clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The Ship That Was Promised: Arya and Gendry Are Westeros’s New “It” Couple

Game of Thrones’ earned its early reputation as one of HBO’s skeeziest hits. But in its final season, the show finally delivered a truly romantic sex scene with Arya and Gendry’s pre-battle bone-down.

HBO/Ringer illustration

A girl has no V-card.

In the second episode of Game of Thrones’ final season, Arya and Gendry fulfilled Robert Baratheon’s Season 1 pledge to Ned Stark to join their houses by having a literal romp in the hay. “I’m not spending my final hours with you two miserable old shits,” Arya tells the Hound and Beric Dondarrion as she leaves them on the Winterfell battlements to go and prep for the fight. Gendry later finds her shooting arrows and gives her the dragonglass spear he forged for her. In addition to killing White Walkers, dragonglass also appears to be a potent aphrodisiac for compact assassins; within minutes, Gendry has taken his own damn pants off, at Arya’s request.

Game of Thrones doesn’t have the best reputation when it comes to sex scenes. Nor should it. The show’s first episode brought “twincest” into the popular vernacular. The current central romance is between an aunt and her nephew. A truly messed-up percentage of its prominent female characters have been sexually assaulted. A truly messed-up percentage of its prominent male characters have had their dicks cut off. Almost every single sex scene in the show’s run has been at least partially gross, from Littlefinger-arranged King’s Landing orgies to Melisandre’s leech-based and shadow-baby-producing seduction techniques.

Then there are the relationships themselves. Tormund Giantsbane’s appreciation of the newly knighted Ser Brienne of Tarth is endearing but unreciprocated, and while Brienne and Jaime obviously have strong feelings for each other, Jaime and his evil sister have an incest baby on the way, so it seems improbable that he and Brienne will actually hook up. The show’s romances from earlier seasons were also usually tainted. Tyrion was sweet with Shae—until he straight-up murdered her. As much as Dany and Drogo eventually grew to love each other, their relationship began with a rape, which cast a pall over their partnership. And while Robb and Talisa had genuine passion for each other, the fact that they ended up getting horrifically massacred because of how horny they were makes it impossible to enjoy their sex scenes now.

There have been a few rare and welcome exceptions, like Grey Worm and Missandei’s first time in bed, and when Sam and Gilly finally got together. Jon and Ygritte also had one of the sweetest pairings when the wildling deflowered the Prince Who Was Probably Promised in that cave. (Even though they probably smelled rank—think about it, I didn’t see any soap among the stalagmites! If Olly hadn’t killed Ygritte, I’m almost positive that a cosmically gnarly UTI would have.) Arya and Gendry have joined the few, the proud, and the nonrevolting horny couples in the show’s run, and while they’re both a little rough around the edges, they clearly have access to the Westerosi version of a loofah.

And they didn’t just have a nice sex scene by Game of Thrones standards—it was one of the most emotionally healthy hookups on television, ever. The pair had already built a solid foundation of friendship based on mutual respect over several seasons: After meeting as Night’s Watch recruits in the first season, both on the run from the capital for their own reasons, they quickly grew close after Gendry defended “Arry” from would-be attackers. In Season 2, Arya trusted Gendry enough to tell him the truth about her family, and she helped him survive by lying to Lannister soldiers about his identity. When Gendry decided to join the Brotherhood Without Banners, Arya already cared so much about him that she asked him to come to Winterfell. “I can be your family,” she says. When they finally reunited there so many years later, older and randier, this respect allowed them to be playful despite the threat of imminent annihilation at the icy hands of an undead army.

In between shifts hammering dragonglass, Gendry admired his crush not just for her looks but also for her startlingly strong dart-throwing abilities and general murder skills. He took her seriously and gave her a thoughtful gift—a hand-crafted spear. This was clutch; while Gendry’s older age and more advanced sexual experience (he’s slept with three women, after all) could’ve lent itself to an unbalanced power dynamic with Arya, it turned out Flea Bottom’s Finest had a lot of time to think about the importance of enthusiastic consent while he was rowing all those years. He let Arya take the lead, and when the pair finally found themselves alone, she was comfortable enough in their relationship to ask for a forthright discussion of their sexual histories. After minimal prompting, Gendry copped to getting leeched by a witch; Arya confided her virginity openly and without embarrassment. “I want to know what it’s like,” she tells him, making so much direct eye contact one had to wonder whether Arya bunked with a Free Cities sex therapist on the boat back from Braavos. And even though they didn’t appear concerned about birth control, considering the circumstances (potentially imminent death) it seems fair to guess that other things were more important in the moment.

Westeros is almost completely devoid of functional high-born couples, now that Dany and Jon have had their whole awkward it’s-not-you-it’s-me-being-related-to-you-and-also-heir-to-the-Iron-Throne chat. If both parties survive the Battle of Winterfell, Arya and Gendry might end up as the most promising and non-incest-y power couple in the realm.

I couldn’t be more worried about them. Arya had reason to stay up and brood even after hooking up with the dude with the most documented physical stamina on the continent. While Game of Thrones might break with tradition and give its audience a genuinely heartwarming sex scene every once in a while, it never lets all its major characters survive its biggest moments, and the next episode is set to be the show’s most elaborate battle ever. There’s a good reason why the couple had sex like it was their last night in the world. It just may be.

Disclosure: HBO is an initial investor in The Ringer.