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Deep Breath Screenings & Spoilers: Pros & Cons

Guest contributor Chris Taylor looks at the pros and cons of early public screenings.

peter-capaldi-ew-shoot-2014

Doctor Who: The World Tour kicked off in Cardiff on Thursday 7 August. Those who managed to purchase tickets were treated to a screening of the series 8 premiere Deep Breath. Yes, fans have been given the chance (and amazingly not because of a leak) to watch the episode over two weeks prior to its TV, and slightly controversial cinema debut. I used the word “treated”, though I’m not entirely sure whether it’s appropriate. Then again, I’m not entirely sure that fans being able to watch Deep Breath before its air date is appropriate. In this article I will be taking an opinion based look at the positives and negatives of screening Deep Breath before 23 August.

Pros

I must admit that I’m struggling to think of any. Please don’t be under the impression that I’m something of a pessimistic person, it’s just that I feel more so than optimistic when discussing this subject. There is however the obvious positive to acknowledge.

Three words (as boldly stated by Peter Davison in The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot): for the fans. It seems that Doctor Who has become something of an “event drama” of late, in that its publicity and ways of screening have been somewhat amplified.

Deep Breath will be screened globally in cinemas from 23 August. As I stated in my introduction: somewhat controversially, however, after the success of The Day of the Doctor, very much worth it. The opportunity of watching Doctor Who on the big screen, surrounded by fellow Whovians – what could be better? Well, how about watching it with the cast and crew present? Yeah, as I said: “for the fans”. This is truly a unique experience and it’s no wonder that the Cardiff leg of the tour sold out incredibly quickly.

Another positive is that screening Deep Breath early gives the Doctor Who production team a basis for what sort of global reaction to expect from the episode. It also gives the media their opportunity to promote Deep Breath – writing up spoiler and spoiler-free articles/reviews, which people who didn’t attend any of the World Tour screenings, depending on how much of a spoilerphobe they are, will read, getting them even more excited for their first viewing of the episode.

I have to admit that I have read articles for upcoming TV episodes and films (spoiler-free ones), which have got me excited to see them. Having an idea of the reaction towards it is always a good thing – being excited if it’s had a positive review, or being intrigued to see it and judge it for myself, if it’s been given a negative review.

A positive that might well be just something that I believe in, is that having knowledge of the plot of a story over other people can be quite satisfying. I remember in the past when I’d watched other TV series and known what was coming up, whilst those around me were watching for the very first time. Having already experienced the episode meant I could focus on other people’s reactions – seeing how they compared to my own. I believe that with the opportunity to see Deep Breath before the majority of Whovians, this will put those in the minority in the unique position of being able to focus on the reaction of the fandom. They will be able to experience two sets of reactions – their attended World Tour screening and the 23 August screening.

Cons

As much as I’d like to believe that the opportunity to watch a screening of Deep Breath, surrounded by fellow Whovians, in the company of the cast and crew and being one in a minority who’s experienced it before everyone else is entirely a good thing, I don’t believe that it is.

Why? One word: spoilers. When the first five scripts of series 8 were leaked there was a massive uproar and divide – those that would avoid them and those that would happily read them. It was inevitable that their contents would spread, and those trying desperately to avoid hearing about them weren’t completely safe from them. To top things off, Deep Breath – the actual episode – started to leak. Albeit heavily watermarked, black and white footage but footage nonetheless.

So as a show that’s so secretive over its plot details and that desperately attempts to keep its audience in the dark, is it really a good idea to screen the episode to fans, in some cases, weeks before it’s due to be aired on TV? In my opinion: no. I believe that everyone should experience the episode at the same time. There were no early screenings of The Day of the Doctor (imagine the uproar if that episode had been leaked…), so everyone was in the dark and headed “into darkness” (I’m so sorry, I had to get that in there) at the same time. With people already having seen the episode at the several World Tour screenings this won’t be the case come 23 August. I’d be shocked and stunned if the contents of Deep Breath aren’t further revealed over these next two weeks. I hope that they’re not. However, it only takes one inconsiderate person for it to spread the net like wildfire.

Another negative point about screening Deep Breath relates directly to those in attendance at a World Tour screening. If I was attending any of the screenings, which I’m not, then at the time I’d most likely be very excited. However, once it had finished and I’d left the venue and headed back out into a world where the majority of people are still waiting to see it, I would be left feeling somewhat disheartened. As much as it might be a privilege to know you’re one of a very small minority to have seen the episode, the excitement for 23 August would be gone. There’d be nothing to look forward to. Of course you might be excited to see it again, but that’s no substitute for how you feel when you’re just about to sit down to watch it for the very first time.

Overall

I believe there are positives to screening Deep Breath early. Albeit they may be rather obvious: having the privilege of seeing it early and seeing it with cast and crew present. However, I do believe that there are greater negatives to this global event. These negatives connect directly to the decisions of those present at the World Tour screenings – to spoil or not to spoil. Whilst I believe that the majority of the fandom is and will be loyal in keeping the plot of the episode a secret, I also believe that it’s a bold, and somewhat hypocritical, idea by BBC Worldwide to screen the episode in the first place, knowing the possible implications this could have on those that weren’t in attendance.

Don’t get me wrong, I do believe that some aspects of Doctor Who: The World Tour are fantastic, for example: the Q&A sessions. However, in my opinion, I believe that with the exposure Deep Breath has already had because of script and footage leaks, screening it before 23 August is a very risky move, leaving those who are trying to avoid spoilers at all cost in an even tougher position.

Thanks for reading!

Step back in time...

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64 comments
Benjamin Bradley
Benjamin Bradley

Won't the combination of world premieres and leaks result in a lower viewership? This might work in reverse and if I had read the scripts I would still want to see the episodes, but I can see how after seeing it at a world premiere you might not want to watch it on TV because that would detract from experiencing it the first time in such grandeur. 

Polyphase
Polyphase

"spoilers. When the first five scripts of series 8 were leaked there was a massive uproar and divide – those that would avoid them and those that would happily read them"

Funny thing is, When the news broke I actually searched the Internet looking for spoilers and didn't find one. It's very impressive how all the fans did the right thing and I'm glad there was nothing out there to spoil the show :)

Liana21
Liana21

In my case, I was in the London screening, more that get down my expectations, they've changed the form, I don't have yet a nervous breakdown for the waiting for watch it, I have it for my friends watching it and can speak with them without bite my tongue.

TheBeast101
TheBeast101

The World Tour was planned long before the leaks, they couldn't and wouldn't cancel the event because of it

ahunter8056
ahunter8056

I actually agree with the majority of the points raised. I just hope Episode 1 doesn't get spoiled for me prior to broadcast. Of course a couple of lines have been spoiled for me now, due to uploaders of fan trailers on YouTube using leaked footage and neglecting to mention that in the description. However, a couple of lines is nothing major, so I just hope that nothing major is spoiled.

MattDAnson
MattDAnson

I was one of the lucky few to be at Cardiff at the première screening, so I might be slightly biased when I disagree with you when you say there aren't many pros! I'm twenty now and have been a Whovian since the revival in 2005 and I've never felt excitement like I did last Thursday. The thousands of people lining the streets to get a glimpse of the cast and crew, the overwhelming reaction of the two thousand odd Whovians at the screening was awesome and possibly rivalled Day and not to mention the Q&A. Personally, I think it was one of the greatest experiences as a Who fan; having been to the 50th Celebration last year too! In terms of spoilers, I have no intention of spoiling the episode for ANYONE and I'd bet that 99.9% of the audience will feel the same as I do. (Also, I've seen no spoilers online since I've seen the episode which kind of supports my point.) I think the World Tour is a terrific advert for Doctor Who and it just shows how bigger and better it is getting globally. I can also say my excitement for the 23rd has not dwindled in the slightest. Having seen Capaldi in action, I'm counting the days until I see him again. Plus, having seen the Next Time trailer for Episode 2 I'd probably say my excitement has actually heightened. (Spoilers.) I understand all your points and respect them, but for me it was a once in a life time opportunity which I wish I had a TARDIS to revisit. 



















Mercy Reborn2
Mercy Reborn2

I think some people are different  some people wont be effected much if they see it early but some people  will be less excited to watch it the second time. When I saw Day in the cinema I was very excited to see it, but the second time less excited its natural I think.I am not sure if its a good idea to show Deep Breath, early but I think its had a good effect. I watched the Seoul live stream and the Korean fans were excited to see Jenna and Peter, maybe showing it there will encourage more  Koreans to become whovians. 

Planet of the Deaf
Planet of the Deaf

I can certainly see the advantage of the double boost of publicity, so that instead of getting the newspaper reviews after it had been shown on TV, you get the review before it's shown on TV, which is much more like a Film/movie review, where the review helps you decide whether to watch it or not! 

I guess they knew they had a good episode, as conversely if the media had slammed it as rubbish, it would have done terrible things to the ratings possibly! 

As for leaks, I'm confident that the people seeing it in Cardiff and London would be people who care for the show and love it, and wouldn't want to damage it. As for other parts of the world, I'm not so confident...


A Friend of the Ood
A Friend of the Ood

How is it spoiling it to watch it early? Watching it early means exactly that: you're just watching it before everyone else. It doesn't make it worse for the people who go. It's not like they were given a list of plot twists and important quotes, they got to see the full completed episode in a theater with the cast. I'd be much more excited for that than to watch it in my living room, so the point about ruining the excitement doesn't make any sense. Also, I read the script and watched the leaked version and I'm even more excited than I was before.

TheSoundofDrums
TheSoundofDrums

I see no problem with this kind of publicity through a World Tour and cinema release. If anything it makes the show more grand in design and gets it out there. I know the show was a big hit before but this extra work put in by the BBC shows they care for the show and the fans. They allow more engagement to go into it. Plus with a World Tour like this it allows fans from countries who might not have ever got the chance to see an early screening or a chance to meet the cast and crew to now have that chance and give them even more excitement. Also it allows fans to come together and embrace their favourite show together. And I'm sure it's great for the crew and cast as well to engage with fans and to see their work first hand be applauded. So yeah I'm in favour of this being a good thing.

Also I will add that The Eleventh Hour got a similar treatment. It just didn't recieve such a big of a fuss and stayed local. But never the less this kind of thing has been done before and I don't see why it won't be done again with continious success.

MeglosProductions
MeglosProductions

There are some positives. Like you could go in there being really excited from what other people have said. For example, I have a friend who said he absolutely loved the episode and Capaldi is now instantly one of his favorite doctors. Sounds good!

CGT
CGT

Thank you all for your comments!

This is strictly an opinion based article, so I'm glad to see quite a mixed response to this subject.
 













































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































My main inspiration for writing this article was the topic of spoilers. With all that has unfortunately happened with script and episode leaks, it got me thinking that perhaps there is a justifiable argument for why Deep Breath shouldn't be screened before 23 August. 









Don’t get me wrong, without looking into the subject further I think screening Deep Breath early is a fantastic idea for heightening publicity and getting everyone excited for the rest of series 8. It means, as I mentioned in the article, we can read reviews and get a sense of what there is in store for us, without ruining it for ourselves – I've been no stranger to doing so in the past. 

Just to reiterate: my inspiration for this article is everything that has happened in terms of leaks. It doesn't mean to say Deep Breath will be spoiled before 23 August, or that anyone is in danger of it being if they don’t go looking, but rather there is always the possibility of information being revealed that wouldn't have been if it hadn't been screened early. 











MrRazza, General Rogue Timelord Identifier
MrRazza, General Rogue Timelord Identifier

A pro? Well, we all get something else to argue about. What more could the fandom want?


My personal policy, live and let live. People want to go and see an early screening? Let them, whatever my view is on whether I'd want to see it early (I've made many [naturally, witty] remarks in the past about my experience with cinemas and the like - so I would not be inclined to do so) there's no reason to stop others. And as has been said below, while some spoilers can catch you unawares (damn you Facebook and you assuming I wanted to see that post just because someone had tagged Doctor Who in it!) they are generally avoidable. And if I may say so, DWTV is a primary example of this - even a slight possible spoiler is flagged as one to be sure.

Oodkind
Oodkind

I can't say I totally agree. First of all, when you see an episode really doesn't matter, whether it's early or not. It doesn't matter if you see it in theater today or on the 23rd. So the only problem I know of is that the information gets out early because people have seen it. However, spoilers can usually be avoided. Sure, if you search "doctor who deep breath" then you might find a review, but if you're really avoiding spoilers you won't do that, or open any articles about it, or anything. I really don't see the problem.

On the topic of spoilers, I think everyone knows their limit and should be the ones to control what they see. Once in a while, of course, someone might reveal too much to a person, but that's unusual. I'll admit, I looked over some of the scripts. I read the first scene of each episode, so I got a feel for the theme without spoiling any big reveals. And I think that was good for me, because it really stops the impatience created by the ultra-quiet BBC without taking much away from watching the episode. I understand that some people don't want to do that, however, and I think basically everyone else does too. And I never saw a single article on the scripts that didn't say that it contained spoilers. If you wanted to avoid them, don't read such articles! 

In conclusion, I don't think that early screening pose any problem. Maybe some people go crazy knowing that information is out there on the episode, but it's that person's fault if they spoil themselves, not the fault of the production team for showing it. You can't restrict some people because a few might be too weak to wait.

The_Eternal_Dalek
The_Eternal_Dalek

"Of course you might be excited to see it again, but that’s no substitute for how you feel when you’re just about to sit down to watch it for the very first time."


But you'll feel that (if at all) on the second viewing of the episode anyway, so it isn't really against an early viewing, rather a second viewing of any episode (and that's something we don't want to avoid, we don't need any more episodes going in the furnaces of BBC Enterprises).

jackwho007
jackwho007

i dont think there is any problem with showing it early as it was leaked 

mrpaddy1984
mrpaddy1984

I think it makes perfect sense. With some exceptions, most of what has come from the screenings has been spoiler free preview articles and impressions that generate a positive buzz for what is a very accomplished opener. It was also a nice little gift to the fans. I greatly enjoyed the whole day, being out in the streets of Cardiff with Daleks and Cybermen, seeing the cast, spotting people such as Louise Jameson, Nick Briggs and Samuel Anderson in the audience, watching the episode and the q and a. I hope they do more of them for notable episodes like this. Especially when they're as good as that one was.

ilyootha is back in home Universe
ilyootha is back in home Universe

Regarding spoilers, even though a person who spoils things is a bad person, I believe just as much responsibility lies on the other end as well. I mean, in most cases ultimately it's your choice whether to read spoilers or not. Of course, sometimes a troll can take you by surprise, and you may end up accidentally reading a spoiler even if you didn't want to - but then, when you know that there are major spoilers out there and you really want to avoid them, it would be wise for you to stay away from areas of the internet where you know spoilers may be posted, like facebook communities or whatever.

I successfully managed to stay away from facts about the early-delivered Series 7 finale and the news of Tom Baker's return in Day, and I never watched a Series 7B trailer before I watched the complete series. I hungrily look at all the production photos I can find, but I turn the episodes off before "next time" trailers begin, because they give away far more information about the upcoming episodes than ripped-out-of-context photos of filming process. When I saw a news with River's dairy image on this site a few days before the 50th, I decided not to click "show" and, just to be on a safe side, actually removed all Who-related sites from my history and bookmarks and stayed away from them for a few days. Somewhat radical measures, yes, but they worked, and I was rewarded by Tom's cameo coming out as a genuinely shocking surprise to me.

Now, with these leaked scripts, I confess that I peered into the last few pages of Deep Breath, but it was my deliberate decision to satisfy my curiosity about how will the new Doctor and Clara get on. I didn't want to ruin the episode for myself, so I haven't read any further. I still have absolutely no idea what the rest 99% of the episode are about, who is the villain and what do they want, and why there was a dinosaur in the trailer, and I'm even staying away from reading the synopsis or any of those "spoiler-free" reviews. I'm going to enjoy the episode in due course, in the cinema on 23rd of August, and I'm confident that on this site, unlike some other places out there, I won't encounter any unhidden spoilers until then, either from leaked scripts or from early screenings.

So I don't have any problems with these World Tour early screening, because, after all, people paid to get there, and getting the tickets was not easy. Besides, it's a bloody fantastic advertising for the show!


Me and Stuff
Me and Stuff

Look at Game of Thrones, that's arguably the biggest show in the world right now and it is perfectly possible to discuss it online without being spoiled. 


I would like to pose a question to people: Has anybody really been spoiled after the screening without wanting to? Because I don't think there are more than very very few. Honestly, it's not that hard to avoid spoilers on the internet. Potential spoilers don't equal guaranteed spoilers. 


Also, it is quite obvious that this is just written from the perspective of a fan. Of course a fan who can't attend one of the screenings doesn't have a lot of benefits from the world tour. But from a marketing stand-point it makes an awful lot of sense. And "come to see the new Doctor Who episode before anybody else and ask the stars questions" sounds a lot better than just "ask the stars of Doctor Who questions", which in turn makes for bigger events, bigger publicity and bigger buzz around the world.


These people know what they're doing. Nobody is as careful about spoilers like Steven Moffat. And I don't think it would hurt this fandom if it just didn't try to find something to complain about for once.

The Outer Space K9
The Outer Space K9

I don't know, if I had the chace I'd definetly go watch it sooner. I think it's exciting, I don't see anything wrong about showing the episode a bit earlier to some fans and the media because it really builds up this amazing sense of expctation about the episode.

TheBeast101
TheBeast101

This, unlike The Day of the Doctor, is this start of a new series and so doing a World Tour to me makes perfect sense. Doctor Who is a show loved all around the globe and so travelling from country to country can not only be hugely publicised but it also allows to producers to engage with fans from countries and cities afar from like Seoul and Australia. And one big and obvious way to bring in audiences is to screen the Premier, as it will defiantly bring in audiences, yes, it is unfortunate about the leak and it does stop us fans from seeing the show altogether but remember this is the start of a new series with a new Doctor so it makes sense to start with style

TheBeast101
TheBeast101

I saw the episode in Cardiff and I'm incredibly excited to see it again...

Venawesomeo
Venawesomeo

It's not really a problem. As long as they don't spoil it for people who want to see it at home or on the big screen on the 23rd, who cares?

supermoff
supermoff

Also, yes, spoilers are always a potential problem. But they haven't been a problem to date for advance releases, at least I don't think so. When Asylum of the Daleks debuted early for those at BFI Southbank and the Edinburgh International Television Festival, Jenna Coleman's surprise appearance was kept successfully under wraps for weeks. And although Name of the Doctor was a sort of involuntary early release for some (not the same thing exactly, but the principle at heart remains the same), that too was successfully kept secret. 

I think it would be silly to prohibit early debuts or releases simply for the reasons of spoilers, as I think this fandom has generally been pretty good when it comes to that. Not perfect, but good. And yes, Deep Breath has had quite a few spoilers (as has a lot of the first part of Series 8), but these spoilers stem almost entirely from the leaked scripts, not from early debuts. 



simon delafield
simon delafield

I think modern fans worry far too much about spoilers - probably because of the net. Does it matter really? I read "The Five Doctors" novelisation before it was shown on TV but it didn't make me want to see the story any less, nor enjoy it any less. JNT used to tell us lots about upcoming stories - he kept some big surprises under wraps but ensured a lot more was known to fans. It didn't spoil the stories for us. I would admit a leaked entire episode is a bad thing, ruining the surprise, but bits of information, often out of context, or even plotlines, won't really hurt, not in the greater scheme of things. 

Who is the Doctor
Who is the Doctor

What Doctor Who has done with the "Early Screenings" has brought the movie premier to television. How many TV series do you see get this level of movie releases? Here in the States it is unheard of. I would imagine that GB doesn't see it either. The advertising that the media provides from each of the screenings is priceless.

While there are the negatives of early release of spoilers, most of the times they can be avoided. What I think is that the dates should be closer to the actual release date IMO. So I would think that the advantages from the publicity out way the disadvantage of the spoilers.

Greempa
Greempa

I won't weigh in on whether  an early screening is positive or negative. But I do feel that Moffatt and crew must feel very confident that the episode will be well received. It's a gamble for them to put it out to the public two weeks before broadcast. Bad word of mouth would have been a nightmare for them, before the show even aired. This makes me confident that Deep Breath must be very good.


supermoff
supermoff

It's great for publicity and if people want to go, that's great :)

Don't Blink
Don't Blink

Silly article. You've said "I can't think of any positives" then listed some HUGE ones. The publicity etc IS really important.


As for it not being a lasting experience - yeah, that's how TV works. You watch the show and then you go back out into the world and continue living your life. The fans who went to screenings may not be as excited for August 23rd now, but they were excited before the screening and during the show, so that's a really pointless argument, isn't it?


As for spoilers, well frankly there were already spoilers around, as the scripts AND THE ACTUAL EPISODE were leaked ages ago. I haven't really seen any spoilers - not any big ones. If you're careful you can avoid them all.


Honestly, just be thankful Doctor Who can do this sort of thing. It just shows what a phenomenon it's become. The day the screenings stop, the day the people behind Doctor Who need to start worrying.

The Finn
The Finn

I'm indifferent towards the screenings. If people want to go, who am I to stop them?

 Notsosmartguy  the dalek of Jersey
Notsosmartguy the dalek of Jersey

I'm just glad Doctor Who tv is gracious enough not to tempt us with an article containing spoilers for deep breath and the other leaked scripts like some other websites (cough whatculture cough)

CGT
CGT

@A Friend of the Ood Thanks for your comment. 

As I see it: all of the hype is building to 23 August. If I'd have watched an early screening at one of the World Tour events then I wouldn't be as excited for 23 August because I'd have already seen what all the hype is building to. 

Of course, the majority of people will completely disagree with me. This is just my opinion. All I'm doing in this article is giving my personal thoughts on the subject of screening Deep Breath early.

- Chris

TheIdleIdol
TheIdleIdol

I completely agree with the bulk of what you say, but I find your Game of Thrones comparison quite odd. I'd posit that, whilst it may be possible (if you're lucky), Game of Thrones is actually one of the most difficult shows to engage with online, or within the fandom, without the heavy risk of being spoiled in some way or another. Whilst the show airs, I actually make a point of avoiding all social media and sites that report on it between the American airing of an episode and whenever I get chance to watch it, because I've been spoiled too many times in the past, by too many people, in too many corners of the web. Doctor Who, however, I certainly don't find that problem with. The spoilers I know are ones I've actively sought out (for better or worse). I'm yet to see anything notable posted other than on articles clearly marked as spoilers. 

TheCyberDoctor is Undead
TheCyberDoctor is Undead

@Me and Stuff The only thing we get from the World Tour are the live-streamed Q&A sessions, photos of the cast, and more hype for the series. Also the broadcast is only two weeks away, so we don't have to wait long. To those in attendance at these screenings: #keepmespoilerfree and enjoy! :)

TheCyberDoctor is Undead
TheCyberDoctor is Undead

@TheBeast101 Its a good way to kick start the next fifty years too. Plus as you say, it increases publicity and our own excitement, and contrary to what was said above you want to see it again, as do most Whovians I'm sure. Yes, there might be some who aren't as excited for the official start of the series, but most are still excited. I'm not bothered about it being shown beforehand. 

Amy says Peter Davison is the Thirteenth Doctor!
Amy says Peter Davison is the Thirteenth Doctor!

"that too was successfully kept secret" -Well, sort of. Most people didn't talk about it, but if you knew where to look, you could find a accurate outline of that episode. It got nearly everything correct except for the John Hurt reveal (it said that he regenerated into him at the end). I know because somebody posted it on a site that I frequent about a month before the episode aired.



DasManiac
DasManiac

@Greempa Or it's so horrifically awful that they just don't care what people say.

CGT
CGT

@Blink42 As Clara Laurinda said: I didn't say I couldn't think of any pros, but at the time of writing this article when I started the pros section It took me longer to get going than the cons section. I thought that this was worth noting. Of course, after some time, I did discover several positive points, for example, as you stated, the publicity. 

Clara Laurinda
Clara Laurinda

@Blink42 Chris did NOT say he couldn't think of any positives; he (I am assuming he's a he; apologies if I am wrong) is saying it was a struggle to do so, setting up the idea that his personal opnion was not in favour. And so what is silly about an article that explores two sides of the same question or issue?

supermoff
supermoff

Well we have a website that respects the show's writers and knows the importance of keeping away spoilers :D

Antee991166
Antee991166

@TheIdleIdol  The main problem with Game of Thrones is that it is based on a book series and so many of the major plot points have been known for years. I've read the books so I'm never really bothered, but your right that spoilers for the TV show are pretty much everywhere unless your careful. Obviously Doctor Who doesn't have the same problem since it is effectively made up as it goes along. 

Undiscovered Adventure
Undiscovered Adventure

I can sympathise! I encountered spoilers for the same episode! that's pretty much the limit of my spoilerific foreknowledge for this series though.