Remember how I wrote that ridiculously long and detailed piece to make a fairly basic prediction for Team Sansa?
Now I’ve done something similar with Jaime, and it’s not so simple. Working just with material from S5, it feels like wrestling an octopus.
Making the big prediction for Brienne was fairly simple (if not effortless) because she and Podrick are hanging around in the North, apparently not interacting with any other highborns. (Except for the part where Brienne runs off to execute King Stannis.) There’s no one with a claim on their time except Sansa, so the number of variables at play in their storyline is very limited. King’s Landing isn’t like the inn overlooking Winterfell.
Then we have Jaime, heading back to King’s Landing with his daughter’s corpse, Bronn, and a bereaved Dornish boy. He’ll be surrounded by a lot of interesting personalities and conflicting agendas, and that’s where it gets confusing. The family alone is enough to open up a gaping chasm of what-about-this-or-that-thing. Such as: what’ll be the dynamic of Jaime/Cersei/Tommen, now that Tommen is their only living child? What is the dynamic of Jaime/Cersei/Kevan, now that Uncle Kevan is the Lord Regent and Cersei’s on trial? What is the Jaime/Cersei/Trystane dynamic, as Trystane is supposed to take a seat on the Small Council and they’ve just lost Myrcella? How do the twins interact, while dealing with Myrcella having died in Jaime’s arms, Cersei being on trial and having confessed to fucking Little Cousin Lancel, and her blaming Tyrion for her daughter’s death?
What’s the state of the Kingsguard, and what does Jaime do about it? For instance: Qyburn put a white cloak on that zombie giant, and Meryn Trant is now dead. These are matters of relevance to the Lord Commander.
Littlefinger is back in King’s Landing, at least for the immediate future. How do his plans for world domination cross over into the Lannisters’ coping with their various upheavals? Seriously, how does Jaime react to finding out Cersei’s been fucking Lancel? And how does Cersei treat Jaime when she sees that her only daughter died on his watch? While we’re at it, how does Jaime respond to the fact that his sister is being tried on charges that very much include her affair with him? How does Jaime’s presence in the city affect Cersei’s trial for adultery, incest and treason? These are all factors that will likely be involved in Jaime’s goings-on in S6.
The place where I’m really trying to read tea leaves is the question of what the show’s writers have in mind. What do they need from Jaime next season? They need him to go where, do what, interact with whom? That’s what we’re always trying to figure out when we make predictions.
I may have just done a little binge of watching all of Jaime’s scenes in S5, plus some more with connected characters, and some of the scenes come across differently now that I’ve seen what happens in the finale.
Season 6 will be the second in a row in which the twins begin with the loss of a close family member. The reason for Jaime’s trip to Dorne was to bring Myrcella back alive and healthy, and that didn’t work. When he gets to the Red Keep, he’ll find Cersei with a recently shorn head, stripped of power and on trial for incest, adultery, and treason, having already confessed to spreading her legs for Little Cousin Lancel. He’ll find Margaery and Loras Tyrell held in black cells for doing things that didn’t hurt anyone, and Tommen feeling utterly miserable because he can’t help them. He’ll find Uncle Kevan in charge of the realm.
He’ll find he has a new Kingsguard knight, the silent giant Robert Strong (aka undead Gregor Clegane), and will soon hear about Meryn Trant’s death at a Braavos brothel.
Having lost Myrcella to poison, and having basically nothing in common with Cersei anymore except that they’re both pissed off at Tyrion for killing their father, Jaime probably wishes he could just skip right over King’s Landing and head off somewhere else, but he will stop there. As much as King’s Landing seems like the worst place in the known world right now, he’s still the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, and he takes his responsibilities seriously. His father disowned him because he chose the Kingsguard over Casterly Rock.
At the beginning of S5, Cersei reminded us that her twin is a man of action. He doesn’t think through the consequences before he acts, and so she blames him for their father’s death. She won’t be able to blame him for Myrcella’s death; instead she’s blaming Tyrion because he’s the one who sent Myrcella to the Martells. Besides, if Cersei wanted to attack Jaime for anything, it wouldn’t work out the way she intended. Cersei no longer has the moral upper hand over Jaime. He’s already growing increasingly alienated from her (more on that later), and it’ll only get worse. The only emotional power she has left over Jaime is the ability to anger him.
She’s right about him being a man of action, though she’s hardly in a position to throw stones. He’s impulsive, and reckless, he likes to improvise, and I don’t think Myrcella’s death will have done anything to train those tendencies out of him.
There’s also Tommen, who will surely not feel any more optimistic or confident when he finds out his sister died. I wonder how Jaime will approach Tommen, in light of Myrcella having died in Jaime’s arms just after she said “I’m glad that you’re my father” and they shared that adorable daddy-daughter hug? A more cautious man might be skittish about bonding with his remaining child, but Jaime is still not a cautious man. I think he’ll be more interested than ever in being a dad to Tommen; he understands that if he hadn’t reached out to Myrcella at that moment, she would have died without ever letting him hold her even that once. He’ll be even more committed to reaching out to Tommen because he never knows how much time they have left.
If Cersei were a healthy, reasonable woman, she’d encourage Jaime to bond with Tommen, but Cersei is not a healthy, reasonable woman. She loves her children, but she doesn’t want anyone else to love them; she insists on being the central influence in their lives, and she will see Jaime as competition for the only child she has left. I think the twins are going to fight over Tommen in S6. They’ll fight over him in that ill-concealed, euphemistic way that Westerosi nobles do right up until they’re ready to go to war.
Uncle Kevan will see what’s going on, and he won’t like it. We’ve previously heard Cersei complain that her uncle has “the courage of a kitchen mouse” and we’ve seen him tell her that he does not accept her authority to tell him what is not his concern. Uncle Kevan may not be the powerhouse Tywin was, but he has a backbone and he won’t let Cersei push him around. He’ll handle some matters in ways that Cersei won’t agree with. (For example: he will want to let Trystane Martell take his seat on the Small Council with a minimum of drama, rather than punish him for being related to Myrcella’s killers. Cersei will undoubtedly try to attack Trystane, and Jaime will somehow feel responsible for that, but Cersei’s not in charge anymore, is the point.) Which is a good thing for the realm, but they will have in common that they want Tommen to stay on the throne, which means they both want Cersei to win her trial. With that in mind, Kevan will be interested in maintaining the status quo of the Lannisters’ polite fiction of having carried on Robert Baratheon’s family line. I’m sure Kevan is fully aware that the rumors are true, but he needs everyone to keep pretending Tommen is a Baratheon, and that means he doesn’t want Tommen to know the truth.
Which means that Jaime poses a problem for Kevan as well as Cersei. Jaime also wants Tommen to keep his throne (and accordingly, to keep his head firmly attached), but at the same time he wants Tommen to know the truth, and he’s not really willing to accept that keeping the status quo in place is more important to the family’s survival and the stability of the realm than him being a loving parent to his sister’s son. Basically: Jaime is a loose cannon, and Kevan needs to tie him up. Kevan will see the twins at each other’s throats, and Jaime preparing to ruin everything by telling Tommen he’s a Lannister on both sides, and Kevan will find a way to contain the situation.
I think that means he’ll find an assignment for Jaime that takes him away from King’s Landing. There’ll be more crazy shit happening in other parts of the country (especially the Riverlands, though I’m open to the Reach becoming more of a feature as well), and Kevan will need to send troops out to deal with situations. Jaime, while frustrated that he can’t spend more time bonding with Tommen, will be more than happy to get away from his sister, and all those other lying, power-hungry fuckers in the capital. He will take those troops and go.
He’ll also take Bronn with him. He still owes Bronn another bride with a better castle.
Then the next question is: where might Uncle Kevan’s orders take him? Ellaria Sand and her Snakes have just made themselves fugitives in Dorne, and the Lannisters will not want to let their crime go unanswered. However, she has also pissed off Doran Martell in a way that he won’t forgive. Doran Martell is a cautious, thoughtful man who would rather not go to war if he has a choice in the matter, and I think Uncle Kevan appreciates that. Uncle Kevan will be willing to communicate with Doran Martell about who executes Ellaria Sand wherever they manage to find her. Sending Jaime off with troops to bring back Ellaria Sand’s head is the sort of thing Cersei would do, which is why Kevan won’t do that. Kevan needs Jaime to do his job like a good soldier, not a grieving father. Also, it would make no structural sense to have Jaime turn around and spend a second season running around Dorne. The show needs him to go somewhere else. Kevan will send him to deal with instability happening in the Riverlands, or maybe the Reach, or the Stormlands, or maybe even the North. There’s plenty of crazy business happening all over the Seven Kingdoms; plenty of trouble for everyone to get into.
Remember his conversation with Bronn in S5:E4? “What shit way would you choose?” “In the arms of the woman I love.” “Does she want the same?”
I will show you all an exchange that Nikolaj Coster-Waldau had with a fan on Twitter, regarding that scene. I would not go to an actor with a question like this, but since it happened, I’ll use it as a starting point for further analysis and prediction.
Yeah, first of all: ooooh, dear. You know he doesn’t write the script, yes? It is possible for an actor to be mistaken about the future of his character.
Second: Looking at the quality of “discussion” in response to his Tweet, I can see why he wouldn’t want to take a position. Either he doesn’t want to anger the shippers on either side, or he enjoys watching them argue. People on both sides have strong opinions, that much is obvious.
If we go to Jaime at the moment when Bronn asks him how he’d choose to die, I think it’s entirely possible that he’s thinking of BOTH Cersei and Brienne. A reasonable person can love two people at the same time. He may think dying in his sister’s arms would be a lovely way to go, and that dying in his big wench’s arms would also be a lovely way to go! At that point, though, he doesn’t know which one of them, if either, would be there for him when the time came. When Bronn asks if she (whichever one she is) wants the same, Jaime brings the conversation to a quick, uncomfortable end. Answering that question would take him places he’s not ready to go.
Earlier in that same episode, he had that moment of asking the ship’s captain about the island they were passing.
“Is that Estermont?” “Tarth, Ser Jaime. The Sapphire Isle.”
And look at how he gazes longingly in the direction of that island.
From a character angle, we don’t quite know what Jaime is thinking, but from a storytelling angle, there was no reason why we needed the geography lesson. It doesn’t add anything to the plot to remind viewers of what islands lie between King’s Landing and Sunspear. That scene was included as a gentle reminder that Jaime still has Brienne on his mind, without ever mentioning her name. It’s not the island he wants; he misses the stubborn young woman who grew up there. Furthermore, I don’t think they’d show us that tender, longing gaze in the direction of Tarth unless the series would eventually bring Jaime and Brienne back together. He’ll meet her again, though using only that little scene as evidence, I can’t tell whether it’ll be S6 or later. As we’ve just heard Game of Thrones will run for at least eight seasons, I can’t know how soon it’ll be that Jaime reconnects with his Sapphire Islander.
Let’s skip ahead to the finale. Jaime has this exchange with Myrcella, regarding Cersei: “Have you ever known your mother to like anyone, aside from her children?” “She likes you.” “I’m not so sure about that.”
His language suggests that not only does he think his sister no longer loves him, but that she never really loved him in the first place. He’s pretty much given up on trying to please Cersei; by that stage of the mission, he’s there just for Myrcella, and has no expectation of getting back on Cersei’s good side. He doesn’t think Cersei will be the one who holds him as he dies. In this scene, the question is what Jaime believes about how Cersei feels about him, but it doesn’t necessarily tell us how he feels about her. For that, I want to go back to E9.
The conversation between him and Ellaria (which is mostly just Ellaria) is one of those scenes that seems very different now that I’ve seen the finale. At the time I blogged about the episode, I was all hung up on the “we can’t choose who we love” angle, which is actually not in Ellaria’s lines. It’s where Jaime starts out in telling Myrcella the truth about her paternity, but Ellaria is mostly focused on “we want who we want.”
(Also, too: I took a screenshot of the letter Jaime’s writing when Ellaria enters the room. It seems to be a recap of his agreement with Prince Doran. If anyone can find any more relevant information, have at it and tell me in the comments, if it please my lord or lady.)
(There’s a weird clapping sound at one point in the video. I don’t know where it came from. I’m very new to capturing video from my laptop screen.) Transcript:
Ellaria: The queen will be thrilled to know you’re bringing her daughter home.
Jaime: She will.
Ellaria: You love her very much, don’t you?
Jaime: Of course, she’s my niece.
Ellaria: I wasn’t talking about her. You think I disapprove? Why? Because people disapprove of that sort of thing where you are from? They disapproved of Oberyn and me where you are from. Here no one blinked an eye. A hundred years ago, no one would have blinked an eye at you, if you’d been named Targaryen. It’s always changing, who we’re supposed to love and who we’re not. The only thing that stays the same is that we want who we want. I know your daughter had no part in the terrible thing that happened to the man I love. Perhaps even you are innocent of that.
First: Notice how Jaime assumes Ellaria’s talking about Myrcella, when she really means Cersei. At no point in this exchange does Jaime ever bring up his love for Cersei. He doesn’t have much to say, but when he does get a line, it isn’t about his relationship with his sister. Ellaria is the one who wants to talk about him and Cersei. Jaime is focused on his relationship to his daughter.
Ellaria says: “You think I disapprove?”
What he’s thinking there is probably something along the lines of: “No, I don’t assume you disapprove, I just don’t want her anymore.”
She says: “A hundred years ago, no one would have blinked an eye at you, if you’d been named Targaryen.”
The look on Jaime’s face is consistent with: “We were so stupid, thinking we could be Targaryens. I slit the last Targaryen king’s throat. Then I got Cersei pregnant with Joffrey.”
She says: “The only thing that stays the same is that we want who we want.”
There’s another interesting look that passes over Jaime’s face, which suggests something like: “Yes. I want who I want. But it’s not who you think.”
I’m reading a lot into a few subtle facial expressions. Possibly too much. Bear with me.
At the time E9 aired, Ellaria appeared to be changing her mind about attacking Myrcella. That exchange with Jaime seemed to be reassuring him that he and his daughter were safe. Of course we know now that it was false reassurance. She was still planning to kill an innocent girl with poison, right under her father’s nose, and she did so. She succeeded because she had convinced Jaime she meant no harm.
What was the narrative purpose of that scene, with that mostly-monologue from Ellaria? Ostensibly it was about persuading Jaime to think Ellaria was not a threat, but she had a great deal to say about one’s choice of mate, and very little to say about how sorry she was for attacking a nice kid to punish her family. On and on about changing sexual mores, and the heart wants what it wants, love don’t need a reason, and finally, something about Myrcella’s innocence. That’s how she spends her one chance at being in the same room as Jaime.
The focus of the interaction is kind of weird, to be honest. One way to explain that weird focus is that Ellaria is giving Jaime a useful insight with “we always want who we want,” but not for the reason she thinks. Again: Jaime does not bring up Cersei in that exchange. Jaime shows no interest in talking about Cersei. (I’m beginning to think that when Jaime finds out about her affair with Lancel, he won’t even be really surprised. Disgusted, but not shocked.)
“It’s always changing, who we’re supposed to love and who we’re not. The only thing that stays the same is that we want who we want.” That’s one way to rationalize the twincest relationship, but IMO, it works better to describe him and Brienne; the twincest has a lot to do with Lannister narcissism and high-born insularity, whereas his bond with Brienne is more a matter of unexpected attraction growing from shared experiences. Even so, Jaime is still a wealthy, handsome, famous knight who could have any woman he wanted (except for that little matter of his Kingsguard vows), and he would undoubtedly raise a lot of eyebrows by choosing that “great, lumbering beast” who is much better at swordplay than dancing.
Based on the oddness of Ellaria’s “we want who we want” speech, in that context, I think Jaime is due to reconnect with Brienne sooner rather than later. Not that he’ll deliberately seek her out; they’ll meet up accidentally while he’s taking care of business for the Throne and she’s protecting Sansa and Theon. Once they find each other, they’ll stay together. Jaime is already invested in the idea of keeping Sansa out of Cersei’s reach; it’s a matter of his honor. Given the chance, he’ll show up for her and commit to her protection. That, and he misses his big wench.
It just occurred to me, seconds after writing the end of this post: Brienne has just become a Kingslayer for real. Well, now she HAS to get back to Jaime, and soon.
One more thing before I go. This is something Cersei said to Tommen recently:
She sounds like Mad King Aerys. When he tried to burn a city to the ground, Jaime slit his throat.
I can’t help but think it’s about to get very ugly, very soon between the twins. Uncle Kevan had better think fast.