If you judged Game of Thrones characters by their actions early in the television series, most fans would find it hard to see anything redeemable about Jaime Lannister. In one of the first major events of the first season of Thrones, he pushes an innocent, 10-year-old Bran Stark out of a Winterfell window, all to protect the secret of his affair with his sister, Cersei Lannister.

(Warning: Game of Thrones spoilers will follow.)

A lot has changed since that first season, and perhaps no two characters represent that evolution better than Bran and Jaime. The former has transformed from a wide-eyed, innocent child into one of the post powerful wargs in Westeros history, capable of peering back through time to learn the truth about humanity's past. Jaime has not gained anything like Bran's all-seeing power, but his character development is no less profound.

After spending years aligning with Cersei and excusing every heinous action she committed, season 7 ended with Jaime appearing to turn his back on his sister once and for all. Setting off on his own after his sister promised to betray their new allies in the north, Jamie has a lot of soul-searching to do heading into season 8. And the actor who plays Jaime, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, indicated this is definitely the end of his allegiance to Cersei in a recent interview.

"He saw what he saw, and he understood the threat [of the dead], and he understood that clearly if they don’t all work together, they don’t stand a chance. And the fact that he knows his sister saw and recognized the same threat and her calculations led her to the exact opposite result—it’s just shocking," said Coster-Waldau. "I don’t know why it took him so long to realize what the rest of the world always knew—that she is a crazy monster—but he finally did."

His transition into a lone wolf or a potential partner with Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen is not as crazy as you think. In many ways, Jaime transforming into a hero of Westeros would be a fitting end to Game of Thrones, cashing in on years worth of developments in his storyline.

He could flip the script on the 'Kingslayer' nickname

Though the moniker doesn't get busted out too often these days, it's worth reminding that the nickname given to Jaime for slaying the Mad King is not meant to signify he's a badass. It is instead a sarcastic acknowledgement of his most famous act, in which he killed a man he was sworn to protect as a member of his Kingsguard.

We know this label has haunted Jaime for years, and during the period of the series in which he is traveling with Brienne of Tarth, he laid out the story behind his murder of the Mad King, insisting that there were no good choices for him to make. In one of the most emotional scenes in the series, Jaime reveals breaking his oath was the only option, aside from letting thousands of innocent people die.

I knew my father better than that. He's never been one to pick the losing side. I told the Mad King as much. I urged him to surrender peacefully, but the King didn't listen to me, didn't listen to Varys who tried to warn him.

So he opened the gates and my father sacked the city. 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?

The Mad King he killed, of course, was the father to one of the biggest power players left in Thrones. Few people could have ever imagined Daenerys Targaryen and the Kingslayer working together, but necessity has forced the two parties together. This sets up Jaime to make amends for slaying her father in season 8 by helping to lead their battle against the army of the undead.

Jaime has qualifications that many of the other "military heads" of the north do not, primarily that he is the right mix of youth and tactical prowess. Though skeptics will point out he has suffered a few massive defeats on Thrones—most notably to Robb Stark and at the end of the season 7 episode "The Spoils of War"—these are actually a point of strengthToo many of the show's great warriors, from Jon Snow to Greyworm, have been crushed in battle due to their naivete. Defeats have hurt Jaime, to be sure, but as we saw with his strategic abandonment of Casterly Rock, Jaime is willing to adapt the tactics of those who have defeated him previously in order to win.

They need that element of surprise heading into a battle with an opponent most of humanity has never seen. And there would be poetic justice in Jaime helping to kill the Night King, turning the Kingslayer nickname from a mockery into an honorable badge of his contribution to humanity.

He is the embodiment of the show's moral compass

Once more, because it is hard to overemphasize this: our first major Thrones moment with Jaime Lannister sees him throwing a child out of a window. And yet, this is shown not to be a reflection of Jaime's overall character, and with years of evidence between now and then, we see it is more of a statement about Thrones' view on morality than it is about Jaime himself.

At the core of Game of Thrones—at least when George R.R. Martin was pulling the strings—there is a strong insistence on the muddiness of good and evil. Even the White Walkers, the ultimate "big bad" of the show, are shown to be the creation of the Children of the Forest, which puts their morality into perspective; they aren't evil because they chose to be over time, they were doomed from the start, a super weapon created to wage war against humans.

Jaime, too, is a man whose ultimate "goodness" has been dictated by circumstances. His push of Bran was not an act of pure evil, but done to protect the person and relationship he held most dear. Jaime's life has always been about protecting the people around him above all else, even if that means resorting to unsavory means to do so. Often, his instinct to protect has been unpopular, even when it involves his own family; his relationship with his brother Tyrion has created strife within House Lannister, with other family members becoming enraged that he continues to protect a sibling who openly betrayed the family.

The Jaime we first meet is admittedly loathsome, an arrogant son of a bitch who shows open disdain for people he feels are beneath him. But the loss of his sword hand had a profound impact on who Jaime is, because in many ways, his fighting ability was his personality. After being accosted by Brienne for feeling sorry for himself, Jaime turned into one of the more ambiguous characters in Thrones, at first siding with humanity's most evil person (Cersei) but showing he is not above compromise and searching for the best path forward.

He is not an unreasonable man, and despite his reputation as a legendary swordsman, he has repeatedly balked at violence if and when problems could be solved by other means. Presented with a wight in "The Dragon and the Wolf," Jaime was quick to see how dire the situation is for humanity, and was willing to help out Jon and Daenerys, even after the latter melted thousands of his men in open combat.

Though Jon Snow's pure brand of heroism is what fantasy fans tend to expect from a leading man, it is Jaime's conflicted brand of diplomacy that best fits the Thrones idea of a hero. He is not the perfect knight in shining armor, but he is willing to shoulder the burden of disdain if it means his actions have positive consequences for others.

He has important ties to the leaders in the north

Thrones fans have focused on the importance of Jon Snow's true identity being revealed, and rightfully so. While this is an important development for Jon/Aegon first and foremost, it also has the potential to bring Jaime's story full circle in the closing hours of Thrones.

Now that Jon is on the verge of finding out he has Targaryen blood pulsing through his veins, there will be an opportunity for Jaime to restore his honor to that family, in a sense. By aligning himself with the true heir to the Iron Throne, whether in a battle against the White Walkers or just in general, Jaime can fulfill the Kingsguard vows he took all those years ago, only with a different, younger descendent of the house.

Jaime is not necessarily bound by "honor" (see: killing the king he was sworn to protect), but once again, it's worth reiterating his moral fluidity. Much to the chagrin of his father Tywin, Jaime has never aspired to be tangled in the politics of Westeros. Instead, he has always sought to play his part in the best way he knows how, as a protector of the realm's most important people. That is the instinct that led him to pursue a spot in the Kingsguard to begin with, despite that title stripping him of the right to marry or inherit any land.

It sets up one last (and important) reunion

Though they haven't exactly been strangers since Tyrion skipped town, it just feels right for Jaime and his little brother to finally get the time together they've been missing.

Season 7 was jam-packed with reunions all over Westeros, but the bond between these two brothers deserves some more exploration. They are perfect foils to one another, and though Cersei derided Jaime recently by calling him the dumbest member of the family, he is keenly aware of his weak spots. This is why he's drawn to his brother Tyrion. Despite his physical limitations, Tyrion's intelligence and wit has helped him thrive in a world not built for him to succeed, and Jaime admires that about him.

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Once again, this relationship and the value they draw from it reflects the Thrones ethos. Both brothers have their blind spots, both have done unscrupulous things in order to get by, yet ultimately they make each other better by picking their counterpart up in moments of need. Deep down, I don't think that fact is lost on either brother, and that's why you can see pain in Tyrion's face when Drogon is melting Jaime's army in "The Spoils of War."

For humanity to survive, it needs to double down on these sort of partnerships. Jon and Daenerys are the obvious power couple heading into season 8, but do not underestimate the Lannister brothers, whose combined strength is greater than the sum of their parts.