The fourth episode of Game of Thrones’ seventh season brought with it the return of Arya Stark to her home in Winterfell, which, according to showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, was inspired by the tale of Odysseus.
“The inspiration for the scene was Odysseus returning after his long wanderings. No one recognizes him,” Benioff said. In the same way, Arya has gone through a lot since she was last at Winterfell, and both she and her home have changed considerably since she left.
“You see her looking at Winterfell from that vantage point on the hill—I would hope that it stirs some emotion in you that this girl who’s been through what she’s been through, and experienced many of the insane and awful things she’s experienced, and come out the other side stronger for it, is finally coming home,” Weiss said, going on to note that, like Odysseus, “the second she comes home she realizes that it’s not the same place.”
Benioff went on to note how Arya and Sansa’s reunion in “The Spoils of War” shows how both characters are quite similar to how they were several seasons ago, just with their personalities intensified, with Arya growing more into a fighter and Sansa being more ladylike.
At the same time, they’ve both changed considerably during their time apart, and Benioff notes that while the two have “come to respect the other in terms of how they’ve grown as people,” there is still tension between them. We see that clearly during the Arya’s sword battle with Brienne, as Sansa watches in amazement as her sister holds her own, realizing that “Aria is really good at killing people,” which Benioff notes “is a bit worrisome” for Sansa, especially after learning of Arya’s kill list and knowing she now has the catspaw dagger in her possession.
For more on “The Spoils of War,” check out this incredible Davos-related throwback, as well as this detailed look at the Golden Company and why they are important.