The Game of Thrones
season 7 finale nearly did the impossible. Cersei agreed to peace with her enemies and promised to fight side-by-side with Jon and Daenerys. It was all a ploy however and Cersei still plans to wage war while her rivals try to save the world. "The Dragon and the Wolf" might be the perfect episode to prove that Cersei will, truly, never change. At the same time the season 7 finale did have Cersei spare the lives of both her brothers. Cersei might be ruthless but she's not entirely heartless ... yet.
The Mercy of the Mad Queen
It's impossible to argue, at this point in the series, that Cersei is completely sane. Cersei has lost too much, almost always because of her direct actions, to be deemed totally in her right mind. Cersei has learned to be just as ruthless as her father Tywin but with none of the tact that allowed Tywin to keep his allies. As much as Cersei wants to protect her family, after "The Dragon and the Woilf" she's completely alone. Even if Cersei is truly pregnant, which is now in doubt more than ever
, she has lost everyone and everything. She's not thinking clearly.
Yet the fact that Cersei spared Tyrion and Jaime, when she could've easily killed both, seems significant. With Tyrion's survival things can be easily explained to where Cersei needed Tyrion to live because it was a part of her plan to lull Dany and Jon into a false sense of security. If Tyrion is dead there's no chance of Cersei even pretending will fight with her rivals. It's a moment of restraint from Cersei but not necessarily one borne out of affection.
With Jaime's survival things are much less clear. There is nothing that Cersei has to gain, politically or personally, from Jaime living. In fact, it will only hurt her as that just leaves the unstable Euron to command her armies. If Cersei was completely devoid of sentiment and only cared for strengthening her position on the throne, she'd would've had Jaime killed. This mercy must be significant for more than allowing Jaime to continue onto the final season. There's some humanity left in Cersei and Game of Thrones doesn't just introduce concepts like this for the sake of them. There must be a purpose.
The Beginning of the End
One of the most popular theories among fans is that Cersei's ultimate demise will come about because of her twin. Jaime will finally understand that the world is a much better place without Cersei in it and he'll kill her as a result. This could be the one and only reason that Cersei spared Jaime. It's an event borne out of the affection she still has for him but one that will directly lead to Cersei's own death. By sparing Jaime, Cersei has effectively signed her own death warrant. This is the case, if and only if, the theory turns out to be true.
Game of Thrones has been a lot more predictable in its later seasons than it was at the beginning. Many assumed that Jon was a secret Targaryen and that turned out to be true. Many also figured that Jon and Dany would consummate their relationship only for it to be confirmed once and for all that they're related. This also came to pass. This predictability is what happens when a series is as layered and filled with hints for the future as Game of Thrones. Sometimes the big twists can be figured out by a passionate fanbase. Still Jaime killing Cersei seems far too predictable. It would be far more shocking, and therefore more like Game of Thrones, if something entirely different occurred due to Cersei's mercy.
A full redemptive arc for Cersei is impossible. Cersei has committed too much and been far too devoted to her own selfish gain to ever turn it around. Lena Heady is an amazing actress and cane make any emotion from Cersei seem believable. The story is not heading in such a direction where the final season will open with Cersei realizing all her mistakes. Cersei is not going to be riding North to tell Jaime that she made a terrible mistake and that she will fight the dead but it's possible she will realize her folly before the series is up.
Game of Thrones won't end with Cersei suddenly becoming a hero. It could end with becoming repentant and realizing that she has doomed herself. Rather than having Jaime directly kill Cersei, it could be his leaving that feeds the spark of humanity left inside her and Cersei ends bringing her own doom out of remorse. In one big way Cersei will try to undo all the bad she has done with her death. It seems far-fetched but so was Arya and Sansa's hidden plot to reveal and execute Littlefinger. Shocking moments are the lifeblood of Game of Thrones.
Do you agree? Is there any hope for Cersei to redeem herself in the final season?
(Image courtesy of HBO)