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We’re not talking about monetary debts, mind you; when they still had more money than anyone, that was the least of the Lannisters’ worries. But in Westeros, there are few people who have ruffled as many feathers, garnered ill-will and later made up for it—even if it was for less-than-noble reasons—and has been as misunderstood as Jaime Lannister.
He kicked off Game of Thrones by pushing Bran Stark out a window, and for several seasons, he doesn’t do much to dispell his reputation of being a terrible person. (Plus, he’s in an incestuous relationship with his largely polarizing sister Cersei.) Yet Jaime is often cited as many fans’ favorite character, and he has one of the most compelling arcs on the show. Yes, he’s still done terrible things, but our perception of him changed as we learned more about him and why he did what he did.
Take his notorious nickname, the Kingslayer. Ned Stark, the Westerosi ideal of too honorable for his own good, always held Jaime in contempt for murdering a king he once swore an oath to protect. Jaime’s reputation took a beating, but he didn’t suffer too many consequences for it otherwise. It’s not until season 3 that we learn why Jaime decided to kill the king after he bore his soul open to Brienne of Tarth, who often brings out the best in him. Cersei, on the other hand, often brings out the worst in him. It’s very much an “angel and devil on his shoulder” kind of dichotomy.
Jaime left Cersei in A Feast For Crows, and so far, he hasn’t turned back. But in Game of Thrones, that final break took place much later in the series, after a series of plots that worked to varying degrees, and for a much different reason. Now that he finally escaped Cersei’s shadow, Jaime Lannister, for perhaps the first time in his life, can forge his own path.
What will happen to Jaime Lannister in Game of Thrones season 8?
What will Jaime Lannister do now that he’s abandoned Cersei?
One of the biggest mistakes many people make on Game of Thrones is trusting Cersei Lannister. Although she is fiercely loyal to those she loves, she’s proven time and again that she’s not one to be trusted. So when Cersei revealed that she was going to betray the trust of Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen by not sending Lannister soldiers to aid the fight against the Night King and his army, we can’t really say that we were surprised. It only stunned Jaime, who hadn’t experienced that betrayal firsthand, benefited from it, or didn’t care.
Although he initially took Cersei’s side when Brienne urged him to “fuck loyalty,” he’s horrified at the prospect of not helping the rest of Westeros. He saw the wight that Jon Snow brought forth in the dragonpit of King’s Landing. He understood the true threat in the Seven Kingdoms. Yet despite having lived alongside Cersei for most of his life, her latest betrayal was the final straw. The first snowflakes reached King’s Landing just as he left it without his signature Lannister armor.
Jaime is clearly heading to Winterfell, and given what we’ve seen in the season 8 trailer, he does make it there in one piece. (Whether he’s able to bring reinforcements is another story.) But we don’t know if he’ll make it out of the Great War alive or—having been in an unhealthy relationship with his sister for decades (even outside of the incest factor of said relationship)—if he’ll be tempted to return to Cersei one last time.
“I promised to fight for the living,” Jaime said in the season 8 trailer. “I intend to keep that promise.”
Will Jaime get redemption or forgiveness?
When Jaime arrives in Winterfell next season, he’s going to have a much heavier load on his shoulders than most. He’ll probably have to answer for Cersei’s betrayal, given that he’s the only part of the Lannister army that shows up. Brienne and Tyrion might welcome him with open arms while Jon, Sansa, Arya, and Dany may resent him for the role he’s played in the death of their respective families. But once he’s settled in, he may also be riddled with guilt for how his actions have helped lead to the events unfolding before him, including a reminder of his very first Game of Thrones sin.
For the first time since the beginning of the series, Jaime has the possibility of coming face-to-face with Bran Stark, who has changed considerably since Jaime pushed him out of a window. The secret he was willing to kill a boy over to keep is more or less out into the open. Bran survived, but at a major cost to Bran.
But if Jaime hadn’t done that, Bran might not have gone beyond the Wall, gained the powers of the Three-Eyed Raven, or have the answers to many of the show’s burning questions. And while Jaime may feel guilt over that, Bran may only have a passing remembrance of the anger he once felt over losing the ability to walk.
“I remember what it felt like to be Brandon Stark, but I remember so much else now,” Bran told Meera in season 7.
But the real test for Jaime will be the battle of Winterfell and what lays beyond it. He’ll likely want to do right by the living, whether it’s leading an army, fighting on his own, or putting himself in harm’s way to save another character. If he makes it out, he’ll be quite the formidable opponent.
If he doesn’t survive that battle, there’s the possibility that he may have predicted his own death years ago. He once told Bronn that he wanted to die—if he could choose the manner in which it happens—“in the arms of the woman I love.” While some fans (and possibly Bronn) thought that Jaime was talking about Cersei, he could just as easily have been referring to someone like Brienne, who will be at Winterfell fighting alongside him.
Is Jaime Lannister the valonqar?
In A Feast For Crows (and season 5 of Game of Thrones), we learned about the prophecy that Cersei heard as a young girl and has shaken her to the core ever since. Most of it, from Cersei’s marriage to the king, the birth (and death) of her three children, and the threat of Dany as the young queen who will cast her down, has come to fruition. But on top of all that she’s got right, Maggy revealed one more thing: how Cersei would die.
“And when your tears have drowned you, the valonqar shall wrap his hands about your pale white throat and choke the life from you,” Maggy tells Cersei.
As Cersei discovers later, valonqar means “little brother” in High Valyrian. She spends her life living in fear that Tyrion—who Cersei already hates because of her belief that Tyrion killed their mother in childbirth—will one day murder her. However, Cersei doesn’t have just one younger brother. She has two. (Cersei is the older twin.) For decades, Cersei let Jaime into her bed, get into her head, and now she’s betrayed him. She would never expect it coming from Jaime.
If Jaime comes to the conclusion that Cersei remaining on the Iron Throne is a risk to the Seven Kingdoms’ survival in the fight against the dead, he might just be driven to take her out. (And if not, there is at least one person who still has her on her kill list.) But if Jaime dies, who’s to say that he still can’t bring justice if he’s part of the Night King’s Army of the Dead?
Could Jaime Lannister become Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch?
If you ask most Game of Thrones fans, they might tell you that Jaime isn’t going to make it out of Game of Thrones in one piece. They could point to his redemptive path, foreshadowing, or the possibility of him tangoing with the White Walkers or Cersei Lannister. What’s even more unlikely? Jaime making it out alive. Not only that but taking up a position that he once openly mocked.
Jon Snow was the 998th Lord Commander while Eddison Tollett (aka Dolourous Edd) has more or less taken over the job after Jon, which would make him the 999th Lord Commander. Assuming that Edd doesn’t make it, that would leave the position open for the 1,000th Lord Commander. (Granted, the Night’s Watch has been around for more than 8,000 years, so the numerical system they use for Lord Commanders might not be the most accurate, but it’s the one we’ve got.) And who better—assuming there’s still part of a Wall to defend—than Jaime?
For one, he might have some crimes to atone for, whether it’s murdering another monarch to save the Seven Kingdoms, justice for what he did to Bran, or something that he might do in season 8. He could see protecting Westeros from future threats as a noble cause. If both Cersei and Tyrion don’t make it out of season 8 alive, he could do it as a way to make sure the Lannister line dies out, along with all of the harm the Lannister name brought to Westeros. And if we know anything, it’s that Game of Thrones loves to callback to some of its earliest moments.
There’s a lot riding on Jaime’s fate. He could live or die, but no matter what happens, Jaime’s going to be in the thick of the action to keep a promise he made. It’s quite a world-shattering course-reversal for a man once infamous for breaking them.
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Michelle Jaworski is a staff writer and the resident Game of Thrones expert at the Daily Dot. She covers entertainment, geek culture, and pop culture and has brought her knowledge to conventions like Con of Thrones. She is based in New Jersey.