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Is Jaime Going to King’s Landing to Kill Cersei, Or to Save Her?

Warning: This article is dark and full of Game of Thrones season 8 spoilers.

Many of us thought that Brienne of Tarth’s storyline would end in the Battle of Winterfell — and how wrong we were. Last night, Ser Brienne and Jaime Lannister finally acted on all that built-up sexual tension, and announced their plans to stay in the north together. But Jaime doesn’t stick with that plan for long, and leaves for King’s Landing after delivering an impassioned speech about all the horrible things he’s done for Cersei over the years. While Brienne seemed to assume the worst — that Jaime was returning out of love for his sister — fans weren’t so sure. Is Jaime going to King’s Landing to save Cersei, or to kill her?

Speaking to Vanity Fair last summer, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau shed some light on what may be Jaime’s reasoning in this moment. Referencing his “I don’t love you anymore” moment to Cersei in season 7, he says the following: “That’s, of course, said in a moment of passion. Who knows if it’s true? […] You can be so angry that for a second in your passion and anger you can go, ‘Oh, fuck this.’ Of course, three seconds later, you go, ‘No, no, no. What am I doing? What am I thinking?’ […] As a setup for the season we’re shooting now, it was just amazing.”

Coster-Waldau also reminds us that, at that point in Jaime’s story, he’s come home and found out his son has died by suicide. So, Jaime is grappling with more than just his relationship with Cersei — and the full force of the anger he expresses upon leaving King’s Landing may not just be intended for Cersei. Then again, he knows Cersei well enough to know she’s not the forgiving sort. So, whether or not he meant the full weight of what he said, how likely is it that he would ride back now and try to patch things up?

Of course, we can’t discount the years of history that Jaime and Cersei have together, up to and including what he tells Brienne as he leaves. His final words — “she’s hateful, and so am I” — could be taken two ways. Either he intends to kill her, to atone for the crimes he’s committed in service of her, or he intends to return to her side, in recognition of the fact that only she understands his true nature. As Tyrion tells Jaime in episode 2, Cersei “never fooled you. You knew exactly who she was, and you loved her anyway.” If Jaime is going to King’s Landing to kill her, it will be because he’s made a profound realization that he no longer wants to be hateful like his sister. But given the agony on his face as he left, we truly can’t know for sure which decision he’s made.

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