The season 7 finale brought with itself the closure to one of the constant story arc in the series till now. Cersei and Jaime Lannister, together, surviving all odds against their troubled incestuous relationship, fighting against all and believing in the motto, “Fuck everyone who isn’t us.. we’re the only ones that matter in this world…”
That inflection point, with Jaime finally diverging from his twin sister’s path reminded me of this awesome PoV video created after episode 4, ending with his possible demise and the thrill of people when he survived what could have been his watery grave.
After the episode, the reason everyone was so invested in Jaime and in some sense, assured that this was not his end was because of the complex narrative plot developed over the seasons, a classic redemption arc slowly building up to this moment, where all root for the antihero…
Fantasy as a genre has often struggled with one dimensional and dry characters, pure good or pure evil. Complexity of a character, a protagonist or antagonist, is often missed in the long run…
Step in, George R. R. Martin.
The problem of a vanilla protagonist was solved skillfully by GRRM, who recognized very early that his skills were better used in the creation of memorable characters.. deeply interesting, yet deeply flawed. And so, we were introduced to the character of Jaime Lannister, one of the protagonists in the story, an esteemed member of the Kingsguard, responsible for the death of a king, the scion of the most powerful family in the kingdom and brother to the queen.
The story begins with a deeply disturbing scene where morality is questioned, and then quite literally thrown off a window ledge !!
Eddard Stark, the man we are initially led to believe is the main protagonist of the series, thinks very little of him, and the opinion of the audience typically reflects that of Ned. Jaime Lannister was a man who stood idly by as the Mad King killed Brandon and Rickard Stark, and GRRM ensured that we are not supposed to like him very much.
After that, ambushing Ned in King’s Landing cemented Jaime’s villainous role, for anyone still partial to his classical good looks !!
Jaime Lannister becomes a POV character in ASOS, and this is where most people agree that his redemption arc begins. His sword hand, the hand that made him a (in)famous warrior is brutally removed. Right around here is when peoples’ opinion of him starts to change. He has his famous bath scene, saves Brienne from a bear.
While the loss of his sword hand feels like the loss of identity for Jaime, it also means that he has to discover what he is without that hand.
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.
Still, his past as a vile person has not exactly gone away. First of all, he is still treated as an honorless kingslayer, which puts into his mind that that is the persona he has to embrace. His blind love for Cersei doesn’t fade away at all.
He is still the same Jaime Lannister, only now we know more about him and he about himself…
Even after all that, Jaime is a character that we root for because we ‘relate’ to him. He’s got good in his heart. Even if he doesn’t always use it, and people hope that it wins out in the end much as we’d hope the same to be true for ourselves.
There’s no denying that characters on Game of Thrones often have to answer for what they’ve done, and Jaime is certainly no exception. Getting his hand cut off was enough to nearly break him, if not physically then emotionally. He’s been captured, injured, and tortured. He’s had to quietly watch from afar as his children were raised by a drunk king. He watched two out of his three children die, including the seemingly good and innocent Myrcella who he held in his arms as she took her last breath. In doing so, he’s triggered another normal human response: empathy
And because Cersei has done some absolutely unforgivable things, as Olenna Tyrell so wisely pointed out, it becomes even easier to be empathetic towards the literal lesser of two evils…
With Jaime, he is not thirsting for power and control. He is fueled by only one thing and that is love. We’re all such romantics at heart. We just want these characters to find true love, and we know Cersei is no good for him… We’ve seen a human side of him that no one else has seen, so it’s like we have a personal relationship with him, like we have insight to Jaime that no one else knows, which is why we want him to come out of this and be saved.
More than anything, for all of his powers and societal standing, Jaime Lannister is human. As Jaime himself said to Catelyn during one of their soulful conversations, “There are no men like me. Only me.”
And that’s the power of narrative for you, ladies and gentleman…