A Complete Timeline Of Jaime Trying To Redeem Himself, Then Throwing It All Away
Characters underdoing massive changes through challenging arcs is kind of Game of Thrones’ thing—but no character has undergone more growth in the series’ eight seasons than Jaime Lannister. The Kingslayer starts his plotline by throwing a child out of a window for discovering his incestuous relationship, and he ends up being a fan favorite and one of Westeros’ few feminist icons.
Jaime’s redemption doesn’t come in a single moment or scene. Instead, it happens piece-by-piece over several seasons, and it features plenty of backslides. This all serves to make Jaime’s arc both more meaningful and more realistic—and the sort of person anyone could relate to, minus the golden hand. Jaime’s storyline represented the very best of Game of Thrones, and proof that no character is ever truly irredeemable. However, they are capable of relapse, as Jaime proves in a disappointing 180 in the final two episodes,
Jaime Lannister’s Path To Redemption Starts With Brienne Of Tarth
When: Season 3, episode 3, “Walk of Punishment”
It should could as no surprise that Jaime Lannister’s path to redemption starts shortly after he meets Brienne of Tarth. She is the one who convinces Catelyn Stark to free Jaime and spare his life in Season 3, and she is the one who offers to escort him back to King’s Landing. It’s on that trip that Jaime’s character development truly begins.
After the duo are captured by Locke and his men—and it looks like they intend on sexually assaulting Brienne—Jaime makes up a lie about Brienne’s father owning a litany of sapphire mines. With his quick thinking, he convinces the men that it would be in their best interest to leave Brienne unharmed. He also places himself at the center of Locke’s attention. Shortly thereafter, Locke cuts off Jaime’s sword-hand.
Jaime Shows Vulnerability When He Opens Up To Brienne In The Baths
When: Season 3, episode 5, “Kissed by Fire”
Having been transferred into the captivity of Roose Bolton at Harrenhal, Jaime and Brienne share one of the most iconic scenes in all of Game of Thrones—the infamous bathtub confession. While the sexual tension of the scene has been hotly debated by fans, there’s no debating that the conversation changes how Brienne—and viewers of the show—views Jaime moving forward.
As they share an intimate moment, Jaime opens up to Brienne and tells her the real reason he killed King Aerys Targaryen. The origin of his Kingslayer moniker isn’t as cowardly as the rest of Westeros believes, it’s downright heroic.
Tell me, if your precious Renly commanded you to kill your own father and stand by while thousands of men, women, and children burned alive, would you have done it? Would you have kept your oath then? First, I killed the pyromancer. And then when the king turned to flee, I drove my sword into his back. ‘Burn them all,’ he kept saying. ‘Burn them all.’
Jaime Makes An Oath To Brienne That He Will Have The Starks Returned Safely
When: Season 3, episode 7, “The Bear and the Maiden Fair”
The initial plan is for Jaime Lannister to return to King’s Landing while Brienne remains imprisoned at Harrenhal, and this leads to the pair parting ways for the first time after having bonded on the road.
Previously, when Jaime swore to Catelyn Stark that he would have her daughters returned safety, he didn’t exactly intend on following through. However, this time he makes the same oath to Brienne of Tarth, while simultaneously recognizing that he owes Brienne a huge debt for saving him—and this time it seems like he fully intends to keep that oath.
He Risks His Life To Save Brienne
When: Season 3, episode 7, “The Bear and the Maiden Fair”
Upon leaving Brienne at Harrenhal, Jaime believes that his lie about her father’s sapphires will keep her safe—but it isn’t long before his escort to King’s Landing informs him that Locke has discovered the truth and intends to kill Brienne.
Jaime convinces his captors to bring him back to Harrenhal, where he finds Locke’s men assembled around a bearpit—and Brienne inside it, fending off a large grizzly with a wooden sword. Without missing a beat, Jaime pulls a “Ron Burgundy” and leaps into the bearpit unarmed—an act that causes Bolton’s men to pull the plug on the whole event. Jaime then demands that Brienne accompany him to King’s Landing after all, but not before teasing Locke with one last one-liner:
Sorry about the sapphires.
He Defies Cersei To Protect Sansa, And Gives Oathkeeper To Brienne
When: Season 4, episode 4, “Oathkeeper”
Jaime’s oath to return Sansa and Arya Stark to safety comes into conflict with his familial duties in the wake of Joffrey’s assassination. Jaime’s sister Cersei orders him to hunt down and kill Sansa, the supposed accomplice of their brother Tyrion, who Cersei erroneously believes is responsible for the murder.
Jaime doesn’t outright defy Cersei to her face, but he does task Brienne of Tarth with a mission to find Sansa and bring her somewhere safe. To demonstrate his commitment to keeping his word, he gifts Brienne with a new suit of armor and a Valyrian steel sword, appropriately dubbed Oathkeeper. He also gives her a squire, Podrick Payne—an individual who will soon prove integral to Brienne’s character arc.
Jaime Tries To Save Tyrion From Being Executed
When: Season 4, episode 6, “The Laws of Gods and Men”
Few could forget the drama of Tyrion Lannister’s trial for the murder of his nephew, Joffrey Baratheon—especially after its rage-filled conclusion. However, many fail to remember that midway through the trial, Jaime cuts a deal to save his brother, and it was one that would mean horrible consequences for Jaime if it came to pass.
Jaime approaches his father Tywin and tells him that he will give up his role in the Kingsguard—acquiescing to Tywin’s request for Jaime to return to Casterly Rock and serve as the Lannister heir. In return, he asks that Tyrion’s life be spared—and Tywin readily agrees, noting that Tyrion will be declared guilty and join the Night’s Watch. Unfortunately, Tyrion doesn’t play along—losing his temper and demanding a trial-by-combat. Jaime’s self-sacrifice thus never comes to pass—but it’s still an incredible gesture of his brotherly affection.