I once read a White Collar fanfic that started something like, “For hand-wavy plot reasons, Neal Caffery has been turned into a cat.” And that’s all the explanation we got—apparently the author couldn’t be bothered to create a cursed object, evil sorcerer or angered fairy. But the story that followed was equally adorable and hilarious, so I’m glad I didn’t miss it.
That fanfic snapped back into my mind while I watched the season four finale of Sherlock. And then I read the reviews. Some seriously brutal reviews! Like this one. (Read at you’re own risk—it’s full of spoilers.)
And, okay. This thoughtful review is right on target: The Final Problem was a convoluted, inconsistent episode full of plot holes. And yet . . . I loved it. It’s easily one of my favorites. Yes, the brutal review is justified. But throughout Sherlock, I’ve felt as if the show came with an unspoken disclosure: “For hand-wavy plot reasons, we’ll somehow get our main characters into such and such a situation.”
I’m fine with that. In the end, I watch Sherlock for those two main characters, John and Sherlock himself, plus Mycroft, Mrs. Hudson and Molly. So hand-waving them into high-pressure situations that will test their friendships, or their integrity, or their view of themselves, or their ingenuity will rivet me to the screen.
Would the episode be even better with a tight plot? Absolutely. But as long as the characters get their chance to dazzle and surprise me, I can let that plot slide.
Am I alone in this? If a plot is mired with inconsistencies, or gets too convoluted to follow, will you give up on a show or book? Will characters be enough to keep you watching or reading? What say you?