Story Shamans Podcast – Episode 3 – The Shield

SPOILERS:

The Shield, The O.C. kinda…, Game of Thrones kinda…

SHOW NOTES:


Related Shamans Videos to Check out:

Resolution of the Core Conflict

Core Concept

Impossible Decision

Season 4

Season 5

Season 6

Season 7

Season 7 (part 4) – Resolution of the Core Conflict & Point of No Return: Geographically

Dramatic Pace

Two traits:

  • Resolution of the Core Conflict
  • Point of No Return; Geographically

Resolution of the Core Conflict

Way back in season 1, as part of the dramatic pace, we established a “core conflict” for our story. A sentence, typically formulated as a “can” or “will” statement. This statement embodied the central conflict that ran through the entire story.

Now, here in season 7, it’s time to resolve that “core conflict.”

How did The Shield do it?

Back in season 1, the “core conflict” was established as: “Will Vic Mackey get away with all the things he’s done. Will they get him?”

At the end of season 7, we get the definitive answer to that question. The answer is yes, he does get away with it all.

He managed to manipulate his way into an all-encompassing immunity deal. He’s free from prosecution for any of the crimes he’s committed, as long as he admits to them on tape and then well-behavedly rides a desk for the next 3 years at ICE, writing up reports on gang activity. It’s not ideal, but far better than jail.

Notice the subtlety though. Vic has avoided jail, but:

  • Lem was murdered.
  • Shane killed himself.
  • Ronnie is going to jail.
  • Mackey’s family went into witness protection to get away from him.
  • He loves working the streets, but now he’s chained to a desk.
  • He lost his badge, his reputation, and his power.

So did he really get away with everything he’s done? Yes and no. For a series about moral grey areas this is a solid resolution to the core conflict and the story as a whole.

Point of No Return – Geographically

Close out the era, and the story, with a massive physical change.

If season 7 is the end of your series (which ideally it would be) then you want to end it with a geographic change – to really seal the deal and bring everything to a crystal clear close.

Back in season 1, we started with a “new world.”

Season 1 was all about starting the story of this new world. Seasons 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and now 7 all told the tales of this place. And now that it’s coming to an end – it’s a good time to leave this place behind. Physically. Geographically.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer did it. They literally turned Sunnydale into a crater in the Earth. They can’t stay in Sunnydale anymore, there’s no town to stay in.

This big change is easier to do when season 7 is the definite end of your series. All things are possible at the true ending of your story. But even if you plan to continue on to a season 8 – utilize the geographic change anyway. The location shift will only help your story move forward in bold and exciting ways.

That’s what Smallville did. After season 7, Clark moved from small-town Smallville to the big city of Metropolis. Their show’s even named after the original location, but they still moved after season 7.

Smallville has its faults, but it did some things perfectly.

So when crafting your season 7, be sure to respect your dramatic pace by resolving your core conflict and being sure to execute a point of no return, geographically.



Season 7 (part 3) – The Beginning

Season 7

Dramatic Structure:

Season 7 has 3 areas of concern:

Origin

Season 1 expressed its origin theme via “old world.”
Season 3 expressed its origin theme via “repercussions.”
Season 5 expressed its origin theme via “formations.”

Season 7’s origin theme:

“The Beginning”

This refers to both:

  • Beginning of Your Story
  • Beginning of Your Series

Sometimes these are the same thing, but not always.

The “beginning of your story” is all about going back to where your story “really” began. The true origin of your tale.

While the “beginning of your series” is all about the things that occurred in season 1, when your series began.

Beginning of Your Story

The true beginning of everything.

Season 7 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer is all about this “beginning of your story” idea. The season focuses heavily on the very first Slayer. How she came to be, where the Slayer power originates from, and how the evil she fights first came into the world. Notice all these themes weren’t dramatized in season 1 of the show. But they are all directly related to the show’s mythology and the beginning of the story of the Slayer and the evil she fights. It’s the true beginning of the Slayer story.

Beginning of Your Series

This is where you go back to the beginning of the show as it unfolded in season 1.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer again!

While Buffy season 7 was certainly knee deep in the “beginning of your story” idea, it also did a whole lot of “beginning of your series.” The season is all about the Hellmouth underneath the (re-opened) Sunnydale High School. She may be a counselor now, but it’s all about Buffy back in high school again!

The Hellmouth, Buffy in high school, these are hallmarks of the first season, and first era, of the show. So Buffy the Vampire Slayer did both, the “beginning of the story,” and the “beginning of the series.”

But what about a show where the story started at the beginning of the series?

Where the “beginning of the story,” and the “beginning of the series,” are the same thing?

No problem. Just hit both at the same time.

We see this in The Shield. Season 7 focused almost entirely on the past crimes the Strike Team committed in the first episode, and first era, of the show. Killing fellow cop Terry and robbing the Armenian money train, among others. Shane even writes a confession letter, detailing all of the Strike Team’s transgressions – starting again with Terry’s murder, at the beginning.

At the same time, Mackey’s secured an immunity deal for himself. All he has to do is confess to all of his crimes on tape. Recount all of his transgressions. Which he does, starting back at the beginning, with shooting Terry in the face.

Here with The Shield, the “beginning of the story” and the “beginning of the series” are essentially the same thing.

When putting together your season 7, make sure to include both.



Season 7 (part 2) – Individuality

Season 7

Dramatic Structure:

Season 7 has 3 areas of concern:

Positive

Season 1 expressed its positive theme via “new world.”
Season 3 expressed its positive theme via “creation.”
Season 5 expressed its positive theme via “salvation.”

Season 7’s positive theme:

“Individuality”

We mostly see individuality expressed in two ways:

  • Loss/Gain
  • Mentorship

Loss/Gain

In season 7, characters either lose their individuality, or gain it.

We see some loss of individuality in season 7 of Smallville.

This season sees the arrival of Clark’s cousin Kara. She too is an alien from Krypton and has all of Clark’s powers here on Earth. Clark’s no longer the only super-powered survivor of Krypton. There’s now another, just like him. He’s lost his individuality.

We see some gaining of individuality in season 7 of Rescue Me.

In season 7, Tommy is being pressured to retire from the firehouse. His wife is asking him to break away from his crew and take a desk job – for the sake of their new baby. At the same time, the crew is a tight-nit group as it always has been, but everyone spends the season considering their singular, individual, futures. Everyone’s gaining their individuality.

You see this a lot in stories that are based around a team. As their story comes to a close, teams, groups, or families, tend to go their separate ways. They gain their individuality from the group.

Mentorship

This is really a special kind of “loss of individuality.” By definition, it is one person teaching another person everything they know, taking on a protégé and communicating all the wisdom they have to share. If they do their job right, then they’ve definitely lost their individuality a bit. They’ve purposely made a kind of copy of themselves.

Let’s take a look at this idea in action.

In House season 7, current medical student Martha Masters is put on House’s team. She’s young, green, overly naïve, and for moral reasons refuses to ever lie to patients. She is the opposite of House in every way. House, now put in the position of the reluctant mentor, spends his time demonstrating the value and necessity of deception and pessimism. He’s trying to teach the most valuable lesson he knows – that everybody lies. In his attempts to teach her this, he’s trying to make her more like him. Classic mentorship.

Sure, it’s an unusual type of mentorship. You could almost argue it’s a little negative, and corrupt-y. But it’s mentorship all the same.

If you want an example of your garden variety, more positive-based mentorship…

Take a look at Buffy the Vampire Slayer season 7. All season long, Buffy plays mentor to the potential Slayers she takes in. Protecting them, teaching them, training them. And ultimately, magically sharing her Slayer power with all of them.

There used to be one Slayer (more or less) in all the world. Now there are hundreds of them. That’s a big loss of individuality, and definitely mentorship.

So in season 7, be sure to explore this positive theme of individuality. Loss, gain, and sometimes specifically expressed in the context of mentorship.