Season 4 (part 5) – Antithesis & Beginning of 2nd Era

Season 4

Dramatic Evolution

Has two main elements:

  • Antithesis
  • Beginning of Second Era

Antithesis

Let’s get back to our Spider-Man example:

In the same way that season 2’s statement:
“With great power, comes great freedom”

was the antithesis of season 1’s thesis statement:
“With great power, comes great responsibility”

Season 4’s antithesis statement, will be on the opposite side of the spectrum from season 3’s thesis statement.

  • Season 1: we had a thesis.
  • Season 2: we flipped it.
  • Season 3: we combined and transcended them both.

This season 3 theme was then simultaneously the new thesis, and season 4 will once again flip it:

  • Season 3: new thesis.
  • Season 4: flip it.

So in our Spider-Man show, season 3’s statement was:

“With great power, comes great honor.”

Now in season 4, our dramatic evolution thematic statement could be:

“With great power, comes great corruption.”

From one perspective, “corruption” is the direct opposite of “honor.” It’s the antithesis.

Notice how this naturally leans into both “shaking things up” and “upping the ante.” Throw in some “weirdness” and “disbandments” and you’ve got yourself a season 4.

Beginning of Second Era

We’ve already discussed this a couple of times, but let’s bring the point home:

The season 1, 2, 3 era is over.

Season 4 starts the season 4, 5 era.

What does it mean to be the beginning of a new era? You’ve gotta start off a whole new chunk of story. You’ve gotta set off into uncharted waters.

We see this in Friday Night Lights:

In the first era, Eric Taylor was the coach of the Dillon panthers. One of the best high school football teams in all of Texas, and possibly the country. They had the money, the reputation, and the fans. But at the end of the era, right at the end of season 3, the school administration is dealing with some redistricting and wants to replace him. They do however offer him the job as head coach at East Dillon High, a school re-opening after years of being closed.

In season 4, we see him take the job and build the school’s football team from scratch. This is the new era – no money, no rep, no fans. Stripped down and lean. This is Coach Taylor building up and leading the Lions of East Dillion High. New Team. New Era.

Solid work to keep the show moving in new directions, and keep it evolving.

When crafting your season 4, be sure to create an antithesis to the dramatic evolution statement of season 3, and to do what you can to set the stage for the brand new season 4, 5 era.



Season 3 (part 5) – Synthesis/Thesis & End of 1st Era

Season 3

Time to talk about season 3’s…

Dramatic Evolution

Here we’re not just finishing up season 3 – we’re finishing up the entire first era of your show.

The “Dramatic Evolution” of season 3 has two elements:

  • Synthesis/Thesis
  • End of First Era

Synthesis/Thesis

First, this refers to the fact that season 3 synthesizes the dramatic evolution themes of seasons 1 and 2.

In our “Spider-Man” show we had…

The “thesis” statement for season 1:

“With great power, comes great responsibility.”

We flipped this idea in season 2:

“With great power, comes great freedom.”

And now in season 3, we need to smash these two ideas together and transcend them, to create a third idea.

This is where dramatic evolution truly gets its name. This third idea needs to both combine, and evolve, the two ideas.

For season 3, let’s say:

“With great power, comes great honor.”

To understand how honor is the synthesis of responsibility and freedom, we first have to define honor. Having honor – is dedication (like responsibility), but done willingly and by choice (like freedom), for a greater purpose.

This idea, that the responsibility and freedom combine into a more refined idea of freely-chosen-dedication, is how this “synthesis” theme not only combines the previous ideas, but adds to and evolves from them.

There’s a natural progression at play here, an evolution from one idea to the next, to the next.

Another way to say it would be:

  • “It’s a burden to be Spider-Man.”
  • “It’s a blessing to be Spider-Man.”
  • “It’s an honor to be Spider-Man.”

Then, this new idea:

“With great power, comes great honor” serves not only as the dramatic evolution “synthesis” for the first era. It is also, simultaneously, the “thesis” for the next era.

So when we get to the dramatic evolution “antithesis” of season 4, it will be a reaction to this season 3 “thesis.” As we’ll see when we look at season 4.

End of First Era

In discussing season 3’s dramatic pace, we discussed the “point of no return.” This “point of no return” is the way in which you tell your audience that the era is ending.

But this idea that season 3 is the “end of your first era” isn’t just about how you narratively end the season. It’s about how you treat the entire run of the season.

This is the last season with these particular circumstances.

So tell all the stories you want to tell that belong in this “first era,” because their days are almost over.

Let’s look at Prison Break:

The first era was all about prison. Fox River in season 1, fugitives on the run from prison in season 2, then back in the chaotic Sona prison for season 3. At the end of season 3, the prison circumstances have run their course. It’s time to move on.

In the second era, the show shifts from the prison theme, to the conspiracy theme we see for the rest of the story.

So when looking at your dramatic evolution for season 3, be sure to synthesize seasons 1 and 2 into something that combines and transcends them both – but also make sure to close out the circumstances of the era, because after this season – it’s all new!



Season 2 (part 5) – Antithesis & 1st Era Continued

Season 2

Season 2’s “Dramatic Evolution” has two main elements:

  • Antithesis
  • First Era Continued

Antithesis

Season 2 is an “antithesis” of season 1’s thesis. This antithesis is felt primarily through the expression of the core concept, and the different contradictions employed throughout the season.

In season 2’s dramatic structure, we already saw that you should be contradicting what you established in season 1. If you’re doing this, then your season 2 will already feel a lot like an “antithesis” of season 1. But let’s take it a step further.

It’s important to also have a statement. A theme in season 2, that is the “antithesis” of your statement for season 1.

Let’s go back to our Spider-Man example:

Our core concept was “power,” and we’d crafted a thesis statement for season 1:

Season 1 thesis statement:

“With great power, comes great responsibility.”

In season 2, the antithesis could be:

“With great power, comes great freedom.”

As we explore this theme in season 2, we demonstrate how freedom comes from having no responsibility. In a way, that’s what freedom is – the antithesis of responsibility.

  • Season 1: With great power, comes great responsibility.
  • Season 2: With great power, comes no responsibility.

That’s a solid antithesis.

So, in season 2 you want your storytelling to lean into that “antithesis” statement. But make it dynamic. The season 2 statement isn’t actually “with great power comes no responsibility.” It’s “with great power comes great freedom.” This is a statement grounded in the fact that it’s an antithesis of season 1’s statement, but it is not wholly defined by it. Explore what this theme has to offer. Dig deep.

First Era Continued

Season 2 is the middle of your “first era.” Therefore, it’s got to continue along that season 1, 2, 3 era. That chunk.

This is usually done by maintaining the first era’s circumstances.

Let’s continue our examination of Prison Break:

  • In season 1, they were in prison.
  • In season 2, they’re out of prison.

And actively, trying very hard to stay out.

As we said previously, the season 1, 2, 3 era is all about prison.

And even though they spend most of season 2 out of prison, the season still revolves around the idea. The circumstance. They are fugitives on the run from the law, the threat of incarceration constantly hanging over their heads. This preserves the first era’s general circumstantial concern: prison.

So, in season 2, you want to do what you can to lean into its “antithesis” statement, while still making the season feel like a cohesive part of the season 1, 2, 3 – first era.



Season 1 (part 5) – Thesis & Beginning of 1st Era

As stated previously, every season has its:

  • Dramatic Structure
  • Dramatic Pace
  • Dramatic Evolution

Now’s the time to turn our attention to its…

Dramatic Evolution

Before we get into the specific traits of season 1’s dramatic evolution, let’s talk a little about dramatic evolution as a general concept:

“Dramatic Evolution” really has two different meanings:

  • It’s the way in which you successfully execute the different concerns of your “Dramatic Structure” and “Dramatic Pace.”
  • It’s all about your story’s CORE CONCEPT and the specific way it evolves, season to season.

Let’s look at the first meaning:

“The way in which you successfully execute the different concerns of your ‘Dramatic Structure’ and ‘Dramatic Pace.'”

What this means, is that how you handle your dramatic structure and dramatic pace elements, creates a narrative evolution from season to season. It has to. As the story progresses, it will necessarily evolve.

For season 1 specifically, this type of evolution necessitates that you establish all the basics of your story:

  • Your main characters.
  • The central dynamics between your characters.
  • The thematic ideas of your story.
  • The basic plot.

And anything else that needs to be established.

Season 1 is the original chunk of your story. The one that everything else will either subvert or reinforce, moving forward. So you need to make those original things clear here in season 1, in order to develop them as you move forward.

Meaning number two for “Dramatic Evolution:”

“It’s all about your CORE CONCEPT and the specific way it evolves, season to season.”

What’s a “core concept?”

It’s what your long form story is all about. The meaning of your story. The reason it is being told. The point. At its heart, it is an idea which every other element in your story is meant to help dramatize.

For demonstration purposes let’s put together a hypothetical show about Spider-Man.

Your show’s “core concept” could be all about: “Power.”

Fundamentally the point of the show is this idea of “power” and what it means.

This power concept is not the plot of the show, it’s not the character’s arc, it’s not the core conflict, it is a separate, underlining idea: the “core concept.”

The core concept can be tightly related to any one of these other aspects, but it still needs to be a separate idea unto itself. They can be closely related, but not the same.

Once you have your core concept, there’s the evolutionary process your core concept goes through as your story progresses. This “evolution” process is why there are 7 seasons in your long form story and why they are split up into 3 eras.

How’s that?

Essentially, the structure of your story, pulses.

Each season does what it does, in response to what’s come before it. This is true both of the general dramatic concerns, as well as with the core concept.

The pulsing nature of your story’s dramatic evolution looks like this:

  • Season 1, establishes a THESIS.

  • Season 2, is then an ANTITHESIS of season 1.

  • Season 3, is then a SYNTHESIS of seasons 1 and 2.

Each era follows this “thesis,” “antithesis,” “synthesis” pattern.

When moving from one era into the next (ex: season 3 moving into season 4) the synthesis of the previous era acts as the thesis for the new era.

So…

  • Season 1: Thesis
  • Season 2: Antithesis
  • Season 3: Synthesis

Season 3 is also, simultaneously, the thesis for the new era.

  • That makes season 4 an antithesis of season 3.

And season 5 is a synthesis of seasons 3 and 4.

  • Season 5 is also, simultaneously, the new thesis.
  • Season 6 is an antithesis
  • Season 7 is the final synthesis.

To string it all together:

  • Season 1: Thesis
  • Season 2: Antithesis
  • Season 3: Synthesis/Thesis
  • Season 4: Antithesis
  • Season 5: Synthesis/Thesis
  • Season 6: Antithesis
  • Season 7: Synthesis

This is the dramatic evolution of any story, being fueled by different expressions of a core concept.

So what does this mean for season 1 specifically?

There are two elements to season 1’s “Dramatic Evolution:”

  • Thesis
  • Beginning of Your 1st Era

Thesis

Here you’re establishing your story’s thesis. Its establishing statement.

For our Spider-Man show, let’s say season 1 is all about:

“With great power, comes great responsibility.”

That’s your establishing theme, your “thesis” statement – as far as your core concept “power” is concerned.

Simple enough, eh?

You just take a look at your core concept, and decide what your establishing thesis is going to be, with regards to that concept. Here we went with the classic Spider-Man line. It’s all about responsibility.

Beginning of Your 1st Era

Season 1 is the beginning of your first era. The first piece in the season 1, 2, 3 block.

You need to pay specific attention to the developments you’re looking to deal with in your first era.

Your first era will have a continuity in circumstance, theme, character, etc. Season 1 is where you begin these things. Season 1 is where you establish these things.

Let’s take a look at the show Prison Break.

In the beginning of season 1, we learn that Lincoln Burrows has been convicted of a crime he did not commit. That lays the foundation for the entire series. It establishes their core concept:

“Injustice.”

Lincoln being falsely imprisoned is the initial injustice, and catalyst for all the events that follow.

Season 1 also establishes the general theme for the first era:

“Prison.”

Season 1 is all about Michael Scofield planning and executing his escape from prison with his brother. It takes all season. But this prison theme is not restricted to just season 1. It’s the theme for the entire first era.

So in addressing this “Beginning of Your 1st Era” element, season 1 first establishes the overall core concept for the show – injustice. But then it also establishes the theme for the first era, specifically – “prison.” Setting it up for seasons 2 and 3 to partake in their version of this “prison” idea/theme moving forward.