Happy holidays everyone, and welcome back for nights 3 and 4 of the Eight Nights of Deus ex Machina holiday special celebrating Chanukkah and other winter holidays. In case you missed them, we defined this miracle of a literary device on Night One, and talked about how it appears in Pokemon: The First Movie for Night Two. Let the festivities continue with Dinosaurs and hover bikes! (This will contain spoilers for the end of Jurassic Park and for the final battle of Kingdom Hearts II.)
Night Three: Jurassic Park
On Night One, we explored Deus ex Machina using an imaginary movie script in which a pterodactyl swoops in out of nowhere and saves the day. Tonight’s example is fairly similar in that it also involves being unexpectedly rescued by dinosaurs.
Jurassic Park, the movie that has more or less shaped the popular image of what raptors looked and acted like, showcases an excellent example of Deus ex Machina. Through much of the later half of the film, the surviving members of the cast are chased relentlessly through the remains of the ruined theme park’s visitor center by raptors. Eventually, they find themselves completely surrounded and unable to escape. This appears to be the end for the battered geologists and children.
But maybe it’s not! Suddenly, a T.rex comes bursting into the room and takes on the smaller dinosaurs. Not taking the time to question how or when the T.rex made its way into the building, the protagonists make a hasty retreat and somehow make it to safety.
The T.rex isn’t an entirely random character in the film. It appears earlier as an environmental hazard that nearly devours the protagonists as they make their way back to the relative safety of the visitor center. However, it is never shown entering the visitor center, and the protagonists never do anything to prompt this ending.
Night Four: Kingdom Hearts II
Kingdom Hearts II offers another example of divine intervention. In this case, it is an intervention caused by odd decisions in game design. Final battles are often designed to be epic and memorable, and the final battle with Xemnas is just that. However, in trying to make the battle as epic as possible, the designers also gave themselves moments of leniency as far as storytelling logic goes.
When the tides turn on Xemnas, he attempts to flee the scene in a huge dragonship. As a diversion, or perhaps to kill the heroes in the least heroic way possible, he rams his home base tower before he flees. It begins to collapse with the heroes still on top. Ordinarily, a building collapsing under you is a fairly dire situation that you might not escape from. Fortunately for Sora and Riku, they spot a bike-like hovercraft on the stairs that run up the side of the tower. This vehicle doesn’t show up in any dialogue or cutscenes prior to the tower’s collapse. Sora and Riku use it to escape their impending deaths and follow the retreating Nobody without ever questioning where it came from.
Thank goodness for random coincidences! Somehow, I feel strongly that I have encountered similar extremely convenient situations in games before, especially in older games. No specific examples spring readily to mind. If one comes to you, I invite you to share it in the comments. And keep an eye out for Deus ex Machina Night Five!
And as always, if you have a literary device you want to know more about, or a game, comic, show, or movie that you want to see make an appearance on the blog, leave a shout-out in the comments!