For all its compulsive watchable-ness, Game Of Thrones doesn’t actually traffic in typical television cliffhangers all that often… which is what made the end of Season 7’s fourth episode all the more agonizing. But there are actually plenty of clues that Jaime survives on Game Of Thrones, if you know where to look. Yes, the Kingslayer may live to fight another day.
Episodes of GoT often end with events that are shocking not because of their ambiguity, but because of their finality; there was no question that Ned had lost his head at the end of “Baelor,” or that Catelyn, Robb, and Talisa were all goners by the end of “The Rains Of Castamere.” But as “The Spoils Of War” drew to a close, Jaime Lannister was sinking into the depths of the Blackwater Rush, his fate uncertain — a maddening turn of events for fans of the Kingslayer.
The more pessimistic among the show’s viewership may point out things they interpret as clues that Jaime is dead, including a picture of a forlorn Cersei in the previews for Episode 5 and a vague tweet from actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. But for the more optimistic point-of-view, here is evidence that fans haven’t seen the last of Jaime Lannister.
1. Out Of The Frying Pan…
…into the Blackwater Rush? If the writers were really intending to kill Jaime off, then they way they went about it makes absolutely no sense. There was already a perfectly good and dramatic death set up for the Kingslayer; if they wanted viewers to know he was dead, all they had to do was let him keep charging headlong into Drogon’s fiery breath. Why save him from that fate at the last second only to drown in the river moments later? It doesn’t add up.
2. It’s Too Ambiguous
If a character as major as Jaime was going to die halfway through a season, it would be a major event — and the writers would make sure fans knew it had actually happened. If “The Death Of The Kingslayer” is what the entire loot train battle was building up to, then the episode likely would have made his fate clear, allowing fans a full week to work through their grief and come to some sense of closure.
What the writers probably wouldn’t do is kinda-sorta tease Jaime’s demise at the end of one episode, only to anti-climactically confirm his death in the opening moments of the next, allowing for minimal emotional impact. Jaime deserves better, and the writers know it.
3. It’s All About The Imagery
So what’s the point of the ambiguous ending, if it’s not showing viewers Jaime’s untimely demise? Reddit user TheKidWithBieberHair points out that the shot of Jaime sinking into the Blackwater Rush just before the credits roll almost directly mirrors the shot of Bran falling from the tower after being pushed by Jaime just before the credits rolled on the Thrones series premiere.
Much of Season 7 has been about bringing events full circle; the episodes have been stuffed with reference to the show’s first season, from Arya talking her way past a pair of guards to the reemergence of the Valyrian steel dagger used to try to assassinate Bran. In accordance with this theme, it makes sense that the Kingslayer (and attempted kid-slayer) is heading for a reckoning soon. The final shot of “The Spoils Of War” doesn’t necessarily tease Jaime’s death; rather, it could tease that the Lannister will soon have to come face-to-face with all the deeds — good and bad — he’s done in his life.
4. Tyrion Suffered A Similar Fate
If those theories aren’t enough to convince you that Jaime is still alive, how about the fact that another character on the show has already suffered the exact same fate — and lived to tell the tale? Back in Season 5, while sailing through the ruins of Old Valyria, Tyrion and Jorah were attacked by the Stone Men, and in the ensuing chaos, Tyrion fell overboard and sank into the depths of the river as the screen faded to black.
Of course, unlike “The Spoils Of War,” that episode didn’t end there; Tyrion’s ambiguous fate was immediately answered when Jorah save his life by pulling him out of the river. Jaime’s cliffhanger will likely have a similar conclusion, only the sight of Bronn pulling Jaime out of the river has been pushed to next week in order to end the episode on the thematically resonant shot of Jaime falling into the depths.
5. The Prophecy Hasn’t Been Fulfilled
For years, fans of the show and books have been theorizing about Jaime’s role in Cersei’s valonqar prophecy. While Cersei herself has always assumed the “little brother” in question is Tyrion — which is why she hates him so much — most fans theorize that her twin Jaime (technically younger by a matter of minutes) will be the one to kill Cersei in the end.
But if Jaime is dead, that not only prevents the poetic ending of the Kingslayer becoming the Queenslayer, it also removes any ambiguity surrounding the prophecy. If Jaime is dead, then Tyrion has to be the one to kill Cersei, just like she always assumed; and since when has anything on GoT played out exactly like the characters predicted?
6. His Story Isn’t Over Yet
Game Of Thrones gets a lot of credit for its “realism,” but there’s a difference between “realism” as a genre and actual “reality.” If GoT was actually as “real” as people claim, then Dany would probably have died of dysentery while wandering through the Red Waste and at least one of those thousands of arrows would have hit Jon during the Battle of the Bastards.
Game Of Thrones may be more “realistic” than most fantasy stories, but it still adheres to certain narrative conventions. George R.R. Martin is willing to kill off major characters… but those deaths usually come at the end of a character’s arc and have huge ramifications on the story. Noble Ned never learned to play the game of thrones, and his beheading shattered whatever fragile peace was left in the realm; Robb suffered the consequences for breaking his vow, and destroyed the illusion that the series would be a simple tale of the Starks getting vengeance against the Lannisters.
But is Jaime’s arc over? And would his death have any impact on the story at this point? No, and no. Jaime hasn’t yet been forced to reckon with all his various deeds and misdeeds, and he hasn’t fulfilled his likely role in Cersei’s prophecy. And if he died now, literally nothing about the story at large would change; Cersei would still be hellbent on destroying her enemies (just slightly more so), Dany would still want to conquer the Seven Kingdoms, and the Night King would still be coming to kill them all.
If and when the Kingslayer does die, it will probably be in a way that has a huge impact on the story. So for now, fans can (hopefully) rest easy that Jaime Lannister will emerge from the Blackwater relatively unscathed.