WARNING: Potential SPOILERS for Game of Thrones season 7 ahead!
Game of Thrones season 7 is already shaping up to be one of its best. The episodes thus far have had a deliberate but quickened pace, moving characters across Westeros like pieces on a chess board, setting the stage for major conflicts ahead.
With opposing sides getting ready for war, alliances will prove crucial for victory. Cersei has Randal Tarley and a few of the other southern houses not willing to joine with Olenna Tyrell in open rebellion. Daenerys, on the the hand, has the Tyrells and Dorne as well as Yara Greyjoy's portion of the Iron Fleet -- well, she did, until Yara's uncle Euron destroyed her fleet in an effort to win Cersei's favor (and possibly, her hand in marriage). Still, Daenerys has her forthcoming meeting with the King in the North, Jon Snow, and he may yet prove to be a most important ally (assuming he bends the knee).
The impending meeting between the Dragon Queen and the White Wolf is easily a moment fans have been anxious to see, but there's another moment coming this season that has fans excited -- the return of Gendry, formerly an apprentice blacksmith, then a brother of the Brotherhood Without Banners, but always a bastard son of King Robert Baratheon.
First spotted filming on location with the cast in October and later confirmed as returning thanks to GQ's first impressions of the premiere, Joe Dempsie is reprising the role of Gendry for Game of Thrones season 7. But knowing Gendry is coming back isn't the same as knowing why, so here are our guesses as to why now is the right time for him to return.
To begin with, let's recall where we left off with Gendry. As Robert's only known surviving bastard, Gendry was a prisoner of Stannis Baratheon and Melisandre. They used his "king's blood" for spells and rituals to kill Stannis' enemies, eventually planning to burn Gendry at the stake as a sacrifice to the Lord of Light. Ser Davos Seaworth, however, wasn't on board with any of this blood magic and freed Gendry from his cell, putting him in a small dingy and sending him rowing towards King's Landing. That was the last we saw of Gendry, all the way back in season 3, leaving us to either assume he died on the way (he does admit to Davos he can't swim) or arrived in King's Landing and assumed a life of anonymity.
It's possible, Gendry returned to the trade that first brought him to Ned's attention -- blacksmithing, either on his own or perhaps again under his old master, Tobho Mott. Though, it'd be pretty dumb to hide in the same place you were first discovered, so Gendry might be laying low in Flea Bottom -- the slums of King's Landing, where no one pays much attention to anything or anyone. As of now, it isn't known exactly how Gendry ends up back into the game of thrones he so narrowly escaped, but with a former king's blood in his veins, anonymity just isn't a luxury a royal bastard can have in these tumultuous times.
There's also the little fact that with Robert, Renly, Stannis, and Shireen all dead (plus Joffrey, Myrcella, and Tommen for good measure), Gendry is the last surviving Baratheon -- legitimate or not. That makes him not only a potential contender for the throne, but a candidate to inherit Storm's End, the seat of House Baratheon. The castle hasn't played too large of a role in Game of Thrones and it's currently unknown just who holds it, but as conflicts heat up, Storm's End is a perfect strategic position on the eastern coast just south of King's Landing which can't go unnoticed for much longer.
So for what purpose will Gendry return? There are two possibilities, either one of which make him an invaluable asset to whomever wins the Iron Throne. And since those early set photos caught Joe Dempsie in the company of Peter Dinklage (Tyrion) and Liam Cunningham (Davos), it appears that either Daenerys or Jon will have first dibs.