The ending of Game of Thrones left what seems like the majority of fans dissatisfied, especially with how many of the character arcs wrapped up. I already wrote about why I loved the final season on SiftPop, but I still have more to say when it comes to specific characters. This series will look into why many, if not all, of these arcs worked so well for me, starting with Jamie Lannister. Full spoilers and adult content will be discussed.
Who would have thought after the first episode of Game of Thrones that the guy performing incest with his twin sister, who acted like a prideful jerk, and who pushed a young kid out of the highest tower in Winterfell would have fans upset at his death? The answer is, probably no one (except those who had already read the books). Based on that first episode alone, there was nothing redeemable about Jamie Lannister.
As the series went on, though, it became apparent that there was a lot more to this character than we may have realized. He, like so many other characters, was complicated. After stabbing the king in the back, he was given the title of Kingslayer. He was looked at as dishonorable and arrogant, and he always had this nasty little rumor attached to him.
But it wasn’t until he was stripped of the source of his pride that things started to turn in the mind of fans. Losing his sword hand put him in a position where he had nothing to fall back on. We learned his true motivation behind killing the king. It wasn’t selfishness perhaps, but the desire to save the people of King’s Landing. But he couldn’t defend himself because it wasn’t the honorable thing to do.
It was at this point that we started to feel some sympathy for this character. Yes, he was still in love with his twin sister and was a murderer, but there was a hint of remorse for his actions that made him a sympathetic character.
So for the next few seasons, Jamie slowly became a fan favorite. But could this have been due to the fact that he was good by comparison? Everyone loved Tyrion partly because he was the good Lannister (putting aside the fact that he killed his father and the woman he was in love with). Now, Jamie was starting to move towards the Tyrion end of the Lannister spectrum. He wasn’t as malicious, hateful, and power hungry as Cersei. He wasn’t as demeaning and rotten as Tywin. And he certainly wasn’t as pure evil as Joffrey. In fact, he recognized those faults in his family and tried not to be that way. As Tyrion mentioned the last time the two of them spoke, Jamie was his only friend – he was the only one that didn’t see him as a monster.
But does that redeem all of the hateful acts he performed because he was in love with his sister? No. He said himself how hateful he was, and listed all of the awful things he did just to get back to Cersei. When he went to Winterfell to fight for the living, it seemed like he had finally turned his back on her. As it turns out, though, he just saw the dead as an actual threat and realized the need to defeat them. He wasn’t over Cersei; he just didn’t want to die.
So when he had the chance to go back to her, Jamie took it, disappointing Brienne and countless fans. It turns out that he wasn’t an antihero after all. He was a tragic character that could never get past this one thorn in his flesh. No matter how hard he tried, no matter how certain he was that she was bad for him, he had an addiction that he just couldn’t break.
This isn’t the kind of ending that we wanted to see for a character like him. It would have been great for this kind of character to be redeemed and abandon the person he used to be. That just wasn’t the ending in store for Jamie Lannister, the most tragic character in the realm.