“Game of Thrones” is fairly brutal when it comes to getting rid of characters and stingy about bringing them back, but Sunday night marked the return of one fan favorite: Gendry, the blacksmith and bastard son of the late king Robert Baratheon. He was most memorably Arya Stark’s friend and fellow traveler back when both were fleeing King’s Landing. Last we saw him, in season three, he was rowing away from Dragonstone, where Melisandre was plotting to sacrifice him to the Lord of Light.

Gendry could have gone anywhere after leaving but chose to return to King’s Landing, right back where he started. And that’s where Ser Davos found him Sunday, still making swords in Flea Bottom. Before Gendry even received an official invitation from Davos, the swordsmith had already agreed to accompany the old man wherever he was headed. Gendry admitted that he didn’t know how to wield a sword but brought along a war hammer — a favorite weapon of his father, in fact — which proved immediately useful when a couple of gold cloaks started making trouble. In two big swings, Gendry killed them both.

The question is: What’s his function going to be in the story? If he’s supposed to soften up his old-friend-turned-assassin Arya, then he’s headed in the wrong direction. He’s part of the Seven Samurai wannabes heading North of the Wall to take on White Walkers. The group members have a lot of disdain for one another — Gendry is rightly angry with Beric Dondarrion for selling him to Melisandre — but will no doubt find unity long enough to deliver some serious action during next week’s episode.

After that, if Gendry survives (and he will), maybe he and the Hound will head to Winterfell for a reunion with Arya. But Gendry’s ultimate role is a little unclear.

It’s unlikely he’ll be a contender for the Iron Throne even though Jon Snow’s kingly status proves that bastards can rule, and Gendry has about as much claim to the crown as Cersei. But Gendry has never proved himself as a leader so much as a worthy ally. He’s not power hungry; he’s excited simply to be extending a great friendship to a second generation, which explains why he immediately told Jon Snow his true identity despite Davos’s protestations. Gendry’s instincts were good; the men immediately bonded about being the bastard sons of great men.

If anything, Gendry’s talent for swordmaking may be his major purpose in the plot. As the apprentice of master craftsman Tobho Mott, Gendry could have learned a thing or two about forging a Valyrian steel sword. We even saw Tobho work with Valyrian steel after Tywin had the blacksmith melt down Ned Stark’s sword to create two others: Oathkeeper (now in the hands of Brienne of Tarth) and Widow’s Wail.

How convenient that Gendry might have some expertise with the exact type of sword that comes in handy against White Walkers. The only question that remains is whether he can make a war hammer out of the same material, because he could certainly put it to good use.