Knives Out Analysis

How could she decide to keep the inheritance if she didn’t yet know she had the inheritance to keep?

The decision that Marta gets everything had to be made first, creating some action… which then leads ultimately to her final decision.

It’s all connected… you can’t really slide things around. Knives Out is happening the way it does.

Alright, I’ll be a little more direct with my thinking.

Harlan is going to give the money to Marta because he wants the family dynamic to change.

Ransom wants it back at all costs. If he gets it, it will prevent the family dynamic from changing and the family will aquire the inheritance.

What about those decisions turns the story?

Do Ransom’s actions or decisions turn the plot in any way or could he switch the labels at the start, disappear and the story would be more or less the same?

If you were telling a friend about Knives Out, would those be the big turning points you’d use to describe the story?

That’s my point. If you did change it around, it should be a different story. If Marta decided to keep the money it wouldn’t stop Ransom from trying to get the money.

That’s exactly right. If you changed it, it wouldn’t be this storyform I’m arguing. If somehow Marta’s action was to physically kick them out of the house in response, the whole of Act 3 would be different.
But… that’s not the story.

Would it be?

The whole issue is if Marta will be framed. If she is: Failure. If she isn’t: Success.

Could Ransom continue to try to frame Marta if he wasn’t allowed in the house? Would Benoit’s investigation stop because Marta claimed the inheritance?

Or do those things have no effect on the outcome of the story?

Sorry to jump in here – but I still don’t understand this point. I was actually just looking at the script again.

What happens is:

  1. There’s a will reading
  2. At the reading it is revealed that Marta inherits everything
  3. The family freaks out
  4. Marta runs away to the diner with Ransom
  5. He pretends to commiserate with her, but is really setting her up to confess.
  6. It cuts to the house, the family freaking out, the lawyer telling them there are no options.

How is this driver Decision? The Action driver is the revelation that Marta inherits everything. Decisions and deliberations follow. Marta talking with Ransom and trying to decide what to do coincides with the family trying to decide what to do and what their options are.

At no point is anyone deciding whether or not to give Marta the money.

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You don’t see the deliberation there? The decision that then forced the action of Marta running? That forced the family to explode?

An action isn’t “revealing the decision in a will.” An action is like “screaming at someone,” “burning the house down,” “running away,”

Looking at the story as a whole, there is never any threat to Marta being framed or found guilty. She didn’t do anything wrong. Harlan did not overdose. He slit his throat because of a misunderstanding between he and Marta (the first Signpost in the RS).

Marta cannot be framed because there’s no evidence to frame her with. Ransom can bitch and moan all he wants, he’ll never be able to convict her… because she didn’t do any wrong. The blood test proves her innocence.

What IS at stake for HIM, is losing control over HIS guilt. He too was innocent of the crime of killing Harlan. Harlan wasn’t poisoned. Ransom’s continual drive to Control the inheritance led him to actually poison Fran, and that’s the crime he’s arrested for.

Now… had she relinquished the inheritance before Benoit saw that evidence, then yes. It would’ve been a failure. Harlan’s pursuit to change the family dynamic would’ve failed.

No…all that you’ve quoted here is reactions. Certainly the lawyer isn’t making any decisions. He’s just confirming that yes, the will is in fact correct. That’s not a decision. It’s not even something within his power to affect. The family is not making a decision – they are powerless to decide anything.

I must be missing something. Is your point that Harlan decided to give his money to the Marta? I guess you could make that case by emphasizing Harlan’s deliberations – but I’m not sure how that works given that the actual decision would have happened long ago.

You know…

When Ransom kills Fran… that might be the the inception of change. When he actually goes and does something himself face to face. I think the full change is when he explodes in front of everyone at the end.
(and I also think Harlan is still the IC with his portrait turning from stern faced to happy and free)

And it’s Marta’s Steadfast drive that influences him to make that change. Ransom knows if Marta killed Harlan, the inheritance can’t go to her. Once he realizes framing her (controlling the inheritance) isn’t going to work because she switched the meds, he realizes his plan to control everything is foiled. So he exerts control again, but he’s starting to lose control. Things are tipping toward uncontrolled.

The lawyer does make a decision. He makes the decision that the will is valid. There’s a ton of deliberation over everything happening at the same time he’s telling them that “It’s right.”

That’s a decision, not an action.
And it’s the decision that forces the next actions, which drive the story along.

The next signpost for the OS (as I pegged it) is Becoming.
Which I think is the family turning into the worst versions of themselves. Knives out, beaks bloody.

So what’s the thing that kicks them into that over the next Signpost where they start showing their true colors?

Exploding at Marta and calling her names, Storming her Car, Calling Marta to manipulate her, Walt coming to her apartment to manipulate her…

Is it just the reading of the will itself?
Or the decision that the will is valid?

What does reading the will alone force?
It’s not until it’s decided, over debate, that it’s valid that the family explodes and Marta starts running.

You think killing Fran is an IC beat?

Just to be clear, you do not think Ransom is the antagonist and some combination of Harlan/Marta/Benoit is protagonist?

I don’t think there’s cut and dry Antagonists and Protagonists in this one.

I think the killing of Fran is probably a MAM between IC and OS. I still think Harlan is the main IC

So you don’t think, assuming Becoming is the goal, that Ransom alone is working to prevent that and for the consequence of Obtaining?

He’s definitely the closest thing to Antagonist.

I don’t know what else to say. :smile: I think we have fundamental disagreements about the story and I’m not sure either of us has succeeded in swaying the other.

I know Jim is going to have to read through all this after he sees the movie, so I don’t want to add too much more reading to his weekend.

I’m going to drop off until Jim chimes in. Have a good weekend, buddy!

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He doesn’t “decide” the will is valid. He’s not a judge. There was no option for him to say “no, the will is not valid”. In fact, in the passage you quote, his assistant hands him a piece of paper and he says “oh, wow, yeah, not complex at all.” He’s stating the facts.

if “x” had not happened, is it likely that “y” would have happened anyway? If the answer is “yes,” then “x” is not driving the story forward.

If the lawyer had not stated those facts, would Marta have not inherited the money? No–assuming the will is valid, she still would have inherited the money. The driver is the unveiling of the will.

The fact that the family can’t accept that isn’t deliberation. They whole point is that they have no power.

A decision would be “the family decides to go to court over the will.” And then (next driver), “the judge weighs the evidence, and renders the verdict: the will is valid.”

Or if you want to keep as close as possible to the scene, maybe the lawyer shows up having read the will already (somehow). As he sits there, he must decide: do I tell the Thromby’s the truth, or do I decide to lie to them? You would have to show that deliberation somehow.

This isn’t what’s happening. There’s no A or B here.

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I should probably clock out too. I accept that Action/Decision is a blind spot for me, so I shouldn’t get overconfident on that one.

But I also agree with @glennbecker that if we can’t agree on the basic dynamics or how to describe the OS, we’ll just go in circles. Hopefully Jim will have something useful to add!

I appreciate the conversation! Being force to think things through and articulate your position is always useful.

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You too man. The debate has been frustrating and enlightening all the same.