Winchester Review – Art of Dying

It’s not a bad episode…

Final Score:

Here’s a link to the DS9 documentary I talked about. Unfortunately I couldn’t find a clip or segment of just the writer’s room but I did find an image of it which I hope suffices.

Something I wanted to explain which I’m not sure I could convey well in video (and it may not go well here) is the problem of “time.” In storytelling, though it seems like you can bend or twist time to suit your needs, the simple fact is that you cannot cheat time – and by that I mean the time of your audience. A longer story feels more deep, usually has more impact with people than a shorter one because of the time the audience has in the characters. For example, a character that walks into a room and starts breaking down at the sight of ice cream and spills details about some tragic past is not going to have the same impact as a story that spent time beforehand hinting at, showing signs of, laying down the mystery and making the ice cream revelation a climatic revelation.

In fact you may notice comedies will very often will play dramatic matters exactly like that. By having a dramatic moment come out of nowhere with no prior indication, it almost always works better as a laugh than as actual drama.

What this means is that if you want an impactful moment on your show, it is better to spend every spare second working towards and building towards that moment than to try and wring drama at the last minute. Yes sometimes the actors or actresses are not able to adequately deliver the material they are given, but it’s not helpful to them to never have their scenes properly set up. Latka’s pacifism and family life were two whole lines up to this point in the season. There was never any sense that either formed a real core background to her character – her life. Heck we saw more examples of her being boy-crazy than a pacifist. (Which is fine, she’s a beautiful Indian princess that I would love to see find a great guy.)

Mary meanwhile seems to have just slightly more consistency with her issues with hunting, but again it feels like every writer has interpreted this fact about the character differently.

Episode 1.07 is going to be the midseason finale. By all accounts this season is going to be 13 episodes and no more. This basically means the show has no extra time to spare. This means things like character traits need to be dealt with not just during climatic 3rd acts of an episode, but in every opportunity that’s available. Yes you can overplay your hand and make it annoying, but it’s a lot easier to reach that point, and then trim stuff out than to not try and all and realize later on you need an emotional impact that you’ve not spent any time setting up.

To just use one example – remember in episode 1.04 “Masters of War” Latka holding the vase?

Ironic, isn’t it? That a god’s immortality be tied to something that appears so…

That line could have easily been replaced with something related to her pacifism here. Maybe she proposes an alternative, (“can we ask the god to leave?”) maybe she just expresses disapproval of a deity so tied to violence.

I know on an ensemble show it is customary to have an episode be a “focus” of one of the characters for its runtime, but we have 4-6 for this show and – again – only 13 episodes. That’s only 2 per character. Thus, they need to stop following the usual formulas and give something to as many characters as possible in every episode. Even if it’s just a line or two, it just has to be something so when the focus rolls around, it feels real to the audience and has an impact the writers intend.

One thought on “Winchester Review – Art of Dying

  1. The writers could go deeper and probably should, but given the length of the run it seems they’re under pressure to get the job done. To parallel, it’s like season three of SPN, no matter how many times I watch it always feels rushed, courtesy of the writers strike it was, but what it had in it’s favour was the running out of time added to the sense Dean’s impending doom, no one questioned the logic, but in any other season, you’d have noticed it more, for example season 15 felt like it was stuffed with filler killing time to the end.

    Maybe the problem with Mary for Meg D is the fluidity of who Mary is today? Perhaps her performance reflects the uncertainty of who the writers think she is?

    I enjoyed this episode though, it was solid and the Monster Club seem to gell better playing against other humans, in this case Tracey the ex hunter, their united judgemental attitudes, their naive youth worked playing against an old time hunter, showing them as having a lot to learn, which would be absolutely true. No hunter knows everything and it reflects the current attitudes of blaming the generations that went before, instead of realising that those generations were just people, doing the best they could

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