WARNING! Spoilers below for “Game of Thrones” Season 7!
For a moment, everything was all right in the world.
In a sequence that began by inspiring a collective facepalm among viewers, a couple of guards tell Arya she “best fuck off” after showing up at the gates of Winterfell looking less than ladylike. Arya then disappears as the guards argue over which of them will tell Sansa they believe someone is impersonating her sister. Drawing on her sixth sense of familial bonds, though, Sansa follows a few minutes behind Arya, down to the crypts beneath the castle that house their father’s remains.
And then, it happened: A mocking query, and a sarcastic reply.
“Do I have to call you Lady Stark now?”
... All followed by not one but two hugs between a pair of siblings who’ve obviously moved far beyond their childhood squabbles. After promising to unload their heavy pasts on one another, Sansa reveals that Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright) is home, too ― they’d reunited the episode prior ― and she almost succeeds in hiding the edge to her voice.
But when the Stark sisters head out to Bran’s preferred weirwood hangout, he wastes no time spilling more of his eerie knowledge of events across Westeros. While Bran chose to prove his newfound powers to his eldest sister by recalling details of the night she was raped, he shows Arya he’s been keeping track of her by mentioning the kill list she used to recite before bed.
Importantly ― although exactly why is not entirely clear ― Bran gifts Arya the Valyrian steel dagger recently given to him by Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen).
Later, observing Arya using both her newfound weapon and delicate Needle to fight Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) in the courtyard like a goddamn champion, the extent that her siblings have changed and grown beyond their years seems to weigh on Sansa.
Still, even if Bran no longer considers himself a part of the clan, seeing all the surviving Starks together was a nice moment in a series known mainly for violence and bloodshed. (R.I.P. Robb, Rickon, Ned and Cat.) Arya had been separated from Sansa in the chaos following Littlefinger’s betrayal of Ned (Sean Bean) at the end of Season 1. And she hadn’t really seen Bran since the series’ very first episode, considering he fell from a tower and was still in a coma when she left for King’s Landing. (Somewhat oddly, most of the world still seems to think Arya died, even though Brienne saw her with the Hound and shared that knowledge with Sansa.) Although how much time has passed on “Game of Thrones” isn’t explicitly stated, fans believe it’s been a few years since the beginning.
The only thing that would’ve made this a more perfect reunion is if Jon Snow (Kit Harington) were there. Even if all of Westeros considers him a bastard, he’s a Stark to Sansa ― and the rest of us ― but as it stands, the Winterfell portion of “The Spoils of War” was pretty great.
Now that Sansa, Arya and Bran are all back home, we recall a line read by Sansa in a Season 7 trailer:
When the snow falls and the white winds blow, the lone wolf dies, but the pack survives.
With none of the Starks lone-wolfing it anymore, it sounds like good news for the bunch.