Game of Thrones: From seasons 1-8, best scenes featuring Cersei Lannister, original badass of the Seven Kingdoms

Rohini Nair

May 16, 2019 16:43:20 IST

When the Red Keep came tumbling down on Cersei Lannister in ‘The Bells’ — episode 5 of Game of Thrones season 8 — it marked the end for one of Westeros’ most interesting characters.

Our very first glimpse of Cersei was as she watched Jon Arryn’s last rites being performed, telling her brother Jaime that he should be the new hand of the king.

By the end of that first episode, she and Jaime pushed Bran Stark out a tower window, for having discovered them in flagrante delicto.

Game of Thrones: From seasons 1-8, best scenes featuring Cersei Lannister, original badass of the Seven Kingdoms

Then and now: Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

cersei with septa unella-min

Over her eight-season arc, Cersei roused us to anger and hate, admiration, and unexpectedly — pity. Seen as an unapologetic "villain" by many, her love for her children was her "one redeeming quality" — well that, and her cheekbones, as Tyrion was wont to say.

Here’s a look back over some of her most striking moments from Game of Thrones seasons 1-8: Cersei Lannister, the original badass of the Seven Kingdoms.

Giving Joffrey lessons on the nature of power

Cersei gives Joffrey one of his first lessons on the nature of power, as she bandages the bite-wound he sustained from Nymeria’s attack on the Kingsroad, and couches the encounter in a way that depicts her son as the hero. When Joffrey protests that it's not what actually happened, Cersei tells him:

"When Aerys Targaryen sat on the throne, your father was a rebel and a traitor. Someday you'll sit on the throne — and the truth will be what you make it."

Sharing a moment of honesty with Robert Baratheon

Wanting to marry one prince (Rhaegar Targaryen), finally wed to a king (Robert Baratheon), and in an incestuous relationship with her twin (Jaime Lannister), Cersei led a complicated life. Robert’s love for Lyanna Stark ensured his marriage with Cersei was dead before it ever began, but from what she tells Catelyn (when visiting Winterfell), there might have been some hope — had the first child she had with the King survived.

She is having him poisoned through her cousin Lancel, and most of their exchanges are marked with acerbity, but we do see Cersei and Robert share a rare moment of honesty, a little before his death. She asks him about Lyanna, and when he seems surprised that she wants to talk of her “rival”, Cersei tells Robert: "What harm could Lyanna Stark's ghost do to us that we haven't done to each other a hundred times over?"

Cautioning Ned Stark against telling Robert the truth

When Ned Stark confronts Cersei with the truth about the paternity of the children, he advises her to get as far away as she can from Robert's wrath.

"And what of my wrath?" she asks.

She also tells Ned that he should have claimed the Iron Throne for himself when Aerys II Targaryen fell, delivering the series' iconic line: "When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground."

Putting Littlefinger in his place

Cersei tasks Littlefinger with finding Arya. In the course of the conversation, Cersei taunts him with his love for Catelyn Stark, so he hints at Cersei’s own affair with Jaime.

"Knowledge is power," Littlefinger tells Cersei.

She has her soldiers seize him. As they hold their knives to his throat, she declares, "Power is power".

Admitting her insecurities about Joffrey to Tyrion

When they weren't matching each other scheme-for-scheme or trading barbs or issuing some very spooky-sounding threats, Cersei had the occasional moment of genuine emotion with her least loved brother as well.

In this scene, she displays a vulnerability that is usually hidden from all but Jaime, talking about Joffrey's excesses, and wondering if that was the price of incest.

Tyrion, moved by her tears, attempts to console her by pointing out that Tommen and Myrcella are both good and sweet.

Pointing out the futility of prayer, to Sansa

During the Battle of Blackwater Bay, as the women of the court take shelter in Maegor's Holdfast, Sansa and a few others pray to the gods for mercy. Cersei tells Sansa — "The gods have no mercy — that's why they're gods."

Behind the somewhat heartless remark, however, is a painful story, as Cersei adds: "My father told me that when he found me praying as a child; you see my mother had just died and I thought if I prayed very, very hard, she would come back. I was four."

When Sansa asks if Tywin Lannister doesn't believe in the gods, Cersei shifts back to her cutting self, quipping, "Oh he believes in them. He just doesn't like them very much."

Deflecting Margaery's attempts to befriend her

The Margaery-Cersei relationship was marked by constant attempts at one-upmanship between the two queens. And while both enjoyed the upper hand at various moments in the time that they occupied the Red Keep, Cersei did have some pretty snappy comebacks to Margaery's early offers of friendship.

All those times she tried to get her father to see she was the true inheritor of his legacy

Suspicious of the Tyrells' growing influence, Cersei speaks to Tywin Lannister after a meeting of the small council. She reproaches him for not placing his faith and trust in her, instead of her brothers. She suggests that of all his three offspring, she is the only one who paid any attention to his dictums on family and legacy.

She also says she mistrusts the Tyrells and that Margaery is controlling Joffrey. Tyrion tells her he's glad at least someone can, unlike Cersei who has let him do whatever he pleased. He also tells Cersei the reason he doesn't have faith in her is because she isn't as smart as she thinks she is.

A while later, Cersei gets her own back at Tywin, by refusing to marry Loras Tyrell, even if it is at the cost of the Lannister fortunes (Tywin has previously told her the last of Casterly Rock's gold mines has run dry.) Joffrey is dead by this time and Margaery has been betrothed to Tommen, and Cersei feels like she is losing her sole surviving son.

Cersei tells Tywin she will burn the family down before she allows anyone to separate her from Tommen (the irony of course being that her own actions later drive him to suicide). She threatens her father that she will tell everyone the truth — that Tommen is a product of incest. Tywin is forced to confront that his legacy is a lie.

Cersei's walk of 'atonement'

After her ploy to get the High Sparrow to neuter the Tyrell threat backfires — and quite badly — on Qyburn's advice, Cersei decides to confess to some of her "sins" — namely, engaging in an adulterous relationship with Lancel Lannister. However, she denies the other charges against her — of incest, the illegitimacy of her children etc. She also asks to be allowed to return to the Red Keep.

The High Sparrow agrees on the condition that she completes a walk of atonement, from the Sept of Baelor to the palace. Cersei performs the walk, jeered by the crowds as she is escorted by a phalanx of the Faith Militant and Septa Unella.

It's among the most disturbing moments in Game of Thrones.

She reaches the Red Keep, crying and bleeding. Qyburn wraps her in a cloak and presents "the newest member of the Kingsguard" to her — the (raised-from-the-dead) Mountain.

When Tommen seeks her forgiveness

Still facing a trial for her "sins", Cersei isn't allowed to see Myrcella during her last rites in the Sept of Baelor. Tommen visits his mother and apologises for not being strong enough to save her from the High Sparrow and the Faith Militant.

Cersei forgives her son and promises to help him.

When she exhorts Jaime to take back Riverrun — and show their enemies what Lannisters do

Tommen, at the behest of his new Hand, his uncle Kevan Lannister, strips Jaime of his responsibilities as Lord Commander of the Kingsguard and sends him to the Riverlands, to help the Freys take back control of Riverrun from Brynden (Blackfish) Tully.

Jaime is enraged that Tommen is being controlled by the High Sparrow and lashes out.

Cersei tells Jaime that he must command the Lannister armies as their father always wanted him to, and reclaim "that stupid castle (Riverrun) because it's ours and that's what we do".

"They have no idea how strong we are," she tells Jaime, "and what we're going to do to them".

When she chooses violence

In the run-up to her trial, the Faith Militant come to take Cersei away from the Red Keep, to see the High Sparrow. She refuses; the Mountain stands between the men and her.

Lancel warns her to ask the Mountain to step aside, or there will be violence.

"I choose violence," she says, as the Mountain rips off the head of one of the Faith's men.

Decimating her enemies by blowing up the Sept of Baelor

As Margaery tries to get everyone in the Sept of Baelor to see, right before it blows up: "There's something wrong. Cersei is not here. Tommen is not here. Why do you think she isn't here? Cersei understands the consequences of her absence, and she is absent anyway. Which means she does not intend to suffer those consequences."

Alas, the High Sparrow doesn't take Margaery's words seriously enough, and is blown up (along with a fair section of the King's Landing nobility, Kevan Lannister, Mace, Loras and Margaery Tyrell) into obscurity.

Reserving a special brand of revenge for Septa Unella

After she's turned the Tyrells, her uncle and the High Sparrow into so much wildfire ash, Cersei turns her attention to her onetime gaoler and tormenter Septa Unella.

"Confess," Cersei tells Septa Unella, before launching into a confession of her own — how she has done so many things just because it feels good: from drinking, to killing her husband, and sleeping with her brother.

Then she leaves the Mountain to torture Septa Unella, calling out "Shame! Shame!".

Crowning herself Queen

Jaime returns from his campaign in the Riverlands, to find a smoking hole in the middle of King's Landing (where the Sept of Baelor stood), and in the Red Keep, Cersei's coronation is underway.

Qyburn declares her "Cersei Lannister, first of her name, Queen of the Andals and First Men, Protector of the Seven Kingdoms" as she ascends on the Iron Throne, and the crowd chants: "Long may she reign".

Inflicting payback on Ellaria Sand for murdering Myrcella

With Ellaria Sand and her daughter Tyene in her custody, Cersei proceeds to inflict vengeance on the mother for having poisoned Myrcella.

Cersei recounts in gory detail Oberyn Martell's death at the hands of the Mountain, then she plants a kiss on Tyene's lips.

A horrified Ellaria realises what Cersei has done even before the Lannister queen tells her: used the poison called The Long Farewell on Tyene, just as Ellaria did on Myrcella.

Cersei takes the antidote, then leaves the mother-daughter duo chained before each other.

Refusing to be impressed by Daenerys' dragons

When Daenerys makes her grand entrance at the Dragonpit parley, on Drogon's back, Cersei is the only one who refuses to let any emotion — wonder/fear/shock/surprise/dismay — cross her face.

All she has to say to Dany when she takes her seat is to rebuke her for being late and keeping them all waiting.

Revealing her plans to Jaime

As Jaime makes his plans to go North to help in the fight against the Dead, Cersei tells him her assent to Daenerys, Jon and Tyrion's plans was simply a ploy; that she never intended to help them.

Jaime points out the flaws in her reasoning, but Cersei lays out what she believes will be the possible outcomes, and says Euron Greyjoy will bring the Golden Company to King's Landing.

"No one walks away from me," she tells Jaime — just before he does.

Ordering Missandei's execution

With Daenerys' pitiful forces arrayed before the walls of King's Landing, and Tyrion having petitioned her to surrender so no innocent lives are lost, Cersei does what she always has — shows her utter disdain for those who seek to oppose her.

Missandei, unfortunately, is executed as a consequence.

Her death with Jaime

She may have ordered Bronn to kill both her brothers, and been angered by Jaime leaving for the North, but in her final moments, it was clear just how much Cersei still loved her twin.

Shaken by her loss to Daenerys, alone, wandering through the crumbling Red Keep, Cersei meets Jaime, who has returned for her. She is shocked to see him bleeding, but follows him into the dungeons as he asks.

There, with their escape route cut off, the twins die under the Red Keep's rubble — not the end fans expected perhaps, but a poignant one nonetheless, with the edifice they tried to hold up all their lives — no matter the moral cost — crashing down on them.

All hail Cersei, for giving Game of Thrones its edge. Long may she reign.

Updated Date: May 18, 2019 09:44:00 IST

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