Singing Leprechaun

So, I watched the new episode of Game of Thrones at my friend’s house, and while a lot of the episode was sort of set-up and filler (Here’s what our characters have been up to on Game of Thrones while you’ve been away!), I still enjoyed it. And—as per usual—I had thoughts. Mostly, my thoughts ran along the lines of “Is it going to bother everyone’s watching experience if I get up to pee?” and “I should have brought a box of Franzia,” but I had other thoughts too. Game of Thrones-related thoughts. In the next few posts, I’m gonna give you some of the ones I found most worth mentioning. Previous posts can be found here.

Ed Sheeran

801Um, fuck this little cameo. Fuck it hard, fuck it good, fuck it dead. Because it’s completely unnecessary and dissonant with the tone of the show and it completely took me out of the mood of the show. It made me stop and think and focus on the fact that I was watching a television show.

I think the best forms of visual entertainment are usually transportive and immersive in a way that gets you lost within the story being told. It ceases to be a story, and you become so invested in the characters and the plot that you forget that it isn’t real for a bit. It takes you with it. That’s what any good story–in any form–should do. You never want to see the invisible wires that are making Peter Pan fly, you want to believe for a bit that he’s actually flying. Even if he is a child-abducting little freak. Putting Ed Sheeran in Game of Thrones is like having a boom mic hanging in the fucking shot. It takes you out of the moment.

Jeremy Podeswa, who directed this episode, defended the decision to cast Ed Sheeran in a phone interview with Newsweek‘s saying that he felt that he did a good job and, “I think people interrogated it too much, they’re bringing so much of his [superstar] presence into the thing which is far beyond what anybody was thinking going into it. He is known to the producers of the show and some of the cast, and he’s a gigantic fan of the show. As everybody knows, the show really eschews stunt casting—it’s never, ever done that.”

To be honest, that’s complete bullshit. The world does not fucking exist in a vacuum, viewers do not exist in a vacuum, and to insist that it is on the audience to suspend their disbelief and accept whatever is being fed to them by the showrunners is a cop out. It is the burden of the creator of a work to earn that suspension of disbelief, and Ed Sheeran popping out of the woods and singing a little ditty with Arya is asking too much. Podeswa later states that all the stars of the show are incredibly famous and recognizable and says that there is no difference.

He is wrong. There is a difference. We associate these stars with this show. They belong to this sort of world. Even Sean Bean, famous for multiple roles before starring in GoT as the doomed Ned Stark, is accepted and almost expected in a production such as this. You almost can’t have a sweeping, medieval fantasy without Sean Bean dying in the first arc of the story. You see Ed Sheeran, and you think a different kind of superstardom. You think of Taylor Swift and cats and dudes who cry after sex. Because Ed Sheeran most definitely seems like the kind of dude who cries after sex and I freaking hate that.

It is stunt-casting, and it robs the moment of the impact it was supposed to have on Arya’s characterization. I gather, from repeated rewatches and attempts to disregard the Keebler Elf plopped clumsily into the scene,

802
Look at him, just waiting for his chance to bake some cookies and hide his Lucky Charms

that that scene was supposed to be a moment where Arya begins to see that not all those who are associated with the Lannisters are evil. That there are some innocents, on both sides of the battle line.

But you don’t get any of that. Because you’re too busy looking at everyone around you going, “Wait is that… oh fuck, it fucking is.”

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