Fans in mourning over latest Game of Thrones shocks
SPOILERS have been on everyone's mind this week.
Can we avoid them?
Once websites reviewing programs would include a "spoiler-alert" warning for those yet to catch a TV program.
But with the advent of Twitter, Facebook and other social networks, it's hard to stay ignorant of all the plot twists of your favourite show.
For Game of Thrones fans yet to watch the latest episode of series three, logging on to the Internet this week has been fraught with danger.
That's because the series, based on George RR Martin's wonderful books, produced a shock so mind blowing that some fans are vowing never to watch again. (Though we're betting they change their minds).
Others turned to Facebook or Twitter at once to pour out their feelings of horror and grief about the Game of Thrones drama.
That means for those yet to view episode nine, hitting their Facebook page meant risking seeing comments like: "Is there a support group I can join? Still traumatised", "After last night's episode just sat there not knowing how to react"; "OMG Game of Thrones. I don't think I can forgive this". These posts, and even the odd threat against the author, don't give too much away.
But some fans have been more specific, referring to particular characters and the actual "trauma" that occurred.
And there are those who deliberately "spoiled" the surprise. UK fans are up in arms about Scottish comedian Frankie Boyle who tweeted early with the twists and turns in Game of Thrones before others had seen it.
Rightly so, he drew a tirade of abuse from disappointed fans.
Of course the Game of Thrones punch in the belly was written more than a decade ago. And for those of us who'd long ago devoured the books, it's been tricky not revealing what was to come. Especially as we threw Storm of Swords down in disgust at the time, lamenting a loss of hope so painful it struck us like a blow.
Not that we weren't tempted to hint about the darkness to come. When colleagues and friends expressed horror at Ned Stark's beheading in season one, we badly wanted to cry: "You think that's bad...wait until...."
Instead, we managed to mutter that the author is particularly ruthless when it comes to his characters.
Still, even apart from all-of-a-Twitter about spoilers, the fan reaction to the latest episode of Game of Thrones shows how deeply invested we are in the series.
And that's because Game of Thrones is superior TV.
George RR Martin has created characters we care about; we want the heroes to triumph and evil to be punished. And the good news is that, if the rest of the books are anything to go by, Game of Thrones future series will be so deliciously complicated with new characters and more twists and turns that it's impossible to "spoil".
And even if you inadvertently stumbled on news of the latest shock, chances are you'll still watch episode nine, season three, with an open mouth.
Even those who've read the books admit that even knowing what was to come, they could not look away and that the episode reopened festering wounds.
Because Game of Thrones is simply that good. And that's not spoiling anything.
Were you shocked by the latest episode of Game of Thrones?