Characters Acting Irrationally Shouldn’t be Considered a Plot Hole [Spoilers]

Since The Last Jedi hit theaters, there has been a lot of talk on the movie. Talking about your love or dislike of new Star Wars movies seems to be becoming a treasured national past time! However, there has been criticism on The Last Jedi that I think is missing the point of, not only Star Wars, but stories in general.

The most heard piece of criticism I have observed about the film is that the characters act irrationally. There are a few ways in which people have complained about this:mark hamil star wars

  1. Vice Admiral Holdo should just tell Poe the plan.
  2. The Casino Planet (Canto Bight) was pointless.
  3. The Last Jedi betrayed Luke’s character. (From Mark Hamill himself)

All these complaints have a similar theme of being about a character making a mistake. Holdo most likely made a mistake by not telling Poe her plan. Poe most likely made a mistake by having Finn and Rose go to Canto. Luke most likely made a mistake when he went into hiding, and he definitely made a mistake when he tried to kill Ben Solo. Making mistakes actually seems to be a big theme of the movie.

However, characters making mistakes in plots is a vital to stories, and the fact that we can’t accept characters making mistakes probably says more about ourselves than the movie. First, I want you to consider why we like stories or why stories are important. Stories are meant to entertain, definitely, but they are also meant to teach us something. Sometimes they aim to teach us something about ourselves and sometimes they try to teach us something about the world around us.

The original trilogy of Star Wars is meant to teach us something about ourselves. While there is a story of rebellion vs. authoritarianism, the plot is pretty un-political and wrapped mostly around the lives of the main characters. We are suppose to see ourselves in Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia, and (hopefully not) C-3PO. When Luke doesn’t want to join the rebellion because he has “too much work to do”, this is suppose to remind us of ourselves. Many times in our lives we push away big opportunities because we don’t want to change the status quo or at least feel bogged down by it. When Han Solo decides to join the rebellion, regardless of payment, it is supposed to point out actions that may not be so different from our own.

Character flaw star warsThe prequels are a bit different. For the most part, the sequels are about a grand all-encompassing plot. While Anakin Skywalker is the main character, a lot of what we see has more to do with the universe itself than Anakin Skywalker, as a person. The prequels are much more political, and seem to want to teach us more about the world around us than about ourselves. The Republic was a standard of justice yet it got warped to become the evil Galactic Empire. The prequels examine the steps of how something like that can happen. However, do many of us really see ourselves in Anakin Skywalker? He is a hard character to relate to.

 

When it comes to the new trilogy, I think it is more a fusion of the two. It is meant to teach us something about the world around us (like with the scene showing Canto Bight), but it is also suppose to teach us something about ourselves.

Luke is not the most admirable character in the beginning of The Last Jedi. He is annoying and you just want to reach through the screen and shake him around a bit. But he isn’t evil and he isn’t unrelatable. When we saw Luke on screen as a defeated and depressed hero, Mark Hamil and many Star Wars fans hated him. But why? Is it so unrealistic that a hero can have flaws? Can make huge mistakes? Can make things worse off? It seems all too real to me, but we hate to see it that way because it makes us look in the mirror. We all view ourselves as the hero of our story, but, god damn, we are flawed. But we don’t want to be reminded of this, so we pass it off as a plot hole that makes absolutely no sense!

Same with Poe and Holdo. Is it really unheard of for military leaders to have large errors in judgement? Is it really hard to believe that Poe was probably acting inappropriately? Poe is still a hero, as is Holdo, even if they made mistakes.

If anything, characters acting irrational is the most realistic part of the The Last Jedi. Our lives are full of event after event of ourselves, our family, our coworkers, our friends, and our enemies making mistakes. Yet, for some reason when we see people being stupid on the big screen, we pretend it doesn’t make sense. I think it is because we don’t want to admit our own mistakes.

It is easy for us to judge characters actions as irrational because we see the entire context. We see what is happening in the enemy ship. We see what is happening in Poe’s room. We see what is happening on Canto Bight. And we also know we are watching a movie so the plot must go in certain ways. However, the character, hypothetically, do not know any of this just like we do not see the entire context of our own lives. Thus we, like a character in a movie, make many errors. If characters in a movie made constant rational actions, that would probably be the most unbelievable movie ever (and it is honestly why I find Superman, and characters like Superman) to be the most boring fictional characters ever created).

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Earth: A New Hope (Geologic Time to Star Wars)

Geologic time is vast, and the Earth is incredibly old. So old that understanding its scale can be hard to fathom. In order to understand its longevity, we will be looking back a long time ago in a galaxy far far away to Star Wars: A New Hope.

The origin of our Earth is 4.6 billion years ago in which a black screen envelops our movie screen to be shifted to a 20th Century Fox logo blaring loud trumpets. For 600 million years our world was bombarded by space junk, dust, and meteorites. By the time this bombardment is over in the context of A New Hope, Storm Troopers are combing the deserts of Tatooine and one brazenly yells “look sir droids!” Fast forward to a scene in the Millennium Falcon, and Han Solo is scolding Luke Skywalker with his famous line “hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match to a good blaster at your side, kid.” About a minute before this line is said, our Earth is undergoing its first tectonic activity.

Finally, we reach some of our first life on earth, which are eukaryotic cells about 2 billion years ago, and we are already over half way through the movie when imperial troops are boarding the Millennium Falcon on board the Death Star. By the time the first amphibians and insects show up on the stage of earth, the Rebel alliance is already halfway through their attack of the Death Star and Darth Vader is arriving in his specialized Tie Advanced with two Tie Fighters on both his sides. As the battle continues, dinosaurs and mammals make their entrance onto Earth, but the first flowers make their appearance right as Luke’s X-Wing missiles enter the Death Star’s exhaust port. The extinction of the dinosaurs happens right as the last scene of the movie, the award ceremony, begins.

The direct ancestors of humans arrive, but the movie is minutes to being over, as Chewbacca makes his first roar of the awards ceremony. Humans arrive at his second roar about 10 seconds later (millions of years in Earth time). As the final circular fade out of the movie happens, the earliest cave art known is found, the Neanderthals go extinct, Mount Vesuvius buries Pompeii, and everyone you have every known was born.

The credits roll.

To put this into quick perspective, the dinosaurs go extinct right as the Youtube video below begins. Everything you ever learned in history class happens right after Chewbaca’s second roar, seconds before the movie ends.

Below are the exact times things happen:

Geologic Time Real Event Movie Time
4.6 Ga Origin of Earth and the Solar System 0:00:00
4.0 Ga End of heavy meteorite bombardment; oldest surviving rocks 0:15:38
3.9 Ga Oldest sedimentary rocks; first possible geochemical evidence of life 0:18:17
3.5 Ga First likely microbial structures 0:28:45
2.7 Ga Biomarkers of blue green “algae” (cyanobacteria) & of eukaryotes 0:49:40
2.3-2.2 Ga First global tectonic activity 1:00:07- 1:02:44
2.0 Ga First eukaryotic cells, first oxidized soils; significant oxygen in atmosphere 1:07:57
750-600 Ma Widespread glaciation, oxygen rises to 100% of present level 1:40:38-1:44:33
600 Ma First fossil metazoans (multicellular animals) 1:44:33
543 Ma First multicellular animals with skeletons & modern metazoan phyla 1:46:02
500 Ma First vertebrates 1:47:10
440 Ma First multicellular land plants 1:48:44
370 Ma First amphibians & insects 1:50:34
345 Ma First amniotes (vertebrates with water tight eggs) 1:51:13
250 Ma Permo Triassic Mass extinction (over 90% of species lost) 1:53:42
220 Ma First mammals & dinosaurs 1:54:29
120 Ma First flowering plants (angiosperms) 1:57:06
66 Ma Cretaceous -Tertiary mass extinction followed by rapid diversification of mammals 1:58:31
4-7 Ma First hominids 2:00:03
100 Ka Homo sapiens first appears in rock record 2:00:13.84
50 Ka earliest cave art 2:00:13.92
45-30 Ka Extinction of Neanderthals (Homo neanderthalensis) 2:00:13.93-2:00:13.95
12 Ka Mass extinction of large terrestrial mammals, possibly caused by humans 2:00:13.98
79 CE Mount Vesuvius erupts burying Pompeii 2:00:13.9999
1816 CE “The Year without a Summer” (part of the Little Ice Age) 2:00:13.999999
1995 CE My birthyear 2:00:13.9999999999999

 

Movie Time Movie Event
0:00:00 Black screen fades to 20th Century Fox Logo
0:15:38 Storm Troopers are looking for the missing escape pod in the desert and a Storm Trooper says “Look sir! Droids!”
0:18:17 Uncle Owen just bought C-3PO from the Jawas and says “take these two to the garage”
0:28:45 R-2 has just alerted Luke and C-3PO of the Sand People in the area and they are looking at their Banthas
0:49:40 Storm Troopers walked into the cantina at Mos Eisley, and come check out Han and Chewie’s table
1:00:07- 1:02:44 R-2 kills one of Chewbaca’s pieces in the Dejarik game; “hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match to a good blaster at your side, kid”; Obi Wan gives Luke a helmate with a blast shield
1:07:57 Two imperial workers board the Millenium Falcon with a crate
1:40:38-1:44:33 A rebel engineer is describing how a precise hit to an exhaust port will destroy the Death Star; “I use to bullseye wamprats!”; Rebel pilots take off for mission against the Death Star
1:44:33 Luke’s X-wing is taking off for mission against Death Star
1:46:02 “Cut the Chatter Red 2” X-wings in attack formation approaching Death Star
1:47:10 X-wings are being scattered by turret fighter; “Watch yourselves!”
1:48:44 Tie fighter outflanks Luke’s X-wing and gets right behind him
1:50:34 Darth Vader arrives with two other Tie fighters to the Death Star Trench
1:51:13 Imperial officer asks Grand Moff Tarkin if he would like to evacuate the Death Star
1:53:42 “Luke at that speed will you be able to pull out in time!?”
1:54:29 Darth Vader is .3 units away from Rebel pilots; “Fighter coming in .3!”
1:57:06 Luke’s missiles enter the exhaust port on the Death Star
1:58:31 Wide shot of the forest on Yavin IV and trumpets playing in the background
2:00:03 Chewbaca roars for the first time at the award ceremony
2:00:13.84 Chewbaca roars at the award ceremony for the second and last time
2:00:13.92 The circular fade out appears at the edges of the screen
2:00:13.93-2:00:13.95 Fade out reaches half-way through the screen
2:00:13.98 Fade out encompasses the screen and George Lucas’ end credit fades in slowly
2:00:13.9999 Screen is full of stars and George Lucas’ name is fully on the screen
2:00:13.999999 Screen is still full of stars and George Luca’s name is fully on the screen
2:00:13.9999999999999 Absolutely no changes