Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Reversing Expectations

Is anyone else watching The Sopranos? Big warning. Huge spoiler alert if you're not caught up on this season. STOP READING NOW.

The first few episodes this season, I was enjoying the show, but thought they were setting up/foreshadowing a certain development to help tie up the show. What was I expecting? It seemed like they were making us think that Christopher was going to turn states evidence on Tony.

They showed Christopher falling apart. Showed the growing rift between him and Tony. Showed him murder the Tim Daly character in cold blood and totally out of control. Not cleaning up his mess etc. Clearly, I thought, setting things up for Christopher to be arrested for a serious crime. One serious enough that he'd turn on Tony to get off more easily.

At the end of the episode where Christopher killed Tim Daly, I was starting to get so upset. I was so sure I was right about where that storyline was leading and thought it was a little boring, a little predictable, a little too heavily foreshadowed.

And then the writers totally reversed my expectations.

Okay, I've decided not to post the spoiler. If you've seen that episode, the one that "finishes" Christopher's story, you know what I mean. If you haven't seen it, then you should. Now.

I think reversing expectations is a very powerful tool in the writers kit. But one to be used wisely and sparingly. If all you do is reverse expectations, then that can get predictable, too... Or people can have their reversal expectations so high you can't meet them. M. Night Shyamalan anyone?

How about you? Do you purposefully try to reverse readers' expectations? Do you like books that do, or do you like to know where a story is heading?


Molly O'Keefe said...

What's so freaking brilliant about that show is they give us that Christopher story and follow it up with the next weeks with AJ in the pool (Chilling! Amazxing acting - Gandolfini was perfect) and there are two episodes left and I HAVE NO CLUE WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN! It's the best -- I mean I am literally on the edge of my seat right now.

Maureen McGowan said...

For me, the AJ thing was very well foreshadowed (not a reversal) but I think that's what makes these writers so good. They keep you on your toes. Sometimes what you expect to happen happens, sometimes they turn everything on its head.

And from her on? You're right. I have no idea. I can't quite imagine how they are going to wrap up this series in a satisfying way...

Molly O'Keefe said...

You know I think that's part of the brilliance -- it was so foreshadowed - but it was pulled off PERFECTLY -- it hit all the right notes -- it satisfied so completely. So they reveresed expectations and exceeded expectations -- that's it. That's all we have to do.

I was jsut so moved when Tony jumped in that pool and at the end when he showed up at the treatment facility. Loved it - so touching. Too late but very touching.

Maureen McGowan said...

You just made me remember one of the first reasons I fell in love with The Sopranos. I think it was the first episode. We see Tony beating the crap out of a guy in one scene, then in the next he's making sundaes with AJ and joking around. PERFECT characterization to show both sides of this very complex and twisted man.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...