WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Game of Thrones Season 8 episode "The Bells," which premiered Sunday on HBO.
The Lannisters have been an influential house in Westeros for centuries. As a family, they were known for their wealth, power and golden hair. The Lannister house is a proud house, like the lion that stands on their coat of arms. On the whole, their reputation and proximity to power was important to them. Tywin Lannister, who served as the Mad King’s hand, was so concerned with his family’s legacy that he failed to see his children committing sins right under his roof.
Jaime and Cersei Lannister were not only brother and sister, but they were twins. Twins have an indescribable bond, but Jaime and Cersei’s bond was so intimate that they became romantically entangled. They preferred to be with no one else, though they would go through the motions to keep their secret. They have both done terrible things: Cersei for power and Jaime for love of Cersei.
Jaime and Cersei came into the world together and were introduced as characters together. Now, in “The Bells,” they have died together, and we’re left with the question: Did it matter?
Though they were separated for the majority of this season, Jaime and Cersei reunited symbolically over the crumbling map of Westeros. It was over this map that Jaime had previously tried to talk Cersei into honoring her word and marching to help the North defeat the Night King. When she refused, he left for Winterfell on his own.
In Winterfell, Jaime began to redeem himself. He apologized to Bran, fought to defend the North (and humanity) from the Night King and explored intimacy with Brienne. This was, unfortunately, short-lived. When Jaime hears Cersei killed a dragon, he knows that Daenerys will be gunning for her even harder, so he leaves for King’s Landing.
Killing his sister wouldn’t have been a great redemption plot either -- Jaime had already walked away from Cersei and that could have been it if he had only stayed away. Jaime’s only reason for returning to King’s Landing is because he felt the pull towards her. He needed to be there for the end.
In Season 5, Jaime told Bronn that he wishes to die in the arms of the woman he loves, and Jaime’s wish is fulfilled. He has always been tied to Cersei regardless of how far he travels. As the castle falls down around them, he comforts Cersei in their last moments with “nothing else matters.” This is a callback to when Jaime comforts Cersei after Myrcella’s murder: It’s the us versus them mentality that they’ve always had.
Jaime struggled with being known as the Kingslayer. He killed the Mad King because Aerys was plotting to use wildfire to burn King’s Landing, dooming thousands of innocents. Unfortunately, what he worked to prevent back then comes to pass through another Targaryen, as Daenerys sets King’s Landing on fire. In the end, his efforts didn’t matter.
The fact that Cersei dies as the kingdom she tried to build for herself, and her unborn child, falls around her is poetic. Cersei has been a complex character throughout the series, one that we’ve loved to hate yet couldn’t help but feel some sympathy for. She has lost all of her children, including the one that never got the chance to be born. Her final thoughts are about their unborn child, as she cries, “I want our baby to live.” Even though she did so much for her children -- schemed to keep them in power, for example -- it didn’t stop their deaths. Her efforts didn’t matter either.
Though there could have been more exciting ways for them to die, such as the popular theory that Arya would use Jaime’s face to kill the queen, what mattered to them is they died together. For Jaime and Cersei, nothing ever mattered more than being together.
House Lannister is nearly extinguished now. Tyrion is the only surviving member of the once great house. Tyrion felt a responsibility to free Jaime and let him go to Cersei because Jaime was the only one who made his childhood bearable. In putting his family above his queen, Tyrion shows that he is a Lannister despite his father’s constant efforts to disown him. And with Daenerys fully embracing being a tyrant, Tyrion could die once she finds out he freed his brother.
Airing Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO, Game of Thrones stars Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Jaime Lannister, Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister, Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen, Sophie Turner as Sansa Stark, Maisie Williams as Arya Stark and Kit Harington as Jon Snow.