There was a lot to take in from last night’s penultimate episode of Game of Thrones. Daenerys’ descent into madness, both Tyrion and Jon’s horror as King’s Landing is razed and sacked, Varys’ execution, the Clegane Bowl, and Arya’s flight from vengeance.
All stirring moments, some ringing true, while others faltered, but what I want to shine my spotlight on is Jaime Lannister.
Jaime, oddly enough, became my favorite character, both in the books and on the television series. While it is still Ned Stark whom I admire and relate most to, Martin’s redemption arc for Jaime, in large part due to his time spent with Brienne of Tarth — a well and true knight and a woman who reminded him of his own childhood dreams of what knighthood meant — has been so captivating and inspiring.
It is a testament to Martin’s prowess as an author that he could take an irredeemable character such as the Kingslayer and make us root for him. We want him to embrace the virtues of knighthood, to find love with Brienne, to be a better man.
In the books, Jaime is still in the midst of his redemption, but on the show, last night, Jaime’s arc came to an end. This made a lot of fans and critics angry because they wanted his arc to culminate in a happy ending for him (and Brienne). At the very least, they hoped Jaime would add the title of Queenslayer to his list of nom de guerres.
There was a prophecy after all.
In A Feast for Crows, Cersei dreams of her visit as a teenager to the fortune teller called Maggy the Frog. Maggy accurately predicted that Cersei would not marry Prince Rhaegar, that she would marry King Robert, that she would have three golden haired children that would all die before her.
The witch also predicted “Queen you shall be… until there comes another, younger and more beautiful, to cast you down and take all that you hold dear.” Has this come to pass? Did this refer to Marjorie Tyrell? Or is it perhaps a reference to Daenerys? The books are unclear as yet.
But there’s another prophecy from the Frog’s lips — “And when your tears have drowned you, the valonqar shall wrap his hands about your pale white throat and choke the life from you.”
Valonqar is a High Valyrian word that means “little brother”. While many assumed this meant Tyrion, Jaime was actually born after Cersei, thus the theory that the Kingslayer would kill his twin to complete his arc of redemption.
However, that spot of prophecy was left out of the tv series which should have been a clear indication that David Benioff and D. B. Weiss would not be following that path, no matter which way it falls.
But let’s come back to Jaime Lannister, shall we? On twitter I posted the following:
“Fans upset w/ Jaime’s end have never been (or in love with) an addict. No one is guaranteed a happy ending. You can pull yourself out of the depths, sometimes for years, & then plunge back into that dark place. It’s not the ending I wanted for him, but I accept it.”
This holds true for me. Sometimes people falter. They can fight and claw for redemption and still fail. Yes, A Song of Ice & Fire and Game of Thrones is a fiction, but I can see Martin laying out this redemption arc only to see Jaime fall short. It is all too real. I have seen it far too many times.
My preference would have been to see Jaime travel south to put an end to his addiction to Cersei, to either die there, redeemed, or to steal back away north to reunite with Brienne, but that’s not how Benioff and Weiss saw it, and I suspect George will do something similar.
Jaime died with Cersei in his arms as he always believed he would. They came into that world together and they left it together. Their love for one another was toxic and abhorrent, but it was love, and more importantly, it was an addiction that Jaime could not shake.
His end was well crafted. He had a beautiful farewell with Tyrion and an over-the-top duel with Euron Greyjoy that led to his heroic effort to save his sister. It was a fitting demise and his final words carried them both into the hereafter — “Nothing else matters. Only us.”
I only hope that he left Brienne with child, a son that might grow up to be the man that we had hoped Jaime would become.