Jaime Lannister’s love for and loyalty to his twin sister, Cersei, has been the source of almost all of his joy and sorrow throughout Game of Thrones’ eight-season run. So I’m convinced that, with the show’s penultimate episode on the horizon and Jaime returning to King’s Landing after bonding with his former enemies, he’ll be emboldened and ready to help take Cersei down once and for all. Valonqar Prophecy or not, Jaime has the strongest reasons to kill Cersei, and he’s one of the few characters who could get close enough to do it.
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Throughout the course of the show, the relationship between these sibling has evolved from sordid and united in their scheming into something more complex. The deaths of their children, Cersei’s rise to the Iron Throne, Jaime coming to term with his sister’s megalomania and realizing he can survive with her — these are just a handful of ways the relationship between the Lannister twins has slowly crumbled over the course of Seasons 7 and 8.
Given their history, Jaime is in a pole position to kill her, which would open up a path for Daenerys (or anyone at this point, really) to seize control. The Kingslayer is still operating under the belief that Cersei’s pregnant with his child. If he finds out that Euron, a man Jaime’s shown disdain for in the past, is operating under the same belief and is now a romantic threat or, worse, Cersei lied about the pregnancy as a way to keep Jaime reeled in, he could lose it. This might cause Jaime to do something emotionally driven in the heat of the moment, like putting his hands around Cersei’s neck and strangling her.
Alternately, Jaime’s journey back to King’s Landing from Winterfell is a long one, and that gives a man time to think. Jaime’s final speech to Brienne highlighted one ugly truth: Jaime knows Cersei is hateful, and he is hateful, too. That bond is an awful one, but it’s still strong enough to pull Jaime back to Cersei even when he’s presented with the option of staying in Winterfell and starting fresh with Brienne.
Jaime’s journey back to King’s Landing will likely allow him to stew on the hateful ties that bind. It could leave him with a resolve to destroy it in any way possible so that he might actually enjoy the rest of his life. There is room in the Game of Thrones narrative for Jaime to kill Cersei from this more psychologically rich point (compared to, say, killing her for romantic betrayal). Jaime killing Cersei from this point of view would not only be a fitting end to the twins’ relationship but also a satisfying bit of comeuppance for Cersei.
An alternate interpretation of Jaime’s final speech to Brienne, which hinges on him telling her all the terrible things he did for Cersei, could be read as an admission of his ongoing love for her. You could argue that, at the end of the day, Jaime is too weak to ever stand up to Cersei, and he’ll switch back to Team Cersei during the final battle.
Other candidates for Cersei’s actual killer have presented themselves as ready and willing over the course of the show. Arya has the drive and skills to kill Cersei, who happens to have the right color eyes for Arya to shut forever. Daenerys is also dead-set on killing Cersei given her tangential responsibility for the death of her father, plus the more recent murder of Missandei. Tyrion feels like a dark horse here, but he’s gotten close to Cersei before, and the Valonqar Prophecy puts him in the running.
Plenty of people could end up killing Cersei, but none will be as satisfying as if Jaime does it. The ending of Game of Thrones might not satisfy everyone, but on this point, I hope we can all agree: The clock is ticking. He better act fast.
Game of Thrones airs Sundays on HBO at 9 p.m. Eastern.