Sunday’s Game of Thrones brought with it a great many shocking developments and reunions, but perhaps none delighted fans more-so than Joe Dempsie’s Gendry Baratheon. The character’s rowing Season 3 exit was finally resolved with a major role to play, but it seems producers almost brought back the character even earlier.

You’re warned of full spoilers for Game of Thrones’ “Eastwatch” from here on out, but at long last, Davos’ trip to Fleabottom confirmed what we knew was coming: Robert Baratheon’s surviving bastard Gendry returns to the fight! The moment even referenced Dempsie’s “Still rowin’…” joke before the warhammer-sporting blacksmith readily agreed to join the fight; meeting Jon and venturing up north before even the credits rolled.

It remains to be seen if Gendry has any larger part to play than his newfound friendship with Jon Snow (cough, Targaryen), but as writer Dave Hill tells Entertainment Weekly, showrunners have been pondering Gendry’s return since he left:

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.

Dempsie himself confirmed as much in a separate interview, simultaneously hinting that Gendry would survive the wight hunt with a larger role to play:

Yeah, I feel like there’s stuff to explore. Gendry’s position in this war has to have some kind of constitutional value. What part he plays in the politics has still to be seen, if anything. For the moment, I’m pleased to be back involved and be one of these Avengers. […]

If he survives [the North of the Wall mission]… I would assume … I know he’s illegitimate, the last known son of the Baratheon blood line. I don’t know. He doesn’t seem like the kind of character who would make a play for power. But then maybe it could be something foisted upon him reluctantly…

We’ve plenty more to break down from Sunday’s “Eastwatch,” but check out the return for yourself above, and stay tuned for more on the final Game of Thrones Season 7 episodes.

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