Outside the Government: The Empty Hearse

(40 comments)

TARDIS Eruditorum will return on March 19th. But as a prelude, we're rerunning lightly edited versions of some old essays from the earliest days of the Patreon, now reskinned as the Outside the Government essays for Series 3 of Sherlock. I would also be remiss if I did not note that we are in the final 48 hours of the TARDIS Eruditorum Volume 7 Kickstarter, and it's a nailbiter whether we'll make all the stretch goals.
 
It's January 1st, 2014. Pharrell Williams's "Happy" has unseated Sam Bailey at number one, while Eminem and Rihanna, Lily Allen, Ellie Goulding, Katy Perry, and One Direction also chart. In the news, since Matt Smith got old and died it's been exceedingly quiet. Obama signed a budget deal, marijuana was legalized in Colorado, incandescent light bulbs became illegal to sell in the United States, and Latvia adopted the Euro. While on television, Sherlock informed the audience that it was going to lie to them, and then went on to do just that. It had, in the tradition of fair lies, given ample warning. "It's a trick. Just a magic trick." And so, of course, it was. Indeed, The Empty Hearse is in effect a ninety minute exercise in arguing that the question of how Sherlock survived The Reichenbach Fall is irrelevant, or at least largely uninteresting.

To call this a bold response to one's own iconic pop culture moment seems an understatement. And the reactions at the time are worth recalling, even if it is only a year on. First and most interesting were those who felt that The Empty Hearse was mean-spirited in its treatment of fandom, a criticism that focused especially on the depiction of slash fiction within the episode. And yet it's difficult to quite articulate what about the portrayal of slash fans is offensive here. The only person to really mock them is Anderson, and Laura's observation that her Sherlock/Moriarty slash is no more ludicrous than some of Anderson's own theories is, in the context of the story's larger attitude towards the idea of "solving" Sherlock's survival, significant. She, at least, is in on her own joke, which Anderson never gets to be.

And it is, ultimately, the joke that's at issue, which is where this episode's boldness comes in. That The Empty Hearse was going to be read largely in terms of how well it resolved the cliffhanger was, of course, a foregone conclusion. You don't get to have that kind of media coverage and then not be judged on how you stick the landing. Devoting an entire episode to it instead of, as they had with the cliffhanger of The Great Game, lampshading it with an absurdly trivial resolution was a necessity. But what wasn't necessary was making The Empty Hearse into a ninety minute exploration of what it means to resolve the cliffhanger in the first place.

Which brings us to the second reaction, the accusation that the story was self-indulgent. Which misses the point in many ways. Yes, three separate flashback sequences of "how Sherlock did it" are a bit self-indulgent, but this is clearly the purpose of the exercise. The resolution isn't how Sherlock did it, it's Sherlock and John making amends over a ticking time bomb, hence the cut to the "actual" explanation (which may or may not be the actual explanation, but is fairly clearly the explanation they had in mind when they filmed The Reichenbach Fall) in the middle of the climax, so as to hammer home the point about what actually matters in resolving the cliffhanger.

This gets to the third interesting reaction at the time, which was the degree to which this episode's best case scenario was clearly "not failing." It was generally judged to have done so, but praise for the episode was thin. It was designed to get the highest ratings of Season Three, but even before The Sign of Three it was also fairly obviously designed to be the least important one—the one that tied off the unfinished business of Season Two and cleared the decks for the other two episodes, one of which, we should recall, was only four days away anyway.

The snarky thing to say right now would be "plus it was the Gatiss episode," although that's unfair in the context of Sherlock in particular. Nevertheless, it's worth remarking up front about the implications of moving the Steven Moffat episode to the end of the run. There is no reasonable understanding of the Moffat/Gatiss partnership in which Moffat is not the senior partner. He's emphatically Gatiss's boss on the other show they work together on, he co-owns the production company, his wife and mother in law are executive producers, and, more broadly, literally nobody, one suspects Gatiss included, actually disputes that he's the far better writer. In Seasons One and Two he wrote the big showpiece episode that got the bulk of the attention and praise, and, as you'd expect given the usual graph of television ratings over a season, he went first. This time, however, he's moved to the final slot, with Gatiss getting to do the one everyone is going to pay attention to. 

It's cruel to suggest this is setting the show up for disappointment, not least because Gatiss's approach—making the story about storytelling—is so close to what Moffat would do. But there is a clear sense of disappointment built into the episode, hence the immediate admission of lying.  Because the real crux of this is why it doesn't actually matter how Sherlock survived. For one school of thought, this was a point of maximal hubris: how dare you build up a cliffhanger for two years and then declare that it doesn't actually matter? But, of course, the episode ultimately makes a fairly compelling case, demonstrating that it's not actually very hard to come up with ways Sherlock could have survived, and that, indeed, people had spent the last two years coming up with a near-exhaustive list.

And then there's the other school of thought - the one that says that Sherlock is a show about the relationship between two people, and that the entire point of using Sherlock Holmes as the vehicle for this is because the actual act of deducing things and solving mysteries is effectively trivial. This, it's pretty obvious, is the school of thought that the actual people making Sherlock subscribe to. And so in the face of a cliffhanger mystery that threatened to consume the entire definition of what the show was, this sort of retrenchment was absolutely vital.

And in hindsight, it's what turns out to be most important about this episode. Watching Amanda Abbington's performance with knowledge of what's to come is fascinatingly revealing - her delivery of the line where she notes that of course Sherlock told Molly he was alive, because he'd need a confidant is delightfully nuanced - you can see her own version of John and Sherlock's addiction to what they do as she finds herself instinctively playing along with Sherlock, providing the basis for her beautifully delivered "I like him" in the cab to John. This is clearly what the show would like to be doing, and fair enough - it's appreciably more exciting than a ninety minute tease to get us back to the point where we actually have a functional show again.

It seems silly to complain that The Empty Hearse is bad, not least because it isn't. It's easily the best thing Gatiss has written up to this point. But it's ninety minutes of retraining us to watch Sherlock—reminding us that this show is a shell game about how many steps ahead of the narrative Sherlock is, in which everything we see is game for a sudden forced reevaluation. Gatiss fills the intervening moments well - the choice of the Underground setting based on seeing Web of Fear is sweet, not least because Gatiss is right that it provides good imagery - and the fact that they do the Giant Rat of Sumatra case is both a nice nod to Sherlock Holmes canon and a charming Doctor Who joke.

More substantively, there are some great character moments both small (Lestrade's reaction to Sherlock's return, John apologizing to Mrs. Hudson in an inversion of the train scene at the end) and large (Mycroft and Sherlock's game of deductions). At every turn, this is better than it needs to be. But it is, I think, the episode of Season Three where it doesn't feel like their heart is in it, and when they're stuck doing what they have to do instead of what they want to do. The result is a beautifully made clearing of the throat, to which the only real response is "fair enough, what's next?"

Comments

mx_mond 4 months, 2 weeks ago

The link to the Kickstarter seems to be broken.

Link | Reply

Lambda 4 months, 2 weeks ago

The main problem in general with building up a cliffhanger for two years and then declaring that it doesn't actually matter would seem to be that the hype will alienate people who think it doesn't matter, and then your resolution will alienate people who think it does. (Said in complete ignorance of the details.)

Link | Reply

Lee 4 months, 2 weeks ago

Lambda makes a fascinating point.

In my view, the episode suffered tremendously from their choice not to explain how Sherlock faked his own death. It's something we saw again with Moffat in 'Listen' (though I know Gatiss wrote Sherlock too).

It was unsettling to see people speculating so feverishly on a particular mystery only to shrug afterwards and say it doesn’t matter. It was as though such people had been tuned to the Archangel Network.

(A parallel can easily be drawn with Rian Johnson and his work on The Last Jedi. Like Moffat, here was another writer who was awarded control of a massive science fiction franchise and cultural touchstone, a man both revered and despised, who had failed to answer certain questions after two years of audience speculation.)

Declaring that such a mystery does not matter is rather dangerous because, as an audience, we tell ourselves that it does matter. It’s how we are able to engage with it.

Are we apply their alternative to other stories? Perhaps we should have Poirot abandon a case halfway through a novel and claim to Hastings that “it doesn’t matter”? Or maybe let him solve the case but not explain it all to us.

There’s also a wider issue here, which is Moffat’s well-known habit of beginning a mystery and either never resolving it satisfactorily or never resolving it at all.

Now, I’m not a Moffat-hater (such a shame it is so common for his critics to say that so they are not dismissed as irrational and determined “haters”) but I am aware he constantly moves the goal posts. If it’s the nonsensible hybrid mystery, or Sherlock saying in The Abominable Bride that “it’s never twins” when it turns out to be a lookalike.

Of course, by the time we know there is no resolution, we have already watched the thing – which is the purpose of the mystery in the first place. In that regard, maybe the effectiveness of the mystery is all that matters.

The good thing, of course, is that such writing lowers the bar and other, better writing can soar above it.

Link | Reply

mx_mond 4 months, 2 weeks ago

There is definitely a problem with people expecting the mystery in Moffat’s writing to be the point. I remember the video that was making rounds a few months ago about why Sherlock was crap; one of the main charges was that it’s a mystery show that doesn’t care about the mystery, but the author didn’t bother to pause and think about the underlying assumption and whether it might be false.

My problem with The Empty Hearse was a bit different, and it was that I felt that there was no reconciliation between Sherlock and John, that Sherlock (and to an extent the series) completely dismissed John’s feelings.

Reading the transcript of the episode now, I can sort of see what they were going for: allowing John to express his feelings (through violence, because that’s what men do), having Sherlock demonstrate his care for his friend by recongising his need for adventures and offering a renewal of their partnership – and implying that eventually, with Mary’s help, they’ll reconcile. The problem with that is that it’s so stereotypically masculine: emotions cannot be expressed in a straightforward way, but only couched as a joke or mediated through the shared hobby, and touch between two men can only be violent. Elementary might be more plain and boring and obvious, but I like how that Sherlock is forced to vocalise his thoughts and feelings in an open way. The subversive potential of that is neutralised to an extent, because Watson is a woman, but we still have a vision of a man who has to analyse and talk about his feelings in a more direct manner.

Link | Reply

mx_mond 4 months, 2 weeks ago

I forgot to mention the most awful moment of the episode, which is John being emotionally manipulated by Sherlock into expressing his affection for his friend and forgiving him in the face of their impending death, then being mocked for it.

Link | Reply

BeatnikLady 4 months, 2 weeks ago

It is interesting (and a little disheartening) that Holmes and Watson are both interpreted in Sherlock as finding 'the emotional stuff' problematic or unimportant. My first experience of the characters onscreen was probably unusual, being a video of The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes with Robert Stevens, but there are certainly more options than some assume for how to present these two. I suppose the Moffat/Gatiss approach is meant to add 'grit' for a 2010s audience, but there are ways it feels regressive.

Link | Reply

Przemek 4 months, 2 weeks ago

My main problem with Moffat's "mystery doesn't matter" approach is the simple question: why can't we have both? There are plenty of writers who both explain their mysteries satisfyingly and don't let them consume the other aspects of their work. Moffat certainly has the skills for it. So why deny your audience the simple pleasure of a good answer?

Link | Reply

biggerontheinside 4 months, 2 weeks ago

I think the point our host is making is that Moffat is saying that the pleasure of a definitive answer is less than the pleasure of coming up with your own theory

Link | Reply

Przemek 4 months, 2 weeks ago

Perhaps for Moffat it is, and I can't really blame him for following his instincts and beliefs. But I think a large portion of the audience (me included) doesn't agree.

Link | Reply

Aylwin 4 months, 2 weeks ago

I think the reason why is because "solutions to mysteries don't matter, and wanting them is bad, because doing so prevents you from caring about people, er, somehow" is a central moral/aesthetic message of Sherlock and of Moffat's whole body of work over the last half-dozen years, and raising and then deliberately frustrating audience expectations of a satisfying resolution is central to his means of communicating it. And it would surely be hard to put that point across to an audience effectively while also giving them a satisfyingly-resolved mystery, in much the same way that packaging anti-violence messages in enjoyably spectacular and exciting violence-based entertainment tends to be ineffective.

Personally, I find it both unconvincing and rather trivial as a message. The gambit would have been a bit tiresome even if deployed only once, so using it repeatedly and at length seems a real waste of both Moffat's talent and the audience's good-faith willingness to take an interest in things presented to them as interesting, or as the foundation for something that will become interesting later on. But for what it's worth, that agenda is a coherent reason for doing things this way.

Link | Reply

mx_mond 4 months, 2 weeks ago

In addition to your astute observations about the ideological layer of Moffat’s way of resolving things (because I think they usually do tend to get resolved in some way or another), I would like to add that from a perspective focused on craft, Moffat resembles a showman who sets the table with exquisite tableware, then in one quick motion pulls the tablecloth from under it. The audience is supposed to marvel at the speed and lightness of the motion (and I still remember the awe I felt at the swift resolutions of cliffhangers such as the Doctor being locked inside the Pandorica or the standoff with Moriarty in The Great Game) – but at some point the trick loses its novelty and, since the set-up is very lengthy and elaborate, people wish for something more spectacular.

Link | Reply

Przemek 4 months, 2 weeks ago

Thank you, you both make excellent points (and mx_mond's simile is amazing!). So Moffat does indeed have an understandable reason for his way of resolving things - that's good. I just seem to fundamentally disagree with him when it comes to the perceived source of narrative pleasure. Oh well, I guess there's nothing that can be done about that. I still enjoy his work immensly.

Link | Reply

Aylwin 4 months, 2 weeks ago

Yes, that's pretty much where I am too.

Link | Reply

Rob 4 months, 2 weeks ago

We don't know this was Moffat's thinking, however. He could well have thought, "The fans will twist it around until they find a way to make me look good regardless."

The Pandorica escape, as mentioned by mxmond, was a paradox which was widely mocked, so hardly something to awe over.

I think the truth is he's either lazy or simply not as intelligent as his fans give him credit for. It's fascinating, but I have repeatedly seen such people wrestle with their own problems with his work before taking solace in another fan's justifications and concluding, with some relief, that Moffat was wise and clever and right all along. The commonalities between this and religion is worthy of an essay of its own.

Link | Reply

Przemek 4 months, 2 weeks ago

You sound like a very cynical sort of man.

For what it's worth, I enjoyed the Pandorica solution. It was fun.

Link | Reply

Rob 4 months, 2 weeks ago

I'm sorry you feel that way, but there's really no reason to be offended. Ironically, most of the time, I'm rhapsodizing enthusiastically about a whole load of things. Friends are always saying how I call almost everything the 'best ever'.

I'm just giving this the same depth of analysis as others here. I'm pointing out how sometimes we simply can't face it when a show we like doesn't deliver. I suppose it's natural enough, as we can invest so much time and affection into it, but it can be uncomfortable and annoying.

It's all right not to like every word a writer writes. Let's be strong and know our own minds and not be pressured into changing it just because we're being critical and not conformist.

I like some of Moffat's work. I liked The Lying Detective and love, love, love Deep Breathe, but I'm not blind to his flaws (the problematic hybrid arc, for instance, or the entirety of The Final Problem, though I haven't noticed his alleged sexism) and I don't need to put a spin on those issues before I'm at peace with them.

Link | Reply

Elizabeth Sandifer 4 months, 2 weeks ago

idk, I think when you've started asserting that the only reason people like something is because of a cult-like mentality of deluding themselves you've kind of traded depth of analysis for intensity.

(Also, you've never seen the sexism? I'm as ardent a defender of Moffat's feminism as they come, but give me a break; the argument that he's sexist is not hard to grasp.)

Link | Reply

Rob 4 months, 2 weeks ago

I'm not saying that is why we like the show, just that certain plot points, every once and a while, give us difficulty and we try to remedy that because - well, such difficulties can spoil the fun, and there's no fun in feeling a show is shortchanging us. I try, however, to accept it for it is and not try to see something which isn't there.

As for Moffat's sexism, of course I see that most of his female characters are dominant and sexually assertive, and that Clara is a Mary-Sue, but I just figured he couldn't write for women. (Though that doesn't get the Eleventh Doctor off the hook). It's a hot topic and something I don't try to dwell on too much. Plotting is more my area.

I'm looking forward to the Deep Breath essay. I'm a huge fan of that episode (my favourite of that season after Mummy On the Orient Express, which was also incredible!).

Link | Reply

Przemek 4 months, 2 weeks ago

Alright, sorry for the unfair categorization then. You do sound like a cynic in that first comment though, so it's good that you've explained what you meant. Thanks.

I don't know if what you're describing is "putting a spin" on things. This expression implies insincerity, deluding oneself and others in order to feel better. I don't believe that's the case. When confronted with an issue in the work one likes one can either search for a redemptive reading or conclude that the issue is real and inexcusable. As long as the redemptive reading isn't too far-fetched I think it's a perfectly valid way of interpreting said work. And since people generally prefer liking things to not liking things...

In this case it all comes down to whether one assumes that Moffat is, as you put it, "either lazy or simply not as intelligent as his fans give him credit for" or that he deliberately crafted a story in a specific way to achieve a goal one may or may not agree with. I can't think of a reason to assume the former.

Link | Reply

Rob 4 months, 2 weeks ago

I agree it's much better to like something, and it's the option I'd like to choose. It's why I've tried my best to like the new Star Trek movies.
I was mainly playing devil's advocate, as I'm pretty sure Moffat is one of the most talented writers working in genre television.

Link | Reply

Aylwin 4 months, 2 weeks ago

Well no, we never do really know what a writer's thought-process is [insert standard Death of the Author discussion here]. But the circumstantial evidence that he was thinking along these lines seems overwhelming (assuming, as we probably may, that his thinking was a major influence on this story - as so often, we need to remind ourselves that he didn't actually write the script, but still).

As I said, this same "people not puzzles" message is stamped all over swathes of Moffat's work from about 2012 onwards. It was the thesis statement of Doctor Who season 7, which finished airing eight months before this episode was broadcast, and was touched on again in Deep Breath, seven months later. It's the moral that suffuses Sherlock from start to finish.

So when we come to a story in which the same writer was to some substantial degree involved, which deliberately and explicitly refuses to give a definitive resolution to a much-touted narrative puzzle, and lampoons fannish hunger for a totally watertight and somehow fulfilling resolution to such a transparently trivial and artificial fictional conjuring trick... well, frankly, the idea that you can maintain that that aspect of this story was somehow totally unconnected to that wider context is what seems to me like fanciful fan fantasism. An irrationalisation, one might say.

It's a feature, not a bug. And as I've said, it's not a feature I'm terribly keen on myself, especially in its repetitiveness, and Przemek and mx_mond have expressed similar reservations, so I'm a bit baffled at how acknowledging it is supposed to constitute "concluding, with some relief, that Moffat was wise and clever and right all along". But it's no accident.

Link | Reply

Aylwin 4 months, 2 weeks ago

Now, if you want an instance where Moffat and Gatiss genuinely seem to have have simply muffed up the resolution of a Sherlock end-of-series cliffhanger, either because they didn't actually have a plan or because they abandoned it in favour of doing something else, I would direct your attention to what happened between series 3 and 4 (or between The Abominable Bride and series 4).

Link | Reply

Rob 4 months, 2 weeks ago

I agree completely on the 'people not puzzle' thing. I certainly enjoyed the "Am I a good man" arc and was excited about a darker, spikier doctor in general, really. Looking forward to Phil's essays on that series.

In my own posts, I was referring more to myself than anyone else, and my own uncertainties with it.

Link | Reply

Aylwin 4 months, 2 weeks ago

Speaking as someone who generally has little time for Moffat's oft-repeated "shame on you for expecting a proper answer to the question I encouraged you to take an interest in" routine, or for the school of thought that represents narrative consistency, credibility or completeness as somehow incompatible with emotional or thematic depth, this is one instance that I can't manage to get worked up about.

There was never going to be any definitive answer to the question "how did this man survive jumping from a tall building to his apparent death?" that would offer greater satisfaction or interest than "yes, I suppose that's a way that could have been done". It's not that a coherent argument cannot be made that the refusal to declare any of the answers on offer to be What Really Fictionally Happened was a let-down. It's just that if it was, it was a let-down from such a short distance above ground level that you'd hardly feel the bump.

Link | Reply

Aylwin 4 months, 2 weeks ago

To editorialise on my previous comment responding to your comment responding to the article's discussion of this story's commentary on the cultural tradition within which it participates, I think your correct observation that it is possible to do both at once does not amount to a reason why this story could not have achieved its aim by doing both, but it does amount to a reason why that aim is a bit silly.

Link | Reply

Przemek 4 months, 2 weeks ago

Yeah, sounds about right. Good point.

Link | Reply

Aylwin 4 months, 2 weeks ago

Just to add a further unnecessary layer of meta-commentary to the comical self-deflation of the previous comment's commentary on its own place in a chain of commentary by its failure to actually appear in that place, as you have discerned, this was meant as a comment on my previous comment responding to your comment.

I am now going for a lie-down.

Link | Reply

Kyle Edwards 4 months, 2 weeks ago

Since the conversation seems to be dominated by the lack of resolution regarding Sherlock's "death," I thought I might chip in my two cents. First, I think that whether it was a good idea to leave the issue unresolved or not should only be talked about on its terms, not as a reflection of Moffat-y storytelling in general. His mysteries are genuinely different, and the way he resolves them varies on a case-by-case basis. Propose a theory on how he resolves all his mysteries, sure, but I think it's a simplistic engagement with his work. Secondly, now that we're committed to focusing on The Empty Hearse only, I've a rhetorical question to ask: what should they have done? And I can hear the protest that "the writer should come up with it, not me," but I counter that with saying that you already came up with it. A billion times over. That's the paratext of Sherlock season 3. There's really no interesting solution to the question; it'd just be a fanwanky "oh, *that's* how it happened." There's nothing of significance to how Sherlock survives character-wise, and a character-based show shouldn't have to waste screen time on an answer that would at best elicit an "oh. Huh." And as to the idea that the show could be a satisfying mystery and a character-based show, sure. That doesn't, however, mean that it must be. It chose to be a character-based show, and just because you wanted a mystery show doesn't mean it has to bend around to do so. It's fine to dislike Sherlock on the premise that the character-based storytelling isn't interesting to you, but that doesn't mean it's a failing not to put more emphasis on the mystery aspects. No one would argue with a straight face that Taxi Driver's a shit rom-com, to take the example to the extreme. Refusal to engage with the show on its own terms is a failure of the audience, not of the show.

Link | Reply

mx_mond 4 months, 2 weeks ago

I’d add to that that in my opinion they absolutely did provide a solution to the mystery of Sherlock surviving for those who feel that’s important. Anderson’s solution is blatantly (to me at least) the one they came up with – probably when they were creating the cliffhanger – and the fact that they chose to frame it a bit ambiguously (coming from a character who’s unlikeable and at this point in the story perhaps unreliable) doesn’t change anything.

Link | Reply

Rob 4 months, 2 weeks ago

I think it could have resolved the mystery in a character way by having Sherlock explain it in a dismissive, perfunctory manner, such as mentioning it when getting some food out of the fridge. It would be an amusingly low-key way of revealing something that the audience was waiting for with baited breath.

Link | Reply

Rob 4 months, 2 weeks ago

Phil, is it possible to remove my picture in the above post please? I've always hated it :) Thanks.

Link | Reply

Elizabeth Sandifer 4 months, 2 weeks ago

Alas, that's out of my hands—it's something you set, deliberately or accidentally, with a service called Gravatar at some point in the past, and our comment system just loads the image from there.

Link | Reply

Lambda 4 months, 2 weeks ago

If there's no interesting answer to the question, my suggestion would be to not ask the question in the first place, and do something which can be made interesting instead.

Just like, if the writers of the show think mysteries are unimportant in general, my suggestion would be to make a show which doesn't have mysteries in it. Or, for instance, if Moffat (quite rightly) thinks the name of the Doctor doesn't matter, my suggestion would be to not write an arc asking what the name of the Doctor is.

Link | Reply

mx_mond 4 months, 2 weeks ago

But it does matter. His name is a promise.

Link | Reply

Przemek 4 months, 2 weeks ago

Yeah, I'd defend the "name of the Doctor" solution. It was pretty clever and it answered a more important question about the character. Not so much with some other Moffat's answers ("The Wedding of River Song", I'm looking at you).

Having said that, I don't remember having a problem with the cliffhanger resolution in "The Empty Hearse". Maybe I just wasn't that invested in the cliffhanger itself.

Link | Reply

biggerontheinside 4 months, 2 weeks ago

But there are interesting answers to the question. It's just more fun to let us speculate than to provide a "definitive" answer

Link | Reply

David Anderson 4 months, 2 weeks ago

I don't think the series is simply saying that the cliffhanger doesn't matter. After all, it runs through three possible resolutions. Running through possible resolutions without endorsing them is not the same as not running through any resolutions. You can't fault Moffat for not coming up with a solution to his own; he came up with a solution. In fact, he came up with two.

I said: three possible resolutions. The second one would not work as something broadcast as 'the resolution'. However, the show refuses to reject it on those grounds. So the show isn't merely saying that the resolution to a cliffhanger doesn't matter, as asking us to consider why and how cliffhangers and their solutions matter to us.

This is not to say that anything that replaces 'what is the solution to this enigma' with character based stuff is good. For example, when we get to Doctor Who the solution to the question, 'why is the Doctor endorsing the monks' rule,' is indefensible.

Link | Reply

Rob 4 months, 2 weeks ago

You make an excellent point.

There's three plausible resolutions, including a comedy one, which gets a good laugh to dispel the tension. I still remember the shock I felt when Derren Brown appeared :)

It also sets things up for The Sign of Three, which could well be the best episode of the show (or even any BBC drama that year), with the speech conceit as its core keeping everything tight and fast. It even allows the character to control his own show from within it.

Link | Reply

Comment deleted 4 months, 1 week ago

Comment deleted 4 months, 1 week ago

New Comment

required

required (not published)

optional

Recent Posts

Archive

Tags

Authors

Feeds

RSS / Atom