As Cersei says in the “Game of Thrones” Season 8 premiere, “You want a queen? Earn her.” Or, you can probably just give it another minute or two.
Perhaps the most confusing moment of the episode occurs when Euron Greyjoy (Pilou Asbæk) finally brings the Golden Company, an army of mercenaries, to Queen Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey). In exchange for the army, Euron wants to sleep with Cersei, and even possibly marry her.
Initially, she denies him and turns away, though Euron protests, “I’ve given her justice, an army and the Iron Fleet. Yet she gives me no sign of affection. My heart is nearly broken.”
Cersei, who is also angry that the Golden Company didn’t bring its elephants ― she really wanted those elephants ― calls him “insolent,” but, after refusing his offer moments earlier, takes him to her chambers anyway.
And everyone was like, “Wait, what? Why would Cersei do this?” It seems completely out of character.
Even Headey was initially against the idea of Cersei sleeping with Euron, telling Entertainment Weekly, “I kept saying, ‘She wouldn’t, she wouldn’t,’” and trying to explain “that she would keep fighting.” Showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss, though, “were adamant Cersei would do what she had to do,” Headey said.
She trusted their judgment.
Asbæk told Making Game of Thrones, HBO’s behind-the-scenes site for the show, he was part of a “big discussion” with Headey and the showrunners about the moment. “She was like, ‘It’s ... a pretty big thing that in the final season I’m sleeping with this guy,’” he added.
Sure, it’s possible Cersei was lonely. Part of the reason she slept with Lancel Lannister (Eugene Simon) was because her brother and lover Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) was away at war.
But her decision in Season 8 is a strategic one.
Cersei’s face says it all as she turns away from Euron and he protests. If she doesn’t sleep with him, she’s in danger of losing him.
Asbæk explained to Making Game of Thrones: “He’s not an idiot: He also knows, ‘I have the Golden Company, I have the biggest fleet in the world, and you need to pay up.’”
Did you see how empty the throne room was during the Season 8 premiere? At this point, Cersei is definitely trying to shore up what few alliances she has left. Remember, this is the character behind one of the series’ most famous lines, “When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die.”
She certainly hasn’t died yet. Cersei’s theme song would surely be “Survivor” by Destiny’s Child. If she believes she’s backed in a corner and could lose Euron’s support, she, as the showrunners suggested, would take this course of action.
Beyond assuring allegiances, Cersei is also likely taking measures to protect her unborn child. In Season 7, Cersei once again becomes pregnant by Jaime. This isn’t her first rodeo. Just as she convinced the realm that King Robert (Mark Addy) had fathered the other children she shared with her brother ― Joffrey (Jack Gleeson), Myrcella (Nell Tiger Free) and Tommen (Dean-Charles Chapman) ― sleeping with Euron could allow her to use a similar cover story for her newest “twincest” baby.
Continuing to deny her love for Jaime could also explain Cersei’s tears when Euron leaves.
“She goes to the place where she doesn’t want to go, which makes it more powerful sad because of who she’s not with,” Headey also told EW, talking about Jaime.
There’s also a darker theory behind Cersei’s tears: She may have already lost the baby.
In Season 7, during the scene where Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) realizes Cersei is pregnant, she appears to pass on a glass of wine. We’re not saying Westeros is at the forefront of prenatal care, but the fact that Cersei, who drinks wine like water, is refraining from partaking appears to be a tipoff to Tyrion that she’s expecting.
If she’s drinking wine again in Season 8, it could mean she’s had a miscarriage.
In the Season 5 premiere, there’s a flashback of a young Cersei being warned by a witch that she would have only three children, who would all meet an early demise. “Gold will be their crowns, gold their shrouds,” the witch forecasts. Cersei has already had three children, and each has met their end. If the prophecy is true, there won’t be a fourth.
And if Cersei doesn’t have a child to live for, anyone getting in her way should watch out. As Tyrion once told her, “You love your children. It’s your one redeeming quality.”