Season 7 (part 5) – Synthesis & End of 3rd Era/Entire Story

Season 7

This is it Animals! Time to wrap up season 7, the third era, and your entire story as a whole.

Dramatic Evolution

Has two main elements:

  • Synthesis
  • End of Third Era/Your Entire Story

Most shows, most stories, are going to end completely at the end of season 7. It’s a natural end point. The 7 seasons have run their course, and now it’s all coming to an end. The story is over.

You can go beyond season 7 if you like. But if you do, the seasons moving forward will just be a new cycle of the same 7 season structure. We’ll get into what this means a little later. But for now, for simplicity’s sake – let’s assume that you’re ending your story at the end of season 7.

Synthesis

Season 7 is this third era’s “synthesis.”

You’re taking the dramatic evolution themes from seasons 5 and 6, then combining and transcending them into something that really nails your point home. This isn’t just the synthesis for the third era, it’s the synthesis for the whole series. The whole story.

Let’s finish up our Spider-Man show:

Season 5’s thesis:

“With great power, comes great humility.”

Season 6’s antithesis:

“With great power, comes great hubris.”

For season 7’s synthesis, how about:

“With great power, comes great wisdom.”

In season 5, he was humble about his power. In season 6, he got a little power-inflated. Here in season 7, Spider-Man comes to a place of hard-won wisdom with regards to his power.

How’s that work? There’s a natural progression. It comes from being super humble, then superior, and after having experienced both of those extremes, Spider-Man’s able to find the true middle path. He knows what it means to have this gift, and he also understands where his limits are.

But this “wisdom” comes not just from the humility and hubris of the past two seasons. It also comes from the lessons of every previous season.

  • The responsibility he learned in season 1.
  • The unique freedom he enjoyed in season 2.
  • The honor he felt in season 3.
  • The corruption he suffered in season 4.

Then the lessons of this particular era:

  • Both the humility he gained in season 5, and the hubris he succumbed to in season 6.

It all culminates, combines and synthesizes in season 7, into “wisdom.” It’s both the synthesis for your third era, and the synthesis for your entire story. You’ve gotta keep that in mind.

End of Third Era/Your Entire Story

This is the last season of your grand, seven season story.

You’ve got to keep an eye on ending not just this third era chunk of story, but also look to end the entire series.

Examples!

The West Wing.

The third era was all about the general question: “Who’s the next president going to be?”

That question, and era, completely comes to a close when President Santos is sworn into office, at the end of the season.

But, this being the end of the show, they’ve also got to close out the entire story. This is done by closing out the Bartlet Administration’s second term. They’re all done. The presidency and administration we’ve been watching this whole time, is now, definitively, at an end.

The West Wing is a good example of a show that has exactly 7 seasons. How about one that went past season 7 but still had all of this dramatic evolution stuff to satisfy?

Let’s look again at Supernatural.

As previously discussed, their third era was all about “purgatory.” And they close out this era by having Dean sent to purgatory, after taking out the Leviathan King – Dick Roman.

That’s a solid end to the era, a good end to that purgatory chunk. But since the show is still going, they don’t close out the story as a whole. They’re saving that for when they actually do end the story of Sam and Dean Winchester. Whenever that might be.

That’s it Animals! All seven seasons laid at your feet.

There are more details that we could get into, but these are the large pieces. The stuff that’ll definitely get you off and running.

Get to know ’em. Let ’em sink into your bones.

Then go tell your own stories. Do it.

Right now.



Season 6 (part 5) – Antithesis & Beginning of 3rd Era

Season 6

Dramatic Evolution

Has two main elements:

  • Antithesis
  • Beginning of Third Era

Antithesis

Season 5 was our “thesis.” So we’re gonna need an “antithesis” here in season 6.

Let’s take another look at our Spider-Man show.

The season 5 thesis was:

“With great power, comes great humility.”

What could we do thematically that would act as the opposite of humility?

How about:

“With great power, comes great hubris.”

That’s a definite “antithesis.” And an interesting theme to explore in season 6.

Season 6’s “dramatic structure” already has the “role challenge,” “bummer,” and “destruction.” The “dramatic pace” is all about a “roster deficit” and a “test or trial.”

“Hubris” would flow nicely with all of these themes. And it’s certainly an antithesis to season 5’s “humility.”

Say in season 5, Spider-Man has true humility with regards to his power. But for whatever reason, that humility starts to wane. In season 6, he starts getting overconfident. Full of himself.

Maybe it has to do with how well he dealt with whatever was going on in season 5. Maybe the emotional “point of no return” paved the way for Spidey to be on top of the world. However you do it, he starts to carry an overabundance of pride. That’ll easily lead into all kinds of “destruction,” “bummer,” etc, — all the stuff. It would make for a really interesting season.

Beginning of Third Era

  • Seasons 1, 2, and 3 — the first era.
  • Seasons 4 and 5 — the second era.
  • Seasons 6 and 7 — the third, and usually the final, era of your series.

So season 6 needs to start this new chunk of story. It needs to establish whatever this new era is about.

Let’s take a look at what Supernatural did:

Structurally, Supernatural, unified their eras by the general story focus:

  • Their first era was all about demons and hell.
  • Their second era was all about angels and heaven.
  • Their third era focuses on monsters and purgatory.

Season 6, begins this nicely with its seasonal focus on two main ideas:

  • Where monsters go when they die: Purgatory.
  • The mother of all monsters: Eve.

After setting it up nicely here in season 6, the purgatory idea and theme continues full steam ahead in season 7.

So when constructing your season 6, be sure to make it an antithesis of last season’s dramatic evolution theme. And do what you need to, to start off the new era right.



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.