I was watching The Returned last night. For those who have not seen it, there are spoilers ahead. Though if you haven’t watched it, I’m not sure it’s worth your time. I’m still sorting it out.

Quick premise. In this small town, the dead come back to life, and they try dealing with a world that has moved on without them.

The show sets up a few character arcs. A woman who was nearly murdered finds a boy who she takes care of. The boy is psychotic and was murdered nearly 30 years ago. A dead girl comes back six years after her death and tries to fit in with her friends. A woman killed by a dam breaking is trying to drown the city, to purge it of its evil.

Overall, The Returned wraps up a lot of the stories. The woman with the psycho ghost boy leaves him behind and survives. Most people die when they let him go. The sixteen year old girl is sort of accepted by her peers, though one stabs her. The other one stabs her, but in that way you want to be stabbed.

Then there’s the woman who wants to blow up the dam to drown the city.

Keep in mind, they created plot hooks for season 2. They were in place. A few final episode reveals did an amazing job of setting up season 2.

So the crazy woman, she was actually clinically insane before her death, has all the explosives set. She’s fighting ghosts so she can light the fuse. She gets a match to light, and the match goes out. That’s the last we see of her.

The thing is, this is a plot arc that started a long time ago. Everyone during the final episode is on high alert because the dead are totally poking at the living that the dam is about to blow up. When one man has a vision that the dam is about to break, we cut to credits. What?

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Francis (c) 2005

This is why I don’t read single issues of comic books. It’s why I have trust issues.

Finish your story arcs. GRRM finishes his story arcs. In A Game of Thrones (spoilers), we find out Robert Baratheon has no kids and the twins are bumping uglies. In Clash of Kings, we watch the Stark kingdom fall.

Meanwhile the white walkers are the string that all the plots hang on. They are the long term story that will creep up from time to time until there will be some stunning conclusion. Thinking out loud. What if Westeros is abandoned? What if the white walkers win and Westeros departs to live in Braavos? That would be cool. Sorry, tangent.

Fortunately, if you want a traditional publisher, this is a slight that writers are rarely allowed to get away with, as compared to a series which is trying as dirty as possible to hook you into the next season. Even the worst novel I’ve plausibly ever dove into which had a traditional publisher still had a beginning, middle, and end, while finishing off the story arc it pushed forward.

So why say this? I’m warning you. Don’t get tempted. Finish your story primary story arc while placing bread crumbs for future stories.

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