I don’t know why I’m writing this. I’m exhausted and I need to go to bed. But I was just thinking about this and wanted to record my thoughts.
There’s a moment in the show House when Dr. House wants to drug his friend Wilson. So he gets two coffee cups and puts them on his desk. He drugs one. Then, when Wilson comes in, House holds out the cup that isn’t drugged for him. Wilson, knowing how House can be mischievous, takes the other cup, the cup that actually is drugged, the cup House knew Wilson would take.
This makes House seem somewhat clever. He knew Wilson would suspect something with the cup he held out, he knew which cup Wilson would ultimately choose! How clever!
Because Wilson didn’t really have a choice. The writer chose for him. The writer could have made the scene more convoluted. What if House held out the drugged cup because he knew Wilson would suspect something, but knew that Wilson would also know the he would know that he would suspect something. But, what if Wilson also knew that? And that? And that and that and that…
The point should be pretty clear. Characters don’t really know each other at all, because there’s really nothing to know. They’re all just fictional characters. So when a character seems to be clever by guessing or accurately predicting another character’s future actions, that’s not cleverness, that’s just a writer cheat. Not that it’s not a valid cheat, it can work fine if it’s not overused. But it is a bit of a cheat, yes?