[Editor’s Note: The following review contains spoilers for “Game of Thrones” Season 7, Episode 5, “Eastwatch.”]
On Sunday night, at long last “Game of Thrones” saw fit to bring back everyone’s favorite blacksmith, Gendry (Joe Dempsie).
It turns out that the bastard has been hiding out in Flea Bottom, one of the poorer districts of King’s Landing, working in a small forge. The last time Gendry was on screen was four seasons ago when he escaped from Dragonstone in a rowboat provided by Ser Davos (Liam Cunningham). Hence, the joke Davos told upon arrival, ”Wasn’t sure I’d find you here. Thought you still might be rowing.”
In Season 1, Gendry’s status as the bastard son of King Robert Baratheon (Mark Addy) meant that he had to flee King’s Landing once Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) ascended the throne and decided to have all of Robert’s bastards killed. Among the group of people he’s traveling with to join the Night’s Watch, he met Arya (Maisie Williams) masquerading as a boy and sees through her disguise. They’re captured, made prisoners, enslaved at Harrenhal, make their escape, and get caught by the Brotherhood Without Banners.
At this point, the Brotherhood sold Gendry to Melisandre (Carice van Houten) so she could use his powerful king’s blood to help Stannis (Stephen Dillane) take the Iron Throne. After three leeches fat on Gendery’s blood were burned and therefore supposedly caused the deaths of three usurpers to the throne, Gendry’s fate was sealed as a ritual sacrifice. Fortunately, this is when Davos stepped in and helped him flee.
Gendry’s Possible Roles in the Great War
Having Gendry by Jon Snow’s (Kit Harington) side while battling White Walkers brings the series back full circle, when their fathers Robert and Ned Stark (Sean Bean) fought side by side during Robert’s Rebellion, and later when Ned became Robert’s Hand of the King. Of course, all signs point to Rhaegar Targaryen as Jon’s real bio dad, and Robert had killed Rhaegar, so that’s awkward. Nevertheless, neither one knew their real fathers so maybe that won’t be an issue.
Having Gendry be a fighter who knows how to wield a battle hammer — adorned with a Baratheon stag no less — will no doubt be helpful, and if he survives to the other side of this war, he could forge (ha!) a sentimental alliance. Robert had always wanted one of his kids to marry one of Ned’s kids, and at first that seemed it would be Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) and Sansa (Sophie Turner), although that betrothal wasn’t honored.
Besides, Joffrey was never Robert’s true child, but Gendry is. It’s possible that he could reunite with Arya these many years later and feel something more than older brother vibes from before. Arya is a young woman now and isn’t so much of a tomboy struggling to fit into her noble birth. Instead, she’s come into her own as a confident (perhaps too confident) killer and spy. They feel far more on equal footing than before.
All of those symbolic roles aside, Gendry could be far more instrumental in winning the war. Of course it’s not lost on any fan that he’s a blacksmith and that forging more Valyrian steel blades — the only other substance besides dragonglass that can slay White Walkers and wights — would be helpful to defeat the army of the dead. The art of forging Valyrian steel has been lost though, which is why the few blades left in the world are so precious: Jon Snow’s Longclaw, the dagger that Arya now possesses, Oathkeeper — which was given to Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) by Jaime (Nicolaj Coster-Waldau), Joffrey’s blade Widow’s Wail, and the ancestral sword Sam (John Bradley) stole from House Tarly, Heartsbane.
Tywin had Oathkeeper and Widow’s Wail reforged from Ned’s original blade Ice, though, and therefore he found someone who knew how to work with Valyrian Steel. In the books, it’s Tobho Mott (Andrew Wilde) who reforged the blades, who just happens to be the same man whom Gendry worked under for 10 years. It’s possible that Tobho may have passed on some of his knowledge to Gendry.
Forging fresh Valyrian steel is a slightly different matter though. Legend has it that it requires a combination of spells and dragonfire. And that brings us to the final crazy theory below.
Gendry May Be the Third Person to Fly on Dragonback
We’ve already seen Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) ride Drogon, but she also has two other dragons: Viserion and Rhaegal. Seeing how easily Drogon was able to dispatch swaths of Lannisters, it really is a no-brainer that the dragons would be a far more direct way of killing an army of the dead than with just blades. Why settle on hand-to-hand combat using dragonfire-forged steel, when you can have actual dragonfire with just one word? We’ve seen men on fire twice now this season. Third time’s the charm. Dracarys.
Besides, there is a whole theory from the books that is interpreted as three dragon riders are needed to win the war. When Dany was in the House of the Undying, Rhaegar mentions that “the dragon has three heads,” which also refers to the Targaryen sigil. Targaryens are famed dragonriders, a skill that has helped them win wars in the past because, well, they fly and spew fire.
But not just anyone can ride a dragon, and in the books Quentyn Martell died trying to tame Viserion. For the most part, dragons seem to trust Targaryens, and that’s why seeing dragon-whisperer Jon Snow at work in Sunday’s episode was such a big deal. It’s the worst-kept secret in Westeros that he’s Rhaegar Targaryen’s son, so he’s the obvious choice for the second dragon rider, probably riding Viserion because he’s the most light-colored dragon. After all, Jon Snow’s direwolf is Ghost, who is white.
As for the third rider, therein lies the fun. How many other secret Targaryens are there in Westeros and beyond? According to fan theories, many. The leading one is that Tyrion is a secret Targaryen. His mother may have slept with King Aerys, and that may also be why Tywin hated Tyrion so much, why Tywin kept saying he was “no son of mine,” why Tyrion doesn’t look like his siblings, and why Tyrion survived an interaction with Viserion and Rhaegal unscathed back in Essos. There haven’t really been any hints of that since then though.
Another theory posits that Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright) will warg into a dragon and “fly” that way since the old Three-Eyed Raven promised he’d never walk again but would fly. We’ve already seen Bran flying in a flock this past episode, so it’s not hard to make that leap into dragons. Bran is a Stark through and through, but George R.R. Martin himself once teased that “the third will not necessarily BE a Targaryen…”
But where does Gendry come into all this? Although this lineage is not emphasized on the show, a Baratheon family tree reveals that Gendry’s great-grandmother was Rhaelle Targaryen, married to Lord Ormond Baratheon. That means that Gendry has Targaryen blood in him, albeit a far weaker strain than Daenerys and Jon’s, who each had one Targaryen parent.
Still, this bit of Targaryen blood could give Gendry the edge to be able to work with dragonfire to forge new Valyrian steel since Daenerys the Unburnt has proven to be impervious to fire. And of course if those giant dragon nostrils can pick up on it, that blood could get him in the door with the dragons. Gendry’s newfound heroism and interest in throwing himself into the thick of things make it seem like he’d be far more game to fly a dragon than Tyrion would be, and more focused than Bran. This theory may seem far-fetched, but judging by the interaction Gendry and Jon had, they acted as if they’re related by far more than just their perceived illegitimacy and fathers’ bond.
Gendry is ready. He doesn’t know what for, but he’s all in now. Fighting the dead from the air has to be preferable to going mano a mano with White Walkers. Besides, we’ve only just gotten Gendry back. Having him on the back of the dragon will ensure his safety that much more.
“Game of Thrones” airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO.