- Deficit, for your roster of characters
- Test or Trial
You lose some characters, and you don’t replace ’em.
In season 2, we had an influx of “new blood.” You added characters to the roster. In season 4, we had an “even trade.” You lost some characters, but you replaced them with about an even number of new people. Here in season 6, you lose some characters, and you leave ’em gone. You don’t replace them, you let the audience feel their absence.
We see this in season 6 of Weeds.
The Botwin clan has to get out of town quick, so they hit the road – leaving behind a bunch of regular characters: Celia, her husband Dean, her daughter Isabelle, and Nancy’s new husband Esteban. They all get left behind, and the show doesn’t replace them. Moving forward, the character roster is full of nothing but: the Botwins and Doug.
Here you really challenge your characters.
Physically, spiritually, emotionally, literally, whatever works best for your story.
We see this in season 6 of Smallville. At the very end of season 5, Clark is thrown into the “Phantom Zone.” A desolate prison for intergalactic criminals. He spends months surviving without his powers.
That’s a serious test.
When he eventually does get back to Earth – his release brings a bunch of space criminals along with him. These “Zoners” then go about terrorizing the planet and it’s all Clark’s fault. He then spends all of season 6 trying to return these escapees back to the Phantom Zone.
That’s a pretty big trial.
When you get down to it, the “test or trial” can be anything. Get creative. Find what works best for your story. Just make sure it’s hard. Make sure you really drag your characters through the mud.
When putting together your season 6, be sure to lose some characters and keep them gone. And be sure to put your characters through some real heat. Put ’em through a test, a trial.