eah, Hikaru. You might have recalled him when I talked about him and the game of Go a few weeks ago HERE. So I’m still playing (had an epic win last week that left me walking on clouds, but today, the computer just beat me like a rug). But it’s life.
So Hikaru is up for the pro exam. He’s got to get through this if he’s going to face off against his rival. But the snot-nosed kid who has been obnoxious to the point of becoming a temporary nemesis will be his final game. Only three of the roomful of go players will go on to be pros. And thus the series grinds on, match after match, with main characters bowing out and walking home weeping. Yeah, it’s that powerful of a defeat to them.
But Hikaru is hanging in there, and the brat is to face him in the final game. Yet if Hikaru loses then his friends will still be in the running and there will be a faceoff game, a final chance to get in. So a lot is riding on this. Will Hikaru win and beat the brat, coming one step close to finally facing his rival? Or will he lose and we’ll see him fight against his friends (whom he has already defeated once with shovelfuls of drama (including one guy who cheated a move under pressure, and everyone knew, but Hikaru didn’t dare say anything, but he needed the win, but his friend just sat there, eyes burning, and…)
Well, watch it to find out how that got resolved. And need I mention that the spoiler light is now lit? It is. Spoilers ahead.
So Hikaru is fighting for his life against the punk. Then he reverses it. Then the kid counters. And now the board is up for grabs – anyone might win. Nail biter time (not helped by stupid Jeep commercials). And then, a flurry of images of pieces going down.
Cut the scene to one loser walking home, coming to grips with failure. Then the other guy, the one who might still eke out a win if Hikaru loses. He’s in the break room. Suddenly people are rushing down the hall to see the climaxes of the final game. Hikaru vs. the punk. But the camera isn’t following them. We’re in the break room with the guy, and in nervousness, he’s just spilled his tea. Image of the stain on the table, his tense expression in the reflection. He’s half-way through wiping it up, the cloth stained like blood. Dead silence outside. He stands motionless, not sure who has won (for clearly, someone has). And we, stuck in our break-room POV, can’t tell.
And this is a very clever way to show this resolution. Sure, we’ve seen Hikaru going “gasp” and “arg” and all that. We’ve seen that a couple of times in the lesser battles. But I think the director knew this, that the repetition of gasps and sweating go players and everything else would be anticlimactic. We’ve seen it. What better way than to string us (as the poor guy in the break room was strung), standing, holding our breath, watching the tea slowly be soaked into the cloth.
So there is a lesson here – always look for a unique way of telling a story. Change the POV. Tell it years in the future. Or back up into the past. Delay breaking the news. Do something different. We don’t need to be there when the final stone goes down and the score is calculated. A climax might be more telling and powerful if indirectly done.
So that’s the lesson here.
Oh, and as for Hikaru and the brat?
I’m gently smiling now.
I’ve just done the same thing to you.
>>>YOU CAN SEE THE SAME TRICK IN FIRE AND BRONZE, WHERE I HAVE COLONISTS FIGHTING FOR THEIR LIVES AGAINST NATIVE LIBYANS. WHO WILL WIN? AND THEN WE BREAK TO THE ENTIRE BOOK TO BEFORE RESOLVING THE BATTLE. SEE FOR YOURSELF. YOU CAN BUY IT HERE!<<<