Let's Talk About Jaime Lannister On “Game Of Thrones”

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Over the course of eight seasons, Jaime Lannister emerged as a fan favourite on Game of Thrones. His character encapsulates the show at its very best – and its worst.


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It’s hard not to be frustrated by how it all ends for Jaime if you’ve been invested in his character. Let’s take a look back at what was great about it, and where it all went wrong…

At the start of the show, Jaime seems to be an incredibly bad guy. He’s arrogant, obnoxious and… oh yeah, has sex with his sister and pushes a 10-year-old out a window.


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And that’s just in the first episode! He doesn’t get much better as the season progresses. Framed from Ned’s point of view, we learn about how Jaime killed the Mad King, and see it the way Ned does – as a despicable act. Then of course Jaime goes and attacks Ned Stark in the street, murdering Jory Cassel in the process, and Jaime’s status as a Bad Guy is seemingly cemented.

But then a funny thing happens. Jaime goes to war and is captured by Robb Stark, and he’s away from Cersei’s influence and their toxic co-dependence. And his character begins to grow.

He gets really interesting around the time he’s paired with Brienne. Their chemistry is incredible, and in amongst all the banter, Jaime shows some real moments of vulnerability.

When Jaime and Brienne are captured by the Boltons and Jaime manages to prevent Brienne for being raped – at the cost of his own hand – it’s the first time we see him do something truly unselfish.


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It shows us he has the capacity for good, and that he cares about more than himself (and his family, who are extensions of himself).

Significantly, it’s Brienne that brings out this side of him. Where Cersei reflects his worst self and his darkest impulses, Brienne represents the kind of knight he could be and not-so-secretly wishes to be. He respects her and begins to care for her, and doing so makes him a better person.

This arc builds until it reaches its peak – the bath scene, in which Jaime confesses the truth about why he killed the Mad King to Brienne.


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It’s a secret he’s been carrying around for 17 years. The Mad King intended to blow up all of King’s Landing with wildfire, and Jaime killed him – and his pyromancer – in order to prevent it. In doing so, he sacrifices his honour and his reputation.

This is one of the best scenes in the whole show – in any show, in my opinion – and it marks a huge turning point. Like Brienne, we see Jaime clearly for the first time and realise he’s much more complex – and yes, even good – than he initially appeared. The scene also makes us rethink everything we’ve previously been told. It casts Ned and his judgement in a new, and not entirely positive, light.

This is Game of Thrones at its best, allowing its characters (both the “heroes” and “villains”) to exist in three-dimensional shades of grey rather than two-dimensional black and white.

This moment is followed up by Brienne calling Jaime “Ser Jaime”. It clearly means a lot to him – it’s the first time someone has seen and acknowledged the honourable part of himself.

All in all, the fact that Jaime managed to save the population of King’s Landing is important to him. He even mentions it to Qyburn later.

Jaime’s redemption arc continues with him jumping into an actual bear pit to save Brienne…

And then, even when he’s back in King’s Landing, the tension between him and Cersei led many fans to believe he’d eventually be free of her poisonous influence forever.


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That’s certainly the direction his character appears to be headed in the books.

Jaime also leans into his honour when he sends Brienne on a mission to find and save Sansa Stark, fulfilling his oath to Lady Catelyn – something Brienne acknowledges in the name for the sword Jaime gives her.


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Like the “Ser Jaime” moment, this is significant for Jaime.

Unfortunately, this is also when Jaime’s plot goes way off track. Starting with the awful scene in Season 4 when he rapes Cersei in front of Joffrey’s body.


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The scene plays out very differently in the books and was apparently meant to read differently on the show, too – the cast and crew both spoke out after the scene got a lot of backlash, claiming it wasn’t actually meant to be a rape scene. Instead, they argued, it was about tense but consensual grief sex.

Needless to say, the fact that something was intended to be consensual but wound up looking like rape is deeply problematic and highlights the troubled relationship Game of Thrones has always had with showing sexual violence.

For Jaime, it undermined multiple seasons worth of nuanced and redemptive characterisation.

Jaime’s plot then fell victim to Season 5 – the worst season of Game of Thrones, in no small part thanks to the almost universally-derided Dorne storyline, which Jaime was a central part of.

Aside from the mess of Dorne itself, Seasons 5 and 6 also place Jaime pretty firmly at Cersei’s side (emotionally, if not always physically). Which felt like a regression of the journey he’d been, and a dip back down into the worst aspects of himself.

A lot of fans thought Cersei blowing up the sept (killing a bunch of people with wildfire – the very act Jaime sacrificed his honour to prevent the Mad King doing) would lead to Jaime finally abandoning her and getting back on the path to redemption.

But it took a whole extra season before he finally broke away from Cersei – after Brienne came back into his life and reminded him of what was most important.

Jaime rode North, at great personal risk, to keep his oath, embrace his honour, and fight alongside Brienne to save innocent lives.


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And he did it with the twin sword of Brienne’s, which was re-forged from Ned Stark’s Ice.

It was a beautiful moment in a grisly episode, and an eagerly awaited payoff to Jaime’s complex arc.

The fact that Jaime and Brienne finally acted on their long-simmering chemistry in the next episode felt like the icing on the cake – and for Jaime, the final clean break away from Cersei, and the darker side of him she represents.

BUT THEN! Jaime hears Cersei is in danger…and he goes running straight back to her.

He says he doesn’t care about the people of King’s Landing and he doesn’t even react to the horror unfolding around him (you know, the Mad King’s plan – that Jaime sacrificed so much to avoid – actually coming to fruition, right down to the wildfire). All he’s focused on is Cersei.


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He’s right back where he started. For some, it might feel like a nice “full circle” moment. But it’s too much of a circle – in his final moments, it’s as though Jaime never grew or changed. As though he really is the single-minded kingslayer he so hated being perceived as. As though his love for Cersei – which was really a toxic addiction and obsession – was more important than his love for Brienne, which expanded who he was and his view of the world.

Jaime’s storyline in Season 8, Episode 5 felt incredibly hollow and shallow, especially when contrasted with his rich and textured characterisation in the first few seasons.

The fact Game of Thrones made us care for Jaime at all – after he actually tried to murder one of the Stark kids in the first episode – is a testament to how incredible it was at times.

But the way Jaime dies is the show at its weakest – literally and metaphorically flattening its own characters.

All that potential…utterly wasted.

RIP Jaime Lannister. You’re dead now – and so is your interesting character arc.

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