Game of Thrones Season 3, Episode 5: "Kissed by Fire" featured Jon losing his virginity, Beric rising from the dead, and two terrible arranged marriages, but the highlight of the episode was Jaime's speech — or perhaps better put, confession — to Brienne in the bath.
This speech was clearly an important character moment, and it also packed a lot of interesting tidbits about the end of Robert's rebellion. So, what does it tell us about Jaime, his past, and the history of Westeros? We've broken it down.
Jaime hates his nicknames. "There it is," the speech begins. "There's the look. I've seen it for 17 years on face after face. You all despise me. Kingslayer. Oath breaker. A man without honor." Despite his cocky attitude, it's clear Jaime resents these names, which have followed him for almost two decades. Now, we're finally going to find out why.
How mad was The Mad King? We've known since the beginning that Aerys II Targaryen was quite literally out of his mind, but this speech highlights exactly what that meant. "You've heard of Wildfire?" Jaime asked. "The Mad King was obsessed with it. He loved to watch people burn. The way their skin blackened and blistered and melted off the bones. He burned lords he didn't like. He burned Hands who disobeyed him. He burned anyone who was against him. Before long, half the country was against him."
Okay, fine. We already knew the Mad King had a thing for burning people. But then Jamie reveals that the king's paranoia became a threat to the entire populace: "Aerys saw traitors everywhere, so he had his pyromancer place caches of Wildfire all over the city. Beneath the Sept of Baelor and the slums of Flea Bottom. Under houses, stables, taverns, even beneath the Red Keep itself.
What happened the day Aerys fell? Most people (viewers, and certainly people within the story) assumed that Jaime killed Aerys for his own gain, or at least the gain of his family, since Tywin betrayed Aerys. What does Jaime say?
Finally, the day of reckoning came. Robert Baratheon marched on the capital after his victory at the Trident. But my father arrived first, with the whole Lannister army at his back. Promising to defend the city against the rebels. I knew my father better than that. He's never been one to pick the losing side. I told the Mad King that much. I urged him to surrender peacefully.
Note: Assuming Jaime is telling the truth (and given the confessional nature of this scene we think he is), that means Jaime was not part of his father's traitorous schemes. He did not break his oath to his king, and in fact tried to protect the king the best way he knew how: by urging him to do the smart thing.
But the king didn't listen to me. He didn't listen to Varys, who tried to warn him. But he did listen to Grand Maester Pycelle, that grey, sunken cunt. "You can trust the Lannisters," he said. "The Lannisters have always been true friends of the Crown." So we opened the gates and my father sacked the city.
This is a good reminder that Pycelle is not to be trusted (though it also suggests he really is pretty darned loyal to the Lannisters above anything else).
Why did Jaime kill Aerys?
Once again, I came to the king, begging him to surrender. He told me to bring him my father's head. Then he turned to his pyromancer. "Burn them all," he said. "Burn them in their homes. Burn them in their beds." Tell me, if your precious Renly commanded you to kill your own father and stand by while thousands of men, women, and children burned alive, would you have done it? Would you have kept your oath then?
First, I killed the pyromancer, and then, when the king turned to flee, I drove my sword into his back. "Burn them all," he kept saying. "Burn them all." I don't think he expected to die. He meant to burn with the rest of us and rise again, reborn as a dragon, to turn his enemies to ash. I slit his throat to make sure that didn't happen. That's where Ned Stark found me.
Suddenly, Jaime's past musings on what happens when your oaths — to honor your father, to protect your king, to protect the people, etc. — come into conflict make perfect sense. Because that's what happened here. He was sworn member of the Kingsguard meant to, well, guard the king. But what do you do when the king is mad? He made the right choice — in fact, judging by some of the things he's done since, he may have made one of his most morally correct choices ever — and the world has judged him for it ever since.
It doesn't excuse the bad things he's done since, but it does put him in a new light. And, perhaps just as importantly, it gives us some interesting looks at the inner working of the Lannisters. The fact that Jaime wasn't part of his father's plan, and that Pycelle apparently was, is worth noting and remembering, don't you think?
What did you think of this scene. Does it change how you see Jaime or the events of Robert's Rebellion? For those of you who read the books, did it live up to your expectations? Sound off in the comments below.
Catch the next episode of Game of Thrones on Sunday, May 5, 2013 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on HBO.
Rebecca Martin is an editor at Wetpaint Entertainment. Follow her on Twitter @BeccaDMartin.