We few, we unhappy few, we band of brothers and sisters — and of late, we Jaime Lannister fans — awake Monday morning after fitful dreams, or nightmares, wondering if what we saw on “Game of Thrones” on Sunday amounts to exactly what we assume we saw: Jaime — Nikolaj Coster-Waldau — is dead.
Or is he?
Along with the Lannister army, the internet burned Sunday night wondering, wondering . . . could he be gone? Must he be? Should he be?
Let’s settle this once and for all: We don’t know.
In an extraordinary “Game of Thrones” episode — and just to get in the spirit of it all, one of the most extraordinary episodes of television since last week’s “GoT” — Jaime and his army faced Daenerys’ (Emilia Clarke) storming army — and of more urgent note, her dragon Drogon, which incinerated the Lannister army, or most of it.
In the closing seconds, Bron (Jerome Flynn) deployed Qyburn’s (Anton Lesser) weapon, downed the dragon and Dany with it. The flailing dragon appeared vulnerable — or as much as a dragon can be — then Jaime found a spear to end its misery. Except the misery was about to be Jaime’s . . .
But you know all this, of course. You’ve seen the show, which now appears determined to establish that if you miss an episode, you miss an important part of life. Don’t bother joining the water cooler Monday morning if you didn’t watch Sunday night’s episode. Jaime is — or is not — dead. Damn it, you’d better have an opinion on this.
Here’s mine: We still don’t know, but let’s admit that we probably do.
“Game of Thrones” was never about preserving sacred cows, and there’s certainly nothing sacred about Jaime. Others have died before him, you will note. Jaime’s destiny was not to die in bed or a hot tub. Death by dragon seems like a reasonably interesting and noble way to shuffle the mortal coil.
Jaime is most certainly dead.
“GoT” could play the old TV game — and to a certain extent played exactly that with the revival of Jon Snow (Kit Harington) early last season. But that card can be played only once; we are on to it. Fool us once . . .
So let’s make an assumption that one of two surviving Lannister brothers has died. What does this mean going forward?
Foremost, Cersei (Lena Headey) now finds herself alone, completely and utterly alone. She must summon whatever inner strength she has, whatever fortitude, to overcome this loss after all the other losses. Then she must think about Dany and (let’s also assume) her remaining two dragons. This can either diminish Cersei or in some strange way ennoble her.
On that point, Sunday’s “GoT” went to considerable lengths to create a sort of moral equivalency between Cersei (hardly heard from Sunday night) and Dany. The show has long played with the idea that Cersei was and is the evil queen, while Dany is her saintly counterpart.
But “GoT” — and its father, George R.R. Martin — has little interest in fulfilling our expectations or assumptions. Instead, this episode forced us to realize that Cersei and Daenerys are identical twins: ambitious, ruthless rulers who will use whatever tool is at their disposal to destroy whatever is in their way.
Beyond the battle scene — without equivalent in television history, needless to say — and the final shot of Jaime floating lifeless, or possibly lifeless, beneath the water surface, we are all left with one sober conclusion: There is no ultimate “good” outcome in “Game of Thrones,” no “good” hero or heroine, no “good” person for that matter.
And Jaime certainly was not “good” in any conventional sense, but instead complicated, intelligent, searching, and capable of remorse.
It’s not about “good” at all. It’s about something far more subtle, perhaps more disturbing. “Game of Thrones” will end in a way none of us expect.
That’s fine. We expect nothing less.