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Seven soldiers passed through Eastwatch and into the frozen world beyond: Jon Snow (Kit Harington), the King in the North; Tormund Giantsbane (Kristofer Hivju), Foreman of the Free Folk; Beric Dondarrion (Richard Dormer), the Lightning Lord; Thoros of Myr (Paul Kaye), the Red Priest; Sandor Clegane (Rory McCann), the Hound; Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen), the Sword of the Queen; and a blacksmith named Gendry (Joe Dempsie) suddenly returned after three years on a rowboat.
Okay, he wasn’t actually rowing for three years, but it sure felt that way. Gendry, last seen on Game of Thrones in the third season, resurfaced in this past week’s “Eastwatch,” just in time to join the fool’s errand up north, where Jon and his company hope to secure a wight in order to prove to Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) and Cersei (Lena Headey) that the White Walker threat is real. Since so much time has passed since we last saw this blacksmith from Flea Bottom, surely he’s one of the most expendable characters on this fated mission, right?
Wrong! At least, wrong in this writer’s opinion. His story might not be the flashiest or most central in the grand scheme of things, but Gendry is undoubtedly an important figure in the greater fabric of Game of Thrones, with too much untapped potential to die on this expedition.
Here are a few reasons why he’ll make it out alive:
He’s a blacksmith. One of the best, in fact, apprenticing for the masterful Tobho Mott (Andrew Wilde), a man who knows how to work with Valyrian steel in the books. It’s entirely possible that Mott passed this skill along to Gendry, and if so, that makes Gendry an invaluable resource in the war against the dead, as one of the very few individuals in Westeros and the realms beyond who could make new weapons forged from the ancient metal — and as we have seen in the past, Valyrian steel is one of the White Walkers’ only known weaknesses.
He’s a blacksmith. Seriously, it’s worth repeating. The entire reason why Jon Snow traveled down to Dragonstone in the first place was the promise of dragonglass, yet another rare material that inflicts mortal damage against the White Walkers. The Targaryen stronghold is already being mined for the stuff, and a man like Gendry could prove crucial in creating powerful weapons as a result.
He’s a Baratheon. The last one, in fact, since King Robert (Mark Addy), Renly (Gethin Anthony) and Stannis (Stephen Dillane) are all long dead. Certainly, Game of Thrones doesn’t shy away from wiping out entire lines of families. See: House Tyrell of Highgarden and House Frey of the Twins as further examples. With that said, the Baratheons are one of the foundational houses in Game of Thrones, and it’s hard to imagine their line washing away completely. The house’s future rests solely on Gendry, then, as he’s the last Baratheon standing, even if…
He’s a Baratheon bastard, which brings the family full circle: Orys Baratheon is the founder of the house, a bastard who fought on Aegon the Conqueror’s behalf to defeat the last Storm King, Argilac of House Durrandon, the original rulers of the Storm Lands. After killing Argilac the Arrogant, Orys took the dead man’s stag banner and house words — “Ours is the fury” — for his own, forging House Baratheon. In other words, this great house that led to the first non-Targaryen King of Westeros was founded by a bastard. If only for story symmetry, it makes sense for another Baratheon bastard to push the family even further, perhaps with a different surname of his choosing.
He’s a best friend in waiting. Whether that’s for Arya Stark (Maisie Williams), who traveled with Gendry once upon a time, how cruel would it be for these two old friends to both be in Westeros without at least one final encounter? What’s more, Gendry and Jon Snow have become fast friends due to their fathers’ shared history — both of Jon’s fathers, really. In the days of Aegon the Conqueror, Orys became the first ever Hand of the King. What are the odds that Gendry could serve a similar capacity for Jon Snow, should the King in the North become the King of Westeros as his birthright?
In any case, there’s too much rich history under Gendry’s belt to ignore completely, certainly too much to cut off outright after only two episodes back on Game of Thrones. With few exceptions, Gendry is the safest character among the Eastwatch elite — famous last words before the blacksmith gets brutally butchered beyond the Wall, of course.
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