Game of Thrones fans who are spoiler-shy, before you read on, be warned: All Men Must Spoil. If you’re still with us, big news: eagle-eyed fans have spotted Joe Dempsie, who plays Gendry, at the Belfast airport apparently en route to the Game of Thrones set.
Recall that we haven’t seen hide nor hair of poor Gendry since the end of Season 3, when Davos sent him off in that row boat in order to save him from Melisandre’s creepy, sex-magic machinations. His four-season-long absence and the writers’ failure to follow up — did he fall overboard and drown? Did he turn into a merman? Did he take a wrong turn and end up in Essos? — has become something of a joke in the Game of Thrones fandom. Even Dempsie himself has acknowledged it.
His absence particularly stood out because in the first three seasons, his character seemed important. As Robert Baratheon’s bastard, he had a claim to the throne; his “good-hearted bastard” storyline was a nice parallel to Jon’s, and he was one of the few people in this brutal world who looked out for Arya.
But all that seemed moot when the writers sent him off in a rowboat and failed to revisit that plot point for nearly four damn seasons.
Although this is not entirely unusual — Sandor Clegane also sat out for a long stretch of episodes with his fate unknown — he was only absent from the end of Season 4 to the middle of Season 6. Even minor characters like Beric Dondarrion and Thoros of Myr returned after just a two-season absence, as did the Blackfish.
Of all the long-lost characters, Gendry has been gone the longest for the most comically vague reason. If he is returning in Season 7, we can expect this to be significant both for Arya’s story — as it was hinted she had something of a crush — and for the Brotherhood Without Banners, which he left Arya to join before falling into Melisandre’s clutches.
Arya could be bound for a reunion with not one, but two of her most intriguing traveling companions: Gendry and The Hound. Particularly now that she’s a bloodthirsty killer, that has all manner of juicy, dramatic potential. It would almost make up for her questionable Season 6 subplot.
But, of course, even if Gendry returns, we can’t expect him to enjoy any measure of smooth sailing; We know what happens to those with king’s blood in Westeros.
Game of Thrones Season 7 will air in Summer 2017.