Most Game Of Thrones fans left latest episode “The Spoils Of War” at least a little worried Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) had been killed off of the series, which is famous for murdering favourites. The Kingslayer tried to change his nickname to The Dragonslayer when he picked up a spear and attempted to murder Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) and her dragon (Drogon) with a single joust. This did not work. Instead, Jaime came face to snout with a fire breathing dragon preparing to prove the “fire breathing” portion of his name. He was only saved by someone who looks an awful lot like Bronn (Jerome Flynn), who dove at Jaime, dragging him into some nearby water. Yet, the episode ended on an ominous shot of the Lannister son drowning as his heavy golden armour dragged him to the bottom of what appears to be an extremely deep pond. Thankfully for Jaime fans and Cersei Lannisters alike, a single preview photo from upcoming episode “Eastwatch” hints that Jaime survived his near-death, near dragon-roasting experience.
On Wednesday, HBO released a supposedly harmless batch of images of season 7’s next installment, one of which features Varys (Conleth Hill) sitting in Daenerys’ dragon-themed war room. As usual, the Westerosi noble family-inspired pieces are set up on the Khaleesi’s massive map-slash-table modelled off of the continent. After weeks of seeing Dany fume inside the room, this should be pretty mundane stuff. But, you will notice in the image at least two dragon pieces, which represent Dany or her literal dragons, are set up surrounding a single lion piece, which would represent the Lannisters. Now you might guess that means the arrangement is a metaphor for Daenerys surrounding Queen Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey), but that’s already been proven untrue. An earlier war room scene in the season’s second episode, “Stormborn,” shows there’s an entire separate area of the map made to symbolise King’s Landing, and therefore Cersei. So, the backed-into-a-corner lion most likely isn't the (increasingly more mad) queen.
So, what do the tiny statues actually represent? It’s completely possible we’re actually looking at the war room’s surrogate for Dragonstone, which is where Dany and Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) will both return after the so-called Battle Of Tumbleton, as other preview photos confirm. Another piece on the board, as I confirmed with my fellow Game Of Thrones detective and Refinery29 colleague Anne Cohen, looks like it could either be a howling direwolf or a kraken. It’s bizarrely obscured enough to resemble both mythical animals. Interestingly, the men whose families have taken those exact creatures as a family sigil — Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen), respectively — should also be on Dragonstone during the events of “Eastwatch.” Photos from the episode confirm Jon is still there, pretending not to have a crush on Dany, while Theon doesn’t appear. However, where else does this poor broken man have to go?
All of this information points towards the leading theory Jaime is actually alive and taken hostage by Team Targaryen, meaning the Kingslayer is now his little brother’s captive. That would explain why the lion statue on the photo is still standing, placed in Dragonstone, and surrounded by dragons — that is literally what is happening to Jaime. This evidence would also explain why Cersei looks pensive, as opposed to distraught, in the “Eastwatch” sneak peek photo she appears in. It’s likely the queen will have found out about her army’s brutal defeat, and her brother’s mysterious fate, by the time she appears in the episode. Yet, she looks eerily pensive, as opposed to distraught. If Jaime, the final person she loves in her entire family line, were actually dead, a volatile person like Cersei wouldn’t be able to sit quietly on her bed and collect her thoughts. At this point, she would probably burn all of Westeros to the ground with wildfire.
If Jaime is now hanging out in the dungeons of Dragonstone, this would set up a lot of interesting conflicts for the back-half of Game Of Thrones season 7, and the looming final season. It might even lead to the fulfilment of a prophecy or two. It’s possible, and likely, Daenerys will give Cersei a huge ultimatum with Jaime at the very centre of it: surrender and get her brother back or refuse Dany's offer and condemn Jaime to a fiery, fiery death. We can already assume the ruthless dragon queen will be excited to execute the man who killed her own father, after all. If Cersei turns her back on her brother in favour of holding on the Iron Throne, could that lead to the eventual, long-awaited realisation of the valonqar prophecy?
If you’re wondering how a death row Jaime could escape Dragonstone to murder his twin-lover, that’s where another prophecy comes in. With Jaime hypothetically sentenced to sure-death this time around, he and Tyrion will have switched completely switched roles since the end of season 4, when the youngest Lannister was to be executed for a regicide he did not commit. Jaime showed his little brother mercy and helped him escape King’s Landing. If Tyrion recognises he owes his sibling, he could decide to free Jaime this time around. And you know how Lannisters are with debts, as much of the Internet has pointed out. If Tyrion does do this, he would fulfil the final portion of Daenery’s House Of The Undying prophecy, which predicted the queen would be betrayed once for blood, once for gold, and once for love. It’s believed the first two have already happened with the treacherous actions of Mirri Maz Duur (Mia Soteriou) in season 1 and the treasonous machinations of Doreah (Roxanne McKee) in season 2. If Tyrion betrays Daenerys by saving his brother, it would be for fraternal love.
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