Game of Thrones, Season 3

Arya and Gendry: Another Stark-Baratheon Romance That Will Never Happen
Talking television.
April 30 2013 3:59 PM

Game of Thrones, Season 3


Arya and Gendry: Another Stark-Baratheon romance that will never happen.

Robb Stark has his family’s sense of honor, and Sansa has its sense of duty. Arya, though, possesses a Stark trait that is particularly useful to her: resiliency. Sure, Ned put his honor ahead of his well-being and got his head lopped off, so maybe it skips a generation, but his ancestors did not lord over the North for thousands of years without a considerable knack for survival.

Arya has been separated from the rest of her family and dragged around the Seven Kingdoms, lost the protection of Yoren, and escaped from Harrenhal—where she was a servant to her brother’s sworn enemy—unscathed. She’s been scrappy and tough. And the one bit of consistency in her life, the one bright spot through the grief and the fear and the uncertainty, has been her friendship with Gendry. And now she’s about to lose him, too. She’ll survive, no doubt, but it seems especially cruel to lose her only friend on top of everything else.               

Arya has had a particularly bad go of it lately. The Hound, facing judgment for killing the butcher’s boy Mycah, survived his trial by combat. Thoros is a benevolent kidnapper, but she’s still his hostage, and she doesn’t trust him. The enormity of what’s happened to her is starting to show. All of which makes her farewell scene with Gendry in this week’s episode so sad. He’s been with her since King’s Landing, and he kept her identity secret. But now he wants to stay and work for Lord Beric. And Arya must continue on to Riverrun.

When Arya—fearing that the Lannisters will kill him—explains that he could serve Robb, Gendry explains that he’s been serving people his whole life and never had a say in it. And Arya, who spent her childhood bristling at wearing gowns and taking embroidery lessons when she’d have preferred to be dueling, knows she can’t argue with that. And then Gendry shyly but bravely confesses his love.

When reading the books’ account of their journey together—toward the Wall, back to Harrenhal, and then in the company of Thoros and Beric—you’re rooting for their young love, even though they don’t recognize their feelings themselves. (Frankly, Arya’s a little too young.) So it’s nice to see it acknowledged, however hopeless it might be, in the show. It’s another example of the show making explicit something that’s implicit in the books—and making the viewing experience all the richer for it.

And of course, the moment is poignant for viewers in a way that Arya and the smitten Gendry can never know. Robert Baratheon loved Arya’s aunt, Lyanna Stark, and started a war with the Targaryens when Rhaegar Targaryen kidnapped her. Later, King Robert talked Ned into pairing Sansa with Joffrey (with Robert unaware that Joffrey wasn’t his son, and Ned unaware that he wasn’t much of a gentleman). The Starks and Baratheons have long been friends and allies and have often come close to joining their houses, only to see circumstances rip them apart. And of course, we know that Gendry is Robert’s bastard. He has no idea when he tells Arya, “You’d be milady” that such a proposition isn’t as ridiculous as it seems. In a kinder world, the two could have grown up and fallen in love and told their royal children about the exploits of their noble grandfathers. But this is Westeros.

Rachael Larimore is a Slate senior editor.



Slate Plus Early Read: The Self-Made Man

The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.

Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada. Now, Journalists Can’t Even Say Her Name.

Mitt Romney May Be Weighing a 2016 Run. That Would Be a Big Mistake.

Amazing Photos From Hong Kong’s Umbrella Revolution

Transparent Is the Fall’s Only Great New Show

The XX Factor

Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada

Now, journalists can't even say her name.


Lena Dunham, the Book

More shtick than honesty in Not That Kind of Girl.

What a Juicy New Book About Diane Sawyer and Katie Couric Fails to Tell Us About the TV News Business

Does Your Child Have Sluggish Cognitive Tempo? Or Is That Just a Disorder Made Up to Scare You?

  News & Politics
Sept. 29 2014 11:45 PM The Self-Made Man The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.
Sept. 29 2014 7:01 PM We May Never Know If Larry Ellison Flew a Fighter Jet Under the Golden Gate Bridge
Dear Prudence
Sept. 29 2014 3:10 PM The Lonely Teetotaler Prudie counsels a letter writer who doesn’t drink alcohol—and is constantly harassed by others for it.
  Double X
Sept. 29 2014 11:43 PM Lena Dunham, the Book More shtick than honesty in Not That Kind of Girl.
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 29 2014 8:45 AM Slate Isn’t Too Liberal, but … What readers said about the magazine’s bias and balance.
Brow Beat
Sept. 29 2014 9:06 PM Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice Looks Like a Comic Masterpiece
Future Tense
Sept. 29 2014 11:56 PM Innovation Starvation, the Next Generation Humankind has lots of great ideas for the future. We need people to carry them out.
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 29 2014 11:32 PM The Daydream Disorder Is sluggish cognitive tempo a disease or disease mongering?
Sports Nut
Sept. 28 2014 8:30 PM NFL Players Die Young. Or Maybe They Live Long Lives. Why it’s so hard to pin down the effects of football on players’ lives.