[WARNING: This article contains SPOILERS for Game of Thrones Season 7, Episode 5.]
The bastard son of Robert Baratheon, Gendry could have reappeared a lot earlier during Game of Thrones Season 6. Season 7 episode 5, 'Eastwatch', saw Joe Dempsie return in the role of Gendry, as Ser Davos Seaworth finds him in King's Landing. Gendry even made it past the Wall in the episode. However, according to the writer of the episode, there were previous plans to bring Gendry back before the penultimate season had even started.
The episode brought plenty of reveals for fans, including Gendry still being alive and well in Fleabottom. He was even managing to run his own Blacksmith, making a living by forging weapons for the Lannisters. (Luckily, they weren't aware of his true heritage - otherwise he might not have made it this far.) It was a rollercoaster of an episode for characters all over Westeros. The Lannister's even had their own controversial news to share. Still, one of the most noteworthy elements of 'Eastwatch' was the reunion between Ser Davos and Gendry.
The director behind the 'Easwatch' episode, Dave Hill, spoke to EW about all the big reveals and development that transpired in his Game of Thrones installment. He took the time to discuss bringing Gendry back onto the show, and revealed that Thrones showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss had discussed bringing him back in the previous season:
“We’ve always expected to bring Gendry back since we saw him rowing out. We almost brought him back in season 6 and it didn’t quite work out. We definitely wanted him here for the big mission, we wanted Robert Baratheon’s bastard son back into the show. It made sense that Davos would want to save this boy who’s like a surrogate son. And Joe is great which is a big positive.”
Whilst Gendry doesn't have a claim to the throne because he's an undeclared bastard, that doesn't seem to bother the character in the slightest. He isn't the type to try and make a play for the Iron Throne. Still, his bastard status certainly helped in striking up a friendship with Jon Snow. Joe Dempsie, the actor behind Gendry also spoke with EW about returning to the show, and how Gendry plays into the latest episode and beyond:
“After season 3, [showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss] told me Gendry is going to go off a little bit. It was always in their minds that he’d come back. I felt ready to go back. I think a lot of us, our main want, is to have some part to play in the end game. So it feels like a good time to come back in.
He doesn’t seem like the kind of character who would make a play for power. I feel like him and Jon Snow are forming a bond over the bastards thing. Part of this feels like Avengers Assemble coming together, this ill-advised mission North of the Wall. When you imagine wanting to be an actor, these are the sort of pinch-yourself moments.”
It's surprising that he hasn't made an appearance before now. But since season 6 focused on bringing Jon Snow back from the dead and had numerous other storylines to flesh out, Gendry's return could have overstuffed the season. Plus, it might have got in the way of other characters' arcs that would not have been explored as deeply, had Dempsie returned last year. Luckily, the showrunners chose the right time to bring him in from the cold. At least we know he isn't still rowing anymore.
It doesn't look like any one from the Baratheon bloodline will be taking the throne again any time soon. Still, the bastard son of Robert has certainly aligned himself with Jon and the rest of the North in their goal of stopping the White Walkers. With the next episode looking past the wall towards capturing one of the dead to prove their threat, Gendry's return may be short-lived. Some fans have speculated that Jon will be the only one to return from beyond the Wall. We will have to wait till next week to find out who makes it past the army of the dead, for certain.
Game of Thrones continues next Sunday, August 20th.