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.



Season 4 (part 3) – Shake Up

Season 4

Dramatic Structure:

Has 3 areas of concern:

Time for that…

Deviation

Season 4 deals with its deviation theme via:

“Shake Up”

How can one shake things up?

Two main ways:

  • Changing the Circumstances
  • Upping the Ante

Changing the Circumstances

It’s exactly what it sounds like.

The first era, seasons 1, 2, and 3, had a shared circumstance. In season 4, you need to change that circumstance – shake it up.

This is what we see on The O.C.

Season 4 sees our main characters having graduated from high school, and now living their post-high-school-lives. Summer’s across the country at college. Seth is waiting to hear from RISD for his late admission. And Ryan’s working and living in a bar, knee-deep in a depressive spiral. Season 4 also plays out how everyone is dealing with Marissa’s death, which occurred at the end of season 3. This isn’t just the new “post-high-school” circumstance, it’s the new “post-Marissa” circumstance.

There’s a bunch of ways to shake things up. Let’s look at a seemingly similar, but very different, way to do it:

The Vampire Diaries is essentially a high school show. But they didn’t want to leave the high school setting behind quite yet, so they changed the circumstance in a different way. In season 4, our main character Elena becomes a vampire. She spent the first three seasons as a human. She also spent the first three seasons romantically involved with Stefan. Come season 4 – she’s no longer human, and her romance with Damon is in full swing. Leaving high school seems like an obvious choice to shake things up, but by digging a little deeper, The Vampire Diaries was able to significantly shake things up, while still keeping their practical setting.

Upping the Ante

By this, we mean to make the stakes of the story that much more dire, that much bigger, that much harder and more intense. From a character point of view, they’ve gotta invest more, they’ve gotta have more to lose.

This means different things for different stories.

In Grey’s Anatomy season 4, our characters went from being surgical interns, to full-blown residents – in charge of their own interns. They moved up a level, and now things are that much harder and challenging.

When a story is based around careers, it’s very straight forward to up the ante in this way. But what about a different kind of story?

Supernatural season 4 ups the ante by introducing angels to the story. For the first era, it was humans fighting demons and monsters. By introducing angels to the story you have greatly expanded the mythos – significantly upping the ante. Especially considering that these angels have tasked the Winchesters with preventing the escape of the devil himself. This is huge for a couple of monster hunters. The stakes just jumped up a couple of levels as they go from two brothers hunting down urban legends, to straight up super heroes trying to save the world.

However you do it, whichever way is best for your story – you have to shake things up. This is usually done by changing the circumstances and upping the ante.



Season 3 (part 2) – Creation

Season 3

Dramatic Structure:

Season 3 has 3 areas of concern:

Let’s take a look at the:

Positive

In season 3, the positive theme is expressed as:

“Creation”

The most common forms of “creation” you see in season 3’s are:

  • Newborns
  • Resurrections

Newborns

By “newborns” we mean anything that is being created for the first time. It could be a child, a business, a program, a piece of art. Whatever it is, it’s brand new.

We see a clear example of a newborn on Angel. In season 3, Angel’s son Connor is born. Vampires aren’t typically capable of having babies – yet this little guy comes into the world anyway.

A less obvious example of this newborn idea would be what we see in the third season of The O.C. Sandy spends the season doing his best to get his hospital project off the ground. It would be a new hospital built from the ground up. Ultimately, it doesn’t happen. But he spends all season doing his best – trying to birth it into the world.

Resurrections

By “resurrections” we mean bringing something back from the dead, literally or metaphorically. It could be literal, like a person – in a sci-fi or fantasy story. Or metaphorical, like a failed business coming back to life, or an old romance rekindled.

In the third season of The Vampire Diaries we see several members of the Original Vampire Family, literally brought back from the dead. Brothers Kol and Finn are awakened from a state of suspended death. Their father Mikael is also brought back from a suspended death-like state. And their mother Esther’s ghost is brought back from “The Other Side.” All four of these characters have literally been brought back from the dead. Literally resurrected.

We can see a more real-world example in a show like Parenthood.

In season 3, brothers Adam and Crosby go into business together and start their own record label. They buy the building and re-open the well-known, but long defunct, “Luncheonette Recording Studio.” They resurrect it.

Whether creating something entirely new, or bringing something back to life again, season 3’s positive theme is all about “creation.”