WARNING: The following article contains minor spoilers for the Game of Thrones Season 8 episode "The Last of the Starks," which premiered Sunday on HBO.
It stands to reason on Game of Thrones that, following the arrival of Daenerys Targaryen's forces and the defeat of the Night King, the wild North might be somewhat tamed. But gentrified? A scenes from Sunday's episode, "The Last of the Starks," suggests just that, as the first of what we can presume will be many Starbucks has apparently opened in Winterfell.
Eagle-eyed viewers spotted the evidence about 17 minutes and 39 seconds into the episode, during the celebratory feast in the great hall that followed the somber burning of the dead from the Battle of Winterfell. As a drunken Tormund Giantsbane regales anyone within earshot with proof of Jon Snow's greatness, Daenerys bristles at the love and loyalty engendered by the one-time King in the North. But glance down, and you'll notice the secret to Jon's almost superhuman feats: caffeine.
Yes, that's a Starbucks cup, on the nobles' table, amid the medieval-style goblets and bowls. A very modern Starbucks cup, with cardboard sleeve, to protect the Warden of the North's hand.
Before outraged Westerosi blame Daenerys and the unwanted influence of Essos for Starbucks' infiltration of the North, we'll point out that the cup is in front of Jon's chair. Conspiracy theorists will no doubt argue that Dany planted it there in hopes of tarnishing the reputation of her new rival for the Iron Throne, or else Bronn, who simply waltzed into Winterfell to threaten Jaime and Tyrion Lannister, planted the cup at Cersei's bidding. There's also a chance the Iron Bank has opened Starbucks locations everywhere from Castle Black to Highgarden to Sunspear, in hopes of earning back just a fraction of the money it's owed by the Seven Kingdoms.
Daenerys Stormborn of House Targaryen, the First of Her Name, Queen of the Andals and the First Men, Protector of the Seven Kingdoms, the Mother of Dragons, the Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, the Unburnt, the Breaker of Chains, and Drinker of Pumpkin Spice pic.twitter.com/BOPdolRhXz— Ira Madison III (@ira) May 6, 2019
Or perhaps HBO has finally found a way to shoehorn product placement into Game of Thrones to help offset the astronomical costs of these final six episodes. Oh, OK, it's more likely that either Kit Harington or Emilia Clarke was nursing a latte between takes, and somehow everyone from cast to the on-set crew to the editor overlooked the Starbucks cup, with its plastic lid, amid the otherwise meticulously dressed scene.
Suddenly, those conspiracy theories begin to sound more plausible.
Airing Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO, Game of Thrones stars Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Jaime Lannister, Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister, Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen, Sophie Turner as Sansa Stark, Maisie Williams as Arya Stark and Kit Harington as Jon Snow.