Now we’ve seen Game of Thrones S5:E4, which means those of us taking the season one episode at a time on HBO Now are caught up with those who snatched up the chance to watch the first four episodes when they were leaked. Yeah, I saw what happened in Meereen. Benioff and Weiss are a pair of filthy bastards. But I’m not here to talk about Dany and her peeps! (Except for one thing: Dany says she can defend herself against Hizdahr zo Loraq. She shouldn’t be so quick to underestimate him.) I’m still all wrapped up in my Lannisters and their associates.
This episode showed us the first stage of Jaime and Bronn’s trip to Dorne to retrieve Myrcella. The trip is such a vast divergence from the books that I won’t even go into what the show is doing differently with Myrcella. At least until we see her up close! It’s too early to do a compare & contrast on the plotlines surrounding Myrcella and the Martells, but suffice it to say that in the books, Jaime has gone nowhere near Dorne and is not drafting Bronn into his adventures.
Here there be Citations!
Later in the episode, Jaime and Bronn have a conversation about the value of a boring death after an exciting life. Bronn’s had plenty of excitement already, and he prefers a boring death: in his own keep, drinking his own wine, watching his sons grovel for his fortune. This is why he wants to marry a noblewoman: stability, wealth, and children to fight over their inheritance. He would have had that with Lollys Stokeworth, but maybe he’ll live long enough for Jaime to find him a new lady. Bronn asks how Jaime pictures his death, and Jaime answers: in the arms of the woman he loves. Bronn asks: does she want the same? (And Jaime brings that conversation to a swift end.) Bronn appears to know the rumors about the twins are true. (“Your niece?”) So the question in the air is: does Cersei want to be there to hold Jaime when he dies? Or would she rather he be far away from her at his death?
If we go by how he’s written in the books, Jaime does want to do something unexciting with his later life. When he says, earlier in the episode, that it has to be him who takes Myrcella back from the Martells, Bronn assumes he’s doing it to get back in Cersei’s good graces after freeing Tyrion. And perhaps that’s part of it. But Jaime’s mostly doing this for his own reasons, not Cersei’s.
Remember in episode 2, when the twins are discussing Myrcella’s situation, and Cersei tells Jaime, “You were never a father to her”? And at the beginning of episode 1, when she tells Jaime their father never wanted him to be a Kingsguard? In both cases, she’s referring to decisions that she made for her brother. Remember in season 4, when Jaime tells Tywin he doesn’t want a wife, doesn’t want kids, and isn’t going to return to Casterly Rock? And when he later tells Cersei that his staying in the Kingsguard allows him to stay at the Red Keep, with her?
Jaime was the youngest knight ever to join the Kingsguard, at age fifteen. What motivated such a young boy to take a vow of lifelong celibacy and poverty? The answer is: his incestuous affair with his twin. Jaime was about to become betrothed to Lysa Tully, and Cersei was at court with their father, who was Hand to King Aerys. Jaime made a stop at King’s Landing on the way back to Casterly Rock, and one of the Kingsguard knights had just died in his sleep. Cersei spent the night with him at an inn and convinced him to take the white. She convinced him mostly by fucking him all night long. “Is it a rock you want? Or me?” He decided he’d much rather be with his sister at King’s Landing than marry Lysa Tully and inherit Casterly Rock, so he agreed to the plan. And it backfired on them both. Tywin didn’t want his son and heir to take vows that bar him from marriage and inheritance, King Aerys had his own reasons for wanting Tywin’s son in the Kingsguard, and the fallout of Jaime’s taking the white was that Tywin resigned as Hand of the King and flounced back to Casterly Rock with his daughter in tow. It backfired a lot worse on Mad King Aerys two years later, though, when the rebellion ended with his former Hand’s 17-year-old son hauling Mad King’s sorry ass down off the throne and slitting his throat. But after that, Cersei returned to the capital to marry King Robert, and promptly welcomed her twin back to her bed.
(Although, now that we’ve seen how Lysa Tully turned out, Jaime is probably healthier and happier for not having married her.)
Their children were no accident; Cersei fully intended to cuckold Robert, and Jaime was only too happy to help her do it. He attended her labors, but once the babies were delivered, Cersei wouldn’t let him hold them. The children looked just like him, so it would be too risky to let anyone see him showing them affection. They were Cersei‘s children; Jaime never acted like a father to them because she never gave him a chance. He didn’t bond with them because her caution made him keep a distance. When Joffrey dies, Jaime feels nothing, but the recent upheavals in his life make him start thinking differently about the state of his and Cersei’s relationship, and her remaining children.
By that point, Jaime’s spent more than half his life in the Kingsguard, and he’s missed out on the chance to be a family man. He’s tired of keeping his relationship with Cersei a secret, and he’s tired of letting her children (yes, I am still referring to them as her children) think he’s only their uncle. When he says to his father, “I don’t want a wife, I don’t want children,” I think what he really means is that he doesn’t want to let his father choose his wife, or tell him how to raise his children. He wants to live the boring life of a married father, but on his own terms. (And he gives zero fucks about Casterly Rock.) He starts thinking about telling Myrcella and Tommen the truth of their parentage. I’m especially fond this passage here:
And he had done his own part here at Riverrun without actually ever taking up arms against the Starks or Tullys. Once he found the Blackfish, he would be free to return to King’s Landing, where he belonged. My place is with my king. With my son. Would Tommen want to know that? The truth could cost the boy his throne. Would you sooner have a father or a chair, lad? Jaime wished he knew the answer.
Martin, George R.R. (2005-1108). A Feast for Crows (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 4) (pp. 756-757). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
(Brief aside: it’s worth noting that in the books, Tommen is a sweet little 8-year-old. He likes his new queen but he’s nowhere near ready to fuck her.)
Jaime gets one POV chapter in A Dance With Dragons, and in that chapter, he has similar thoughts about Myrcella. So, I think TV!Jaime’s reasons for making the trip to Dorne are more about him seeing a chance to be a dad to Cersei’s kids, and less about him trying to win Cersei back. We know from Maggy the Frog that Cersei and her children are doomed, but I have no idea to what extent Jaime’s attempts to bond with them will play into the prophecy. It’s entirely possible that the show will give us Myrcella’s death as a direct consequence of Jaime’s good intentions, but I will make no predictions on that front. As of the early excerpts in The Winds of Winter, Myrcella’s alive and in good hands. Last we saw of Jaime in ADwD, he was riding off to somewhere in the Riverlands—meaning, not in the direction of Dorne—with Brienne.
Back to the episode?
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that, the very first thing we see of Jaime, he’s asking the captain about the island he sees in the distance as they sail south.
“Is that Estermont?”
“Tarth, Ser Jaime. The Sapphire Isle.”