Dramatic License

While visiting family over Thanksgiving, I did something I hardly do anymore- watched television. The show they were watching that night was called Hey! Let’s Kill All the Terroists! Or something like that. When I say I was watching, I was actually mostly playing Castle Rush.

Anyway, I did catch the end. Our hero had spent the entire episode tied to a chair, being interrogated by Mr. Terroist–which meant that the episode was a series of flashbacks building to this last scene–is now facing death. Tied up, helpless, shot in the head type death. Which would be bad, and going against the shows whole theme. But! After a long build up, and at the last possible moment, the hero mentions that he knows he’s okay, because his boss will be coming for him. And oh, did he mention his boss used to be a sniper?

And cue the breaking window, dead Mr. Terrorist, and the quick zoom to the distant hillside where aforementioned boss looks sternly down a rifle barrel, dressed, of course, in a ghillie suit.

Here’s the thing. That scene, of course, is ridiculous. The timing is insane. But y’know, I can live with it. Because however ridiculous it is, it’s dramatic as hell. It’s a satisfying payoff at the end of the episode. Bad guy dead, good guy wins. I think most people-viewers, readers, whatever, are perfectly happy to gloss over some ridiculousness as long as it leads to an entertaining, dramatic finish. That’s dramatic license, and sometimes you just have to let the ridiculousness go.

Now about what happened next…

When the hero gets free, grabs his friends and goes running from the interrogation room, only to be threatened by Mr. Terrorist #2 (Electeric Terraloo). Who is then shot by–camera panning–his boss! Who is now standing down the hall. After apparently running a mile in his ghillie suit, over hill and valley, crashing through this compound of terrorists and finding the exact place where they are. In less than two minutes.

Nope. This, for me, is a line crossed. Well, a lot of lines. A ghillie suit stuffed with lines and handed a sniper rifle. And thinking about it, what really bothered me wasn’t so much how ridiculous it was (okay, yeah, that bothered me). What bothered me was that it felt unnecessary. We had our cool moment, our tension break point, our resolution. It’s done. Trying to tack another one on, one that’s even more unrealistic, just made the whole thing fall apart.

For me.

No one else in the room seemed to care. They, perhaps, even thought that me ranting about it was a bit ridiculous.

But I think I have license.

I have a couple of critique groups that would make all kinds of fun of me if I tried something like that.

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