Yeah, you read that headline right.
Love it or hate it, Ed Sheeran’s Game of Thrones cameo is now a part of the show’s canon and the Lannister army will never be the same. However, even though the singer only appears onscreen for a few minutes, it turns out that he may have played a big hand in foreshadowing the death of one of the show’s major characters.
For keen-eyed Game of Thrones fans, the song that Ed sings is actually a callback to the third book in the series Storm of Swords. The ditty is called Hands of Gold and had a darker meaning back then, as it was targeted at Tyrion (who was the Hand at the time) and his relationship with Shae, a prostitute. A character called Symon Silver Tongue used it to blackmail Tyrion, who was terrified of Cersei finding out about Shae.
The song’s lyrics are below:
‘He rode through the streets of the city, down from his hill on high,
O’er the wynds and the steps and the cobbles, he rode to a woman’s sigh.
For she was his secret treasure, she was his shame and his bliss.
And a chain and a keep are nothing, compared to a woman’s kiss.
For hands of gold are always cold, but a woman’s hands are warm’
As we all now know, Tyrion and Shae’s relationship was ill-fated – ending with Tyrion strangling her to death after she betrayed him at court and slept with his father. As Tyrion kills her in the books, he thinks of the lyrics of the song (something that was lost in the TV show).
However, the HBO series has breathed new meaning into Hands of Gold. Jamie Lannister literally has a golden hand, as well as a ‘secret treasure’ – i.e. his incestuous relationship with Cersei – to hide. With Jamie and Cersei’s relationship gradually becoming common knowledge, Ed’s sly comment to Arya Stark that the song is ‘a new one’ could imply that it’s about the royal siblings.
A few people went a step further than that, putting their english literature A Levels to good use. Given the dark murderous context of the song, some have speculated that it could foreshadow Cersei’s death at the hands of Jamie (who’s already got one dead king notched on his belt). Lauren Sarner of Inverse called it ‘an ominous portent about Cersei’s fate’, while Nerdist said, ‘’The song also serves as a bit of foreshadowing for Cersei’s fate…That golden hand may have to take the life of the woman that he loves’.
We’ll have to wait and see how it all plays out between Jamie and Cersei, as Game of Thrones season 7 only just premiered on Sunday. It seems like not even Ed Sheeran knew the complicated context of his song, as he told Entertainment Tonight, ‘[My cameo is not] an integral part of it, at all. I’m just like, in it.’
There’s been a great deal of backlash against both Ed and the show since his cameo aired, leading Ed Sheeran to go as far as to temporarily delete his Twitter account. Some complained that he disrupted the fantastical nature of the show by dropping in a well known celebrity, while others defended him fiercely.
One of his supporters was the show’s director Jeremy Podeswa, who defended his casting to NewsWeek. He said, ‘He was appropriate for the part because he needed to sing. If people didn’t know who Ed was, they wouldn’t have thought about it twice. The hoo-ha seems to be from things that are outside of the world of the show. In the world of the show he did a lovely job, and he looks like he belongs in that world.’
‘I think people interrogated it too much, they’re bringing so much of his [superstar presence into the thing which is far beyond what anybody was thinking going into it. He is known to the producers of the show and some of the cast, and he’s a gigantic fan of the show. As everybody knows, the show really eschews stunt casting – it’s never, ever done that.’
Given that the song has carries an awful lot of weight, it’s no surprise they turned to a professional singer to play the part. Meanwhile, we’re just over here waiting for Hands of Gold to drop on iTunes.