We are introduced to Ser Jaime Lannister in Winterfell as the Queen’s brother. And in truth, that was what had remained of his identity. A Lannister of Casterly Rock, a knight of the Kingsguard and a Kingslayer. From the very first episode, we see a man with a smug look on his face and an unusual arrogance in the way he walks, talks and acts. We all hated him. He was just one of those scum Lannister. But that was then. He has come a long way from the bad guy of the show to the man who wouldn’t abandon his army even when the situation demanded so. In the history of television, we often witness ourselves rooting for the bad guy. Ser Jaime Lannister is one of those guys. Simply put, as the most morally complicated character in the show, Jaime Lannister is one man we hate but have grown to empathise with.
Here, we have attempted to map his journey from being a blonde arsehole to a one- handed knight who charged headfirst at a dragon.
1. Jaime Lannister throws Bran Stark, a child, from the top of a tower. And in that single moment, he’s made the villain for all of us.
“The things you do for love.”
Jaime Lannister catches Brandon Stark peeping on him making love to Cersei. And in the first glimpse of cruelty on the show, he throws the 10-year-old off the tower. And at that moment, we just branded him as the bad guy of the series right there.
2. When Jaime meets Ned Stark in the throne room, he tries to justify killing the Mad King. Ned Stark’s face of disgust is all of us at that moment.
“When I watched the Mad king die, I remembered him laughing as your father burned… it felt like justice.”
Jaime speaks to Lord Eddard Stark in the same throne room they had met 17 years ago. Ned Stark had stormed into the room after the success of Robert’s rebellion, only to find Jaime’s sword thrust through the back of the Mad King. Even though, he justifies his actions, we just can’t take his word for it. He just threw a kid off the tower.
3. An insulted yet obedient Jaime hauntingly tells Robert Baratheon about the Mad King’s last words.
“He said the same thing he had been saying for hours… burn them all”.
Jaime speaks about the last moments he spent with the Mad King, Aerys II Targaryen before committing the murder that made him the Kingslayer. The look in his eyes tells us that he has seen some dark days. But naah, he is still a rich incestuous prick.
4. Jaime speaks to his father Tywin, like an obedient son, swallowing his pride at every mistake Tywin ruthlessly points out.
“Tywin Lannister: And you hear them whispering “Kingslayer” behind your back, doesn’t it bother you?
“Of course it bothers me.”
Jaime Lannister runs out of words in front of his father who reminds him that his name and honour doesn’t matter but what matters is the family name. And we feel so happy to see him being dragged to the ground by someone.
5. Jaime lets Ned Stark live after one of his men interferes, showing the ‘honour’ of an oathbreaker.
“It wouldn’t have been clean.”
Jaime spares the life of Ned Stark after one of his men stabs Ned in the leg. Jaime stops the fight knocks his man down and does not finish the job because he wanted to win fair and square. Or that’s what he wanted us to believe. He didn’t kill him out of his ego. Also, Ned Stark was like a brother to the king.
6. He plays the last card he had and proves that he is every bit as Lannister as his father.
“We could end this war right now, boy, save thousands of lives. You fight for the Starks, I fight for the Lannisters. Swords or lances, teeth, nails – choose your weapons, and let’s end this here and now. “
After his capture at the battle of the Whispering Wood, Jaime looks at Robb Stark challenges him to single combat, knowing that he was a better swordsman and Robb was a just a boy. Still a douche, Jaime tries to bargain his way out of the situation. We actually feel happy that the Starks finally got to him.
7. His conversation with Catelyn Stark about being an honourless knight reflects his cynicism about idealism and it reveals a layer to the Kingslayer we’ve never seen before.
“So many vows. They make you swear and swear. Defend the King, obey the King, obey your father, protect the innocent, defend the weak. But what if your father despises the King? What if the King massacres the innocent?”
Jaime speaks with Catelyn Stark about vows, honour and her late husband Ned. And while she despises him with all she has, Jaime drops the truth bomb on her about the nastiness involved in being an honest man. We still don’t like him but damn boy, he was right.
8. When he’s captured and being escorted by Locke, Jaime Lannister’s predicament doesn’t evoke much sympathy. But then Locke cuts his hand off, and everything changes.
“Have you got something to say? Careful. You don’t want to say the wrong thing. You’re nothing without your daddy, and your daddy ain’t here. Never forget that. Here, this should help you remember.”
Jaime overplays his position as the heir to Casterly Rock and Roose Bolton’s henchman, Locke, chops off his sword hand. He winces in agony as he realises, the Kingslayer cannot slay a pigeon anymore. At this point, he has gone through hell and for a while now. And now with the hand being cut off, he just becomes someone you can sympathise with.
9. Beaten, bruised and disfigured for a year and all he still cares about is the woman he loves.
Jaime prepares for his return to King’s Landing with one hand hanging around his neck and all he asks is about Cersei.
“You haven’t heard? Stannis Baratheon laid siege to King’s Landing, sailed into Blackwater Bay, stormed the gates with thousands of men. And your sister…..is alive and well. “
And Jaime Lannister sinks to his knees with relief and delirium. We have to give it to him. We gotta respect the man for everything he has gone through at this point and oddly enough, even news of Cersei’s good health makes us happy for him.
10. Sitting in a bath, with Brienne, this is the scene that gets everyone on his side. Jaime Lannister at his lowest and you can’t help but feel for him.
Brienne of Tarth: Help! The Kingslayer…
Jaime Lannister: Jaime! My name is Jaime.
Butt naked in a tub with Brienne, he confesses to the one murder that determined the fate of the rest of his life. And when he faints after the confession, Brienne holds him and asks for help. This is it! This is the mighty Jaime Lannister at his lowest and we cannot help but empathise with this man. We don’t just like him, we pity him and feel sorry for everything he has gone through.
11. His time with Brienne has finally set him free for the first time in years.
Qyburn: There will be pain.
Jaime: I will scream.
Qyburn: A great deal of pain.
Jaime: I will scream very loudly.
Qyburn offers The Milk of the Poppy as a sedative before he tries to disinfect his chopped off hand. Jaime stops him. We realise, this is the beginning of his redemption. We have somehow managed to forget that he had once attempted to murder a child.
12. Jaime has somewhat come to terms with what he has done.
Qyburn: How many men have you killed, my lord?
Jaime: Countless has a nice ring to it.
Qyburn: And how many lives have you saved?
Jaime: Half a million. The population of King’s Landing.
He willfully accepts that he had saved the entire city from his King’s madness when he answers Qyburn’s question about how many people has he saved. At this point, we are grateful for what he did to the Mad King and there a moment of grudging respect for the man.
13. His overwhelming emotions on seeing Cersei after an eternity choke the words out of him.
He stands right outside her chambers, the one woman he has always loved. He is seeing her after a long and hard year. With a bit of relief and a touch of shame she speaks in a shallow voice. This is where it gets weird. You have started to somehow root for the incestous couple that is Jaime-Cersei.
14. Jaime’s attempt to reconcile with his daughter only goes on to prove his willingness to take responsibility.
“We do not choose the ones we love.”
Jaime speaks with his niece Myrcella, trying to explain his relationship with her mother and him being her father. We have never seen Jaime be this nice to anyone else but Tyrion. We see him owning up what he has done and his daughter accepts him. Strange, but we feel happy for the man. He is not as evil as Cersei.
16. Myrcella’s death broke something in an already broken man.
She died in his arms, right after she had accepted him as his father. And just when we thought, Jaime was finally getting the happiness he deserved, shit goes down and Myrcella is poisoned.
17. His threat to the High Sparrow at the funeral of his son reveals a bit of the old Jaime we knew.
“The gods won’t mind. They’ve spilt more blood than all of us combined. “
When he learns about Cersei’s Walk of Shame in his absence by the hands of the High Sparrow, Jaime once again shows his disregard for anything holy. This is that part of the story where we have somehow even sympathised with Cersei, we hate the High Sparrow for being a religious prick and we so hoped, Jaime cuts him down.
18. Push him too far and he won’t forget to remind you that he is a Lannister.
“I’ll send for your baby boy, and I’ll launch him into Riverrun with a catapult…Your son doesn’t matter to me. The people in the castle don’t matter to me. Only Cersei.”
Jaime threatens Edmure with the murder of his child and every Tully that ever lived, to open the gates of Riverrun. And he is back. Just when we thought, he had gone too soft for his own good, he reminds us that he is still the rich and the powerful.
19. Even though he is directly responsible for the Brynden Tully’s death, he still regrets the loss of a man he respected.
“They don’t fear the Frey though. They fear the Lannisters.”
Jaime stops Walder Frey from mocking the death of Brynden Tully and shows him his true place on the food chain. We have all hated Walder Frey since the Red Wedding and Jaime telling him where he belongs was kind of the starter to Arya’s pie dessert.
20. Jaime’s return to King’s Landing is welcomed with Cersei bombing the Sept of Baelor and he looks pissed.
“I now proclaim Cersei of House Lannister, first of her name, Queen of the Andals and the First Men, Protectors of the Seven Kingdoms. Long may she reign!”
And then he returns to see the love of his life do the one thing he feared the most, Cersei using wildfire for an act of domestic terrorism. His last child is dead and Cersei is the queen. At this point, we are completely rooting for this man and we can’t believe it ourselves. We loved what Cersei did but we want him to kill her anyway.
21. He is loyal to his soldiers and fights with them till the end.
“I will not abandon my army.”
When Daenerys Targaryen attacks the Lannister army with a horde of the Dothraki and rains Dragonfire on them, Jaime refuses to run back and abandon his army. He hopes to win the war with a single thrust of his spear. We are conflicted at this point. We don’t want the dragon to die and we are afraid for. Jaime, when he charges his horse at a flaming dragon like a madman.
Ser Jaime Lannister is the one person in the entire series, we just hate to love. From a sister loving knight who threw a boy from a tower to the one who saved an entire city, Jaime has come a long way and is by far the most complicated character on the show. So what now? How did he manage to appear drowning in what should have been knee-deep water and what does the future hold for him? Will his evolution continue till he fulfils the prophecy to become the Valonqar?