Less than 24 hours after the premiere of "The Last of the Starks", HBO edited a now-infamous scene that featured a noticeable Starbucks coffee cup.
After news broke of the stray drink that was placed near Daenerys, it was open season on the show for its anachronic gaffe, from silly memes on Reddit, to a fun conspiracy theory by Stephen Colbert.
Following the reveal of the mistake, the conversation shifted slightly as to who was responsible for the error. Conspiracy theories sprang forth almost immediately with the notion that the placement was not accidental, but done on purpose - as though maybe Starbucks had paid for the few seconds of product placement. This seems like an absurd stretch, as one of the most popular television shows in history is not likely looking for additional exposure in the closing of its series with only two episodes remaining.
Assuming the cup was in fact left on the table by accident, discussion then centered around who dropped the ball with regards to letting this type of error through. There were numerous people on set during this scene along with all the production crew, though perhaps they should be given the least responsibility in this error as they are in the middle of their own creative process, in the moment between takes of attempting to capture their characters as best they could. Even with no one noticing the cup during filming, it does seem genuinely astounding that the error made it through post-production, whereby raw footage is edited and cut, transition effects are added, voice and sound is adjusted, and coloring is checked for consistency and lighting. A number of people watch some version of the episode prior to airing. Somehow, this one cup slipped through the cracks.
It is not the first time that the show digitally altered a scene after a premier. In season one, episode nine, titled "Baelor", a head placed on a pike was digitally removed after fans noticed a striking resemblance to George W Bush. Interestingly, story-driven inconsistencies within the show have not been edited, such as when Melisandre removes her necklace, the source of her youthful physical illusion, when taking a bath. In season four, she takes off her necklace, with no corresponding loss of youth. It seems that digital changes are reserved only for former presidents and misplaced coffee cups.
It is no surprise that HBO acted so swiftly to correct what is an embarrassing, though tiny mistake on their part. Perhaps the cup should have been left in the scene forever, since its reputation grew so quickly online. In any case, at least HBO responded in a rather lighthearted way.