Jaime Lannister is no longer the sister-loving, attempted-child-murdering man he was in Season 1. But the men and women in Winterfell that he is now looking to align with haven’t seen the moral shift that he’s undergone over the past few years. It is a given that Jaime will have to work to convince the leaders of the living that he is now a trustworthy ally. But who will be the hardest to sway? Our staff has some ideas:
Kate Knibbs: Jaime is riding up at Winterfell in a tough spot. He’ll have to deliver the news that Cersei lied about marching the Lannister forces to Winterfell, and pretty much everyone in the North thinks he’s a twincest dickhead with no honor. It’ll be important to keep allies like Tyrion and Brienne on his side, for sure—but Bran’s reaction to Jaime is the crucial thing here. And Jaime has a very good reason to worry about Bran, seeing as the last time they met he shoved Bran out of a window and paralyzed him for life.
If Bran tells everyone that Jaime pushed him from the tower, it’s not clear what Jaime could possibly do to stop the Starks from killing him. It’d be difficult to convince even Brienne to spare him! However, if Bran decides that Jaime is really there to help, he might not snitch on his one-handed old friend. If Bran goes out of his way to support Jaime’s presence, his status as the strange little dude who knows secrets might be a powerful tool to help convince the North that Jaime’s worth keeping around. The audience knows what an absolute weirdo Bran is, and that his far-ranging perspective on life might actually make it fairly easy for him to forgive and forget the whole attempted-murder situation. But Jaime doesn’t, and so his worry should definitely be focused on Bran the (almost) Man.
Ben Lindbergh: Jaime’s father and sister both made Arya’s hit list, and if she had known that Jaime had tried to kill Bran, she would have made room for an additional Lannister in her lethal lullaby. If that old crime comes out, Arya will have the motive and the means to not only add Jaime to her litany of targets, but to quickly cross him off. Bran may stare, and Sansa may snarl, but Arya is the Stark who sticks them with the pointy end, as Littlefinger learned.
Jon and Bran—or the oracle that used to be Bran—are both more consumed with repelling the White Walkers than with settling scores, but Arya may be less willing to let bygones be bygones. And if Jaime does die, Arya could borrow his face, which could come in handy in her quest to kill Cersei. Maybe the valonqar only looks like a little brother. Or maybe Maggy meant “little sister” all along.
Katie Baker: If Jaime Lannister were filling out college applications, applying to 9-to-5 jobs, or trying to convince Sansa Stark not to capture or murder him, he’d probably need a good character reference. And for years now, the most surefire person to write down would probably have been his old road-trip buddy, Brienne of Tarth. (Cersei is too unpredictable, and Bronn too busy.) More than just about anyone in Westeros, Brienne has witnessed the good side of the tortured Kingslayer. The two of them even both have swords made from the same dang Valyrian steel — Brienne’s “Oathkeeper” and Jamie’s “Widow’s Wail” both used to be “Ice,” the sword of House Stark! Their longtime borderline-loving collegiality has even caused a contingent of Game of Thrones fans to wonder if Jaime’s previously stated desire to die “in the arms of the woman I love” will mean someone other than Cersei ...
But I digress: recently, this friendzoned relationship soured. The last time Brienne and Jaime saw one another, in King’s Landing, she was shouting “Fuck loyalty!” at him, he was giving her the cold shoulder, and Cersei was glaring in their general direction from not far away. Before this season, when Gwendoline Christie spoke to the New York Times, she described her character’s feelings as “not heartbroken, but incredibly shocked and hurt” by Jaime’s reaction, adding that Brienne had begun to “question the relationship and what it really means to her.” So you have to imagine that Brienne might be a little bit wary, and there’s a good chance Jaime will have to spend some time apologizing to his big tall strong gal. Let’s just hope it’s not his last words!
Daniel Chin: When Jaime arrived at Winterfell in Season 1 alongside King Robert Baratheon and the rest of the royal party, Sansa was just a naive and callous girl that wanted nothing more than to ride away to the beautiful southern kingdom with a handsome prince at her side. In other words: She was a teenager, misguided and unaware of the harsh realities of the world around her. Since then, she’s been through … a lot. She witnessed her father’s beheading, was treated as a plaything by two of the most evil characters to ever appear in the show, and yet she survived it all to become one of the most powerful figures in the North. As Jaime returns to the place where they first met, Sansa is a child no more; she’s the Lady of Winterfell.
Other than Bran (who really isn’t much of a human being anymore, as he would be the first to tell you), Sansa is by far the smartest Stark left. Yes, the Starks generally leave a lot to be desired when it comes to intelligence and common sense, but Sansa has learned from Cersei Lannister and Littlefinger, and is the former wife of Tyrion Lannister, three of the cleverest characters in all of Westeros (although Tyrion is admittedly kinda washed). She knows her parents and brother died from trusting those around them, and her experiences in King’s Landing and the Eyrie only reinforced those tragic lessons. Sansa doesn’t trust the foreign queen that just arrived alongside her lovestruck half-brother and she barely even trusted Arya when she returned to Winterfell last season, so why should she trust the Kingslayer?
Jaime may have gone through as much of a transformation over the course of the show as Sansa, and he even kept his oath to Catelyn Stark by helping Brienne save the Stark daughters, but Sansa has still suffered at the hands of the Lannisters and has no knowledge of Jaime’s reformation. She might not have dragons, nor be a deadly assassin, but Jaime should fear her as much as anyone else for being the most formidable politician the North has to offer. The Northerners are already distrustful of foreigners—let alone Lannisters—and now that the former King in the North has lost the faith and respect of little Lyanna Mormont and the rest of the Northern lords, Sansa’s voice is more powerful than ever.
Drogon and Rhaegal
Charlotte Goddu: Family loyalty is big for the dragons; they love to nuzzle a Targaryen, and, conversely, they love to incinerate a Targaryen’s enemies. It’s true that the dragons are not very well acquainted with Jaime, but it’s also true that they’re not so much known for their careful, considered judgements. It doesn’t take much to get them to send a column of fire at some human they barely know—and Drogon knows Jaime all too well, having already tried to broil him during the Loot Train Attack. Most importantly, Drogon and Rhaegal don’t like people their mom doesn’t like, and, as we saw in the teaser for Episode 2, she doesn’t seem so enamored of Jaime. Of course, it’s most important that Jaime win over Daenerys; she’s the mastermind behind the dragons, after all. But Drogon and Rhaegal have been known to go rogue, and they seem to have an innate ability to identify their kin, so who’s to say they can’t also sniff out an old enemy? The Kingslayer had better make amends for the act that gave him his nickname, or he’ll end up getting roasted on his trip to the North.
Shaker Samman: Let’s start with the elephants in the room: Early in life, Jaime Lannister did two things that are likely to alienate him from everyone of power currently residing in Winterfell. As a member of the Kingsguard, he broke a sworn oath, and killed Aerys Targaryen—Daenerys’s father—earning him the name Kingslayer. A few years later, he pushed Bran Stark out a window in an attempted murder turned maiming; an event that, given the final shots of last week’s episode, will likely come up this Sunday.
Sansa, Arya, and Jon seem more likely to forgive Jaime for his transgression against their brother, considering, well, he’s made it very clear he’s no longer their brother. The Three-Eyed Raven can see all, and will no doubt relay Jaime’s heroic acts to the group, confirming that Jaime abandoned Cersei and acted nobly to Brienne of Tarth, among others, even saving the realm from the Mad King’s desired act of terrorism. That feat of bravery, however, has never gone over well with Dany. She once said she knew why the Mad King earned his name, but more often than not, lately, she’s allowed her rage to get the best of her. She burned Randyll and Dickon Tarly for refusing to bend the knee. She threatened to raze King’s Landing. And she was standoffish with Sansa upon her arrival in the North. I have no doubt Daenerys will eventually come around on Jaime after some persuasion from The Stark Previously Known as Bran, but she’ll probably be the toughest sell on letting the Kingslayer live.
Miles Surrey: It’s unreasonable to expect Jaime getting executed and/or roasted alive upon arriving at Winterfell, if only because of his potential import to certain prophecies. As long as a character is breathing, they’re an ally against the Night King—and it doesn’t hurt having Brienne of Tarth to support the Kingslayer’s integrity, either. But humans are one thing; it’s the beasts of Thrones that may need greater convincing.
Remember Ghost? Well, assuming his appearance this season doesn’t go the way of the Golden Company’s touted war elephants (we feel your pain, Cersei), Ghost should be prowling around Winterfell, not straying too far beyond Jon Snow’s side. Starks and direwolves have a primal, spiritual bond that extends beyond man and his best friend. Like Dany’s maybe-horny dragons, direwolves also appear to be good judges of character, and the last time Jaime met one in the second season, it didn’t go too well for him.
Jaime’s changed a lot since Season 2—while the show’s direwolf contingent has, sadly, diminished quite a bit—and perhaps Ghost will intuitively understand that he is no longer the Starks’ enemy. But I wouldn’t be surprised if Jaime was treated to a snarl or two before Jon says something like, “Heel, Ghost!” This, of course, is provided that Thrones actually gives us some precious Ghost screen time, which has been as likely as Bronn doing the deed at a brothel without getting awkwardly interrupted. In any case: PROTECT GHOST!