Season 6 (part 3) – Destruction

Season 6

Dramatic Structure:

Season 6 has 3 areas of concern:

What’s up with that:

Deviation

Season 2 expressed its deviation theme through “contradiction.”
Season 4 expressed its deviation theme through “shake up.”

And now season 6’s deviation theme is expressed through:

“Destruction”

In season 6, you want to destroy as many things as you can. Places, lives, ideas. Tear down as much as your story can handle.

You’ll commonly find two different flavors of destruction:

  • Mistakes
  • Decisions

Mistakes

This is a kind of unintentional destruction.

We see a lot of this in season 6 of Sons of Anarchy.

At the end of season 5, Otto killed a nurse. Turns out that was a big mistake. Her brother, a former U.S. Marshal, has the influence to make Otto pay for his mistake. He spends the season tearing Otto down, and eventually ending his life.

Or we’ve got the biggest “mistake” in all of S.O.A.: Gemma kills Tara. Because she thought the doctor had flipped on the club. She hadn’t.

That’s a huge mistake.

Decisions

This is a kind of intentional destruction.

Let’s take a look at season 6 of The Shield.

At the very end of season 5, Shane killed Lem in a desperate attempt to protect the Strike Team. He destroyed part of the team, to save it. Season 6 plays out the ramifications of this decision. Mackey is on a warpath to find Lem’s killer, leaving a trail of destruction in his wake. And with every lie that Shane tells to keep Mackey from the truth, more destruction piles up.

Shane chose to kill Lem, he chose to hide the truth, and now it’s causing nothing but massive, reckless, destruction.

So when putting season 6 together, be sure to investigate your deviation theme via destruction. That’ll usually take the form of intentional or unintentional destruction. Or to look at it another way: mistakes and decisions.



Season 6 (part 2) – Bummer

Season 6

Dramatic Structure:

Season 6 has 3 areas of concern:

Let’s put our peepers on that…

Negative

Season 2 expressed its negative theme via “meaningful death.”
Season 4 expressed its negative theme via “weirdness.”

So what do’we got for season 6? Its negative theme is:

“Bummer”

Creating a bummer is pretty easy. Any disappointment, setback, or bad luck can cause a bummer. However, the deeper you go – the better.

The two most common ways of creating a “bummer” are:

  • Death
  • Trauma

Death

It’s pretty straight forward. Someone dies and it sends a shockwave of grief through your characters.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, season 6.

The main “bummer” of season 6 comes from Buffy’s death at the very end of season 5. When season 6 begins, we catch up with our characters to see that they’re grieving hard, lost, and directionless. They’re deep in the bummer. And then, when they do bring Buffy back to life, it’s her turn to be bummed out and almost clinically depressed about having been brought back. She’s sad that her friends saved her life. That’s a unique and unusual expression of this idea.

Trauma

Here the bummer is caused by trauma.

We see a great example in season 6 of The Sopranos. At the top of the season, Tony gets shot in the gut by his mentally unstable Uncle Junior. It’s a hell of a trauma. Tony’s in the hospital clinging to life. He pulls through, but he’s never really the same. Physically or emotionally. His near-death experience has actually made him care less about his life, not more. He starts spiraling deeper into darkness, deeper into the bummer.

So be sure to express season 6’s negative theme through a bummer. Typically, you’ll get that bummer through a death, or trauma.



Season 6 (part 1) – Role Challenge

Season 6

Dramatic Structure:

Season 6 has 3 areas of concern:

Let’s take a look at season 6’s…

Separation

In season 2, the separation theme was expressed with “stress tests.”
In season 4, the separation theme was expressed with “disbandments.”

How does season 6 do it?

“Role Challenge”

When we say “role challenge” we mean that you take a character’s role in the story, and you challenge that role. You present a genuine difficulty to the part they play in the bigger picture. Who they typically are, or the function the typically serve in the group, is going to be challenged.

When challenging a character’s role…

There are two main ways to go about it:

  • Circumstantial
  • Emotional

Circumstantial

A “circumstantial” role challenge, is what we see in season 6 of Rescue Me.

Throughout season 6, the city is actively trying to shut down the firehouse, leaving our crew out of a job. Their roles as firemen are being directly challenged by the circumstances around them. If you take their jobs, they literally can’t be firemen.

This is a really clear-cut example. They identify heavily with being firemen, and you have circumstances threaten to take that away from them. But that’s not the only way you can have circumstances challenge your character’s roles. You could give them an injury, utilize a location change, force them into a new job, or transform the character into a different way of being.

Emotional

An “emotional” role challenge is a little different.

For a good example of this, let’s look at season 6 of Supernatural.

Coming off of the events of season 5, Sam has lost his soul. Without his soul, he has no conscience. He’s brutal and emotionless. This directly challenges his role as a hunter. It makes him brash and reckless. And almost more importantly, it directly challenges his role as the compassionate side of the Sam/Dean duo. Sam isn’t himself without his soul. Its absence directly challenges his normal role, and his life.

In a general sense, you’ll typically see shows utilize an emotional role challenge as the result of grief. When a character is bummed out, it disrupts everything in their life. They can’t do what they normally do and they can’t be who they normally are. Grief has a way of changing people.

So in season 6, make sure to service the separation theme through some role challenges. Typically, you’ll do this via circumstantial challenges and emotional challenges.



Season 5 (part 3) – Formations

Season 5

Dramatic Structure:

Has 3 areas of concern:

Let’s take a look at that…

Origin

Season 5 expresses its origin theme via:

“Formations”

Typically this will be tackled through:

  • Relationships
  • Organizations

Relationships

We see this in The Vampire Diaries. In season 5, we learn the true origins of the doppelgänger bloodlines. We see how the lines were originally formed by Qetsiyah, the vengeful witch, seeking to curse lovers Silas and Amara, the “first” Stefan and Elena. And how all the subsequent doppelgängers are destined to fall in love with each other. That’s some deep history on the original formation of this destined-lovers “relationship.”

Supernatural season 5. We learn that Sam and Dean’s relationship as brothers was not random chance but divinely ordained. They were specifically birthed into the world as human vessels for the Angels Lucifer and Michael respectively. Two brothers, born to serve as earthly containers for two angelic brothers. Sam and Dean’s relationship as brothers has been redefined, the true formation of their relationship has been given new meaning.

These are larger-than-life fantasy examples, but you get the idea.

As an alternative, you could easily spend season 5 showing us how two people met and became best friends. Or how a character’s parents originally fell in love. Anything that elucidates the formation of a relationship.

Organizations

Plenty of stories have organizations in the background. Season 5 would be a great time to investigate them in an origin-themed way. Unfortunately, for a lot of shows, this is untapped juice.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, season 5 – They could have explored the formation of the Watcher’s Council.

Smallville, season 5 – they could have investigated the formation of the Veritas group.

Sons of Anarchy, season 5 – they could have gotten into the original formation of the club.

All of these stories had great opportunity to delve deep into their organizations. But they didn’t.

For actual examples let’s take a look at LOST season 5:

Our characters jump around in time, some literally getting stuck in the 1970s. They visit some of the pivotal moments in the history of the island and important pieces of the DHARMA Initiative’s origins as an organization.

This is what we’re talkin’ about.

In Angel season 5, we’re introduced to the Circle of the Black Thorn. They are a powerful cabal of demons operating as The Senior Partner’s instruments on Earth. The story doesn’t get into the original formation of the group. But the fact that they formed long ago, as one of the oldest evil organizations on Earth, is vitally important to the story and our heroes deciding to take them out in a blaze of glory. Their existence sheds a lot of light on the formation of Los Angeles’ demonic underworld, with the Circle of the Black Thorn at the center of it.

When constructing your season 5, take care to deal with your origins theme via formations. Typically you’ll see stories express it through relationships and organizations.