Please note: if you’re not caught up with season six of Game of Thrones, this post contains spoilers for the finale. You’ve been warned!
When you’ve completely immersed yourself in George R.R. Martin‘s fantasy world of dragons and ice zombies, it’s not that you become jaded about what will happen next, it’s that you realize those magical creatures are the only elements that make his story fantasy, because the rest is as brutal, awful, and unfair as real life. Which is why, regardless of what he does the rest of the way, even if he kills Cersei and saves the realm from more death and war, I am sure Jaime Lannister will never be redeemed the way many of us want him to be.
This isn’t some “Martin hates us” diatribe about him screwing with us to make us angry. Martin is always true to the story—the greatest thing an author can do for his readers—and we should all know by now, in this world, that just because we want something to happen it doesn’t mean it will. Because life doesn’t work that way.
And in the same way the victors write the history books, Jaime Lannister can not win, and when whomever is standing at the end of Game of Thrones writes of what happened, Ser Jaime will be the oath breaking Kingslayer, whose family butchered Robb Stark and the North at the Red Wedding, who then blew up the Tyrells and hundreds of innocent people at the Sept of Baelor.
Of course, Jaime has already found a measure of redemption, but only to the audience and a few individuals in Westeros (like Brienne and Bronn). The man that put a sword through the king he swore to protect, that pushed a small child from a tower for catching him sleeping with his twin sister, who killed his own cousin in an attempt to escape, started on the path to redemption when he protected Brienne from a group of would-be rapists. An act of surprise nobility he paid for with his sword hand, but a price that did not slow him down into being a better person than he was before.
Little did we know then that his first act of betrayal, when he killed The Mad King, was an act of heroism that saved thousands and thousands of lives, a secret he accepted along with the scorn of a kingdom that came with it. From there we saw him uphold his promise to a dead Catelyn Stark to protect her daughters, risk his life to save his niece/daughter Myrcella, rescue his brother Tyrion from an execution, all while calling out men (and gods) for the awful hypocrites they are.
Yet, for all of that, when facing Edmure Tully we saw what the realm thinks of Jaime Lannister. While Jaime was trying to give Edmure and his family something resembling a life, with as little bloodshed as possible, we saw the hatred and disgust people have for Jaime and the Lannisters. It’s a hatred Jaime has for himself, too: the fear that he is not a good man, and that he will never be free of his sins because he doesn’t deserve to be free of them.
With the way season six ended, with Cersei on the Iron Throne after resorting to the same wildfire purge The Mad King had planned all those years earlier—the very plan Jaime himself stopped at the cost of his own honor—it feels as though the old theory that the valonqar (“little brother”) prophesied to kill Cersei will be Jaime himself (she was born first). For Jaime to kill an evil ruler who just so happens to be his twin and love of his life, would be the ultimate sacrifice. A moment of complete redemption, when every vow he ever made as a knight to protect others, would be upheld.
If Jaime kills Cersei for the sake of the Seven Kingdoms, it will be one of the greatest, most noble sacrifices ever made in Westeros, an act worthy of the history books and songs for thousands of years.
It just won’t matter, because Jaime can’t and won’t be able to win, and the victors will never grant—hell, they might never even know!—the redemption he will have deserved. It’s not fair, but neither is life. This is George R.R. Martin’s story, and it’s painful, but it’s honest. We, the audience, might know—the way we know about what happened in the Iron Throne room when Jaime killed Aerys II—but it will be lost to time and the people of Westeros.
“The past is already written: the ink is dry,” and sometimes it can’t be crossed out, no matter how much blood we spill, even if it is Cersei’s.[brightcove video_id=”5014818294001″ brightcove_account_id=”3653334524001″ brightcove_player_id=”2bfa565b-5412-4cfd-9211-6269880b8a5e”]
What do you think is Jaime Lannister’s fate on Game of Thrones? How will he be remembered? Tell us in the comments.