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the-last-jedi-landscape-poster

Hi. I liked The Last Jedi.

If you did not like The Last Jedi, that’s cool. It’s got its issues. There’s issues with pacing and scenes that don’t need as much screentime, and I’m undecided about the character of Rose and that, uh, thing she does to Finn which made him angry. I’m not gonna stand here and tell you it’s a flawless movie impervious to any and all criticism.

But it’s impervious to some of the criticisms lobbed at it.

 

There are legitimate arguments to be made about the failures of The Last Jedi, and then there is the pseudo-intellectual nonsense encouraged by profesional nitpicks like Cinemasins and the Plinkett reviews. These lines of thinking make no logical sense as criticism, and those who believe them often attempt to intellectualize the nonsense by ascribing what they see as a fancy literary term: Plot hole.

A number of “plot holes” I have seen people claim The Last Jedi has include:

Why didn’t the Resistance or First Order think of kamikaze attacks before?

Poe’s rogue mission failed so it had no purpose in the plot!

Bombs wouldn’t fall out of ships because there’s no gravity in space!

How did the codebreaker know the shuttles were fleeing to Crait?

How did Poe figure out how to kill a Dreadnought?

A plot hole, as defined by TV Tropes is this:

Plot Holes are those gaps in a story where things happen without a logical reason.

And the different kinds of plot holes are:

  • Characters suddenly having knowledge that was never passed to them, or vice versa; characters not knowing something they knew last week, or something that anyone in their position must know.
  • An event does not logically follow from what has gone before.
  • An event occurring that other events in the work simply do not allow.

So plot holes are a problem in the internal logic of the story.

Physics/science inconsistencies are not plot holes. Or else Alderaan exploding with sound despite no sound existing in space is a plot hole.

A hanging plot thread is not a plot hole. Regardless, Poe’s rogue mission failing is critical to the story The Last Jedi is telling. It’s not a hanging thread as people seem to think, it’s the whole point of the movie that Poe fails.

Holdo ramming her ship into Snoke’s is the logical conclusion to her arc given the situation she was in. The internal logic of the story flows perfectly. Asking why no one did it before is as unproductive as asking why no one thought to trip an AT-AT before Hoth.

After I saw the movie, I thought the Codebreaker knowing the shuttles had escaped to Crait was a plot hole. It fulfills the first bullet point, with the “hole” in the story’s logic being that he had no way of knowing that plan was happening. J.A. Prentice then reminded me that the codebreaker heard the conversation between Finn and Poe where Poe relayed Holdo’s escape plan, and that’s how he figured it out.

Poe knowing how to kill a Dreadnought may seem to fall under that first bullet point, but it was never established that he did not know. On the contrary, it’s safe to say a veteran pilot and Resistance soldier would know the weaknesses and strengths of the opponent’s fleet. Again, plot holes are about the story’s internal logic. Fighter pilot + war veteran probably equals knowledge on the enemy’s biggest ships. I mean, how the hell did the Rebels in IV get the plans to the Death Star? That was never explained! Plot hole! Plot hole! Give us a god-awful snoozefest movie to explain, we’re too dumb to understand!

 

 

 

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sherlock-season-4

Sherlock’s Series 4 has been, rightfully, criticized, both by Rotten Tomatoes certified critics and little wordpress group blogs. But there’s been a running theme of positivity amidst all the criticism: The second episode, “The Lying Detective,” was a strong episode bookended by poor ones. I’m here to tell you that “The Lying Detective” actually doomed Series 4, and quite possibly, Sherlock itself.

OK look, in a vacuum, “The Lying Detective” is the best episode of the series. It’s the most creatively shot of the bunch, with a great villain performance and some thrilling bits of dialogue by Steven Moffat. Take this episode removed from the surrounding series, and it’s a solid work of TV mystery. But I’m not here to tell you it’s the worst, I’m here to tell you it doomed the series. There’s a difference, and the devil is in the details.

So let’s talk about Mary. Mary, Mary, Mary. Her introduction in Series 3 went very quickly from her being a passable side character to a stain on the show. Her character’s reveal as a super special secret agent with a dark past that’s so dark and secretive she can’t tell anyone about it dragged down series 3, and took the show away from its genesis as a modern re-telling of classic stories and into something more along the lines of high budget fan-fiction where Sherlock and Watson wander into James Bond stories. Her character crossed a line into being straight up unbearable in the series 4 premiere, where her super special secret dark past is revealed, and is absolutely underwhelming. And unnecessary. And distracting from the heart of the show. It was bad, and we here at LAS gave it perhaps a too-favorable score. But the episode did do something to set up the rest of the series for success.

It killed Mary.

As if the Sherlock team was aware that her inclusion was hurting the show, they killed her off in the opening episode for series 4, which should have freed up the remaining 180-ish minutes of the series for a return to form. And what did we get?

Mary.

Unwilling to commit to the decision, Moffat instead has his cake and eats it too, bringing Mary back for hallucinatory witticisms that detract from the main story and, again, seem to indicate that her last name is Sue. Mary leaves a posthumous tape behind for John to watch, and it’s after watching her tape, and her warning to him, that John rushes to the hospital to save Sherlock just in the knick of time. Mary. Nevermind the issue of convenience of John watching that exact section of the tape at that exact time, it’s that the writers couldn’t commit to keeping her dead, and still rely on her as a superpowered crutch instead of cleverly writing John and Sherlock out of a problem in a way so as to have them earn it, rather than luck into it.

It’s not just Mary. Allow me to remind you of the scene near the beginning of the episode where Sherlock takes a walk with Faith, the daughter of the episode’s villain, Culverton Smith. On first watch, it’s a wonderful scene where Sherlock makes a rare connection with another person, slowly unravelling the mystery of her past and her father’s. The moment where Sherlock analyzes the note she had by having her imagine a window with sun shining through it? Best moment of the series. Except…

It means. Nothing.

Surprise! It wasn’t Faith! It Was Eurus, Sherlock’s EVEN MORE super special super smart superpowered sister, who’s like Mary turned up to eleven. It was all a fakeout. Sherlock never met the suicidal, memory-lapsed daughter of Culverton Smith. That personal connection was fake. His analysis of her note was actually wrong. The things he learns about her background and Culverton are false. It’s actually ten minutes of filler, a good scene sacrificed in the name of arbitrary plot twists.

That’s the main tragedy of the episode. Moments of drama are insincere, undercut later on with a revelation that takes away from scenes which should be stellar if left untouched.

Culverton isn’t a mystery. The episode wants you to question his motives, if Sherlock’s really gone crazy or if Culverton’s a killer. But it’s all false tension because it shows you the truth in the first scene.

It introduces the concept of a memory-altering pill, and then abandons it. It’s like it’s set up for some sort of resolution or solution involving the pill, but it’s never heard from again. Chekov’s gun is left on the desk unfired.

Sherlock’s drug addiction? Nah, just all part of an elaborate, convoluted, nonsensical plan. Devised by Mary.

None of the tension in the episode is genuine. Everything established in the episode, Culverton’s mystery, Sherlock’s drug addiction, the memory pill, Faith’s midnight trip to Sherlock’s door, none of it actually carries any weight. Culverton’s mystery never becomes compelling because the show tells you the answer before introducing the question. Sherlock’s addiction isn’t as serious as it seems since it’s his own plan. The memory pill never goes anywhere. Faith isn’t actually trying to recover her lost memory and never actually meets Sherlock. It all goes nowhere. It means nothing. It’s filler. The only things in the episode that actually wind up mattering are Mary and Eurus.

I think they tried to put make-up on a pig here. They tried to dazzle with technical pinache, intricate camera-work and trippy moments meant to look cool and obfuscate the increasingly thin story. But it’s different here than in past episodes. I’m starving so allow me a food analogy: In the past, Sherlock’s visual style was like garnish. Visually pretty but complementing an already great work. It helped to accentuate the modern take on Sherlock and his inner thoughts, but didn’t distract you from the main story. The camerawork here is more like drenching an overdone steak with BBQ sauce. It’s trying to hide mistakes.

OK quick lunch break…


“The Final Problem” was atrocious. But that trainwreck of an episode doesn’t happen if “The Lying Detective” stuck to its guns. This is what I mean by it “dooming” the series. Sure, the technical side of things was great, but the events this episode sets in motion culminate in the worst episode of Sherlock’s history, and the show’s future is now in doubt. I honestly can’t blame “The Final Problem” or “The Six Thatchers” for it. It was “The Lying Detective” that was supposed to right the boat, which was unsteady after the first episode, and already capsized by the time the finale came around.

This episode is the one that ends on the mind-boggling moronic cliffhanger revealing her character. This is the episode which is retroactively ruined by her existing in this show’s universe. It sets up the finale for failure and it seals the fate of the first episode by undermining the one useful thing it did. Every interesting thing introduced in the episode itself is undone after one viewing.

It doomed Sherlock.

Welcome to LAS’s final Doctor Who Discussion of the series! Read on to find out what J.A. Prentice and Jaden C. Kilmer thought of the episode and the series as a whole.

There are SPOILERS ahead.

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On day 5 of my personal challenge to write 100 stories in 100 days, I wrote story number four and it was a winner. I was extremely happy with it and think it has a good chance of getting accepted somewhere.

It is now day 11 and I’ve written a grand total of one story since.

This has been my problem for as long as I can remember. I’ll write something I like and then sit on it. That’s kind of the point of this challenge, to be prolific and not worry (yet) about quality, but every time I start a new one, I worry it won’t be as good and scrap it.

Bad Jaden, write faster.

Day: 11

Stories Finished: 5

Having been miserably incompetent in any sort of writing achievement for about a year, I was in need of some sort of plan to try and make up for lost time. Working on a longform story is fun, but I’m at that point where I want to market my stories to places, and generally it’s easier, if less rewarding, to shop short fiction than your novel.

My achilles heel is consistency. I am in no way prolific, like a certain other contributor to this blog. And I always make up a bunch of excuses, some of those excuses I was using this very morning. So my latest plan is an attempt to play around those weaknesses while working on improving them at the same time.

I am going to write 100 stories in 100 days.

OK so as I said, I am not prolific. I tend to half-finish most of my projects. If I half-finish this one, then by September 12th, I will have fifty stories ready to go. That sounds like a lot to me. When getting published as a new voice is such a numbers game, the more stories you have the better. And that’s what this is really all about.

I began the challenge for myself yesterday, finishing story 1, “Things That Happened While You Were Waiting for the Train,” today.

Welcome to the Living Authors’ Society Doctor Who Discussions, where the arguments are made up and the scores don’t matter. Join J.A. Prentice and Jaden C. Kilmer in our look at the latest Doctor Who episode: Oxygen by Jamie Mathieson.

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There are SPOILERS past this point. And believe me, this episode had a big one, so consider yourselves warned.

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NERDFIGHT!!!

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Was the most recent Doctor Who episode empty nonsense or a solid commentary on industry and humanity? Well Jaden C. Kilmer and J.A. Prentice are about to duke it out.

There are Spoilers for Thin Ice past this point.

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