I Hate Indiana Jones: Day 62

Indiana Jones and the Hole-y Plot (Part 4)

Building on the previous article, let's accept, for the sake of argument, that the door used to be open, and then some kind of security system closed it only after the skull was stolen – how did the conquistadores get down to the treasure room in the first place? The only way to open the temple is to let out a huge amount of sand through holes in a rock, which causes a central pillar to descend, which acts as a counterweight moving some outer pillars, which work the mechanism that opens the floor, revealing a staircase that juts out from the wall - for just fifteen seconds. Then the stairs begin sliding back into the wall, but the hole in the roof of the temple doesn’t close again.

So, after the Conquistadores opened the temple with this mechanism, and presumably used some kind of a grappling hook system to get back up again after the stairs had retracted, why did the natives reset it? What possible motivation could the natives have had for doing this? To keep invaders from stealing any further skulls? How could a theoretical invader possibly do that without them already having a skull to open the door? It can’t be to keep outlanders from grabbing all of the antiquities held in the cockpit’s antechamber, because, as isolated kung-fu-monkey-ninjas, they would have no conception of those items’ value.

This rather gaping plot hole grows out of the fact that the audience is never privy to anything approaching a motivation for the natives of the lost valley. Do they want the skull back? If so, why didn’t they grab it? Do they not want it back? If not, why did they docilely let a group of guys carrying the skull climb their pyramid? You can’t tell me their religion didn’t allow them to touch the skull, because they didn’t seem to have a problem burying along with the Conquistadores.

Traps and doors that needed to be reset were commonplace in the other Indiana Jones films, but at least there some sense of purpose could be ascribed to the people who maintained them. The thuggee wanted to ensure that the secret passageway into their underground lair was well-guarded, so they made a crush room. Obviously they’d want to use that passage themselves at some point, so there was also a simple reversing lever. Likewise the Hovitos’ traps would only be effective at keeping people away from their idol – a clear motive – if they were hidden in the walls, so it makes sense that they would sneak in and reset them every time someone wound up stabbed by some light-triggered skewers.

As for the zombie kung-fu monkeymen, because it’s never clear what they want, their actions can never make sense. The fact that those actions are internally inconsistent is just awful icing on a shoddy cake.

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