What kind of person is Jaime Lannister? Of all the questionable souls in Westeros, the Kingslayer is perhaps the most difficult to judge. On one hand, his very nickname indicates his lack of scruples: he broke his own sworn oath as a member of the Kings Guard to kill the Mad King – but then, no one argues that the Mad King deserved to die. He throws a child out a window, screws and (possibly?) rapes his own sister, but risks his own neck to save that of his captor, and refuses to do what Cirsei tells him to when his gut tells him otherwise.
For someone with so warped a moral compass, Jaime’s seems to lead him in the right direction more often than not. He visits Tyrion and encourages him to keep the faith. He helps Podric escape. He gives Brienne carte blanche to pursue Sansa Stark and protect her. He defies Cirsei, the love of his life, knowing that doing so will irreparably turn her against him.
Cirsei’s homicidal whims are focused squarely on Tyrion, along with anyone that she’s deemed involved in any way in Joffrey’s death. As Tyrion himself says, Cirsei won’t rest until his head rests on a spike.
When Cirsei realizes that her beloved twin won’t commit fratricide and then head off on a crusade to hunt and kill Sansa Stark, she won’t simply give up her quest – and Jaime knows it. Sansa will be in even graver danger once he’s out of the picture. A desperate, grieving mother will do anything to get what she wants, and one with as much power as Cirsei can do quite a lot.
Sansa herself finds herself in perhaps the most dangerous place yet. Her escape implicates her in Joffrey’s death, and Littlefinger reveals her unwitting participation, orchestrated by Lady Olenna. The thorny rose has ensnared Sansa, Joffrey, even he own granddaughter Margaery in her plot. The Tyrells are anything but the window-dressing their sigil implies, but cunning and manipulative opportunists.
Lady Olenna admits her masterminding of Joff’s demise to Margaery, but only to spur the nearly-queen to stay the course and begin her seduction of Tomen. Seduction, after all, takes place in many ways: Margaery plays hers with Tomen stealthily and sweetly, more assertive than she’d ever have acted with Joffey, less placating than her interactions with Renly.
Tomen, just on the brink of pubescence, clearly regards Margaery with a mixture of awe and curiosity – sure to grow into desire under Margaery’s skilled tutelage. That is, unless Cirsei gets wind of it and puts a stop to it. Tomen is the last of her children, her last chance to prove herself a worthy mother. Her anger at Tyrion, sure to go nowhere, will find its outlet against Margaery.
Jon Snow finds himself the subject of a plot as well – permitted to go on his own expedition to Craster’s Keep in the hopes that he’ll die along the way and leave the way open for Maester Thorn to be voted in as the new Lord Commander.
His road is made even more dangerous by the addition of Locke, Roose Bolton’s bannerman (and perpetrator of the behanding of Jaime Lannister). He’s come to Castle Black on a mission to uncover the whereabouts of Bran and Rickon Stark.
But the true danger lies in at Craster’s Keep where the former members of the Knights Watch are holed up, drinking wine from skulls, raping Craster’s daughters and making the same sacrifices of the boy-children that Craster did.
The danger is real, and as Jon Snow readies to march beyond the wall, Bran finds himself captured by the very men Jon has set out to kill.
Daenerys, meanwhile, is dead set on proving that he epithet, “Mother of Dragons,” is more than just a nickname. She’s filled with the fire of her ancestors, and while her own ethical compass never seems to point anywhere but true north, she deals with those who have wronged he people with an unwavering eye. She delivers no less than exactly what they deserve: a vengeful Queen, and one her subjects know not to cross.
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