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Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss discuss Arya’s homecoming to Winterfell during the fourth episode (The Spoils of War) of season 7:

Benioff: The inspiration for the scene was Odysseus returning after his long wanderings. No one recognizes him.

Weiss: You see her looking at Winterfell from that vantage point on the hill. I would hope 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. But second she comes home, she realizes that it’s not the same place.

Benioff: There’s a lot of homecomings in this season. I think the crucial thing here is the reunion with Sansa. In some ways, they’re very similar to who they were, except more so. You know, Sansa always wanted to be a lady. Arya always kind of wanted to be a fighter. In other words, they’re so different than they were when they last saw each other. Both of them have had difficult journeys, and difficult in their own ways. I think they come to respect the other in terms of how they’ve grown as people but at the same time, that doesn’t diminish the tension between them.

Weiss: By the end of that scene, they finally get to a place where there’s a connection that’s more genuine. And the idea with the scene was I wanted to lay in the beginnings of the storyline where Sansa realizes what Arya is now.

Benioff: Sansa doesn’t really know much about where Arya’s gone and what she’s done. Since they last saw each other, this scene was more than anything else tells her what she’s been up to. And the fact is, Brienne is a pretty legendary swordswoman, and looks like Arya maybe beat her? I mean, Sansa’s watching and she’s not quite sure, is Brienne holding back? Arya’s really good at killing people. That’s a bit worrisome.

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