For those of you who have not yet watched last night’s episode of “Game of Thrones,” I will not spoil the big plot twist that shocked fans and spawned a million reaction videos. But let’s just say that, in the stunned silence of thousands of homes Sunday, one question resounded even louder than the Sigur Ros song in the closing credits: Who the heck did it?
On other shows, viewers would have to wait episodes, maybe entire seasons, to get the answer to that question. But therein lies the great, almost philosophical temptation of “Game of Thrones”: Because the show is based on a series of books, millions of people already know exactly “who did it” and how it all ends up. It’s a sort of open secret, and an unusual wrinkle for “watchers” — you know, that much-looked-down-upon group that loves the show, but never read the series. There is nothing, in short, delaying their gratification. There is no narrative device to enforce the show’s suspense or its gradual plot development. If you want to know who did you-know-what, you can Google it right now and find out. (In fact, a whole lot of people — link contains spoiler!! — are doing just that.)
This isn’t a uniquely Internet problem, of course, since the books exist with or without Google — but the Internet certainly makes it easier, and more immediate, to find the answers to even ill-advised queries. And since delaying immediate gratification in light of vague future rewards runs counter virtually every human instinct, the question is less “omg why are Twitter jerks spoiling Game of Thrones for me?” and more “why isn’t everyone seeking out spoilers?” On that note, it’s possible that you only made your way to this post because you were seeking out exactly that kind of information. And so right here, right now, I present the fateful moment of choice: The blank paragraph after this one will tell you who did you-know-what in the books, if you highlight the text with your cursor. THAT SAID, THIS IS OBVIOUSLY A SPOILER. If you highlight the text, it is absolutely your own fault. Think of this as a social experiment on willpower in the digital age. Ready? Starts here: In the book, it’s a joint play between Sir Dontos, the fool who gave Sansa the necklace; Lady Olenna, who you’ll notice made several fishy comments about deaths at weddings in this episode; and the grand orchestrator Sir Petyr Baelish, who somehow seems to have his hands in everything. In either case, the necklace Dontos gave Sansa (it’s a hairnet in the book, but — details!) included a poisoned gemstone, which Olenna removes from the necklace at the wedding. Who actually put the poison in Joffrey’s cup isn’t clear — Margaery may have been involved; perhaps the show will clear that up — but the outcome is. RIP Joffrey, we all hated you anyway. Fin. … Did you make it through said experiment without peeking? If so, congratulations! If not, no worries — you’re not alone. Several of the top posts in reddit’s “Game of Thrones” forum this morning involved various answers to the question “how did that happen?!” Now is that evidence of the sad decline of discipline in the digital age, or a powerful testament to the Internet’s omniscience? Please feel free to debate the issue in the comments — but don’t complain if you read the white box and regret it. You did that to yourself.