The Moment: Cersei meets Brienne
Setting the Scene: At Joffrey’s wedding, Cersei finds time for a moment alone with her brother’s rescuer. When a smiling Brienne reveals that Jaime also rescued her (a fact Cersei wasn’t aware of until that moment), the former Queen Regent makes a quick study of the young woman and comes to a conclusion that Brienne has no answer for: She’s in love with Jaime.
Why It’s Awesome: I know what you’re probably thinking: Joffrey finally meets his end in this episode (and in quite a brutal fashion), and I’m picking a conversation between Cersei and Brienne as the show’s best moment of the week? Let me be clear: Of course I loved seeing Joffrey get his royal comeuppance, and I adored Lena Headey’s performance in those final moments. But I knew it was coming, so it didn’t have quite the same impact for me as I’m sure it did for people who didn’t read the books (because when I read the books I was thrilled in a way that experiencing it again through the show couldn’t replicate). I loved the little bits of foreshadowing throughout the scene, but my favorite moments on Game of Thrones tend to be ones that surpass my experience while reading or surprise me entirely, and Joffrey’s death, while executed perfectly, didn’t make my jaw drop—not like Cersei preying on Brienne’s open heart did.
Brienne of Tarth is my favorite character in the A Song of Ice and Fire series for so many reasons: her subversion of stereotypes about physically imposing, unglamorous women; her innocence; her open heart; and her belief in honor even after a life of being treated cruelly by almost all she meets. It’s interesting to note that nearly all of those reasons make her a direct foil for Cersei Lannister. Ever since Brienne and Jaime returned to King’s Landing before they did in the book, I’ve been waiting for these two formidable women to meet on the show, and I was so happy that it turned out even better than my expectations—perhaps because it was written by George R.R. Martin himself.
In this moment, we see Cersei asserting her power over someone on a day when she feels like she’s losing so much of her power because Joffrey is now married. Jaime is the last thing she believes she can control, and she doesn’t want this woman thinking otherwise. And poor Brienne—innocent, kindhearted, gentle Brienne. She is far too good for King’s Landing, and I love that this scene makes that abundantly clear. Gwendoline Christie makes Brienne seem so young in this scene, and it contrasts perfectly with Cersei’s demeanor. Her smile when discussing how Jaime rescued her brought me joy and broke my heart at the same time, and it meant even more than her inability to deny loving Jaime.
The later books only hint that Brienne loves with Jaime, but to see it manifested in Christie’s performance was beautiful. Because Cersei is right—Brienne does love him. But Cersei doesn’t understand the kind of love that brings such an open, bright smile to Brienne’s face—a kind of love that is based on mutual rescuing (and the respect that comes with it), shared understanding, and acceptance of Jaime for who he really is.
Once someone forces you to confront your love for another person, it changes everything. The fact that this scene didn’t exist in the novels makes me even more excited to see what new material it brings about on the show. And even if nothing else changes, it was a moment that highlighted the incredible variety of female characters in this series—and there can never be too many of those.
Honorable Mentions: Jaime and Tyrion share some wine, Joffrey destroys his uncle’s wedding gift, Oberyn Martell meets Tywin Lannister, Sansa watches the mockery of her brother’s murder, Joffrey dies in his mother’s arms