I think I must have a different take on redemption than other people. See, I don’t think that you necessarily have to want redemption to be redeemed. I don’t think you have to set out on some hero’s journey with the whole goal in mind that you’re going to get your ass some redemption. I think redemption is more about the things you do, not the things you say.
Jaime may not ever say “I want to atone for my crimes” … he doesn’t have to. His actions say that. When he’s writing in the White Book, it’s obvious that he’s not the man he always dreamed he’d be, it’s obvious that his life didn’t go the way he wanted it to. It’s obvious that he does want to set things right.
And for what it’s worth, he does admit to feeling shame for what he’s done. He tells Cersei that he’s not ashamed of loving her, only of the things he did because of that love. That includes, more than anything, I would think, pushing Bran out the window. He doesn’t have to spend a million chapters bemoaning this shit. That’s not who he is. But he DOES feel guilt for it. And to say he doesn’t want to suffer to make up for anything — well, again, you don’t have to WANT it for it to happen. Jaime lost his sword hand. It was his entire identity. And losing it fundamentally changed him, whether he wanted it to or not. He doesn’t see the world the same way as he did before that happened.
I don’t think redemption is a dirty word. I don’t think it’s a bad thing. I don’t think it automatically means you’re a fucking white hat who never does anything wrong. But he’s clearly not happy with the status quo, or where his life has ended up. I don’t think Jaime is Azor Ahai reborn or anything, god no (though that would be some hilarious trolling on GRRM’s part oh god). To me, redemption simply means being dissatisfied with where you’ve ended up and wanting to do BETTER. I don’t think anyone can argue that Jaime is at that point, whether he realizes it or not (and I don’t think that he actually DOES). But why else would he have given Brienne Oathkeeper and sent her to find Sansa — whom he even SAYS is his last chance for honor?
I don’t expect everyone to agree with me. I don’t CARE if you don’t. This is what makes Jaime such a fascinating character, because there are so many ways to read this character, so many different takes on who he is. I see some people say he’s a villain, some people say he’s neither good nor evil, and some people (like me), who think he IS a good man, with about a million shades of grey making up who he is. None of these interpretations are wrong. Jaime is complex. That’s why we love him (or love to hate him).
I mean, he says it himself. There are no men like him. There’s only him.