Story Shamans Podcast – Episode 4 – Mad Men

SPOILERS:

Mad Men

SHOW NOTES:


Related Shamans Videos to Check out:

Identity vs. Essence

Season 3: Point of No Return

Season 4: Change of Circumstances

Season 7

Season Variations

Season 4: Promotion/Slump

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 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.