Saturday, June 30, 2012

Spanner R4 Update: Chapter 14, the Clip Episode with Extra WHAM!

Every fan of Babylon 5 and many other series is familiar with the Wham Episode, dedicated to the shocking plot twist. Now Spanner has more than enough WHAM! to satisfy any plot-twist addict, and I've spent extra time putting more WHAM! into the Fourth Revision, particularly Chapter 1, where the WHAM! (the Spanner Incident, to be exact) is what kicks off the plot in the first place.

Then there's the Japanese TV tradition of the Recap Episode, which sums up the story so far for those who came to the story late. (There's a specific reason for this that has to do with Japanese broadcasting which I won't get into right now.)

Problem: how do you plot a Recap Episode so that it becomes a Wham Episode? It sounds difficult, and it is — but it's been done before. Case in point: episode 33 of Revolutionary Girl Utena. The trick is to add a little something which will change the context of everything. Trickiest of all is doing it in such a way so that Chapter 14 will make, say, Chapters 2 and 3 look like Innocuously Important Episodes in comparison, and still be overshadowed by the major-league WHAM! of Chapter 15.

I'm going to keep roughly to the outline of the Third Revision. I'll remove some scenes, condense others, send others to earlier chapters, all to make room for the context-changing flashbacks to earlier chapters. I'll still keep certain of the new Fourth Revision scenes, but the main plot is there mostly to structure the flashbacks and add the extra context needed to prepare for Chapter 15.

The first flashback-oriented episode is Chapter 9, which tells Shira's and Leila's backstories in a way intended to drive them apart but only brings them closer together. In fact, I'm going to scatter a lot of flashbacks in Chapters 10-13, of both the backstory variety used in Chapter 5 and the context-changing kind I'm now using Chapter 14 for. By the time Chapter 15 begins, you'll realize that much of what you knew before turns out to have been wrong.

An extra character bonus comes in the assault on the gang meeting at Oliver's property. Turns out Leila was part of a couple with a bit of a "Bonnie and Clyde" reputation, and her boyfriend was Frank Becket, police chief Jack's gangster son and classmate Debbie's older brother. But now, though they still share some nihilistic-sounding premises, Leila has grown from a nihilist into a more optimistic existentialist, while Frank has remained a nihilist. This comes out during their katana duel:
Frank: What happened to you, Leila? Where's the heartless bitch I fell in love with? You've gone weak!
Leila: I grew up. Why won't you?
Of course one issue Frank has with Leila now is that she's fallen in love with a girl, a dark-skinned one at that, and he thinks it's gross. And Shira is no nihilist; philosophically, she's an "ethical slut" hedonist.

There's new character Dr. Mina Tatsumi's escape from the madhouse and army of Yakuza-girl clones, and there's the whole "Fujoshi Paradise" sequence that needs restructured, condensed, and ultimately turned into a thread which should start in Chapter 5. But first I need to completely restructure Chapter 14. The fine details come later.

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