Why House Of The Dragon's Small Council Death Goes Unpunished

This post contains spoilers for the latest episode of "House of the Dragon."

There was lots of movement and maneuvering in episode nine of "House of the Dragon" — a king died, a coup was plotted, a new ruler was crowned. With all those fast-paced political machinations in play, certain moments in the episode may not have gotten the attention they were due. One moment that perhaps did not receive its deserved ceremony was the moment the source material, "Fire and Blood," referred to as "the first blood shed in the Dance of the Dragons."

Lord Lyman Beesbury, the monotonous Master of Coin of Viserys' Small Council, was killed in the opening minutes of the episode. After he expresses his dissent to the idea of anointing Aegon as king, and questions whether Alicent is telling the truth about her father's dying wish to put Aegon on the throne, he is quickly put down by Ser Criston Cole. Beesbury's sudden and violent death ramps up the tension early in the episode. The talks of succession are to be done in quiet, and any dissenters are liable to be put down, quickly.

But still, the weight of Cole's actions in this scene is a bit shocking. A member of the Kingsguard murders a lord and member of the Small Council in cold blood, at a meeting full of other high-ranking lords and officials. How is it that Cole gets away with this with seemingly no consequences?

Fierce loyalty

This isn't Cole's first time murdering someone and seemingly getting off scot-free. Cole's temper has been pretty explosive since Rhaenyra rejected his offer to run away with him. With a member of the Kingsguard murdering people left and right, it's easy to question how he gets away with it. The answer is simple: Alicent Hightower.

When Cole had his affair with Rhaenyra, he violated the oath of celibacy he swore as a member of the Kingsguard. You have to remember that he was a commoner before being raised to knighthood, so his position on the Kingsguard was the only thing separating him from the smallfolk, the only thing that made him special. He was ashamed that he broke his vow, and it was this bottled-up angst that resulted in him killing Joffrey Lonmouth at Rhaenyra and Laenor's wedding.

He had not only broken his oath, but had murdered an innocent person. Cole was about ready to take his own life when he was approached by Alicent. Alicent, who according to actor Emily Carey was actually in love with Cole before he slept with Rhaenyra, saw the broken knight and gave Cole a chance to redeem himself. She forgave him for forsaking his oaths and offered him a role as her protector. Alicent returned to Cole his purpose, and for that he became fiercely, violently loyal to her. A love that had been forbidden from her was now at her beck and call, all while neither flouted their duties to the king as a wife and protector, respectively. 

A useful tool

Alicent didn't help Cole purely out of the goodness of her heart, of course. By picking up the wayward knight back onto his feet, she gained the absolute loyalty of a person of great martial skill. Cole was the only person able to unhorse Daemon at the tourney and is unquestionably one of the most skilled swordsman in Westeros. Having someone as skilled as Cole on your side is never a bad thing, and Alicent saw him as a tool to be used.

Cole's murder of Lord Beesbury comes off more as an act of rage than a strategic decision — he says he did it because Beesbury questioned the word of his queen. But Beesbury was the lone voice of dissent in a room full of people who wanted to crown Alicent's son as king. If Beesbury were allowed to leave that room, he could have sent word to Rhaenyra about the impending coup. If Rhaenyra were allowed to gain power, it could result in the imprisonment or death of Alicent and all of her children. So Cole taking Beesbury out of the picture in a way that none of the other lords in the room have to take any blame for was very politically convenient for every conspirator. 

So, as usual, Cole served as a useful tool for the Hightowers. Although he is temperamental and a bit hard to control, his loyalty and skill in combat are invaluable, and they're not going to send their strongest soldier to the chopping block for protecting their interests.