I sincerely apologize to any of you who were looking for my post about last week’s episode. I found some of the elements of that episode (and the way they were explained by the director) too difficult for me to write about, especially because I interpreted Jaime and Cersei’s interactions in that episode in a way that was different from how the director seemed for it to be intended (as I think many did). I have decided to pretend that the moment existed as it did in the book (since that seems to be the intention of those involved). If you’re still looking for an excellent analysis of last week’s episode, I can direct you to frequent NGN contributor Heather’s take on it.
The Moment: Jaime sends Brienne on her quest
Setting the Scene: After Cersei tells Jaime she wants Sansa Stark dead, he tasks Brienne with keeping his oath to the late Catelyn Stark to find Sansa and keep her safe. To help Brienne on her journey, Jaime gives her a new suit of armor, a squire (Pod), and the Valyrian steel sword given to him by his father, which Brienne names Oathkeeper.
Why It’s Awesome: Last week’s controversial episode of Game of Thrones reminded us that there are very few healthy relationships between men and women in Westeros, and usually those relationships are based solely on power (hence the prevalence of rape on this show—including the horribly gratuitous scenes at Craster’s Keep in this episode). But “Oathkeeper” served as a moving reminder that there is at least one relationship between a man and a woman in this world that is based on true, mutual respect, and that’s the relationship between Jaime and Brienne.
The scene where Jaime gives Brienne Oathkeeper has been one of my favorite scenes in the entire A Song of Ice and Fire book series since the moment I read it last year. I didn’t think it was possible that Game of Thrones could actually make me love it more. But I guess I underestimated the power of very pointed and specific changes made to enhance the emotional impact of the scene, as well as the performances of Gwendoline Christie and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau.
The whole tone of the scene was much warmer than it was in the books, and it was infused with a very real sense of equality between them. That changed the tone of the scene somewhat from the hesitancy in the book, but I think that actually served the show well. The depth of emotion between these two characters has always felt even more intense on the show than in the books, and I think that comes from how good Coster-Waldau and Christie are at conveying a host of emotions simply through their eyes.
Jaime giving Brienne the sword his father made for him was such a symbolic gesture of choosing a better path than the one his family was on and trusting what little bit of his honor he feels is left to a person he believes is worthy of that trust. But my favorite moment in this grand unveiling of gifts was the moment Brienne took in her new, blue armor. The color was a nice reference to Jaime’s admiration of her “astonishing” blue eyes in the books, and this gift was perhaps the most perfect anyone could give Brienne. It was stylish armor—a mixture of masculine and feminine, beautiful but strong. By giving her the armor, Jaime was showing Brienne that he sees her as both a woman and a knight. And Christie played Brienne’s reaction so beautifully. She seemed in awe of this gift and what it represented, and it highlighted just how rarely this woman has been shown kindness and appreciation in her life, which makes Jaime’s gestures all the more meaningful.
Jaime gave Brienne many gifts in this scene—a true knightly quest for a woman who was often treated as less than a real knight, a sword, a suit of armor, and a squire (the perfect Pod)—but Brienne also gave Jaime a gift, too. When she told him she would find Sansa not just for Catelyn but for Jaime, both of their expressions showed how much that moment meant. Christie did an excellent job of showing how Brienne literally had to summon her courage to tell him that because that was her own little way of admitting to Jaime how important he has become in her life. And Coster-Waldau’s soft look of surprise spoke to Jaime’s shock and appreciation that someone could still see him as a man with some sense of honor worth saving.
Brienne naming the sword Oathkeeper was another gift she gave Jaime. In the books, it’s Jaime who names his sword, but having Brienne name it actually gave the moment more weight. The sword is Jaime’s, and by naming it Oathkeeper, Brienne is calling him an oath keeper himself, which is a huge contrast from the rest of the Seven Kingdoms, who only saw him as the lowest kind of oath breaker. Both Jaime and Brienne are knights; they know the importance of oaths, and having Brienne name the sword reflects the idea that she has come to be the only person who sees the best Jaime can be—the oath keeper behind the oath breaker reputation. Brienne has always kept her oaths, and she made Jaime want to be someone who could do that again as well.
The loaded eye contact they shared after Brienne named the sword spoke to the significance of that moment for this relationship. And then Jaime did for Brienne what she did for him in “The Bear and the Maiden Fair,” he called her by her name. For these two characters, that is as intimate a gesture as it gets—wrapping up themes of love, respect, understanding, and appreciation of true selves into one line.
Throughout that final scene, there was a sense from both characters that they truly felt this would be the last time they saw each other. So as Brienne rode away, I loved that Jaime followed her, wanting to watch over this reflection of who he wants to be until the last possible moment. Coster-Waldau played Jaime’s final moments in this scene so brilliantly. There was real longing there, but not the twisted kind that he once shared with Cersei. As Brienne looked back and Christie so devastatingly showed her almost begin to cry, it was as if Jaime finally realized the extent of how much he meant to her and how much she meant to him. They were both leaving pieces of themselves with the other, having both been forever changed by their relationship. And if you’re wondering if I cried in this moment, the answer is “Of course.”
Honorable Mentions: Missandei and Grey Worm talking about their pasts, Jaime and Tyrion in the jail cell, Olenna explaining to Margaery how to play the game of thrones, Margaery visiting Tommen in the middle of the night, the abandoned baby being turned into a White Walker