This post will be talking plot details from HBO’s Game of Thrones, the excellent adaptation of George RR Martin’s epic A Song of Ice and Fire series. Specifically, I’ll be talking about Jaime Lannister in the first three seasons of the show (and therefore roughly through 2.5 of the books. If that’s how you roll.)
Thanks to Season Four of Game of Thrones and how they adapted a certain scene between Jaime and his sibling Cersei, I feel it necessary to start my defense of Jaime Lannister with a proactive defense of my defense. This is a topic that had been on my big list of planned Game of Thrones articles before Season Four aired last year, and I didn’t get a chance to talk about Jaime before the controversial sept scene.
Like nearly everyone, I have opinions to share about the infamous scene in the sept and I will share them, but just not in this post.
Jaime Lannister. (Pre-Season Four Jaime Lannister.)
There wasn’t much to recommend Jaime as someone resembling a protagonist in the first season of the show or in the first book A Game of Thrones. Labelled the Kingslayer for his treatment of Mad King Aerys, Ser Jaime was looked down on by nearly everyone, even by Ned Stark, who you’d otherwise think might appreciate the man who’d killed the royal monster who’d unjustly executed his father and brother.
The length Jaime goes to to protect his shocking affair with his sister Cersei was equally shocking.
Ambushing Ned in King’s Landing cemented Jaime’s villainous role, for anyone still partial to his classical good looks. (When I read the books, I was incensed when that ambush resulted in Jory Cassel’s death.)
But, in classic Martin style, this villain had virtues.
He was surprisingly frank and honest with Catelyn Stark. He risked his safety to intercede on behalf of his Amazonian captor, Brienne, which cost him terribly.
People often talk about throwing A Storm of Swords across the room upon reading Catelyn’s chapter, the one detailing her brother’s eventful wedding reception. I threw the book across the room when Fat Zollo the Bloody Mummer chopped off Jaime’s hand.
I was so angry, furious at myself, for somehow having been seduced by the Kingslayer’s point of view. That without consciously realizing it, I was rooting for him.
I still wanted him to be held accountable for attempting to kill Bran with the push out the window. But I wanted justice for Bran, not for Jaime to be sadistically tortured by particularly horrible people.
After his maiming, Jaime opened up and in a vulnerable moment, cast a light on the events around Aerys’ death, turning his dishonorable deed into a heroic act for which those he saved would never know about.
Viewers ended season three with a more positive view of Jaime. (Let’s pretend I can make bold overly-broad generalizations like that.) I had wanted to write something about the Kingslayer in my Game of Thrones blog series, but in general I felt anything I wrote would be shallow and not that insightful. (Lets continue to pretend that all my other posts are deep and insightful. Help me out.)
He was on a redemptive path. I think everyone recognized that without me going on about it.
Before Season Four began, I was enjoying reading various recaps, reviews, or analyses of the previous seasons. The media coverage of the Red Wedding in particular boosted people’s awareness of the show. I was reading a lot of posts that had a “I’d avoided watching this show but now I’m all caught up and oh my god…” type of feel.
Along the way, I read a fair amount of posts talking about Jaime, and how he wasn’t likable in the beginning but the poster was now Team Jaime. If only Tywin, Cersei and Joffrey weren’t so awful, more people would be Team Lannister.
But one post I read took me by surprise. “The Metamorphosis of Jaime Lannister” was an excellent breakdown of Jaime’s character throughout the seasons, culminating in an insightful analysis that Cersei might be the reason for Jaime’s more negative qualities. (I’ll return to that assertion in my Jaime, Cersei, and the Sept post later.) I was on board with all of that, until I got to the author’s concluding paragraph.
“I always knew Jaime Lannister would invoke strong emotions in me mainly because I believe he is the most realistically carved character in the storyline of Westeros. I can never forgive him for the disgusting incest or killing Robb Stark but I will never cease to be amazed by Jaime’s impulsive behaviour when it comes to the one woman he loves.”
Now, I appreciate that the most important element in the statement was the association of Jaime’s behavior and his love of Cersei. But that’s not what hit my attention. It was the line starting with “I can never forgive him for…”
It didn’t go where I expected.
Unforgivable! and Unforgivable?
There is certainly something unforgivable that Jaime Lannister is responsible for. Just what would that be?
I mentioned above that I wanted Jaime to be held accountable for crippling Bran with murderous intent. No amount of charming, or quiet heroism, or overt heroism for that matter will change my mind. At some point, I want Jaime to have to face what he’s done. Ideally face to face with Bran Stark.
I really like Jaime, so in my dream of dreams Bran forgives Jaime, which would allow me to do the same, I guess.
So it was weird to me that Bran was omitted from the blogger’s list of unforgivables. Incest. Robb’s death. Neither would have sprung to my mind.
Incest – Keeping It In the Family
Look, I’m not defending incest, let’s make that clear up front. It’s oogie and gross and all that.
I just don’t think it’s something that I need to either forgive Jaime and Cersei for, or withhold forgiveness. It’s not really my business. Maybe it would be different if it was more of a Craster-like situation where both parties weren’t consenting. (Yes, now I’m getting dangerously close to Season Four territory.)
If someone wanted to argue that had Jaime and Cersei never hooked up, Joffrey would never have been born and therefore Ned would still be alive. I can probably agree with that.
Regarding regards from the Lannisters
But I can’t agree that Jaime Lannister had anything to do with Robb Stark’s death. Exactly when did Jaime have the chance to arrange the Red Wedding? While he was captive with the Starks? While he was being drug around by Brienne? While he was captured a second time, had his hand chopped off, and was brought to Roose Bolton?
None of those times seem right for scheming negotiations with Walder Frey.
Could Jaime have masterminded the Red Wedding while briefly a prisoner at Harrenhal?
I suppose. We don’t know how fast those ravens go, and it’s possible that Jaime could have convinced Roose Bolton to turn on Robb Stark, notify Walder Frey (who I guess hadn’t been planning on double crossing Robb) and then getting Tywin to agree.
Except that’s ridiculous. Tywin, Roose, and Walder had nailed down those details long before Jaime and his stump rode into Harrenhal. And speaking of that stump, given Jaime’s track record of making deals with Boltons, it’s crazy to think he would come up with the Red Wedding idea on his own and sell it to Roose Bolton.
But, couldn’t Roose have told Jaime about the Tywin-planned assassination on Robb? Before Jaime bid farewell to Brienne, he mentioned to her that Roose Bolton was traveling to Edmure Tully’s wedding, so he at least knew that Robb would be at the Twins.
It’s possible, sure. It’s possible that Roose Bolton laid out the entire plan, in classic villain style. That still doesn’t make Jaime responsible for Robb’s death.
For the record, I don’t believe Bolton breathed a word about it, because why should he? He didn’t need Jaime’s approval or input. For two men to have a secret, one them has to be dead, and all that.
Really, the only connection between Jaime and Robb’s assassination is the phrase (from the show) “the Lannisters send their regards.”
This is taken from the parting exchange Roose and Jaime have, with Roose leaving to travel to the wedding, and Jaime leaving to travel to King’s Landing under escort.
Roose Bolton: You will give my regards to Lord Tywin, I trust?
Jaime Lannister: Tell Robb Stark I’m sorry I couldn’t make his uncle’s wedding. The Lannisters send their regards.
Now, this could mean a few things:
- Roose has agreed to follow evil kingpin mastermind Jaime Lannister’s plan and wants Jaime to let Tywin know of his compliance and participation. (I’ve already explained why I think that’s unlikely, the least of which is that Tywin knew about the Red Wedding beforehand since Walder Frey sent a coded message afterwards to Tywin detailing the victory.)
- Roose has filled in Jaime in on the plan, and Jaime’s okay with it. (This might be a reasonable interpretation but I don’t buy it, I’ll discuss in a moment…)
- Roose and Jaime are leaving, Roose has expressed the courtesy of sending regards to Tywin (since Roose is somewhat responsible for Jaime’s maiming, this totally makes sense.) Jaime is reciprocating in kind, to send regards to Robb Stark.
#3 makes the most sense to me. Jaime had been a captive of the Starks. He was about to be escorted to King’s Landing and he had just made a rather emotional and sincere-seeming promise to Brienne that he would honor his return to King’s Landing as a hostage exchange, and reunite the Stark girls with their mother. By sending his regards, he’s tweaking Robb Stark in the face but also letting Catelyn Stark know that he’s living up to his part of the promise.
#2 is certainly not out of the question (like #1 which makes no sense) but it contradicts his parting scene with Brienne. Could he have been lying? Sure, but if so, it’s crazy for him to have gone back to rescue her once he found out that Brienne’s captors would going to punish her for her father not being able to supply her weight in sapphires.
Despite his relationship with Cersei and his attempt on Bran’s life, Jaime Lannister is in general a consistently honest person. He doesn’t lie to Catelyn about trying to kill Bran and he wanted a fair fight between himself and Ned Stark (as evidenced when he struck the Lannister guard who interrupted the impromptu duel by crippling Ned.)
I don’t see him comfortable making promises he knows he can’t keep. So as far as I’m concerned, the Red Wedding is not something to lay at Jaime Lannister’s lap.
But I could be wrong (I’m not.) Let me know what you think!
Whew! And that ends my defense of Jaime Lannister. Pre-Season Three Jaime Lannister.
It’s not fair to have an article like this and ignore the elephant in the room, so on my backup blog I share my thoughts on Season Four and the controversy of Jaime and Cersei in the sept. Forgive my vague language here, but I’ll be more specific in that post, and you, dear reader, should have that as a heads up should you be deciding to read that or not.
I’m looking forward to seeing what happens with Jaime and his story in Season 5, under three months away.
(Comments are always welcome. Super welcome! But if you want to talk spoilery Game of Thrones talk with me (also welcome) I’d invite you to visit my Safe Spoilers page on my backup blog. That way my non-book-reading friends won’t be shocked with foreknowledge.)
Most Images from HBO’s Game of Thrones (obviously.) I’m not sure where I found the photo of Nikolai Coster-Waldau and the Funko Pop Cersei and Jaime. (Awwww…)
I make no claims to the artwork, but some claims to the text. So there. (Just not the conversation between Jaime and Roose.)
If you liked this article, thank you! I have all of my Game of Thrones related articles on my handy-dandy Game of Thrones page should you want to read more but don’t want to navigate around my site.
© Patrick Sponaugle 2015 Some Rights Reserved