Despite recent script leaks and an episode prematurely put online, the fourth episode of Season 7 Game Of Thrones was the series’ most-watched ever, seen by 10.2 million viewers.
While for many Game of Thrones fans, the routine spoilers are bad enough, what happened to the latest episode named The Spoils of War was even worse. Hackers currently targeting HBO and its most doted-on series GOT decided to leak the entire episode online. But the news isn’t all bad because fans have supported HBO and decided to abandon the premature leak and watch the official episode. Here is what some fans have to say.
“It’s the worst news since the Red Wedding,” says Camden Wicker, a self-professed GOT superfan in San Diego. When Game Of Thrones-time arrives each Sunday, “the phones are off,” he says, as he and his flatmates huddle in the front of the screen. Afterward, they talk about the episode. Maybe watch it all over again. “It’s a camaraderie,” says Wicker. Hacks and leaks can undermine that camaraderie. “Just when I thought White Walkers were the biggest threat,” he says, “this goes and happens.”
The phone isn’t off for Adiya Taylor of New York. For her, a big part of watching GOT is the collective experience, which for her includes live-tweeting during the hour, then checking Twitter afterward for a group post-mortem. “Between tweets, the messages in my work Slack group and the articles online the next day, watching at 9 p.m. on Sunday is a lot more fun than watching early for the sake of getting it first,” she says.
Ben Storey is also a GOT fan who, with his wife, makes Sunday night an appointment for viewing of each GOT episode. But he’s also a teacher who has modeled a college course on the mythic world of Westeros. A lecturer at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, Storey teaches an alternate-reality Game of Thrones as a way of creating rival business strategies.
“My students learn real-world business lessons from taking part in imaginary scenarios,” he says. “They’ll try negotiations with each other. They’ll try to assassinate each other.” He acknowledges that many of his students would avail themselves of every scrap of ill-gained information they could. But then, “they would be sad about it,” he says. “Leaks are a major threat to appointment viewing and to the fan community.”
Mike Onorato says his circle of GOT confederates falls into two groups: those who don’t want to know and those who do everything they can to find out. But the latter group is a minority, he says. He counts himself among the former, who insist consuming GOT in its prescribed weekly doses. “I look so forward to Sunday nights,” says Onorato. “Cheating to learn what’s going to happen is akin to snooping to find the Christmas gifts before Christmas morning. Having to wait is part of the fun,” he says, “and then debating with your friends what it all meant and trying to predict what will happen next.” Onorato, who works in public relations in Cranford, New Jersey, loves to bring the discussion of each Sunday-night airing to his office Monday morning.
“But if someone didn’t watch yet,” he adds, “you close the door so you don’t ruin it for that person.” Among these GOT faithful there’s a dedication to keeping it pure that no leaks or hacks can betray. As Onorato puts it, “We’re all in this together.”