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Dear Diary,

I really love unpredictable heroes.

There never really seem to be enough of them. For instance, you can always tell what a Baggins will say on a given subject…. until…

Bilbo.

Bilbo is the first-ever Baggins to have an adventure... and he's not the last.

Bilbo is the first-ever Baggins to have an adventure… and he’s not the last.

And Frodo. But that’s another story that’s been told and re-told elsewhere.

At some level, all heroes are predictable. For instance, going into a new type of spell, Merlin will study. Finding a new quest, Arthur will immediately shout at Merlin. And inevitably throw something at him… eventually. (It’s hilarious.)

Merlin is charming in his simplicity, but there's still something unexpected about him--he's a magic user, and no one seems to guess.

Merlin is charming in his simplicity, but there’s still something unexpected about him–he’s a magic user, and no one seems to guess.

Obi-Wan Kenobi ultimately couldn’t kill Darth Vader. (Well, the audience knew this one… sort of… But Yoda didn’t.)

This is how it ended... and where it began.

This is how it ended… and where it began.

IT could not predict Meg’s ability to love, thus losing control of Charles Wallace at the critical moment.

Tsarmina could not predict Martin’s ability to go on fighting. Cluny could not predict that Matthias would cut the Joseph bell free–the mouse didn’t have to come down to kill him!

Sir Percy Blakeney, the Scarlet Pimpernel, consistently manages to outwit Chauvelin on the Scarlet Pimpernel books.

So, yes, you generally know what a hero is going to say next. You know that he/she will be the first to sacrifice himself/herself for the innocents involved. You know that they’re at their best on an emotional high (more on this later!)

But in the end, there are some things that you can’t predict. And neither can the villain. There’s always one contingency that he never imagines and doesn’t plan for. There’s always one level of the hero’s soul he can never reach.

For instance… Palpatine never imagined that Vader would turn on him to save Luke.

This is the last thing he's ever going to do...

This is the last thing he’s ever going to do…

A prime example of this is in the BBC show Sherlock, of which my good friend Iris is a dedicated fan. Moriarty has the heroes (Sherlock Holmes and Doctor John Watson) cornered. There are snipers waiting to shoot them. There’s only one flaw in his plan–there’s a pile of explosives (recently taped to John, now lying on the floor) right there, and he’s standing in the blast radius. Sherlock doesn’t want to go down and leave Moriarty still standing… so he aims at the explosives. And neither Moriarty nor the audience knows if he will actually do it.

Checkmate.

Incidentally, in the script for a similar drama series (in which Sherlock and John have mysteriously gender-swapped–“oops!” she says unrepentantly) Shannon Holmes does something similar, and Moriarty again finds himself in the same predicament. (I’m not telling you what it is. That’s called a spoiler and Iris would kill me if I told you. She wants her secrets to remain… well… secrets. ;-P) I think that Jamie Watson is not necessarily comfortable with her unpredictable new roommate, but I can at least tell you that they eventually become friends. Actually, it’s not so surprising that Shannon and Sherlock find themselves doing themselves doing the exact same thing, since they both are spin-offs of the same character that premiered in Beeton’s Christmas Annual more than one hundred years ago. And Shannon lives in a similar world (aka, the modern one) to Sherlock, so they’re not actually that different, except that Shannon is younger and less sure of herself, and hasn’t figured out how to text yet… besides, it’s so much harder to deduce anything from a texter… and she isn’t entirely up on texting conventions.

Hero unpredictability. You’ve gotta love it. Otherwise, you’d have an invincible villain, and where’s the fun in that?! The only way you can finish the story that way is by a deus ex machina, and that’s verboten.

Hope you enjoyed my 7 a.m. ramble, and God Bless!

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