It's sink or swim (or not) on Game of Thrones this week.
Spoilers for Game of Thrones Season 7 episode 4, "The Spoils of War," below
It's another cliffhanger on Game of Thrones, as Season 7 episode 4, "The Spoils of War," concluded with Jaime Lannister sinking into watery depths, wearing full armor, and apparently unconscious. What chance does the Kingslayer have to escape this soggy fate? GameSpot spoke with a real master armorer with 20 years of experience, Jeffrey Hildebrandt of Royal Oak Armoury in Saskatchewan, Canada, to find out.
Firstly, we found out that although Jaime Lannister's armor is "based kind of aesthetically on some historical armor, it doesn't really have much of a historical precedent." The lion-faced spaulders covering his shoulders, for example, are inspired by parade armor worn by Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, whose reign ended in 1556. Not exactly the type of armor a knight would realistically wear into battle, in other words.
More importantly, Jaime's gear in "The Spoils of War" appears to be made almost entirely of leather, a far cry from the Lannisters' armor of choice in the Song of Ice and Fire books, where Jaime often wears elaborate (and incredibly heavy) gilded metal plate. Will that save him from a watery grave?
Apparently not; the weight of all that leather adds up, according to Hildebrandt. "I would say it would be on the upper limit of how heavy armor ever would be," he said. "The great thing about leather armor is that it usually offers lots of flexibility. It's pretty good for mobility. But it's really heavy, and when you combine leather with metal reinforcement, it turns out to be pretty much the heaviest armor you can wear."
"He's pretty much wearing doubled-up armor below the waist, too," Hildebrandt continued. "He's got those long leather skirts right down to his knees, and he's wearing these high riding boots, and he's got leather tassets kind of hanging overtop of the longer leather skirts. So I would say that if it was real armor made out of real leather reinforced with metal, he would be super heavy."
The armor's weight won't be Jaime's only problem if he suddenly comes to his senses and tries to swim to the surface. "The actual shape of the armor would really bode badly for anyone who's trying to swim in it," Hildebrandt said. "Those long leather skirts that hang over his legs, I can't imagine trying to swim in something like that, and those long riding boots that he's got...they would act like a sea anchor."
Jaime's golden prosthetic hand, although flashy, won't help his breaststroke much, either.
So what about trying to slip out of all that gear? Historically, knights had squires to help them in and out of their armor, as it was difficult to reach every strap, buckle, and clasp by oneself. Hildebrandt thinks Jaime would have a hard time trying to doff his armor in time to escape drowning. "Trying to get all your armor off with one hand while you're sinking and unconscious at the same time, that's almost like, he's doomed," the armorer said.
"According to physics, Lannister is going down," Hildebrandt said. "Maybe he'll come back kind of undead or something, like some of the other characters have."
There's one ray of hope penetrating the water's depths: Couldn't someone jump in and drag Jaime to the surface, despite all that weight?
"Yeah, I suppose so," Hildebrandt guessed, though he emphasized that his knowledge of swimming comes nowhere near his mastery of armor.
Someone--likely Bronn, though possibly one of the Tarlys--knocked Jaime off his horse and plummeted into the water with him at the end of "The Spoils of War." Whoever it was, let's hope they're a strong swimmer. Otherwise, Jaime and Tyrion will never get their reunion, Cersei won't learn that Olenna poisoned Joffrey, and Jaime won't get to knock his sister off the throne like he did the Mad King (fingers crossed). And that would just be sad.