Bronn is at a crossroads, and I don’t mean the inn where Hotpie makes his hot pies. What will his next move be, now that he’s on Cersei’s radar and he’s seen Drogon and the Dothraki in action? The Lannisters still owe him and, being a sellsword through and through, he is determined to collect that debt. Which Lannister allegiance is most valuable to him at the moment, and what consequences might follow from his decisions?
First, let’s brush up on Bronn’s relationship with the Lannisters. He and Tyrion forged a bond in season 1 when Bronn learned that Tyrion was a Lannister, and therefore rich. He gave up his room to Tyrion at the Crossroads Inn, fought Lysa Arryn’s champion for him at the Eyrie, accompanied him on the dangerous journey to meet with Tywin at Riverrun, and procured Shae for him. The basis of Tyrion and Bronn’s relationship was quid pro quo — Tyrion needed protection and Bronn wanted gold. But beyond that, they found common ground in their mutual appreciation for drink, women and witty repartee.
Bronn continued to profit from this alliance once Tywin named Tyrion acting Hand of the King, becoming Commander of the City Watch then Ser Bronn of the Blackwater. When Tyrion was demoted to Master of Coin, Bronn remained his companion and protector (but, being Bronn, raised the price for his services).
When Jaime returned to King’s Landing without his right hand, Tyrion engaged Bronn to train with Jaime so he could learn to fight with his left. In turn, the mercenary developed a relationship with the older Lannister brother. Bronn was instrumental in convincing Jaime to visit Tyrion in the dungeon after he was accused of killing Joffrey, and truly regretful when he declined to fight against the Mountain in Tyrion’s Trial by Combat. Bronn, who at that point betrothed to Lollys Stokeworth of the Crownlands, simply had too much to lose, and he and Tyrion parted as friends.
Jaime sought out Bronn in season 5 and convinced him (or forced him, depending on who you ask) to accompany him on his mission to rescue Myrcella Baratheon from the Martells. In return for his service, Jaime promised Bronn a better castle and a prettier fiance. Bronn’s betrothal to Lollys Stokeworth was annulled, and the parameters of his and Jaime’s relationship established. He continued to fight at Jaime’s side throughout season 6 and 7, until the Loot Train battle changed the game.
Even though Jaime tossed him a saddle bag full of gold in “The Spoils of War,” Bronn still complained that he hadn’t yet been given the castle he was promised. Then, in “Eastwatch,” after Bronn’s gold had been incinerated and he had rescued Jaime from both Drogon and a watery grave, he told Jaime he’s not allowed to die until Bronn gets what’s owed him. Bronn also enlightened Jaime on the nature of their partnership, telling him that it ends with dragons. He’s not going to be hanging around King’s Landing when and if Dany rains fire on the Red Keep.
And yet, Bronn is remains in the capitol long enough to set up the secret meeting between Tyrion and Jaime. This means two things: he has obviously established a line of communication with Tyrion, and they still trust each other. We don’t yet know how Jaime feels about Bronn’s role in facilitating the meeting, except that he flinched when Cersei asked him if he’s going to punish Bronn. If Jaime’s past behavior is any indication (visiting Tyrion in the dungeons and orchestrating his escape behind Cersei’s back), he will not punish Bronn but instead warn him to leave King’s Landing for fear that Cersei will take his punishment into her own hands. But Jaime and Cersei are in different positions now than they were back in season 4.
Jaime has seen the lengths to which Cersei will go to destroy her enemies, and is more wary of her now. Cersei relishes the power she wields as Queen of the Seven Kingdoms and lacks any sense of restraint now that all of her children are dead. She is also confident in Jaime’s devotion since she told him of her pregnancy. When she warned him never to betray her again, fear registered on Jaime’s face. He suspects that even he has become expendable to Cersei. If he fails to punish Bronn, she could consider that a betrayal, thus putting him in a dangerous position.
However, Jaime cannot ignore the noble instincts that led him to murder the Mad King and set Tyrion free — it is unlikely that those instincts will allow him to betray Bronn. Despite the consequences he may face, Jaime will probably give Bronn a heads-up so Bronn can get out of King’s Landing before Cersei finds him. At that point, Bronn will be free to strike out on his own, but he won’t do it. Why? Because he is a sellsword and the Lannisters owe him.
He will realize that he’s not going to collect his debt from Cersei, and since Jaime has no autonomy, he won’t be able to get it from him, either. So who’s left? Tyrion. Bronn has witnessed the awesome power of Drogon and the fighting prowess of the Dothraki, so it is reasonable for him to believe that Dany will defeat Cersei, and that once she does, Tyrion will be in a position to give him the gold and castle he was promised and then some. Bronn and Tyrion are in communication and still have a rapport with each other, so it is likely that Bronn will go to Dragonstone to market his services. Dany will probably allow it because Bronn possesses strategic knowledge of Cersei’s position and Tyrion will vouch for him. (Even though Dany has been disenchanted with Tyrion of late, he still serves as her Hand of the Queen).
Assuming all this happens, what will it mean for Jaime when Cersei finds out that Bronn is aligned with Dany and Tyrion? Because of course she’ll find out, and when she does, she’ll know that Jaime did not punish him and suspect that he defied her by warning Bronn to leave King’s Landing. Will she deem Jaime’s decisions acts of treason? Probably, but will it be enough for her to move against Jaime? If it is, hopefully he will get wind of her intentions in time to fulfill the Valonqar prophecy and rid Westeros of her tyranny once and for all.
Then, Tyrion will be able to pay the Lannisters’ debt to Bronn, and Bronn can live in peace in his castle, counting his gold and swilling wine…at least until the White Walkers come for him.