This article contains spoilers for “The Spoils of War.”
For the past three episodes of Game of Thrones, Team Cersei managed to successfully chip away at Daenerys’ powerful allies one by one. But that all changed in “The Spoils of War,” when Dany, fiery Drogon, and a Dothraki hoard reduced a small Lannister army to smoldering ashes… literally.
As a result, it’s very likely Dany has captured Randyll Tarly, his heir apparent and second son Dickon, and professional POW Jaime Lannister. And Sir Bronn of the Blackwater too… but he’s hardly a highly valued prize in the larger game of thrones.
If all three major players are now in the hands of the Mother of Dragons, Dany just evened the playing field again. The Tarlys are as critical to Cersei’s alliance with The Reach as Ellaria Sand and daughter Tyene are critical to the Dany keeping Dorne. However, if they’re both giving each other back a kingdom and it’s even either way, maybe Cersei will refuse a trade outright. If I’m down a kingdom and you’re down a kingdom, why not just leave it at that.
Now, rationally, it’s as even a trade as they come. But Cersei would have the slight advantage of a ticking clock. If Dany doesn’t agree to the Mad Queen’s terms swiftly, there will be one less Dornishwoman alive to trade. Then, there’s the problem of assuming Cersei is capable of making a rational choice in the matter. After all, Ellaria Sand murdered Myrcella, one of the only three people in the world Cersei may have truly loved. A prisoner swap denies her the certainty of her revenge.
And what about Jaime? Sure the Lannister twins love each other… in more ways than one. But let’s face it. Jaime always loved her more than she loved him. Jaime devoted his whole life to her, joining the Kingsguard to ensure he’d never be married off to someone else and to keep close to her. And while he’s only begun to grow disillusioned with her, she’s been less enthralled with him since he returned after his last go as a POW.
Sure, Jaime’s still a Lannister and one of the only two “that matter.” And sure, the Tywin in her recognizes the importance of the family maintaining its glory and legacy. But Jaime’s also a maimed soldier who’s almost useless in the field. And he’s not even heir to Casterly Rock, should they ever regain The Westerlands. Is he worth the price of Yara Greyjoy? Granted, she and Theon lost during the Kingsmoot, making their legal claim to the Iron Island’s Seastone Chair, well… moot. But they clearly command a sizable chunk of the Ironborn fleet who probably won’t stick with Dany for the sake of Yara’s feckless brother. Without Yara, The Breaker of Chain’s reliance on the Iron Fleet is… fleeting.
Of course, the bigger question is, now that Jaime knows Tyrion was innocent of Joffrey’s death and now that he’s seen Cersei commit the very crime he sacrificed his reputation to prevent years earlier, will Jaime defect to the other side? That sure makes it easier for Bronn to pay “the most beautiful woman in the world” back by getting an antidote to her like she once did for him.
Is one-handed Jaime worth Dany’s entire Iron fleet? Is he worth Cersei losing her chance at avenging the child she loved? It may all come down to what Cersei values most.