Season four, episode three, spoilers and how soon it’s too early to reveal plot details

It was wise, but was it too soon? Many thought so.

“I wouldn’t even call the Uber about it this morning,” tweeted one fan of the show. “Spoilers should be respected for at least 24 hours in my opinion. Especially in this streaming era!”

But what constitutes a spoiler anyway? The LA times obit is tremendously guilty, but what about all those tweets and push notifications like USA Today’s reporting that “a serious death” has just occurred? Given the overall arc of the story, it was pretty obvious who that would be, so I guess that’s a spoiler. By the same token, if the fact of Logan’s death came as a surprise, which show did you even watch?

Fisher Stevens, Kieran Culkin, Jeremy Strong and Sarah Snook star in the sequel.

Fisher Stevens, Kieran Culkin, Jeremy Strong and Sarah Snook star in the sequel.Credit: Courtesy of Warner Media/HBO

Jesse Armstrong, the show’s creator, asked for maximum discretion in a note to the media who were granted early access to the first four episodes. He urged reviewers to “use their usual discretion not only to not reveal specific events, but also not to signal which episodes might be ‘big’, even cryptically or indirectly.” Unfortunately, he has no expiration time for that discretion specified, and some clocked them to zero.

One offended fan tweeted “HBO should have cause to sue” over the spoilers. But in truth there is no contract here. We all invent it as we move on.


Once upon a time there was a real water cooler moment – everyone watched the show at the same time, the only time it aired, until it was repeated years later, and then the next day at the office, on the construction site, in the schoolyard they talked about it.

But in the world of post-scheduled viewers, we all watch when it suits us. Sometimes that’s where a show comes to a platform for the first time — and to give HBO and its broadcast partners full credit for making those moments feel meaningful again — but often it’s not.

How much respect should be shown to this distortion of the time-space continuum? Personally, I think a little – 24 hours doesn’t seem outrageous to me, especially given the different time zones a show runs in around the world – but I think it goes both ways.

Any person or media outlet that feels the competitive urge to be the first to break the news needs to consider the ill effects of screwing up a key moment when people haven’t had a reasonable chance to get involved. The main thing is to moderate the choice of image, headline and placement in order to allow for a small grace period. Hit a big big SPOILER ALERT on top of a suitably treated piece and you’re good to go.

But on the other hand, if you don’t want to know what happened, just stay away. No one is forcing you to cruelly spoil your viewing experience on Twitter, Facebook, or TikTok or wherever you go. If you don’t want to know anything about that thing everyone’s talking about, there’s an easy way to do it. Only. Remain. Away.

Consider it a mutual commitment. A little respect, a little consideration, and we’ll all get through this together. And if you can’t do that…well, as Logan would say, just fuck off.

You can find more of the author’s work here. Email him at or follow him on Facebook at karlquinnjournalist and on Twitter @karlkwin.

Jaclyn Diaz

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