Opinion: We're three episodes into the fourth season of Game of Thrones now. That's enough time for regular watchers of the show to have settled back into their regular Monday night watching schedules, avoiding spoilers in the afternoon (if they want to). If you do happen to run across a spoiler or two before you watch the show, though, it's not the end of the world.
I wanted to write this article as a counterpoint to Luke's opinion piece that spoilers aren't necessarily a bad thing, but as I was thinking about it, I realised that I actually agreed with him — but for a slightly different reason.
If you haven't read the books, or if you're only part-way through one of the earlier seasons of the show, spoilers are not a good thing — I freely admit that. There's no fun in finding out that a character dies or suffers some HBO-grade horror before you actually see it on the screen.
But all spoilers are not equal. The books have been out for quite a while, you have to admit that. We don't worry any more about spoiling Star Wars or The Hobbit or Harry Potter — so why does GoT merit any special treatment? It's not even a relatively new show — HBO ran the original series back in 2011.
Hearing the penultimate spoiler for the first season of the show, or the huge spoiler of a few episodes past, is a problem — that kind of thing genuinely robs you of the enjoyment (is it enjoyment?) of watching an episode. But knowing a few small things about the hour of video you're going to watch in a few hours? That's far less of an issue, and not nearly so troublesome to me.
On Monday afternoon, while not even remembering the show had broadcast in the US — I blame the public holiday — I ran into a minor spoiler on Reddit, concerning a controversial scene in the new episode. (If you've seen it, you'll know which scene I'm talking about.)
It was an important detail, but not a show-changing one. The most-discussed spoiler, in this episode, at least, was one you could know about beforehand without impacting your enjoyment.
Knowing about the basic details of the spoiler — that it was controversial, moreso than actually what precisely went on — meant that I concentrated more on the scene as it happened, and watched it while thinking about how it played out in the book. I think that the show certainly handled it less delicately than the book did, and I definitely prefer the book's interpretation, but I wouldn't have had that thought process had I not seen that Reddit discussion on Monday arvo.
So while there are certainly spoilers that are annoying, and troublesome, and entertainment-disrupting, there are equally spoilers that don't ruin your enjoyment of the show. We shouldn't tar them all with the same brush — if you do run across a spoiler, it's not always the end of the world.
Book-readers and show-watchers of Game of Thrones, what are your thoughts? Are some spoilers OK if they enhance your experience of watching the show in the long run?