On plot holes in general
To clear the air: I’m not just talking about Moftiss. But I’m also talking about Moftiss.
The thing about plot holes is that there are two types: ones which are unresolved plot threads, and things wherein the writers failed to show us something and assumed we would fill it in ourselves. An example of the first type would be John’s letter to Sherlock at the end of TST. Why introduce the letter if it was never going to be shown, read, or referred to again? An example of the second type is how John got out of the well and still had feet in later scenes. There, the writers could have showed us John realising that only his shoes were chained and showed him removing them and climbing up the rope, or they could have showed someone climbing down to cut through the chains. But it feels like a hole because they didn’t.
Eurus *could* have used all of her brainwashed fellow inmates/patients to make all of those arrangements, but without seeing any of it, it feels difficult to swallow. If they’d shown even one scene of her doing some of this, we might have been more willing to extend some benefit of the doubt, some extrapolation of “oh, I guess there was more of that, then, ok”, but we didn’t see any of it. There was nothing there to explain how supposedly-dead Mary kept sending posthumous home videos.
Then again, most Bond/spy movies do the same thing, honestly. If Bond’s credit cards were cut off, how did he rent that Aston Martin? Where did he get that new suit? Last time we saw him, he was wearing jeans and a ripped t-shirt and had no luggage with him. Has he been wearing the same underwear for the entire movie? Does he ever brush his teeth? Personally, I’m one of those irritating watchers who always wants to be shown the parts that make it feel real. I suspect that screen writers leave this stuff out deliberately for three reasons:
1) They think it will be dull. They figure audiences don’t want to see Bond trying on shirts or going to the bank to take out cash or maxing out on a credit card. Better put in some more car chases!
2) They’re already trying to edit things down to fit into a prescribed run time. Therefore Bond doing cardio to keep fit for all those foot chases gets cut.
3) They actually don’t want the protagonist (or villain, as the case may be) to seem human; they want us to see them as almost super-human, so Bond clipping his toenails never gets written.
The thing is, the day and age of willing suspension of disbelief is over. Audiences are more analytical than they used to be. We’re used to getting explanations when we want them, because information is so widely available now. When things don’t add up or make sense, we find it irritating, not artistic. I honestly think that Moffat and Gatiss think they’re being artistic by not explaining things fully (though that doesn’t excuse them by a mile for constantly underplaying the realistic emotional fall-out of the things their characters suffer), but the fact is that their audience simply finds it underwhelming and sloppy. I think it may be partly a question of generations, too, but I also know fans of Sherlock who are their age and older, who find their plot holes as irritating as fans in their teens do. Personally, the more realistic something is, the more it will draw me in. I want to know where Bond got those dry socks from to replace the ones that got wet in the rain. I want to see him jet-lagged after flying halfway around the world. I want to know how he paid to get to that island or that city without any working credit cards or debit cards. You can’t book a flight with cash, not a commercial one, at least. “He took a charter,” the screen writer says, shrugging it off in an interview. Sure, fine: then show it.
Moffat mentioned somewhere that Sherlock delivered Rosie, which is a frankly appalling thought, especially given that there was an actual doctor in the car, and given Sherlock’s horrified face at the thought of an event involving female genitalia unfolding in his very presence, I somehow can’t picture this in the slightest.
Part of the problem is also that their episodes span too much time too rapidly to address the questions of how their day-to-day relationships function, what those dynamics really are, etc. Too much is skipped over for the sake of advancing the plot. I would personally rather see more attention given to detail and less to unbelievable plot arcs. I expect Doctor Who to be wholly unbelievable (and even there I used to snark about dropped plot threads and unsatisfactory resolutions as well as under-handled emotional fall-out, when I still watched it). I expect Sherlock to be believable, though, and there was just so many holes.
All I’m saying is that Sherlock is not the only show that does this. There are a LOT of holes in series 3 and 4, but my larger issue is the emotional fall-out thing and the dropped threads. (Why make such a big deal with the memory altering drug? Why was there a dog bowl that Sherlock recognised? What did that damned letter say??? What did Ella tell Sherlock to do for John? Because I bet it wasn’t “go to hell, Sherlock”, yet that’s the advice he chose to take. Why???) Yeah: we like to be shown these things. It’s not enough to explain it later in an interview or a panel at a conference. Put it right there in the canon as though you meant to all along. That’s what ticks my boxes, at least.
Rambling aside. Back to the current fic. As you were!