Mentoring Authors One Scene at a Time – Thriller/Military/Non-Fiction/SF/Fantasy
This week we will discuss the 5 Commandments of the Middle Build of Amazon Prime’s Killing Eve.
As a review, if you follow the Story Grid Method, most stories are made up of the following elements:
Stated more simply: the 5 Commandments of the Middle build are the 5 Core Scenes of Act 2 which are the Inciting Incident, the Turning Point, the Crisis, the Climax, and the Resolution that turn on the Global Value.
The Middle Build of Killing Eve occurs between episodes 3 through 7 and the Genre is Thriller, so the Global Value is Life and Death. Therefore, all 5 Core Scenes of the Middle Build should turn on Life and Death.
It is important to note that if the 15 Core Scenes of your story do not turn on your Global Value, then you may not be writing a story in your chosen genre or you might have to tweak some scenes to make the Core Scenes turn on the Global Value. Something to consider when editing and writing stories.
The Inciting Incident if when Bill is killed, Eve realizes for the first time that her job is dangerous and that she could die and that her decisions have consequences. So, obviously, this scene does turn on the Global Value of life and death that we expect from a Thriller.
For Eve’s Worldview shift, this is the part of the series when Eve realizes that her actions have consequences: she goes from ignorance to wisdom, the hard way.
The Turning Point is when Villanelle breaks into Eve’s house and threatens her husband. This is when Eve realizes she has something to lose in the pursuit of her heart’s desire which is to become an agent and fulfill her purpose in life. It turns on life and death because she realizes her husband is at risk and she herself literally has a knife to her throat at one point (and in the meatloaf).
Once she realizes that she and her husband are at risk from her job, the question is does Eve continue to track Villanelle to finally stop her, even though she may risk the lives of the people who are closest to her. Or does she give up and hope Villanelle leaves her family alone.
Eve still wants to follow the investigation because she is obsessed with Villanelle and confident, almost arrogantly so, in her abilities.
Eve continues to pursue Villanelle, hoping to stop her before she can do any more damage.
The Resolution is that in her pursuit of Villanelle she knows more about the 12 and meets Anna, helping her to understand Villanelle better. And the risk to Eve’s life is even more apparent when she realizes that Villanelle killed Anna’s husband.
The whole Middle Build is really good for Eve’s Worldview shift because she realizes that she can’t even trust the people she is working with, such as Carolyn.
I don’t think that the Middle Build includes Eve finding out that Carolyn has been hiding things from her when Eve sees the video footage of Carolyn meeting with Villanelle in the prison.
I think there is something to be said about the Middle Build ending with Eve meeting Anna because the Resolution is the result of the Climax decision. Eve has decided to continue her investigation, and the result of that decision is she recognizes that her family is even more in danger because of what Villanelle did to Anna’s family. And then the Ending Payoff might begin when Eve sees the video footage of Carolyn with Villanelle.
What are the stakes of the Crisis, if it’s not to protect her family?
What do you as the viewer think?
Bill is killed which motivates Eve to continue searching and tracking Villanelle, but in the end, Eve has lost Villanelle again.
-/ – –
After realizing Bill is violently killed by Villanelle, Eve realizes how dangerous her situation is and even after Villanelle breaks into her home and threatens her husband, she still resolves to hunt Villanelle resulting in a deeper understanding of the 12 and Villanelle. However, in her search, all her clues come to nothing and she loses track of Villanelle.
Absolutely – Intrigue, excitement, assassinations. The characters are engaging and interesting.
Reviewing the Obligatory Scenes and Conventions of the Thriller, the Beginning Hook answered the following:
An inciting Crime indicative of a Master villain – Villanelle is assassinating people for an unknown reason and there are no clues to help MI5 catch her.
Speech in Praise of the Villain – Eve praises her when she evaluates the femoral cut of the first victim and actually re-enacts the move on herself. She also praises her when Villanelle breaks into her home, telling her she is exceptionally smart and capable.
The hero becomes the victim – Eve has already been hunted by Villanelle during the house break-in, but I expect it to happen one more time.
Hero at the Mercy of the Villain – This scene hasn’t happened yet.
False Ending (two endings)
A MacGuffin – the Villains’ Object of Desire – Villanelle is a psychopath who enjoys her job as an assassin and she enjoys her quality of life, so her Object of Desire is to continue to kill for money.
Investigative Red Herrings: Nadia and Anna provide some information, but ultimately they aren’t the key to Villanelle. Also, Vlad and Constantin don’t provide the clues that Carolyn and Eve need. And Frank was mostly a dead end except for some vague information about the 12.
Making it Personal: Villanelle did threaten Eve’s husband; and now that Eve knows more about anna’s situation, it’s even more apparent that Eve’s husband might be in jeopardy
Clock: The clock is continuous because the longer Villanelle remains at large, the more people she kills and the closer she gets to her goal, which is unknown
The lovers separate again. Eve has a greater understanding of what makes Villanelle work after talking with Anna. Here we also see another triangle with Anna, Villanelle, and Eve. but really, they two characters (lovers) have only met twice during the series.
It’s love light. I only say it’s a love story because of what happens at the beginning and the end. We’ll only find out in the end after the final episode why Eve is really pursuing Villanelle.
Eve’s External Object of Desire (want) – In Killing Eve, the protagonist, Eve, is trying to stop Villanelle from killing more people and also solve the mystery of who she works for. This is what she wants to do.
Eve’s Internal Object of Desire (need) – Eve has good intuition in a job where they have a lot of technology but seemingly not enough. Eve is ordinary, but she’s missing something in her life. And it is the energizing force of Villanelle that breaks her out of her mold. Internally, Eve thinks she has more to offer MI5 than setting up security.
One of the Obligatory scenes for the Thriller is the false ending or two endings. We are expecting this to happen in the last episode, the Ending Payoff.
So, what other shows have great false endings?
Randy: Die Hard; Silence of the Lambs; Salt; Captain America
Melanie: the false ending is an obligatory scene for the Thriller. Casino Royale, Six Sense.
Parul: Harry Potter at the end of the last episode. The Bridge TV Series.
Can you think of any shows we missed?
Did this episode work for you as a viewer?
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Story Grid Showrunners Website – Show Notes and Vote for our next TV series
If you want to see more applications of the Story Grid methodology, below are links to my analysis of various novels and television shows in blog posts and podcasts:
Story Grid Showrunners Podcast – Parul, Melanie, and I analyze hit TV series using the Story Grid methodology.
My blog posts analyzing other Television series – my person take using the Story grid 5 Commandments to look at my favorite TV series – Jack Ryan, Batgirl, For All Mankind, Hanna, and more.
Novel analysis – I analyze some of my favorite books using the Story Grid 5 Commandments and 6 core questions – First Blood, Old Man’s War, Waylander, and more to come!