Warning! The following contains SPOILERS that detail the main plot and reveal of Knives Out. Read at your own risk!
It’s hard to see Knives Out and have any significant problems after leaving the theater. The cast is stellar and memorable, and the story and overall mystery are quite solid all the way through. Rian Johnson did a phenomenal job with the movie (which is doing better at the box office than expected), though there is one little part towards the end that didn’t make sense to me and somewhat impacted my enjoyment of the movie.
The moment came in the film’s conclusion during the conversation between Ana de Armas’ Marta Cabrera and Daniel Craig’s Southern Detective Benoit Blanc. In the scene, Benoit reveals the part of the story Marta, and the audience, didn’t know, and put a cap on the true culprit behind the death of crime novelist Harlan Thrombey. He also added a bit that he suspected Marta as being a key to the mystery all along, as evidenced by the blood on her shoe.
This moment was a great way of showing how Benoit Blanc had observational skills akin to Sherlock Holmes, but to me, it felt out of line with everything that had come before. It wasn’t something so disheartening that it ruined the movie; I still like it a lot, but there’s some things that need to be said about that reveal and how it weakened the character of Benoit Blanc.
Benoit Blanc Was A Plenty Brilliant Detective Without Having Pegged Marta From The Start
Benoit Blanc starts Knives Out with the clear idea that Harlan Thrombey was murdered, and that someone in the house during his birthday was responsible. Marta is partly brought in as a confidant due to her eavesdropping, but mainly because of her inability to lie without vomiting. This skill, paired with her extensive knowledge of Thrombey’s family, convince Blanc to keep Marta close in order to drill down on what really happened and why he was hired.
A bulk of Knives Out shows Benoit Blanc is off the trail, as we learn early on that Harlan did kill himself in order to protect Marta, who was believed to have made a mistake with his medication. While Blanc is oblivious to that development, it’s worth mentioning he does some phenomenal detective work to figure out some key details behind Marta’s secret ahead of her official reveal. He does enough that I believe it’s evident Blanc would’ve ultimately learned of Marta’s involvement even if she never revealed it. Maybe it wouldn’t have happened quite as fast as it did in Knives Out, but he still would’ve gotten to the bottom of things.
It’s ok to say Benoit Blanc was oblivious to Marta’s involvement, because the real brilliance of Blanc as a detective is unveiled after her reveal. Blanc is able to quickly unravel the whole mystery behind why he was hired, which leads him to all the other elements that Marta had no idea were beyond her control. He does all this in the eleventh hour, and successfully saves Marta from wrongly announcing she mixed up Harlan’s medications.
So then, for Benoit Blanc to say that he suspected Marta due to the blood on her shoe just cheapens the brilliance that went into unraveling the rest of the mystery. Again, it’s not an absolutely awful line that ruins the movie, though I believe that the movie would be better overall had the implication that LeBlanc had a portion of Marta’s role figured out from the jump be removed.
There’s No Way Benoit Blanc Could’ve Known The Blood On The Shoe Was Relevant
Knives Out is a really smart movie, so it was shocking to me that the blood line came off as, quite frankly, dumb. Benoit Blanc could’ve definitely spotted the blood on Marta’s shoe, but it’s insane for him then to immediately assume based on sight that blood spot had some relevance in the case.
If Blanc truly felt that way, he would’ve made a point to get the sample tested by a lab to confirm it was Harlan Thrombey’s blood. Marta had so obvious of a tell, he’d have no reason not to, and testing the blood may have lead him to figuring out her role in the crime a lot sooner. Are we to believe he let such a substantial piece of evidence slide simply because he wanted to see how the rest of the journey played out?
If so, that’s bad detective work, and something that makes Benoit Blanc out to be more of a buffoon than a master of his craft. There’s all the theatrics, and grand announcements, and yet he spotted a clue he believed to be relevant and decided to string said person along as opposed to actually expediting the case? It sounds like something someone would do if they were trying to make for a more newsworthy case rather than being more concerned with closing the case.
Personally, it’s just so hard to believe the person who crafted the character of Benoit Blanc, after painstakingly working on his deductive reasoning and cross-examinations, would also think he’d hedge a massive bet on a mere speck of blood on someone’s clothes. Perhaps this was a line that was later added, potentially to help promote the idea to the Knives Out audience that Benoit Blanc is just as brilliant as he initially seemed.
Knives Out Featured Heavy Homage To The Crime And Whodunit Genres, Which Could Explain The Line
Rian Johnson told L.A Times that he looked to the whodunnit works of the past (and apparently channeled some hate from The Last Jedi) while making Knives Out, which could play into the line about the blood. As previously mentioned, the scene to me sounded similar to an old Sherlock Holmes short story, in which the detective deduced a good deal about Watson’s activities that day simply by observing the marks on his shoe.
I haven’t seen any indication that story has any connection to the moment, but given Arthur Conan Doyle is one of the great authors of the detective genre, similar takes on that story have almost had to have popped up in other novels. If the line is another reference to the crime novel genre, that makes it a bit more forgivable to me, though I still can’t let Benoit Blanc completely off the hook for not utilizing modern technology and analyzing the blood.
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