LA,August9:Among its many accomplishments, the fourth episode of Game of Thrones‘ seventh season earns marks for Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) perfectly encapsulating Bronn (Jerome Flynn), his mercenary companion who has served House Lannister more or less without interruption since the series began: “Bronn of the Blackwater, formerly of whatever nameless shit heap you’re from, with a sack of gold complaining about not being paid.”
It’s the most accurate summation of Bronn’s character yet: a man from beginnings so humble they make the word “humble” squirm with discomfort, steadily rising the ranks from snarky sellsword into snarky sellsword who is owed a castle and won’t soon let you forget it.
The same man who fought against mountain men on the way to the Vale all on the promise of payment, then switched sides to fight for his captive as soon as he realized the prisoner was the richer man, went on to become one of recent history’s most unsung war heroes.
He befriended two of the wealthiest individuals in Westeros, accompanied one of them to the southernmost reaches of the continent, has quietly bragged about exploring the northernmost reaches of the continent, and has now not only laid eyes upon one of the world of ice and fire’s most mythical creatures — a ferocious dragon — but fought the thing and lived to tell the tale.
In short: Bronn of the Blackwater, it doesn’t matter what heap you come from. You, sir, are a badass, now and forevermore. Read on for our round-up of the seven best moments involving one of Thrones‘ very best characters, main and otherwise.
1. The First Trial
We first see Bronn in combat as he accompanies Catelyn Stark (Michelle Fairley) on her journey to bring Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) to the Eyrie, but his true capabilities are on full display during the trial by combat scenario in which he fights a knight of the Vale with nothing more than a sword and smooth movements on his side. Without the burden of heavy armor and honor weighing him down, Bronn easily tires and defeats his opponent, slowly stabbing him through an exposed point in his armor, then kicking him out the Moon Door for added insult. It’s one of the most memorable scenes from the first season, one that solidifies exactly what you’re getting when you run into Bronn: an unfair fight, and a flashy one at that.
2. The Boring Game
As much as he owns the spotlight whenever there’s a sword in his hand, Bronn earns his status as one of Game of Thrones‘ greatest side-characters in quieter scenes as well. For instance, another season one scene: Bronn participating in a drinking game with Tyrion and Shae (Sibel Kekilli), a rare moment of genuine drunken joy and relaxation in the midst of violent war. Put a horn of ale in Bronn’s hand, and a good time is all but guaranteed.
3. The Battle of the Blackwater
It’s where he earned his current name: “Bronn of the Blackwater,” a well-earned title due to his pivotal role in the battle against Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane) and his invading forces. One wouldn’t think to describe Bronn as “heroic,” but he’s nevertheless the man who enjoyed the hero shot during this epic season two battle, igniting a sea of wildfire with nothing more than a well-placed arrow. At the time, it was impossible to imagine a scenario in which Bronn could outdo himself as an archer. Little did we know what season seven had in store.
4. The Second Trial, or Lack Thereof
Sometimes, it’s the lack of fighting spirit that defines a man like Bronn. In season four, Tyrion, wrongfully accused of killing the king, expects to have Bronn fight for him once again in trial by combat. Bronn politely refuses his employer’s request, instead showing up in Tyrion’s prison cell wearing new robes and adornments reflecting his enhanced status. For Bronn, the value of friendship pales in comparison to the value of gold, but even he has enough heart to visit Tyrion at his lowest moment and offer one final goodbye.
5. The Sparring Sessions
Even after separating from Tyrion, Bronn remained very much employed within the Lannister camp. Shortly before Tyrion’s incarceration, Bronn took on the job of retraining Jaime Lannister as a swordsman, in light of the Kingslayer losing his fighting hand a season or so earlier. In the books, Ser Ilyn Payne is the man tasked with whipping Jaime back into fighting shape, but actor Wilko Johnson’s battle with illness required him to leave the show, leaving the door open for Bronn to fill the void. As much as the one-sided conversations between Jaime and the mute Payne are missed, especially considering the circumstances, the budding friendship between Jaime and Bronn has become one of the show’s most welcome deviations from George R.R. Martin’s source material.
6. The Dornish Treatment
In the department of unwelcome deviations from George R.R. Martin’s source material, few things come as close to securing the top dishonor as Jaime and Bronn’s excursion to Dorne in season five — a storyline invented purely for the show. It never landed, punctuated with a hokey action sequence between Jaime, Bronn and the Sand Snakes that looked more like a long lost Haim Saban show than an episode of Game of Thrones. Bronn’s inclusion in the story was the single silver lining, between getting poisoned by Tyene Sand (no need to repeat her famous line here) to getting punched in the face by Areo Hotah (the only worthwhile moment for this otherwise mistreated character). Without Bronn, the Dorne storyline would have been completely insufferable. Instead, it was just mostly insufferable.
7. The Loot Train Battle
Recency bias notwithstanding, Bronn’s appearance in the most recent episode of Thrones is filled with all-time moments. It starts quietly enough, with the sellsword mocking Jaime for receiving “one last prick in the balls” before the Queen of Thorns (Diana Rigg) said goodbye, and later mocking Dickon Tarly (Tom Hopper) for the obvious offense of being named Dickon. Then the battle begins, and Bronn gets at least three standout moments: defeating a Dothraki warrior with dirty tactics, shooting a dragon out of the sky with a massive crossbow, and risking his own life to knock Jaime out of the way of a steady stream of dragon fire. It’s not impossible that Bronn dies in the very next episode as a result of his greater choice to fight for the Lannisters and his specific decision to save Jaime from Drogon’s wrath. But if this is the end of the line, it’s a hell of a way to go out. And if it isn’t the end of the line? Well, here’s hoping for at least seven more riveting Bronn scenes before Thrones closes the books for good.
Watch the video below for the Game of Thrones cast’s preview of season seven’s battles.