Workshop Wednesday

Today we start in on the final complete episode I have written for The Follower (although even after I'm done posting this episode over the coming weeks I'll still share the unfinished bits as well). This episode caps the opening trilogy of episodes that would have launched the series. We get a good conclusion to Etiquette's arc (for now), and the heroes are kick-started into being real heroes. Well, more or less.

Readers that are keeping up with note that this episode shares a few scenes with the unfinished bonus episode I shared last week. Some bits were reworked while most of that episode was ditched for a different dynamic. It does nicely illustrate how projects can evolve over time.

Remember to catch up on the previous adventures of The Follower in the Works of Mike FinkelsteinWhat's that, you want to read various creative works from Asteroid G Lead Editor Mike Finkelstein? Well, if that's what you want... archive before reading this section.

The Follower: Episode 3, Part 1

"Etiquette Goes Down"

EXT: CITY STREETS, FOLLOWER VAN, DAY.

The Follower Van, with FOLLOWER, APATHY, and OBVIOUS all inside, is tearing down the highway chasing a black van (clearly the vehicle for some villains).

OBVIOUS:

He's getting ahead of us!

FOLLOWER:

I really can't push this much faster!

APATHY:

We're only going 40, FOLLOWER.

FOLLOWER:

Yeah, but the speed limit is 35.

APATHY:

Just floor it, man.

SFX: Engine revving, as FOLLOWER floors it.

The speedometer notches up and the vans picks up speed. Then, in the rear view mirror, we see police lights.

SFX: Police sirens, getting louder as the cops catch up to the Follower van.

The van slows down and FOLLOWER pulls over.

FOLLOWER:

We're criminals.

APATHY:

*sigh*

OBVIOUS:

It's only a speeding ticket.

We see the COP get out of his vehicle and walk up to the van. There's a knock on the window.

SFX: Knock knock.

COP:

Do you know how fast you were going?

FOLLOWER:

Yes, fifty, but you see, we were chasing someone.

The COP pauses, and then gets a more aggressive attitude.

COP:

Step out of the van.

The heroes pile out. The Officer pulls out his walkie and calls for backup.

FOLLOWER:

Sir, as a defender of the law, you would agree criminals must be caught, and you can't catch them without chasing them down first.

COP:

Criminals?

OBVIOUS:

Sir, maybe I should explain. See, a lot's been going on today.

OPENING CREDIT SEQUENCE

EXT: CITY STREETS, FOLLOWER VAN, DAY.

Scene open, comic book style, on a shot of the heroes and the cop on the side of the road. We shift to the more realistic style as the scene animates and cars start to go past at relatively high speeds.

OBVIOUS:

I can only relate that which I've been able to figure out and can assume happened, but, when you hear the facts, I do think it will be plainly obvious just what happened.

INT: ETIQUETTE'S CLUB, BACK OFFICE, NIGHT.

ETIQUETTE is behind the desk in his office in a deep discussion with BRUISE (standing off to one side) and ENEMY (sitting nonchalantly on the desk).

OBVIOUS (V.O.):

There's the criminals-

FOLLOWER (V.O.):

Villains.

OBVIOUS (V.O.):

Right, and they had this whole big plan in motion...

ETIQUETTE:

Are we all ready?

ENEMY:

Communication with the local authorities has been established. They will have the requested finances in a black carry-all bag hidden in a refuse receptacle in a local garden spot favored by the city's residents.

BRUISE:

Wha...?

ENEMY:

The bag with the cash will be in the park in a garbage can.

BRUISE:

Ah, right.

ETIQUETTE:

And you know what you're supposed to do, BRUISE?

EXT: CITY STREETS, FOLLOWER VAN, DAY.

COP:

Wait wait, which one of you is the BRUISE?

OBVIOUS:

None of us. He's one of the villains.

COP:

And you know just what they said? How? Bugging device?

OBVIOUS:

Just an educated guess. Deduction of the facts lays open the most obvious of stories.

APATHY:

He's big on the obvious stuff.

INT: ETIQUETTE'S CLUB, BACK OFFICE, NIGHT.

ETIQUETTE:

And you know what you're supposed to do, BRUISE?

BRUISE:

Yeah. I got it covered boss. I go down to the park and scout it out. Make sure the bag aint bein watched. If the coast looks clear, I grab the bag and head back to base. If the bag is marked, I drive far away and call in.

ETIQUETTE:

Good. Once the money is in my hands, we can then call the authorities and establish a drop off point for Ms. Steingarden.

The villains then wait, taping their feet and looking at their watches while we're interrupted with more voice overs.

COP (V.O.):

The woman with that show where she makes weird things out of household stuff? They were the ones that kidnapped her?

OBVIOUS (V.O.):

Yes. Was that not clear from the conversation?

ENEMY:

I still doubt they will just let us have the money. There's going to be undercover officers all over the drop point.

ETIQUETTE:

I don't think that's likely. Their primary goal is to get the hostage back safely. They'll pay us and let us drop her somewhere.

ENEMY:

How can you be so sure?

ETIQUETTE:

I gave them my word as a gentleman that if they did things as I stated, Ms. Steingarden would be returned safely.

ENEMY just looks at him like he's an idiot.

ENEMY:

You're a criminal. Your word is less than worthless to the authorities.

ETIQUETTE:

Not my word. My word as a gentleman. That has weight in polite society.

ETIQUETTE then turns to BRUISE.

ETIQUETTE:

How is Ms. STEINGARDEN?

INT: ETIQUETTE'S CLUB, BASEMENT CELLS, NIGHT.

We get a shot of STEINGARDEN and the PA in the cell decorating. They've currently disassembled everything in the cell and are taking stock of their new "inventory."

STEINGARDEN:

We have enough fabric for some lovely throw pillows... about two I think.

PA:

Two throw pillows, check.

STEINGARDEN:

And these curtains will make a wonderful, hand-woven rug.

PA:

Rug, check.

STEINGARDEN:

If only I had a sewing machine, we could rebuild this wood frame into a couch and make a proper covering for it. Well, we'll see what I can come up with. Mark down a couch.

PA:

Couch, check.

EXT: CITY STREETS, FOLLOWER VAN, DAY.

COP:

How do you know all this?

APATHY:

Let the man tell his story.

INT: ETIQUETTE'S CLUB, BACK OFFICE, NIGHT.

BRUISE:

She seems fine boss. Her and her assistant turned their cell into a pretty swank lounge, although they keep insisting it's a... sitting room, I think. They had this bell and they kept ringing it, demanding tea. I had them moved to another cell. Oh, and I took the bell.

ETIQUETTE:

You moved them? Were you afraid they were trying to escape?

BRUISE:

Nah. I actually said something about that and she just looked at me. She was like, (in a mocking voice) "why would I escape when I have all these projects to work on." The boys liked the first cell so much, I gave her another cell to work on.

OBVIOUS (V.O.):

That's the setup from the villains. Of course, for a good portion of the day we were oblivious as to what was going on.

INT: FOLLOWER'S APARTMENT, MAIN ROOM, DAY.

We see FOLLOWER, OBVIOUS, and APATHY lounging about in their apartment. It looks like a dorm apartment from college with junk littered around. The main room has standard issue hand-me-down furniture with no decorative theme or style. A couple of movie posters hang on the walls and it's plainly obvious most of the money these guys make they sink into their entertainment center which is well stocked and fairly close to state-of-the-art.

The guys are watching a space show. The "bad ships" are attacking the "good ships", and then one of the bad ships explodes in a fireball.

SFX: Space explosions.

The TV goes to commercial.

OBVIOUS:

See, this is what irritates me about most sci-fi today. It's unrealistic. If that had occurred in space, there would be little or no fire, and certainly no noise.

FOLLOWER:

That doesn't sound very exciting.

OBVIOUS:

It'd be more realistic. I mean, we watch action flicks, and you guys complain as much as I do when the action looks fake or staged. This is the same way.

FOLLOWER:

Yeah, but, the average person doesn't know any better. Likely they'd just get bored by the fact that everything in space was quiet and there weren't big budget explosions.

OBVIOUS:

Still...

The TV switches to the news.

MUSIC: Snappy news theme.

Show on the TV opens on a news studio decorated in blues and silver. A big WWTE 7 stands in the background.

BARRY JONES (ON TV):

Welcome to the 7 o'clock news. I'm Barry Jones. Our top story-

Standard picture in picture of Marsha Steingarden pops up.

BARRY JONES (ON TV):

The kidnappers of Marsha Steingarden have been in contact with the-

TV is turned off. Apathy throws the remote on the table.

OBVIOUS:

Eventually, we may want to start actually watching the news.

APATHY:

I get bored easy. Sue me. What's the plan for tonight?

FOLLOWER:

Tonight! We-

APATHY:

Wait, lemme guess: patrol.

FOLLOWER:

It is what we should do.

APATHY:

Yeah, well, at least I can see how the new van handles. Take it out for a spin.

OBVIOUS reaches for the remote and turns the TV back on.

BARRY JONES (ON TV):

In other news-

EXT: CITY PARK, AFTERNOON.

BRUISE is driving slowly through the park. He pulls to a stop near an open grassy area and turns off his vehicle.

BRUISE:

Just three hours now...

He looks around, lights a cigarette, sits back, and waits.

BRUISE:

Three more hours...

He sits up, checks his watch, smokes.

BRUISE:

This is gonna take a while. I'm getting a burger.

SFX: Car engine starting up.

BRUISE starts up his vehicle and drives off.

INT: FOLLOWER'S APARTMENT, MAIN ROOM, DAY.

OBVIOUS:

About the only show that treats space travel with any real thought to the actual science of space is Firefly, and we see where that show ended up.

APATHY:

Why does it really matter? We all know if the show sucks, no attention to detail, scientific or otherwise will rescue it.

OBVIOUS:

Well, Firefly was good, but yes, in general, a bad show will be a bad show no matter what. More attention to detail, though, could help lift an otherwise decent show to greatness.

APATHY just shrugs.

APATHY:

Anyone feel like some food before we patrol.

OBVIOUS and FOLLOWER nod in agreement.

FOLLOWER:

What should we make?

APATHY:

Make?

FOLLOWER:

Yeah, in the kitchen.

APATHY gives him a fearful look (at least, by APATHY's standards).

INT: FOLLOWER'S APARTMENT, KITCHEN, DAY.

We get a lovely panned shot into the kitchen, which we see is an absolute mess, dishes stacked everywhere, and possibly something moving in the sink, which the BLACK CAAT is batting at playfully.

INT: FOLLOWER'S APARTMENT, MAIN ROOM, DAY.

FOLLOWER:

Whose turn was it to clean the kitchen?

The other two look at APATHY. He seems unperturbed.

APATHY:

Who's up for a burger?

FADE TO BLACK.

COMMERCIAL BREAK.

End Episode 3, Part 1:

I like the dynamic of this episode a lot. The early section, with the story bouncing between three time periods, gives the episode an interesting flow and allows for humor to be derived from the setup. I don't remember how long I keep that up for, but I have a feeling most of it fall away by the middle act once all the timelines quickly merge. Still, it's a great setup and gets the viewer into the action quickly.

Of course, I also start the episode in medias res, having a lot of the plot happen earlier in the timeline to the opening chase sequence. I do like doing that in many of my stories, starting things off in the middle of a climactic moment before bounding back. It's trope that can be overused, to be sure, but if handled properly it doesn't spoil too much while also hooking a viewer in with a quick burst of action.

Next time we pick up with the confrontation between Team Follower and the Bruise. More action, more humor, more Follower. Same Follower Time, Same Follower Channel.