HBO’s Game of Thrones is a dense series with a huge weight of history behind its story, so in practically every episode, something happens that could use a little explanation. So every week, The Verge will be diving into a scene or event from the latest installment of the series and explain how we got here. Whether you’re basically a Game of Thrones maester or you need a little reminder about previous events, we’ll try to help you keep your history straight.
After the breakneck pace of the last few episodes of Game of Thrones, this week’s episode “Eastwatch” felt like it was taking some time to reset pieces on the board for this season’s endgame. That said, some of the players who showed up this episode haven’t been on the show in years, so with that in mind, we’ll be taking a bit of time to look back at the history of tonight’s most surprising returning character.
Spoilers ahead for Game of Thrones season 7, episode 5
The seed is strong
That’s right, Gendry not-really-a-Baratheon is back, after last appearing in “Mhysa,” the last episode of season 3, which aired on June 9th, 2013. (Don’t you feel old now?) Gendry is one of Robert’s bastard sons. After Robert’s death, he flees the capital to join the Night’s Watch, since any bastard son of Robert could have endangered Cersei’s own children’s claims to the throne. (Given how murderously protective Cersei has become in recent episodes, that probably wasn’t a bad call.) In order to flee King’s Landing, Gendry joins a batch of new recruits for the Night’s Watch, which included Hot Pie and Arya Stark, who was still traveling in secret.
Power in a king’s blood
Following leaving King’s Landing, Gendry and the rest of those recruits are captured by Lannister forces that are hunting him down for most of the second season. However, he manages to keep his identity secret for that entire period, and eventually escapes Lannister custody with Arya (and Hot Pie, who ditches them to open up an inn and embrace his true calling of baking / not dying horribly). The pair then encounter the Brotherhood Without Banners, led by Beric Dondarrion and Thoros of Myr. Gendry serves the Brotherhood as a blacksmith for a while, but then the group sells him to Melisandre for two bags of gold. Melisandre believes there is power in a king’s blood, and Gendry comes from royal stock. She uses that blood in a ritual, filling three leeches with his blood, which Stannis then uses in a ritual to condemn Joffrey Baratheon, Balon Greyjoy, and Robb Stark to death. (Stannis views those three as usurpers to Robert’s throne, which Stannis believes — technically, legally — should be his.) Before Melisandre can sacrifice Gendry to the Red God, though, Davos sets him free, sticking him on a rowboat. That would be the last time we would see him for almost half a decade.
Joining Jon Snow
After so many years away, Gendry is getting right back into the thick of things. Taking up a Baratheon-stag-embellished warhammer, much like the weapon his father Robert once wielded, the last living heir of House Baratheon is joining our favorite bastard, Jon Snow, up in the North. (Although, it’s sounding like Jon isn’t a bastard after all, given this episode’s canon-nuking bombshell suggesting that Jon’s likely true father, Prince Rhaegar, secretly annulled his marriage, probably to marry Jon Snow’s mother.)
It’s particularly fitting, given that Robert’s Rebellion — where Aerys the Mad King was overthrown, setting Game of Thrones in motion — was started by a similar team-up of Gendry’s father Robert, and Jon’s supposed father Ned Stark. That same alliance was called on all the way back in the very first episode of Game of Thrones, when Robert summons Ned south to serve as Hand of the King. So it’s poetic that here, back in the North where we started, these two sons (again, sort of, in Jon’s case) are uniting to fight the ultimate threat.
Who’s who at Eastwatch
That leads us to where this episode ends, with a room full of Westeros’ finest all sniping about how much they hate each other, and reminding us when we last saw them. There’s Jon and Tormund, who don’t know Jorah, but do know Jorah’s father, Jeor Mormont. Jon respects Jorah for that, since Jeor was his mentor at the Wall. (Just as he was Sam Tarly’s mentor, which is why Sam risked his status at Oldtown to heal Jorah’s greyscale.) Tormund isn’t a fan, though, since Jeor killed a whole bunch of Wildlings. And Jeor’s hatred of the Wildlings means Jorah isn’t a Tormund fan either.
Thoros and Jorah know each other from all the way back when Thoros was part of the court at King’s Landing, back before Jorah was exiled. (This was before the show started.) And Gendry hates Thoros and Beric for literally selling him down the river, as a blood sacrifice. Oh, and there’s Davos, who saved Gendry, works for Jon Snow, and is just generally a good guy. But he’s not going on next week’s Winter Wonderland expedition.