If you haven't finished Game of Thrones Season 6 yet, GTFO this article!
Remember Gendry? The bastard son of Robert Baratheon, unacknowledged, was a firm fan favorite before rowing away in his boat and disappearing off the face of Westeros in the Season 3 finale, "Mhysa". Every season since has prompted wild speculation about Gendry's imminent return, but still he hasn't been seen on dry land.
Season 3 feels like a very long time ago now. More happened in Season 6 alone than the previous two combined, Westeros now unrecognisable from the land of dreams that Stannis Baratheon and Robb Stark harbored fantasies of wrestling the Iron Throne out of Joffrey's clutches. Many of the great game's biggest players are dead, and the story is no longer one of cut-throat ambition, but survival.
And yet, despite all of that, there may now be a bigger place for Gendry in Game of Thrones than at any point since we saw him last. The reason is simple.
Arya Stark Is On The Move
Almost since the very beginning, Arya has been travelling, accumulating survival skills, learning more about who she is and who she wants to be and, most recently, checking names off her list. Season 7 finds Arya at a crossroads, travelling Westeros again after two years stuck in Braavos, the only city in the known world where people care more about damaged oranges than girls with stab wounds.
As evidenced by her travels with both Gendry and the Hound, Arya has always worked best with a verbal sparring partner. Alongside a male companion, the enemy views Arya as a little girl. They underestimate her. And they pay the price. But more than that, Arya typically soaks up the best of those around her.
Her relationship with Gendry went beyond friendship to something more closely resembling family, at a time when she had no family of her own on hand. Even now that Jon and Sansa have taken back Winterfell for House Stark, what are the chances of that news having yet reached Arya?
Besides, if this latest incarnation of Arya Stark — the one who prizes vengeance above all, who took such obscene pleasure in the slaughter of Walder Frey at his own dining table — were to return home now, would Jon Snow make allowances for what she has become? Would Sansa recognize her sister?
On the face of it, Sansa has suffered more than Arya, but she's channelled that suffering into something more positive: The ability to think and act like a political player. She is the Catelyn Stark to Arya's Lady Stoneheart; while Sansa plays the long game, engaging in a dangerous power play with Littlefinger, Arya is all about the next kill. If anyone is going to help restore a little of the humanity she's shed along the way, it's Gendry.
The Sandor Clegane Equation
If there's one obstacle sitting in the way of this long-awaited reunion, it's the Hound. When episode 7 of this season confirmed that Sandor Clegane was alive, well, and ready to start taking lives again as a result of the massacre at his camp, it seemed certain that Cleganebowl was on the cards — at least for one week, until Cersei's trial by combat was cancelled.
That begs the question of what the Hound was brought back for if not a play date with his big brother and oldest tormentor, Frankenstein's Mountain. Personally speaking, the reluctant companionship of the Hound and Arya was my favorite Game of Thrones pairing. Seeing them reunited in Season 7 would be particularly thrilling now that the dynamic has shifted — she the callous killer, he the one with a little more heart.
One more thing to consider: Freshly exiled from Winterfell, Melisandre (who has history of her own with Gendry — clip above) has nowhere to go. While she could disappear from the face of Westeros, it's worth remembering that she promised Arya way back in Season 3 they would meet again. Their previously interaction could be read as a predictor of Arya's kill list, and the Red Woman clearly believes she has unfinished business with the younger Stark daughter.
I don't know if Gendry will ever return to Game of Thrones, but it would be out of character for a show which leaves zero loose ends to leave a fan favorite lost at sea. Arya is headed home to her family — and as she once told Gendry, he is family.