Amid all the wine that was consumed on Sunday night’s fourth episode of Game of Thrones, one beverage stood out: a disposable coffee cup, stamped with a logo that looked suspiciously like the Starbucks logo, sitting on the heavy wood table in front of Daenerys Targaryen while she sat stewing, watching all the men shower Jon Snow with adulation. Most of the revelers at Winterfell were drinking out of ivory horns, but Daenerys, it appears, prefers something a little more caffeinated. Only, there’s no evidence of a Starbucks in Westeros. And the cup is only visible in one shot; it's there, and then, just as quickly, it's gone. Oops.
Shortly after the episode aired, stills and video clips featuring the cup in question began circulating around social media, prompting a deluge of memes about Starbucks orders and sponsored content. Some music videos have especially overt Beats By Dre product placement; Game of Thrones has Starbucks. (Here’s hoping the cast and crew at least get their fill of pumpkin spice.) Plus, as one especially keen-eyed observer pointed out, showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss were also in the frame, costumed as a pair of rugged wildling warriors, making it look like an especially egregious error. (Then again, it’s a peccadillo compared to fans’ other major issue with the episode: Its treatment of Sansa Stark, Brienne of Tarth, and Missandei.)
This season, the show has been plagued by leaks and accidentally-too-early episode releases; the coffee-cup gaffe is a first this season, but not a first for the show: In an earlier episode from a previous season, actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau could be seen clutching a short disposable coffee cup in his clasped hands, shoulder to shoulder with his on-screen family members Tommen Baratheon and Tywin, Cersei, and Tyrion Lannister.
Even Game of Thrones astronomical, generous budget, eclipsing anything else on HBO, can’t shield it from the most amateur mistakes.