Feature Article

Game Of Thrones Season 8 Fulfills Two Fan Ships Years In The Making

Spoilers incoming!

One of the more serious reunions of Game of Thrones Season 8 is between Arya and Gendry. When the two found each other again at Winterfell in the premiere episode, it had been years since they had last seen each other, and neither knew if the other was still alive. It was nice to see the two friends together again, and the reunion helped rekindle an item that has long been on fans' wishlists: a romantic relationship between Arya and Gendry.

Arya hasn't made a lot of friends over the years. Most of her relationships have been of the revenge-fueled kind, as she's hunted down the various people who have wronged her and the Stark family. Occasionally, though, Arya makes friends, like she did with Hot Pie and Gendry, two of the kids she fled King's Landing with way back in Season 2. Gendry, in particular, was really important to Arya--and losing him in Season 3 was part of what drove her to become the super-assassin we see in the show in Season 8.

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Gendry and Arya got very close during their time on the run together. When Gendry decided to join the Brotherhood Without Banners in Season 3, they had an especially emotional moment, with Arya begging him to come with her back to Winterfell. Gendry told Arya he had no family left, to which Arya replied, "I could be your family." Though it wasn't meant to be at the time, it was clear the two youngsters felt a lot for each other. And there was that moment when Arya caught Gendry with his shirt off and definitely felt some serious ... effects.

Fans have been "shipping" Arya and Gendry ever since. That's the internet term for when a fandom imagines and talks about a romantic relationship between favorite characters. Arya and Gendry haven't seen each other since Season 3, though. When they were separated, back when they were with the Brotherhood Without Banners, Gendry got sold to the Red Witch Melisandre and carried off to Dragonstone, and Arya was spirited off by the Hound before making her way across the Narrow Sea to Braavos. Gendry escaped Dragonstone to avoid being made a sacrifice for his Baratheon blood, but the two have been apart literally for years.

That long separation hasn't done much to reduce how much fans hope to see them together, with plenty of fanfiction written that brings the two characters together. They even have their own hashtag: #Gendrya, one which got a jumpstart in the Season 8 premiere.

It's worth noting, however, that this isn't really a thing in George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire books on which Game of Thrones is based. Arya and Gendry were younger when last they saw each other--around 9 and 14, respectively. They were separated when Gendry joined the Brotherhood Without Banners, and Beric Dondarrion made Gendry a knight. He was last seen in the fourth book, A Feast for Crows, at the Inn at the Crossroads, where he saved Brienne of Tarth's life.

And for fans who haven't been thinking about #Gendrya for several seasons, the hookup in this episode might have felt a touch weird. That's because Arya is the youngest living Stark, and viewers pretty much watched her grow up on the show--so a sex scene might be a bit jarring. Arya is 18 at this point in the show, though, and while we don't know Gendry's exact age, the books put him at five years older than she is, so 23. In real life, Arya actress Maisie Williams is 22, while Gendry actor Joe Dempsey is 31.

It's been almost seven years since fans started dreaming of the angriest Stark finding some happiness in a relationship with the bastard blacksmith who just wants a family, and now it's finally happened. If they stick it out, their relationship fulfills an ambition that dates back all the way to Season 1 and Ned Stark talking with his pal King Robert Baratheon: the linking of the Stark and Baratheon houses.

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The second episode of Season 8 also paid off another major fan ship, but maybe not quite in the way fans hoped. That's the longstanding relationship between Jaime Lannister and Brienne of Tarth, both of whom have influenced each other for the better during their long, fraught, and originally antagonistic relationship.

Brienne first met Jaime back in Season 3, when Catelyn Stark charged her with returning him to King's Landing in return for the release of her daughters, Sansa and Arya Stark (she didn't know Arya had already escaped King's Landing and was on various adventures elsewhere). Though Jaime was relentlessly insulting, his time with Brienne and her intense sense of honor had a serious effect on him--especially after she saved his life on more than one occasion.

Jaime turned Brienne from hating him when they shared an intimate moment in a bathtub and he explained how he got his Kingslayer nickname: he stabbed the Mad King Aerys Targaryen in the back because the king was planning to blow up King's Landing using wildfire, killing everyone, loyalist and rebel alike. Brienne came to understand Jaime, while Jaime found the better part of himself because of Brienne's example and her dedication to her cause.

Both have warm feelings for each other, but unfortunately, Jaime is forever dedicated to Cersei no matter what happens--a fact he has lamented being unable to change about himself. But back in King's Landing in Season 4, Cersei called out Brienne for being in love with Jaime, and many fans have definitely been hoping something more might come of the pair's feelings.

Episode 2 doesn't have a hookup between Brienne and Jaime, like Arya and Gendry get, but it does have what feels like the culmination of the arc of their relationship: an abiding mutual respect. That comes when Jaime uses his status as an anointed knight to give Brienne a knighthood. It's a huge deal--Brienne is getting everything she ever wanted in that scene, and the fact that Jaime is the one who takes it upon himself to finally give her what she's earned shows how much they mean to each other.

Too bad all these intense moments of love and friendship are coming under not-great circumstances, though--Arya and Gendry might have finally elevated their relationship and Jaime and Brienne might have a complete kinship, only just in time for any or all of them to get murdered by invading White Walkers.

We've got plenty more Game of Thrones coverage this week, and every week. Check out our review of Episode 2 (and one of the premiere episode). Here's a quick rundown of what Arya might have asked Gendry to make, the meaning behind the crossbow Qyburn gave to Bronn in Episode 1, and a theory about Cersei's pregnancy. We've also got plenty of speculation and theories and a look at all the Easter eggs in the premiere episode and all its parallels to Season 1.

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Phil Hornshaw

Phil Hornshaw is a former senior writer at GameSpot and worked as a journalist for newspapers and websites for more than a decade, covering video games, technology, and entertainment for nearly that long. A freelancer before he joined the GameSpot team as an editor out of Los Angeles, his work appeared at Playboy, IGN, Kotaku, Complex, Polygon, TheWrap, Digital Trends, The Escapist, GameFront, and The Huffington Post. Outside the realm of games, he's the co-author of So You Created a Wormhole: The Time Traveler's Guide to Time Travel and The Space Hero's Guide to Glory. If he's not writing about video games, he's probably doing a deep dive into game lore.

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