Ah, Jaime Lannister. Longtime kingslayer, first-time queen betrayer.
Turns out that most of the biggest political maneuvers in Game of Thrones Season 7 finale were a farce. For all her apparent fear of the wight from beyond the Wall and waffling over whether or not to join the Great War, Cersei was full of it the whole dang time.
That was one of the bombshell revelations from the episode’s concluding sprint across Westeros: Cersei still gonna Cersei. She’s been a vile, duplicitous monster for seven straight seasons and, hey… she’s still got it!
Although she agreed to stand beside Dany, Jon, and their assembled forces to fight in the Great War, Cersei never intended to do anything of the sort. Instead, she sent punk rock pirate boytoy Euron Greyjoy off on a secret mission to retrieve the Golden Company mercenaries: 20,000 warriors — with elephants — who can defeat dragons, I guess?
It’s not a good plan, but it’s an on-brand plan for Cersei, at least. There’s just one problem: Jaime’s pesky good heart.
Her Lannister twin wants no part of any double-cross, and he says as much. There’s a moment where it looks like the Mountain is going to show him what disobedience to the queen gets you, but it weirdly passes.
Let me stress that before we go any further: it really looked like Cersei gave the Mountain a “murder my brother right now, please” go-ahead. The Mountain clearly thought so. A range of emotion played across Jaime’s face before he hardened and spat “I don’t believe you” at a sister who seemed ready to murder him.
And he stalked off.
It’s a jarring moment that we’ll hopefully have more clarity on when Season 8 kicks off in 2018. Maybe Qyburn’s reanimation skills have their limits and the Mountain is just a useless lump of mobile-but-dead flesh. Who knows?
Besides, there are bigger takeaways from this scene.
Jaime might not have an army anymore, but he does have Cersei’s plan in his head. And since he wasn’t crushed by a Mountain, he can share that information with his would-be allies in the snowy north, which is where he appeared to be headed when we saw him last.
It’s not nearly that simple, however. Cersei and Jaime were, at one point, the hottest incestuous couple in Westeros. Cersei is now pregnant with their child, and Jaime is almost certainly turning on his sister — at least in part — with the hope of keeping his unborn child safe from the walking dead.
All of which is to say: there are likely limits on Jaime’s betrayal. He’s not a Littlefinger, the sort that plots and schemes out of a raw lust for power. No, Jaime is driven by a much more base, unrestrained emotion: love.
He loves his sister-mistress. He loves the memory of the bizarro family they made together. When Jaime wells up as the Mountain’s sword slips out of its scabbard, his face is that of a lover betrayed.
I don’t think even this betrayal will snuff out Jaime’s forbidden love. He’s motivated to keep the Seven Kingdoms safe because his last, remaining child and baby mama-sister are going to live there.
There might be trouble for Jaime in the north, however. Jon and Dany would never spot his hidden motivations without help, but Tyrion knows Jaime’s tawdry secret, and he knows just as well that Cersei is pregnant.
There’s also the small matter of an undead army on the march. Dany and Jon might not know just yet how rapidly things have accelerated in the Great War, but they will. It’s hard to worry over a mercenary army at your back when you’ve got 100,000 undead charging directly at you.
Back to Jaime. He’s turned his back on Cersei and headed north, presumably to dish on her big, traitorous plan. He owes his sister for her betrayal and he owes his assorted enemies in the north for their attacks on his family.
We know a Lannister always pays his debts. Which will Jaime seek a zero balance on first?