If you hated seeing Ed Sheeran in the season seven premiere of Game of Thrones, blame Arya Stark. In the episode, the youngest Stark girl comes across a group of Lannister soldiers in the woods, and the musician in question is among them. Many Game of Thrones fans, myself included, were pretty incensed by the moment, mostly because it's too late in the game for this kind of sensationalized, distracting casting. Plus, it just pulled us all right out of Westeros and back into reality. Why are we pointing a finger at Arya? It's not necessarily her appearance in the scene alongside Sheeran; it's actually more about the actress who plays her, Maisie Williams.
Sheeran's cameo was confirmed way back in March, when creators D.B. Weiss and David Benioff spoke during a panel at South by Southwest in Austin, TX. Apparently, the entire reason they wanted the musician on the show in the first place is because Williams is a huge fan. So, they spent years trying to work out a cameo as a surprise for her. Finally, in season seven, they were able to pull it off. I mean, I guess it's technically not Maisie Williams's fault. The showrunners should have known better than to waste the screen time at this stage in the show.
In Sheeran's defense, he's not the first musician to appear on the show. Previous musical cameos have included Of Monsters and Men, Coldplay, and Sigur Rós. But this role is arguably the most conspicuous to date, and, as we said before, ended up being more of a distraction than anything else. With just a precious handful of episodes left (and just seven in this whole season), we don't have time for these shenanigans. It's time to focus on Winter. But hey, at least Sheeran had fun.