Note: This story contains plot details from Game of Thrones season 6 episode 8, “No One”…
Two Game of Thrones warriors with an emotionally complicated history reunited on opposite sides of a political face-off in Sunday’s episode, “No One.” Thankfully, Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie) didn’t draw swords — at least not yet — but the two matched wits over a seemingly impossible situation at Riverrun where the Kingslayer was sent to reclaim the Tully’s castle for Lannister forces.
“It’s a great scene,” says Coster-Waldau. “These characters are so much about holding their cards so close to their chest, and they don’t want to reveal how they’re feeling. But we know there’s history between them, that this is more than two knights meeting. But they would never acknowledge that.”
Christie tells us fans have been asking if Jaime and Brienne would ever meet again since season 4. “I was excited. It was really fun to be with Nikolaj again, and I thought the way in which their reunion happens is not really expected,” she says. “I just loved that it was so formal, because within the confines of such formality, and having to negotiate with each other, there are so many other stories begging to be told in those moments. There’s a slow process of creeping familiarity among two people who haven’t been together for a long time; it was allowed to build. And I love that Brienne asserts her intelligence and her newfound mind of strategy and negotiates with Jaime and gets the outcome she wants — he allows her safe passage to go in and negotiate. It wasn’t clichéd in any way. You continue to see the strength of Brienne. She is so dedicated to the moral good, she does everything she can to uphold her oath to Catelyn Stark.”
The sequence also nudged the question fans have wondered ever since the duo were first unwittingly paired in season 3: Is there real romantic interest between these two? Or is their relationship strictly based on mutual respect and some level of friendship? Showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss, who wrote this hour, used Bronn on the sidelines to give voice to an idea that Jaime and Brienne would likely never bring up to each other (crudely, of course, with Bronn suggesting both want to have sex with the other).
“[Bronn] tells us what the audience suspects,” Coster-Waldau says. “It’s a great way to get all that stuff into the audience’s head before the scene, because then there’s this added subtext. Jaime is always about Cersei and what he can do to help her and how to achieve whatever she wants. And for Brienne, it’s the same — she has an oath to Catelyn Stark. She’s extremely strong-willed and has her honor and has to do the right thing always. Sometimes, with both of them, you just want go, ‘For god’s sake, let it go for one second. What about what you want?’ They never listen to themselves. And what I love about the end of this scene is there’s some heartbreak. Because, once again, they were close. But are they ever gonna be able to talk about something other than someone else’s agenda?”
For Coster-Waldau, however, the scene he was most excited to shoot was his tense negotiation with Edmure Tully (Tobias Menzies), who’s the key to getting his men at Riverrun to relinquish the castle. After so many failures in recent seasons, Jaime finally succeeds in something he’s set out to achieve (and he does so without any bloodshed) by delivering a speech that’s completely honest yet also maintains the character’s long-established willingness to commit murder to get his own way.
“The scene was beautifully written,” he says. “It reminds me of the scene in the bathtub, even though it’s very different. You’ve seen Jaime grow into a very skilled negotiator. It’s very relaxed, very conversational, then it turns on, ‘If you don’t do what I want you do to do, you’re going to have to accept that I’m going to kill every person in that castle … I’ll do anything for my sister. And if I have to do horrible things to you and your family, so be it.’ I hope that the audience appreciates it because we’re cheating a little bit — we’re building up to this big battle with Lannister forces and the castle and a siege that’s going to be bloody and crazy. But then, no, it’s not. He resolves it by his intelligence and wit. He’s actually saving a lot of peoples’ lives by using words instead of arrows.”
It’s very different, we point out, than how Jaime would have handled the same situation a few years ago.
“Exactly!” he agrees. “The character is growing and doesn’t get emotional about it.”
More “No One” coverage: See our interview with Maisie Williams on Arya’s big showdown with The Waif. Also our deep-dive recap, plus check HBO’s preview for next week’s “Battle of the Bastards.”
Our latest Game of Thrones Weekly podcast episode is now live for “No One” too, listen below and don’t forget to subscribe here.