilers for House of the Dragon episode 5.House of the Dragon episode 6 saw a ten-year time jump which meant many of the core characters were recast with older actors, but Ser Criston Cole was surprisingly one of the few who is still played by the same person. House of the Dragon is a prequel to Game of Thrones and is set almost 200 years before the original TV adaptation of George R. R. Martin’s novels. The story centers around the Targaryen war of succession, with half-siblings Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen and Prince Aegon Targaryen battling to take over as the ruler of Westeros.

House of the Dragon’s time jumps have been a key feature of the first season and has enabled the show to explore major events across a 30-year period that led to the rift within House Targaryen. Between episodes 5 and 6, House of the Dragon had its biggest time jump yet as the show fast-forwarded a whole decade. Younger characters from the first half of House of the Dragon have been recast, most notably Emma D’Arcy replacing Milly Alcock as Rhaenyra Targaryen and Olivia Cooke taking over from Emily Carey as Alicent Hightower. Older characters have been aged further using makeup and prosthetics, with Paddy Considine appearing much frailer as King Viserys in House of the Dragon episode 6. But not all characters have been recast, as the role of Ser Criston Cole notably did not change hands.

In George R. R. Martin’s books, Criston Cole is 15 years older than Rhaenyra Targaryen. Prior to House of the Dragon’s 10-year time jump, Rhaenyra was around 17 years old, which would put Criston at 32 in episode 5 and 42 in House of the Dragon episode 6. However, the show’s version of Criston appears to be younger than Martin’s, so it’s likely the knight was closer to 25 years old pre-time jump and 35 years old after it. Fabien Frankel, who plays Criston, is 28 years old, so replacing him was unnecessary given he already looked much older than the child characters. Interestingly though, Emma D’Arcy and Olivia Cooke are both older than Frankel, despite playing younger characters.

Not recasting Ser Criston was a good decision by the House of the Dragon creators. Criston’s character does not undergo a radical change in the ten years between episodes 5 and 6, unlike Rhaenyra and Alicent who have both matured as mothers. At the prior to House of the Dragon episode 6, Criston aligned himself with Alicent Hightower in the aftermath of his affair with Rhaenyra. A decade later, the feelings of bitterness Criston has towards Rhaenyra have grown, so having Fabien Frankel remain in the role helps convey Criston’s resentment because the connection the character has with Rhaenyra is much stronger than if it was a new face.

Keeping Frankel in the role of Ser Criston also made it more cathartic when Harwin Strong punches him in House of the Dragon episode 6, after the former picks on Rhaenyra’s children. Frankel’s face is associated with Ser Criston, so seeing the same actor play through his good-to-bad guy storyline makes it much more satisfying when he gets beaten up by Strong, instead of it being a recast actor. Now the show has had its major time jump, the cast of House of the Dragon will be much more settled, so while recasting some characters worked well it was the right decision to keep Fabien Frankel in the role of Ser Criston Cole.

New episodes of House of the Dragon release Sundays on HBO/HBO Max.