“This advanced and difficult form of storytelling is designed to show that destruction is the result not so much of individual choice (like tragedy) but of individuals caught in a system that is innately destructive.”
- John Truby, ANATOMY OF STORY, p135
“In good stories the hero has a single overriding goal that he pursues with greater and greater intensity.”
- John Truby, Anatomy of Story p87
How does the editor & director decide which snippets of scenes to include in the ‘previously on…’ bit ?
Remember it’s Season 7 Episode 7.
So…previously on Dexter…
1. OPEN with the slaughter of the Columbian drug cartel members, murdered by Isaak Sirco.
2. CUT TO: Isaak Sirko in jail assuring Dexter that his imprisonment doesn’t mean their war is over.
3. CUT TO: Nadia, terrified, warning Joey not to get involved with the Koshka brotherhood.
4. CUT TO: George of the Koshka Brotherhood asks Joey to lose the blood evidence that’s keeping Isaak Sirko in jail. Joey agrees in exchange for Nadia’s freedom.
5. CUT TO: Dexter flicking through ‘Love on the Run’ – Sal Price’s true crime book about the Wayne Randall killings – and Hannah McKay.
Dexter asks Deb what was Price doing at the depot? Deb says he heard they were digging up more victims and he asked if he could see the case files for his new book about Hannah.
Dexter reminds us, with an internal thought, “I fudged the blood report.”
6. CUT TO: Sal Price with Deb at a restaurant showing her his blood report which proves Hannah is a killer.
Debs says “If that’s true we’re totally fucked because we gave her immunity.”
7. CUT TO: Dexter asks Hannah how her husband died. Hannah says ‘Heart attack.”
Dexter’s internal thought tells us “I know she killed her husband, I can feel it.”
8. CUT TO: a web page about Aconite – a highly poisonous wild plant. Reading the webpage Dexter tells us, internal thought again, ‘It causes a heart attack.’
9. CUT TO: Hannah on Dexter’s kill table with Dexter’s shiny silver blade to her throat. Hannah looks Dexter in the eye and says: “Do what you gotta do.”
10. CUT TO: Dexter and Hannah, fucking.
So, what are we reminded of?
1. Dexter has a new lover, Hannah McKay, and is covering up for her. Season Main Plot.
2. Writer Sal Price is on to Hannah as a serial killer. Episode Main Plot.
3. Isaak Sirko isn’t finished with Dexter. Season sub-plot.
4. Joey tries to save his sex trafficked girlfriend from the Koshka Brotherhood by making a deal to lose evidence. Season sub-plot.
5. Hannah has immunity for the Wayne Randall killings. Season sub-plot.
So, we open with a reminder of the Season’s Main Plot. Next, we have the Episode’s Main Plot. Then 3 season’s sub-plots.
Season Main Plot, Episode Main Plot, sub-plot, sub-plot, sub-plot.
A pattern worth noting.
What’s surprising is the overall series Main Plot – will Dexter get caught? – is not set-up in the opening sequence.
We have to wait until scene 48 when we get 27 seconds of Captain Maria LaGuerta alone, studying files in her home, hot on Dexter’s tail.
Next week, Crafting an Episode part 6. Structure in Detail.
PDF scene breakdown here.
- Out of 50 scenes, 38 have 2 characters (duologues).
- 2 further scenes have 3 people, but only 2 people actually talk (duologue).
- Scene 49 is 1 character reacting to another character’s Voice on tape (duologue).
- So, actually 41 out of 50 scenes are duologues!
- 3 scenes have 1 character and are less than 10 seconds.
- ONLY 1 full scene has just 1 character & sets up the MAIN PLOT (27 secs).
- 2 scenes have 3 talking characters.
- 2 scenes have 5 characters.
- 1 scene has 6 characters.
- The Midpoint scene is a discussion on the nature of murder.
Read the full scene by scene breakdown here:
Here is a list of scenes, their length and which characters are in each scene.
The first character is often the one driving the scene, but not always.
Check out who dominates the sequence of scenes building up to the Climax – the two most important women in Dexter’s life: Deb and Hannah.
Season 7 Episode 7:
- 1.51 Hannah + Dexter
- 2.06 Deb + Sal Price
- 1.24 Hannah + Dexter + 1 extra Biker
- 0.44 Dexter + Hannah
- 1.37 Dexter + Sal Price
- 1.15 LaGuerta + Deb
- 1.39 Dexter + Deb
- 0.33 Dexter, Batista and Masuko
- 0.58 LaGuerta, Batista, Masuko, Joey, Deb + Dexter
- 0.9 LaGuerta + Deb
- 0.12 Batista, Joey, Masuko, Dexter + 1 extra Cop
- 0.42 Batista, Joey, Masuko, Dexter + 1 extra Cop
- 0.48 Batista + Joey
- 0.34 Dexter + Deb
- 0.52 Deb + Sal Price
- 0.53 Joey + Nadia
- 0.24 Isaak Sirco, George + Jurg
- 1.14 Deb + Hannah’s dead husband’s sister
- 1.20 Hannah + Price
- 0.12 Price + Dexter
- 0.59 Dexter + his dad.
- 0.58 Joey + George
- 2.51 Dexter + Hannah (MIDPOINT)
- 0.15 Deb + Hannah’s dead husband’s sister
- 0.33 Deb + Lab Technician
- 0.33 Deb + Hannah’s dead husband’s sister
- 1.21 Deb + Price
- 0.34 Hannah + Price
- 1.30 Dexter + Dad
- 2.00 Price + Hannah
- 2.38 Isaak + Dexter
- 2.11 Dexter + Price
- 0.19 Joey + Jamie
- 0.36 Dexter + Batista + Joey
- 1.16 Deb + Dexter
- 0.16 Hannah + Dexter
- 0.12 Dexter + Hannah
- 0.10 Deb + Hannah
- 0.11 Dexter + Hannah
- 1.15 Deb + Hannah
- 0.02 Dexter
- 0.36 Hannah + Deb
- 0.08 Hannah
- 0.04 Dexter
- 3.00 Dexter + Hannah (CLIMAX)
- 0.51 Joey + Batista
- 0.25 Masuko + Deb
- 0.27 Maria LaGuerta
- 0.29 Deb + Hannah’s V.O
- 1.34 Dexter + Hannah + Deb
Read the full scene breakdown here: DEXTER – Season 7 Episode 7
“By going through the crucible of battle, the hero usually undergoes change. For the first time he learns who he really is.”
- John Truby ANATOMY of STORY p301
“The best opponent is the necessary one: the character best able to attack the great weakness of your hero. Your hero will be forced either to overcome that weakness and grow or else be destroyed.”
- John Truby, ANATOMY of STORY p283
A mark of really good writing is a scene in which the main opponent gives a moral justification for his actions, even though he is wrong.
- John Truby, ANATOMY of STORY, p 138
Throughout the middle of the story the hero and the opponent come into increasing conflict. Through this conflict a difference in values begins to emerge.
- John Truby, Anatomy of Story p 120
Before we look at this episode in detail I thought it best to look at how the episode is introduced, you know, the 'previously on Dexter...' bit at the beginning.
How does the editor & director decide which snippets of scenes to include in the 'previously on...' bit ?
Remember it's Season 7 Episode 7.
So...previously on Dexter…