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HBO accidentally leaks 'Game of Thrones' episode

Forget the hackers. Sometimes a leaked show comes from your own bannermen. But the question remains: to seek out spoilers, or wait for Sunday?

That poor dude on fire in the background? Probably what HBO wishes would happen to the person who released the next "Game of Thrones" episode early.
Macall B. Polay/HBO

There are two ways to look at the news that HBO accidentally leaked the next episode of its hit show "Game of Thrones," airing it Wednesday on HBO Nordic and HBO España.

First, there's the irony of the premium cable network accidentally throwing its own valuable episode out there early after hackers leaked emails and scripts and demanded a ransom to not leak more. It wasn't, in the end, the hackers who gave the episode away, it was HBO itself, or at least a vendor who worked with the company.

"We have learned that the upcoming episode of 'Game of Thrones' was accidentally posted for a brief time on the HBO Nordic and HBO España platforms," HBO said in a statement. "The error appears to have originated with a third-party vendor and the episode was removed as soon as it was recognized. This is not connected to the recent cyber incident at HBO in the US."

If you've ever made a big embarrassing error at a job, you know there's a real person somewhere who hit the wrong button or typed in the wrong code and is either horrified or fired, or both. Think Cersei was enraged at Oleanna Tyrell? Somebody at HBO's vendor is wishing for that nice simple painless cup of poison about now. Jaime? Jaime?

And for those of us who can't be blamed for the goof, there's the temptation. Even if you'd never seek out and watch the leaked episode, do we look for spoilers from those who have? 

They're out there, but writing as someone who's had to watch episodes early for years as a TV critic and editor, hold the door on that. It's much more fun to watch in tandem with a dedicated fanbase, reading the tweets and the Facebook posts and sharing in the inevitable outrage, delight (and sometimes confusion) as that one character you love is thrown into danger, but also that total creep comes closer to getting his or her comeuppance. 

Just like winter, Sunday is coming.

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