INSIDE THE ART, CRAFT AND BUSINESS OF WRITING for Film, TV, Books, Stage, Print or Digital Media (with Particular Attention to Comedy)
The actual pitch for an original TV series is usually pretty short – like 10 minutes (See my previous post on pitching a TV series), but you have to do a LOT of work developing the show before you can boil it down to 10 minutes.
Let’s say you’ve done that, and gotten into the room with a potential buyer (a producer or network executive) and they like your pitch – what’s the next step?
Next comes ‘paper’, the ‘Bible’ for the TV series, which is a treatment that lays out the major characters, major storylines for the series (or at least the first couple of seasons) and essential elements for the pilot.
Then, maybe, if they love it, they’ll pay you to write the pilot episode. Then, if they love the pilot, maybe they’ll buy the whole series.
I’ve recently been told that most networks are only looking for a couple of pages as a follow-up to a successful pitch and the following example comes from 2012, but I think it’s pretty instructive. Daunting but inspirational.
You may not be working on a tween fantasy idea, but I think the following ‘Bible’ (which sold the pilot script) is a good example of how much work goes into creating the characters and ‘world’ of a TV show – and a lot of things you should think through BEFORE you start writing a pilot episode for your original TV series.
Psychic Teen Series Concept by Ellen Gurney
The central character is Lark Britton, 17
• Daughter of two moms, has faced ostracism because of that • Doesn’t want to call attention to herself • Intelligent, edgy and witty, incredibly decent • Secretly envies the popular kids but tries not to show it
• Smart, good student but doesn’t raise her hand • World rocked with the breakup of her parents • Psychic ability kicked into gear by trauma of family break up and move
Lark’s psychic powers – “Knowings”
• Throughout her life, she’s had infrequent flashes of psychic “knowledge” when she touches a person or an object (for ex. as a child, she knew when the neighbor had to put his dog down when she picked up the dog’s ball that was left on his front lawn.)
• She’s always thought the flashes were left over dream images, or diluted memories from a movie or a book, but never more meaningful than a sense of deja vu
• Except when she was a child and confided in her mother, she’s never told anyone about her Knowings because they are so infrequent and meaningless
• The Knowings are insights evoked by unresolved past traumas connected to the person, or object, she touches
• She can use the Knowings to help the living resolve past traumas (sometimes that will involve someone who is dead)
What We’ll Learn About Lark
• She’s been in contact with her biological father • She is a former cutter and struggles to stay “clean”
Elias Keane, 16
• • • Self-proclaimed geek who is not afraid to stand up to criticism Big comic book nerd Sees the world through a mythical perspective (Joseph Campbell as a teen dweeb)
What We’ll Learn About Elias
• • • In the closet – brave about some things, but not coming out His father, Sam, organizes protests outside of Lily Dale, Elias stands up to him There’s bad blood between his father and Cora – his ancestors killed hers
Dakota Penrose, 16
• • • Nature girl, she has the soul of a hippie Artistic, naïve, softhearted, peacemaker Yearns for psychic ability but shows none
What we’ll learn about Dakota • Had a near-death experience and is a big believer in all things paranormal • She’s being cyber stalked
LARK’S LOVE INTEREST (BUT NOT AT FIRST) …
William “Weedge” Fox, 17
• • • • • Cute bad boy with sexy tats and a hidden heart of gold Childhood friend of Lark and a descendant of an infamous family of psychics Ouija board expertise earned him his childhood nickname, which he hates Hides his heritage by running with the fast, popular crowd and partying too hard On his way to a dark future unless he can accept himself
What We’ll Learn about Weedge
• • • • Doesn’t really love his girlfriend Piper, but being her BF helps hide who he really is His father James, a Lily Dale healer, is a fake Compelled to consult the Ouija board, yet discounts its messages Estranged from his parents, he lives with an older cousin, Corey, outside of Lily Dale
Micah Peabody, 16
• • • Weedge’s best guy friend Skateboarder, and seems to be just skating through school A fun-loving court jester type who doesn’t often show his insightful, sensitive side
What We’ll Learn about Micah
• • • • Keeps the fact that he got the school’s highest PSAT and SAT scores a secret Has a shoplifting compulsion Secret crush on Dakota Has a “live and let live” attitude when it comes to psychics
Piper Dayton, 17
• • • Weedge’s girlfriend, pretty, privileged, possessive and a partier The school’s “It” girl and queen of the Means Effusively generous, but it comes with a price; she keeps score and holds grudges
What We’ll Learn about Piper • She is curious about Weedge’s heritage, fishes and snoops for info • In public, she scorns the mediums of Lily Dale, but she’s curious — she likes power • Her father and Rosalie’s mother had an affair • She’s not really “into” Weedge – she’s after his older cousin, Corey
Joy Britton, late 40’s-early 50’s
• Lark’s biological mother, a modern dancer turned teacher • Bright, loving and whimsical; lights up the room • Solution oriented (even if the solutions are short term Band-Aids) • Summer visits to Lily Dale were obligatory – Lark is Cora’s only grandchild • Suppressed her own psychic abilities with meds so that she appeared normal
• • • Nurturing, intimate, feelings-based, girly Joy encourages Lark’s creativity and self-expression Joy can be overprotective, hovering – Lark feels safe, but a little claustrophobic with her
Christine Britton, late 40’s-early 50’s
• Grounded, organized, graphic designer • More analytical than expressive, has a blind spot to her own faults • Well educated, loves art and culture • If Joy lights up the room, Christine makes sure there is a room • Keeps her emotional cards close to the vest
• • • Encourages her to go beyond her comfort zone; Lark sees the value in this Models problem-solving skills, so won’t solve problems for her; sometimes Lark thinks she doesn’t understand Christine doesn’t let Lark see her cry or be worried; Lark thinks she’s super strong
Cora Wells, late 60’s early 70’s
• • • Spicy, optimistic, former flower child who wears her heart on her sleeve A practicing medium whose specialty is scrying – reading messages in water and mirrors A few of her ancestors were burned at the stake as witches by Elias’ ancestors
Cora/Lark relationship • Cora was frustrated that she had to hide the truth from Lark; Lark takes time to forgive • Tells Lark the meanings behind things (flowers, essential oils, chakra points etc.) • Both are inquisitive seekers; stronger than they seem • Lark will turn to Cora, more than either parent, for advice and answers
ALSO IN LILY DALE
Griff Gunther, early 50’s
• The town’s most powerful medium, a teacher at the School of Prophecy • Ambitious, unafraid, motives unclear • Certain there are ways to pass into what he calls the “In Between” — a no-man’s land
between life and death inhabited by lost spirits that are not at rest • Believes Lark is the key to accessing this realm
James Fox, mid 40’s
• Weedge’s father (they are estranged) • Charismatic, a people person and health nut • Experienced carpenter who helps “keep things up” around town • Knows a little something about everyone
THE COMMUNITY AND SURROUNDINGS
Lily Dale is a very real community of mediums, spiritualists, healers and psychics, located in Chautauqua County, 60 miles south of Buffalo in upstate New York. It was established in 1879 as a home for the Spiritualist movement – spiritualists are people who believe in the ability to communicate with the dead.
The town is a small, gated community adjacent to Cassadega Lake and consists of about a dozen streets. There are several cafes and shops, a post office, a fire department, two hotels and 10 or so Inns. Only a member of the Lily Dale Assembly and a registered medium can own a home here. Business booms in the summer months when people come for classes, readings and spiritual adventures.
It’s about a 30-minute drive to the “real world.” The community is bordered on one side by the lake, and surrounded by acres of old growth woods, pastures and farmland. It’s a secluded, self- sufficient, spiritual mecca, separate from the concerns of the outside world.
When Lark and Joy move here, they become disconnected from the ebb and flow of normal life. For Joy, this is what she wants — it’s healing and peaceful. But for Lark, it’s confining and sheltered in all the ways a teenager hates. It’s a rural, technology-challenged step back in time.
Children do grow up here, but for the most part, they grow up and get out. The turnover of real estate is minimal, so a new family coming in is infrequent. Lark is the only teen in Lily Dale. Weedge has family there but he’s estranged from them.
Because she has no peers in Lily Dale, Lark thinks she can keep where she lives, and her abilities, a secret from the outside world. Her school is in Brockton, about 15 miles away, and she intends to blend. The irony that she fits in where she doesn’t want to, and sticks out in the place where she wants to fit in, is not lost on her.
The attitude of the surrounding counties toward Lily Dale is one of skepticism and distrust. Mediums are okay at parties, on TV, or as the punch line to a joke. The mediums are viewed in the same way a polygamous sect of Mormons, a commune of hippies, or a Scientology compound would be viewed by conventional, if not conservative, citizens. Parents have pulled their children out of classes, and schools, that are attended by children of mediums. Often people leave restaurants or shops if they know a Lily Dale medium is there.
But the fact is, there’s really no need for the citizens of Lily Dale to regularly venture outside their community. That keeps the antagonism to a simmer, except for occasional violent and confrontational incidents when right wing groups make special trips to picket outside the gates.
Lark spent childhood summers in Lily Dale when she and her parents would dutifully visit Grandma Cora. During those summers, Lark became friends with Weedge. Although she liked him, his ability with the Ouija board frightened her. That, coupled with the fact that Lark’s Knowings surfaced when she visited Lily Dale, made her apprehensive of the summer visits.
Joy explained away Lark’s fears by telling her that in this unfamiliar environment, her active imagination was bound to run away with her. She told Lark that her mind was playing tricks on her because she was a very sensitive and imaginative girl. She explained that Weedge was just teasing her with tricks he’d rigged up on the Ouija board.
No-nonsense Christine fully supported Joy’s handling of these issues. But behind closed doors, these explanations caused conflict between Joy and Cora. Cora always wanted Joy and Lark to embrace their gifts. Joy insisted that neither she nor Lark had a “gift” (in secret, she was medicating herself) and insisted that Lark was experiencing nothing more than an overactive imagination stimulated by a different environment. Joy warned Cora to drop the issue, or she’d stop visiting, and Cora agreed.
Lark grew up knowing that Cora took classes and studied to become a medium, and believed that it was an occupation one could learn, similar to becoming a nurse or a therapist. She never thought that psychic power was part of Cora’s DNA, much less her own.
Joy taught Lark how to sublimate the fears by using a little toy to focus on. In this way, Lark unwittingly learned to deaden her psychic abilities. The method worked so well that Lark doesn’t even remember the toy, and experiences the Knowings very rarely.
In Lark’s sophomore year of high school, her family falls apart. Christine learns that Joy has been medicated for their entire relationship – the meds work to suppress the psychic visions that Joy has experienced her entire life. Christine feels like she’s been married to a stranger. On the verge of a break up, Joy goes off the meds in an effort to repair the broken trust. Her psychic ability kicks in; she discovers that Christine has been unfaithful. Joy is devastated, but she keeps Christine’s infidelity a secret from Lark. She moves out and takes Lark to live with Cora.
WHEN OUR SERIES BEGINS: Possible Pilot Episode
As she arrives in Lily Dale, Lark is shaken and unhappy, having been ripped from the only life she’s ever known. She has to start over, make new friends in a new school, and feels betrayed and angry over learning about Joy’s hidden psychic ability. In addition, she is convinced that she doesn’t know the whole story about her parents’ break up.
As she settles in to her room, a Knowing is triggered by touching a beaded necklace given to her by Christine. She “sees” a snippet of an argument between her parents – two pairs of hands wrestling over something. Lark is terrified by the reactivation of her psychic power and the specificity of the vision.
But Cora is thrilled — it’s destiny fulfilled. She can finally tell Lark the truth – that the “gift” is hereditary, and passed along matrilineal lines. However, Joy is deeply troubled and guilt-ridden. She’s hidden so much from her daughter.
Lark is overwhelmed, and furious that, except for when she’s in Lily Dale, she’s been thrust into a world that sees her as a freak. So she comes up with a way to survive outside of Lily Dale – blend in. Fly under the radar. She’s determined to avoid the potential discrimination and intolerance at her new school. When she sees Weedge in the halls, they both avoid contact. Unfortunately, it’s not long before the plan to keep her psychic power a secret fails.
Lark sees the glint of something sparkly in the corner of the hall at school. It’s an unusual beaded bracelet. She picks it up, and an instant flash of bright light opens a visual portal, and suddenly Lark is gripped by a powerful Knowing in which she “sees” two blurred pairs of hands wrestling over something.
Tiny objects scatter to the floor. Beads? Pills? Pebbles? It’s blurry.
Lark mutters the words “Don’t lie to me” and it’s audible to passing students. A couple of them stare and hurry by, but when she shouts, “I saw you!” all eyes are on her.
Weedge is there with Piper. She giggles at the spectacle and pulls him along. Even though he walks away, his eyes linger on Lark. Compassion? Disdain?
While others stare, Elias hurries to her side and takes the bracelet from her hand. She comes back to herself and realizes what has happened. She’s embarrassed and frightened, and allows him to steer her out of the hallway toward a shaded area in the quad. Dakota finds them and offers to take the bracelet to the lost and found. Lark knows if she does that, she may never discover the meaning of the vision. She keeps it, even though further handling of the bracelet doesn’t give her any new information.
Next day, at an assembly about college testing, Lark reaches into her backpack for a pen and her fingers brush against the bracelet. In a flash, instead of seeing the Principal behind the podium, she sees a girl. She asks Dakota who it is, and Dakota gives her a strange look. Principal Grey, who else? But that’s not what Lark sees. Suddenly the vision of the girl explodes into a shower of rose petals.
Lark stares around the auditorium, looking for the girl from the vision. Nothing. But as they leave, they pass a student replacing faded flyers with a new poster for the school musical. An old flyer shows a photo of a girl standing behind the podium in the auditorium. The headline reads “Essay Contest Winner.” The girl in the photo is the girl from Lark’s vision. She takes the old flyer.
After school Lark asks around about the flyer and learns that it’s from last year’s contest, and that the girl in the picture is Rosalie Reed, editor of the school’s online paper.
Lark tells Dakota and Elias that she knows who the “exploding girl” is. Elias grins in recognition. Rosalie is notorious for her bitingly honest, often aggressive, columns skewering the cliques in the school – which have left her virtually friendless. Lark can’t wait to meet her.
Lark finds Rosalie alone in the computer lab, intensely working at the keyboard. Lark waits for her to look up – she doesn’t. Lark sits next to her, and Rosalie glares.
Lark takes the bracelet from her backpack and pushes it to Rosalie, whose entire demeanor changes when she sees it. She picks it up gently, and asks, “What are you doing with this?”
Lark relates what happened when she touched the bracelet, fully expecting Rosalie to bolt. But Rosalie can’t deny the spot-on details of the argument her parents had when her father found out about her mother’s affair. She thinks that, “Don’t lie to me. I saw you,” were her father’s words, accusing her mother of infidelity.
Because of that fight, neither parent attended the event at which Rosalie received the award. Her mother took an overdose of pills, and died at the hospital just as Rosalie accepted her award.
When Rosalie got home and learned the horrible news, she found her mother’s necklace on her bed. When she picked it up, it broke and the beads scattered everywhere. Some of the beads are made from crushed rose petals. Rosalie saved them and wove them into a bracelet. It reminds her of her mother, but also of the trauma of her loss.
Lark asks if she can touch the bracelet again. This time, she holds Rosalie’s hand. Another Knowing explodes in Lark’s mind.
She smiles deep into Rosalie’s eyes and says, “Rosie, she was there.” Rosalie’s expression is one of amazement. She whispers to Lark, “That’s what my mom called me. Rosie.”
Lark describes details about the ceremony that proves to Rosalie that her mother’s spirit was there to see her win the award. After that, she left the necklace on Rosalie’s bed. Rosalie hugs Lark for giving her the message of love from her mother in the spirit world. No longer does the bracelet represent a trauma. A deep friendship blossoms between the two girls.
Later at home, Lark picks up the necklace from Christine, and the image of hands struggling over something reappears in her mind. It’s two figures…two women…the faces become clear…it’s Joy and Christine. They wrestle over a prescription bottle that falls and scatters pills to the floor.
Lark shouts aloud, “Don’t lie to me. I saw you!” Joy rushes into the room, alarmed. She moves to take the necklace from Lark’s hands. Suddenly it’s clear to Lark — this vision dovetails with the vision of the fight between Rosalie’s parents – and touches on the same issue of infidelity. Lark asks Joy, “Did you cheat on her, Mom, or did she cheat on you?”
Joy knows that it’s time to tell Lark the truth.
Next day at school, Lark realizes that she has been “outed” in a very public way. Everyone knows about her and she’s the school’s most recognized fish out of water. It’s all made bearable by virtue of her new friends. Rosalie, Elias and Dakota each have their own issues with popularity and acceptance. They genuinely admire Lark’s abilities, and gladly accept her. Lark has found a niche with the D-List social outcasts. As it turns out, they are pretty great.
So Lark’s found some good friends, and they help her deal with the pain she feels over the infidelity in her parent’s relationship. She’s hopeful when Christine reaches out to Joy and suggests they meet for dinner – perhaps a reconciliation between them might be possible.
Joy and Christine go out for a dinner alone to talk. Being outside Lily Dale is a bit of a struggle for Joy, now off her meds and an open psychic channel. After dinner, they go for a walk, window-shopping and talking. Joy realizes she left her cell phone at the restaurant and runs back to get it. Christine will get the car and pick her up. But Joy never returns to the car.
Christine returns to the restaurant, and they assure her Joy left. Frantic, she turns to the police. They advise her about the waiting period to report a missing person. Christine returns to Lily Dale to tell Lark and Cora what happened. They are all distraught at this turn of events, and after the missing persons waiting period is over, a police search is officially begun.
Cora tells Lark that her Knowings, as unwanted as they may be, may provide a way to find out what happened to her mother. But Lark is way ahead of her. She knows going down that path will only put her in the spotlight, and draw attention to the very thing she had hoped to hide. But now she has no choice.
Like all teenagers, there are two sides to Lark; the side that wants to fit in, and the side that wants to be special, and this universal issue will play throughout the series as the individual storylines evolve and intertwine. Lark’s Knowings will relate to the overarching story of her missing mother, and also call upon her to use her ability to help others in her day-to-day life. She’ll be challenged to accept herself, both as a young woman, struggling with friendships and a blossoming romance; and as a psychic, embracing her unique ability. She’ll face choices; sometimes she’ll make the right decision, and sometimes she won’t.
Each episode will feature a flash of psychic knowledge – one of Lark’s Knowings (like the incident with Rosalie’s bracelet) – that will color each episode. The Knowing may relate to Lark’s mother’s missing person case and dovetail into a related thematic storyline with a person or issue at school, or within the community – or vice versa. In the pilot episode, for example, the Knowing that starts with Rosalie’s bracelet, leads Lark to a revelation about the infidelity within her own parents’ relationship. Both girls have to deal with that issue in their home lives, and the loss of Rosalie’s mother foreshadows the disappearance of Joy.
SEASON ONE ARC and TENTPOLE EVENTS
Throughout the season, Lark’s Knowings will reveal flashes of psychic information that seem to relate to Joy’s disappearance, but are so fragmented that she’s unable to make sense of them. Lark will have to fully embrace her ability, practice it, and expand it in order to find her mother.
Over the course of Season One, the details of what happened the night Joy went missing will be parsed out in obscure Knowings that will only start to add up toward the end of the season. In sequence, here are those beats:
• At the restaurant, a waiter hands Joy the phone, and when she thanks him, she sees a spirit clinging to him. The spirit tells her that the waiter is a murderer. Joy, in a trance, says, “I know what you did.”
• Embarrassed, the waiter quickly excuses himself. A patron accuses Joy of being a nut from Lily Dale, and others express their disdain. Someone threatens to call the police, and Joy stumbles out of the restaurant.
• The waiter, lurking in a dark side street, abducts her before she can get to Christine, waiting in the car.
• The waiter takes Joy deep into the woods, beats her, strips her clothes and ID, and throws her into a bracken-filled stream, believing she’s dead. During the beating, Joy sends her spirit out of her body, which then goes cold and lifeless.
• Joy regains consciousness when a different spirit enters her body. She staggers out of the woods, in the opposite direction from Lily Dale.
• Joy spends some time in a mental hospital in a catatonic state until she “recovers” and reenters the world to live as someone other than Joy Britton.
Despite not knowing what has happened to her mother, Lark must continue to live her life. Here is the general shape of the season, including some tentpole events:
• Lark Crosses Boundaries: A Knowing will enable Lark to clear Micah’s name from a shoplifting incident, and resolve the traumatic issue that compels him to steal. Because she’s helped an A-lister, she’ll be able to cross social boundaries and change some people’s minds about her and her powers. Students volunteer to help her distribute flyers for the missing Joy. As Lark slowly starts to chip away at the preconceived notions that abound within the school, she becomes motivated to be more public and spirited in defending her friends and herself. Her newly-earned cred and bolder attitude angers Piper, whose infallibility quotient is lessened. She gets vicious on Facebook, and Lark’s friends experience collateral damage from Piper’s vindictive actions.
• Dakota Caves to Pressure: Dakota takes the persecution pretty hard, and arranges what she tells her friends is a peacemaking heart–to–heart with Piper. Lark, Rosalie and Elias warn her not to trust Piper. What they don’t know is that Dakota is willing to “switch sides” in order to escape Piper’s wrath. Piper sees this as an opportunity to get dirt on Lark, and she welcomes Dakota’s offer of friendship, and considers her a new “project”. Dakota basks in this (falsely) effusive new friendship.
• Christine is a Suspect: With Joy gone, Lark moves out of Lily Dale and in with Christine. They meet with some private investigators, but are stunned when Christine is brought in for questioning by the police – some clue casts her in the light of a possible suspect in the case. A Knowing triggered by an object at the police station connects Lark to a cop on the case, who feels badly that, while she’s has insight into how he might resolve an issue of trauma, he’s been unable to help her with the case. Christine isn’t arrested, but remains a person of interest, causing a huge rift in her relationship Lark.
At Brockton High, Weedge, who has been very successful at keeping his heritage hidden, continues to keep his distance from Lark. She can’t figure him out. She’s gone through this major trauma, she helped his best friend, and he still acts like he has no connection to her. She figures he’s turned into a first class jerk.
• Weedge Can’t Deny his Psychic Ability: The planchette on Weedge’s board moves on its own, trying to deliver yet another message that he ignores. He goes to a party with Piper, Micah and other A-listers. Piper ditches him when Corey shows up, and Weedge proceeds to get wasted while some of his buddies party hard, binge drinking. One of them passes out, and while the rest of the crowd laughs, Weedge tries to rouse him – but the kid is dead from alcohol poisoning. Weedge is wracked with guilt. He could have prevented this.
Lark hears about this and softens toward Weedge, but he still keeps to himself. She’s unaware of the strong attraction he feels toward her.
• Lark and Weedge Reconnect: The Ouija board keeps pushing messages in front of him. It forces him to face up to the importance of Lark in his life, and he realizes where his heart lies. Weedge breaks up with Piper, and she uses Facebook page to malign him and expose his heritage. Weedge is “outed” and Lark offers friendship (not without a little good natured payback).
• Cold Case: After an exhaustive search, the cop with whom Lark connected shows her what he believes to be irrefutable evidence that Joy is dead. Lark is allowed to touch the evidence, but gets undecipherable psychic images that are no help. There’s no choice for the police but to declare Joy’s disappearance a cold case. This is devastating news, as the large-scale search for Joy is called off. Lark and Weedge consult the Board, which gives a message that Joy is not dead.
• An Ally: Neither Lark’s powers, nor those of the Lily Dale mediums, give clear insight to Joy’s disappearance. Cora suggests Lark avail herself of a new, visiting medium. During the session Lark understands the clue that implicated Christine, and reconnects with the cop on the case in order to clear Christine’s name. She’s successful at that, and also in resolving the traumatic issue for the cop, which makes him a believer in psychic powers – not a cool thing for a cop, but a good alliance for Lark’s family.
Up to this point, Christine’s efforts to reach out to Lark have been rebuffed, but now Lark reciprocates, and apologizes for doubting her. Christine is thankful to have her name officially cleared, but she’s more thankful to have Lark back in her life.
• Lark Possessed: Lark embraces the need to gain more psychic power, and reaches out to Griff to strengthen her abilities. Griff teaches her dangerous methods, and Weedge objects – he thinks she’s on risky ground with Griff, but Lark won’t listen to his warnings. She uses Griff’s psychomanteum (mirrored room) where a dark spirit enters her body. “Lark” gets behind the wheel and tries to leave Lily Dale, but the road seems to shift so that no matter which turn she makes, and she’s unable to escape. Weedge appears on his motorcycle, chases her down and brings her home. For several hours, Lark is no longer Lark. When she finally recovers, with the help of several mediums, Lark suspects this same thing happened to Joy.
Prompted by Weedge’s concern about Griff, Rosalie and Elias dig into the history of Lily Dale. They find info on Weedge’s ancestors (the fraudulent Fox sisters), and hints to the connection between Elias’ family and Cora.
• Stalkers: Dakota wants to help, but Lark, Rosalie, Elias — and especially Weedge — don’t trust her anymore, due to her friendship with Piper. Dakota is hurt that she can’t be part of both groups. At home, the hurt is deepened when she receives hateful messages on Facebook from a disguised sender, calling her a traitor. At school, it seem like there are many potential cyber-haters who could have it out for Dakota. She turns to Lark, and when they touch, a Knowing that hints at who might be persecuting Dakota, also offers a clue about Joy. Is it a cruel person, or a dark spirit, at work in Dakota and Joy’s lives?
Christine is increasingly conflicted about Lark’s renewed search for Joy, and her headstrong pursuit of a stronger psychic power. Of course she understands and supports her daughter’s need for closure, but feels it’s best that they both start to rebuild their lives.
• Divorce: The sad fact is that with Joy gone, Christine is free, and that’s something she needs and wants. Christine lets Lark know she’s in a new relationship, with a man, and she’s going to file for divorce from Joy. Lark can’t believe this turn of events, especially now that Christine’s name has been cleared, and feels betrayed all over again. Lark feels like she’s lost both parents. The break in their relationship is irreparable. With no other place to go, she moves back in with Cora.
Ellen Gurney, C/O Bob Hohman, Gersh Agency LA and Dana Jackson, REDManagement, 11 WGA Registration number 1554920
• Lark and Weedge Find Joy: With her improved power, and Weedge’s psychic insights, they follow clues to a nearby county and locate Joy. They learn that she wandered there, nearly catatonic and unable to communicate. Once she recovered, she had no memory of her former life. She found a job and lives a new life – no longer the Joy that anyone knows. She doesn’t remember that she is Lark’s mother. Lark knows a different spirit inhabits her mother’s body.
Joy’s Personality While Possessed • Fearless; takes risks; hangs out in dangerous places • Secretive • Quick tempered and confrontational
By the end of the season, many elements will be in play. Christine will have filed for divorce, and will be estranged from Lark. Despite Lark’s efforts to help her, Dakota will undergo a radical personality change and officially break with the D-Listers to become Piper’s best friend. Lark and Weedge will be an official couple. Lark is faced with the return of her mother who, possessed by a strange spirit, denies being her mother. Rosalie and Elias will uncover disturbing information about why Lily Dale is a vortex for psychic phenomena. There are dark forces at work, they are somehow connected to Weedge and Lark’s ancestors, and have deep roots in the community of mediums.
DEEPER MYTHOLOGY AND STAKES FOR SEASONS TO COME
Like Sedona, Stonehenge, Ayer’s Rock and other places across the globe, there’s a gathering of energy in Lily Dale that is unexplained. The early spiritualists believed the woods were the spiritual vortex for the community, and one special tree emitted the strongest energy of all. All that remains of that tree is what is now known as Inspiration Stump. People feel an unusual power around the stump, and mediums believe the energy here provides a gateway for clearer visions and easier spirit communication.
But why is the stump a stump? Why was it cut down, sealed off and surrounded by an iron gate? Why do the mediums no longer touch it?
In the late 1800’s, when fake mediums (like the Fox Sisters, Weedge’s ancestors) were exposed, it was believed that evil spirits were at work within the community. Lark’s ancestors, the Brittons, felt the only way to stop this was to seal off the spiritual gateway – the tree. They believed that an authentic medium could still “receive spirit” despite the focal point of the vortex being weakened, and they instigated cutting down and sealing the tree – turning it into a stump. Over the years, despite the efforts of the true psychics, the appearance of fakes and self-serving mediums has allowed spirits to find and pass through weak spots in the seal.
Of course, spirits with unfinished business communicate all the time with the mediums at Lily Dale. But some lost spirits, those not at rest, exist in the In Between — and they want more than communication. They want another shot at life. With the seal broken, those desperate and unhappy spirits escape into this world.
Those lost spirits attach themselves to living people who are weak, lost and unhappy — and there are plenty of those. These spirits want to possess a living person and “live happily ever after.”
Cora knows this is happening, and it’s why she’s overjoyed to be joined by two more strong, authentic psychics – Joy and Lark. Cora could be considered the archangel of mediums, leading the resistance against the dark forces.
Griff knows this is happening, and it’s why he’s trying to find a way into the In Between, although it’s not clear what his intentions are. The questions about his alliance: does he want to help lost spirits find resolution, or does he want to align himself with dark forces in exchange for power, and what exactly is he training Lark for, will stay alive throughout the series.
What does all this mean for Lark and Weedge, descendants of ancient enemies? Although Fox blood has always hated Britton blood, they learn they can change all that. It’s up to them to seal the gateway forever, stop the influx of lost spirits from possessing the living, and restore balance by sending the lost souls to the next plane of existence.
If they fail, then Evil (yes, capital E) wins, because the lost spirits are pawns in the classic battle between Good and Evil – the battle for the souls of mankind. Elias pieces together the role that each of them, including their circle of friends, plays in this ancient battle. Each of them fulfills a classic archetype, and lines up either on the side of good or evil. But psychic forces, and their own human emotions are also in the mix, ensuring that alliances will shift and change.
In the final episodes of the series:
• Lark will learn that once one gateway has been opened to lost spirits, others will follow.
• Cora’s life will be cut short sooner than anyone could dream.
• Griff will be revealed to have taken all his actions in service of good, and sacrifice himself in order to help Lark and Weedge seal off the gateway forever.
• Weedge’s father will emerge as the embodiment of the dark spirits, and Weedge will be able to free him from his possession.
Ellen Gurney, C/O Bob Hohman, Gersh Agency LA and Dana Jackson, REDManagement, 13 WGA Registration number 1554920
• Joy will be freed from her possession, and will resume taking medication, electing to be cut off forever from her psychic powers.
• Lark will take over Cora’s archangel role, and learn that her destiny is forever united with Weedge.
This Treatment by Ellen Gurney, C/O Bob Hohman, Gersh Agency LA and Dana Jackson, REDManagement, WGA Registration number 1554920
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Awesome art (not connected to the treatment) is “A Tale of Last Chances” by Aaron Jasinski.