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Will Cersei Lannister Win in Game of Thrones Season 8?
When Cersei Lannister first walked into Winterfell in Season One of Game of Thrones, she was a Queen Consort—the wife of King Robert Baratheon, and a woman with no ruling power. But she had her secrets that would shake the foundation of the Seven Kingdoms. She was enjoying an illicit affair with her brother Jaime Lannister of the Kingsguard, which resulted in three bastard children raised as Baratheons to be heirs to the Iron Throne. She played the game of politics to keep it quiet—a game she’d known her whole life. In fact, it was the only thing she knew her whole life. She was selfish. She was cutthroat when it came to getting her way and keeping her secrets. She watched Jaime push Bran Stark out a window and she oversaw Ned Stark’s beheading.
From there, Cersei Lannister only became more dangerous.
Cersei now rules the Seven Kingdoms (at least three are in open rebellion, but still) and commands a powerful army. It’s a position she usurped through actual mass murder via wildfire, when she blew up the Sept of Baelor.
Despite her most evil acts, it’s possible to have sympathy for Cersei. From the moment Maggy the Frog prophesied her doom, Cersei’s life has been marked by tragedy and pain. All three of her children are dead, Jaime has left her to fight in Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen’s war against the dead, and her other brother, Tyrion, is coming for her throne, serving as the Hand to the Mother of Dragons. Tyrion, before absconding from the family ranks, killed their father with a crossbow. She has lost all of her allies, save for the blood-thirsty pirate Euron Greyjoy of the Iron Islands and an undead Mountain. At her worst moments, she was paraded naked through the streets—humiliated—and in one of Game of Thrones’s most controversial scenes, raped by Jaime.
Such remarkable loss and misery has not softened the Queen. Rather, her need for revenge consumes her. “I lie in bed and stare at the canopy,” she admits in Season Seven after taking Ellaria Sand and her daughter captive, “and imagine ways of killing my enemies.” Shortly after, she poisons Tyene and leaves Ellaria to not just watch her die, but then also live alongside her decomposing corpse until her own death.
Cersei will get her way in Season Eight, make no mistake. When Game of Thrones wraps, it will do so with the Mad Queen still in power.
For her entire life, Cersei has been treated like a pawn. First, her father wanted to marry her off to Rhaegar Targaryen, then he successfully paired her with Robert Baratheon, and following the king’s death, tried to match her with Willas Tyrell, hoping to safeguard his house’s stature via the men who might marry his daughter. What he failed to recognize—and what the patriarchal society that surrounded her refused to allow—is that out of his three children, Cersei is actually his best fit heir. She is cunning, a master of politics, and ruthless. Her vision is absolute; her commitment to winning never wavers. Like Tywin, House Lannister is at the forefront of her mind at all times.
Cersei was one of the first villains on Game of Thrones. While Jaime and the Hound—also fan favorite antagonists from the beginning—have spent the last several years growing a heart, Cersei has settled into, and expanded, her role as the villain. Because of that, she doesn’t have many fans cheering her to victory in Westeros or in the real world. That’s just fine with Cersei. She’s never craved adoration. In fact, no other character is willing to be as uncompromising and absolute, public perception be damned. As such, few in Westeros have a longer list of vanquished enemies. Ned Stark, Tyrion, Stannis Baratheon, the High Sparrow, the Tyrell House in its entirety, to name a few.
To be perfectly honest, Jon and Dany are too good to win, anyway. Westeros is hardly your average fairytale kingdom. Good doesn’t go far in this brutal land, and pure intentions are rarely rewarded. Both Jon and Dany are willing to sacrifice themselves and their armies in the fight against the dead. Meanwhile Cersei is happy to sit in King’s Landing, drink her wine, and let them die while she strengthens her position in the South. It’s not the decision that will bring her glory in the history books, but it’s a smart move from a military commander like Cersei.
It’s also important to remember our source material. This is Game of Thrones we’re talking about. George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire rarely gives its readers what they want. He refuses tidy endings, instead favoring near-exhausting brutality. (Never forget the shock you felt when Ned’s head actually fell or when The Mountain killed Oberyn Martell or the Red Wedding.) Cersei said it best in the seventh episode of Season One: “When you play the Game of Thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground.”
And remember: Cersei has wildfire.
Long live the Queen.