WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for that latest episode of Game of Thrones, "The Bells," which aired Sunday on HBO.
Jaime Lannister has been one of Game of Thrones' most polarizing characters throughout its eight-season run. Fans hated him for pushing Bran out the window and crippling him in Season 1, but as the Three-Eyed Raven would go on to tell the Kingslayer, this was all part of their journey to save the Seven Kingdoms.
As the show progressed, though, Jaime was taken prisoner and used in a failed hostage negotiation to get Sansa and Arya back from King's Landing, and his adventures with Brienne finally showed us there was still a sliver of the hero, the Lannister Lion, lingering beneath his armor. Sadly, with Jaime's story now brought full circle upon dying with Cersei at King's Landing, the show sadly squandered what could have been a triumphant finale for him.
Season 8 built Jaime up as virtuous, a man ready to "fight for the living" with Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen's alliance, indicating he had left his past behind, namely his love for the tyrannical Cersei. All he's seen from her is bloodshed, death and, from her union with Euron, betrayal. It's this greed and selfish attitude, all meant to consolidate power and hold onto the Iron Throne, that we believed guided Jaime to buy into Tyrion's philosophy about Jon, Dany and a vision of peace for Westeros.
When we finally witnessed Jaime and Brienne consummating their burgeoning love for each other, we thought this was his redemption coming full circle. After all, his apology to Bran more or less confirmed he was indeed a new man, ready to rectify his family's bloody legacy.
Still, when he abandoned Brienne, leaving her in tears, we gave him the benefit of the doubt. After taking her virginity and making it seem like he was just as in love with her, to go back to Cersei was very disrespectful and, quite frankly, nonsense, as it made her knighting and overall role with him seem like a mere gimmick.
However, many fans posited he broke Brienne's heart so she could disconnect from him and wouln't be tempted to follow him or dissuade Jaime from going to the capital, not because he wanted to reunite with Cersei, but because he was going to follow through on the Valonqar prophecy and actually kill her. Sadly, "The Bells" doesn't come near this and has them both dying in each other's embrace, instead with his hands around her neck comforting her, professing an undying love.
This walks back the steps Jaime made because, time and time again, he's seen Cersei slaughter innocents, and even go after him and Tyrion by hiring Bronn. What's more is, in the past, Jaime admitted that he was arrogant, but that he always did try to do the right thing and he actually cared about the people of King's Landing, ergo why he stabbed the Mad King Aerys in the back.
In last Sunday's episode, though, he uncharacteristically tells his brother he didn't really care for them, innocent or not. It feels as if the showrunners, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, lost the plot, forgot about his evolution over the years, opting to force Jaime into making it known he loved Cersei no matter what.
The thing is, killing her wouldn't have desecrated their love. He could still have been in love with her upon the assassination. In fact, he didn't even have to kill her, simply fighting against King's Landing and his family's regime would have done the trick. But the fact Jaime went cowering, powering through Euron, to get to her paints a picture of a weak sheep more than a redeemed lion.
He ran back, tail tucked firmly between his leg, for a woman whose actions repeatedly killed their own kids, too. Honestly, he ends up in the same boat as Cersei and Tywin -- selfish, manipulative and totally not caring about the greater good.
Ultimately, the finale had a chance to really have Jaime stand up to the woman who, for all intents and purposes, acted as a Mad Queen before Dany did. She left them to fight the Night King and die, spitting on Jaime's love for her and the free world, yet their final gasping moments of fear, dying the same way they came into this world, together, is supposed to emotionally resonate with us hopeless romantics.
No, it doesn't. It falls flat, fashions the Kingslayer as a regressive failure and, instead of being a dark poetic tragedy, the scene of King's Landing collapsing on their heads reiterates that Jaime Lannister got just what he deserved in his rocky finale.
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.