Analysis of Story Elements for HBO’s ‘Gentleman Jack’: Episode 6

We’re going to sum up the story so far here. We should be approaching the end of the Middle Build, so let’s see how well the story follows the story grid and if it’s working.

The Love Story So Far

As I mentioned in the introduction a couple weeks back, Shawn Coyne says a Love story “gives us prescriptive and cautionary tales to navigate love’s emotional minefield.”  Rachelle Ramirez outlines the elements of a Love Story in her article “Secrets of the Love Genre”.

Shawn mentions that most stories follow a 25% beginning hook, 50% middle build, 25% final payoff structure. Since this series will only be 8 episodes, Episode 6 marks should mark about the end of the Middle Build, and I wanted to review which conventions and obligatory scenes have already been covered.

The Global Value of a Love story is love to hate, attraction to indifference.

It’s difficult to see what kind of precautionary love story this will be yet, positive or negative, so it is difficult to see what exactly the controlling idea will be (love wins when…, or love fails when…)

Obligatory Scenes:

  • Lovers Meet – Lister and Walker meet in the first episode
  • First Kiss or Intimate Connection – The women have their first intimate touch in episode 2, and their first kiss and more in episode 3
  • Confession of Love – There have been multiple confessions of love
  • Lovers Break up – Walker has broken up with lister in Episode 5 to marry Mr. Ainsworth; and now she is separated from Lister in Episode 6 when she goes away with her family because of her mental condition
  • Proof of Love – there was a small proof of love on listers part when she went to France ofter the wedding in episode 2 and also made a comb to replace the one she broke, but I’m waiting for something bigger, a sacrifice on one or the other’s part
  • Lovers Reunite – ????


  • Love Triangle – Lister/ Walker/ Mr Ainsworth
  • Helpers and Harmers – Walker’s relatives and her friend Katherine shapeshifter; Lister’s sister was a harmer
  • Gender Divide – Lister takes the man’s position here both in business and in the relationship
  • External Need – Lister needs someone who will love her the way she is; Walker needs stability that is acceptable in the eyes of society
  • Opposing Forces – the town doesn’t support strong women in business or gay relationships; the businessmen try and steal from lister’s coal mine, undermining her business practices
  • Secrets – lister hides the fact that she has had women lovers before; Walker hides the fact that she was sexually abused; Walker is mentally sick
  • Rituals – the only ritual I have seen is that Lister is constantly coming to Walker’s aid
  • Moral Weight – the moral weight of homosexuality exists throughout the series, especially after two gay men were hung

5 Commandments of HBO’s ‘Gentleman Jack’: Episode 6

These are the 5 Commandments of Storytelling as outlined by Shawn Coyne in his book The Story Grid: What good Editors Know.  These commandments can be found in all stories that really work.

Inciting Incident

Lister returns from being beat up by a paid ruffian from the Rawson brothers

Progressive Complication/ Turning Point

Walker’s mental health deteriorates


Do they treat Walker at the village or allow her relatives to take her away


Lister allows Walker’s relatives to take her away


Lister is destroyed again for losing Walker


-/– hopeless to very distraught

Lister starts depressed from her breakup and the beating she took, and ends with her physically losing Walker when she is taken away by her relatives to Scotland.

The Future?

If this were a book or a movie, I would predict that the lovers get back together in some form. Since this is a series which has been renewed for a second season, I’m not sure they will get back together by the end of Episode 8. I do think there will be a serious proof of love from Lister. And I think there will be a large betrayal, but not sure who that is. Maybe Mr. Ainsworth will step in once Walker gets to Scotland.

The Story Grid

For more information about the Story Grid, go to the Story Grid Webpage to find free videos and articles on how to implement the methodology.

Read these articles for more information about the 5 Commandments of Storytelling and the Editor’s 6 Core Questions from the book The Story Grid by Shawn Coyne.

For an example of how these techniques are used, read Jane Austin’s The Pride and the Prejudice with annotations by Shawn Coyne.

Story Grid Editing

If you are interested in having your manuscript reviewed by me, see my Editing Services.

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