Warning: Spoilers for Season 8, Episode 5 of Game of Thrones below!
The actress who played one hell of a villain on the HBO smash hit told Entertainment Weekly Monday that her knee-jerk reaction to her character’s death on Sunday’s penultimate episode was “mixed”.
“I wanted her to have some big piece or fight with somebody,” Lena said she felt at first.
But after talking the scene over with her co-star Nikolaj Coster-Waldau — who plays Cersei’s twin brother and lover, Jaime — Lena had a change of heart.
“The more we talked about it the more it seemed like the perfect end for her,” Lena said. “They came into the world together and now they leave together.”
Season 8, Episode 5 found Cersei in quite a predicament.
“She starts off in this final season trapped in a web of her own making, as is usual with Cersei,” Lena told EW. “She’s desperately unhappy and everything that’s happened becomes more real than it ever has for her. She starts to lose control of the situation.
“She’s destroyed every good alliance, connection, love in her life — she was always destined to be alone. And until the very, very last minute, she is, as ever, in denial of what’s actually happening.”
Soon after Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) goes full Mad Queen on King’s Landing, everything around the otherwise calculating Cersei descends into fiery chaos. She has no idea that Jaime has abandoned his friend and newfound lover, Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) to return to her in her greatest time of need.
When Jaime finds Cersei in the Red Keep, near the same map of Westeros in which they departed, the two attempt to escape. When they realize they’re doomed, Cersei begins to panic.
“Please don’t let me die,” she says as she and Jaime embrace. “I don’t want to die.”
Jaime, however, knows their fate is sealed.
“Look at me — just look at me,” he tells her. “Nothing else matters. Only us.”
The walls around them then crumble to the ground, taking the lover twins with them.
Their deaths do align neatly with Jaime’s story arc, however. When we first met the siblings in Season 1, Episode 1, Jaime was a man who would do anything for Cersei — which included the attempted murder of a child to protect their love. Although Jaime tried redemption, it ultimately wasn’t who he was. Now, as the series wraps up, he maintains the same focus he had in the beginning — nothing matters except his forbidden love for his sister.
It also lines up with a confession Jaime made in Season 5 when Bronn (Jerome Flynn) asks him how he wants to die.
“In the arms of the woman I love,” Jaime says, to which Bronn astutely responds:
“She want the same thing?”
We’ll never know exactly how Cersei wanted to die — but her last moments, in which she tells Jaime numerous times that she doesn’t want to die, make it pretty clear that being pummeled by rubble and buried alive wasn’t what she intended.
And although the Lannister twins’ death scene gave the audience a sincere and tender final moment with a couple initially thought of as completely icky, it also did seem to sell Cersei short.
Maybe Headey had the right impulse about her character’s death. Cersei was a shrewd but a fully fleshed-out villain brimming with pride, disdain for gender politics and fierce, fierce love. And although she was power-crazed and close to pure evil in the end, perhaps she did deserve better than fulfilling her lover’s wish.