Last week’s episode of Game of Thrones was full of reunions, including one between Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) and a certain Baratheon bastard who spent two entire seasons just rowing around Westeros. The show has been on the air for so long, and has so many characters, that it’s easy to forget that Gendry (Joe Dempsie) has been around since the very beginning.
[Ed. note: This post contains major spoilers for Game of Thrones season 8, episode 2.]
It was a big episode for Arya — she also had a heart-to-heart with the Hound — but most surprisingly, this week’s episode made good on some UST that’s been brewing for a while now, sending the two young royals to bed together on the eve of the White Walkers’ arrival at Winterfell.
Since the two first met, they’ve been a compelling pair. Arya, as one of the youngest characters, was too young to entertain any romantic interests when the show began, but Gendry has consistently been the only one to treat her the way she’s wanted to be treated — i.e., respected for her talents and self-sufficiency rather than her Stark name. It helps, of course, that Arya was disguised as a male street urchin (“Arry”) then, but even after discovering her true identity in season 2 as they traveled with the Night’s Watch recruits, Gendry has remained a little tongue-in-cheek about her noble lineage.
One of the best moments of the show — and one of the most revealing as the kind of life Arya has always longed for — centered on that very aspect of the dynamic between them as, while working for the Brotherhood without Banners in season 3 after escaping from Harrenhal, the two shared a brief moment talking about family. There’s been a humorous bent to their burgeoning feelings for each other — the up-and-down look Arya gives Gendry in season 2 as he, shirtless, practices his swordsmanship — but there’s been a tenderness to it, too. As Gendry explains that the Brotherhood is the closest thing he’s ever had to a family, Arya tells him that she could be his family, too. But, as he notes, that’s not to be. He’s a bastard, and as soon as they’re returned to their normal lives, they’d be kept apart. “You would be ‘my lady,’” he tells her.
It’s a line that was called back to last week, as Gendry calls her “Lady Stark” when they are finally left on their own. When she tells him not to call her that, he responds with, “As you wish, m’lady,” getting a laugh from her as well as summoning shades of The Princess Bride. Of course, what we now know for sure is that Gendry might not have to keep calling her that after all, as he’s got Robert Baratheon’s blood running through his veins — and is the last known living Baratheon, to boot.
There’s an added significance to the fact that, even after so much time apart (they haven’t seen each other since season 3) and so much character development, their rapport is much the same. Arya has become much colder — to Gendry’s fear of the White Walkers, she simply says, “I know Death” — but she still immediately warms to Gendry. From her smile simply upon seeing him during the season premiere to the consummation of their relationship in this episode, they make a good pair, and may just fulfill their parents’ wishes of a Stark-Baratheon union upon the Iron Throne.