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Spec Flashpoint – Part One (C)

Part One: Breaking it
C – Thoughts on Structure

We have now thoroughly broke down 3 Flashpoint episodes.
With a quick glance at other FP episodes, I think it is safe to assume we can begin to make a few observations about a standard FP episode structure.

The teaser scene is always the pivotal point of the episode, and the main stand-off between the antagonist(s) and the SRU.
Everything in the episode revolves around that key moment:
Either happening before (Act One/Two), during (Act Three), or right after (Act Four). Act Five usually sums up thematic/emotional/personal problems encountered during the episode with hints at further repercussions.
Notice that the teaser is attached to the first act, the bridge between the two being the “flashback flash”, not an ad break.

Also, often, but not always (cf 1×09), the teaser scene is the “end” of the main situation/stand-off:
1×01: Greg was calling ‘Scorpio’ and Ed was about to shoot.
1×08: The “Hostage situation” was about to end and lead to a short “Suicide situation”
1×09: The exception that proves the rule. The episode could be divided into 2 parts, one before the SRU entering the house, and one during the assault. The teaser was actually the end of that first part, and mislead us to think the kidnapper was going to kill the 17-year old girl.

Since the teaser is that important, let’s do a quick sum-up of the various antagonists and how they were portrayed in their teasers:

A loose gunman at a Plaza.
Teaser: Crazy gunman holding at gunpoint a hostage.

A man takes hostage a hospital ward to save his dying daughter who needs a heart.
Teaser: The father, surrounded by the SRU, holds at gunpoint a dying patient.

A drug-bust turns haywire when an ex-junkie gets involved.
Teaser: Ex-junkie held at gunpoint by drug dealer.

A woman tries to protect her sister from her abusive cop husband with a “permanent” solution.
Teaser: The woman holds at gunpoint the husband.

The SRU is called in to negotiate with a bank robber, who has hostages.
Teaser: A masked man with a woman as a hostage gets out of a surrounded bank, ready to kill her.

A bullied girl turns on the dangerous gang tormenting her in the middle of a mall.
Teaser: The bullied girl is about to kill herself.

A violent youth comes to take his younger brother from their controlling father.
Teaser: Family held at gunpoint by troubled older brother.

A desperate ex-con taking hostages at a tribunal.
Teaser: Hostage (Ed) held at gunpoint by felon.

A girl kidnapped for 8 years stands-off against the SRU to protect her kidnapper.
Teaser: A misleading teaser where supposedly the kidnapper is about to execute the kidnapped girl.

See any similarities between the various stories and teasers?
Words that are popping out?

You can also quickly notice that the teaser can be sometimes misleading (1×04, 1×06, 1×09).

Let’s deal with the acts now.

Act One and Act Two serve as gateway to the teaser scene, as we see what has led to this event. Not only from the antagonist’s viewpoint (A story) but also from SRU’s (Ab/B story), especially one of the SRU team member (C story).
As we come closer to the pivotal scene, all the story come together, leaving room only for the A and B story, with a lot of intercutting between the various stories, and beats lasting seconds not minutes: the action is palpable.

Act Three extends the key point of the episode, while still maintaining this dual viewpoint between the antagonist(s) and the SRU. By this point everything about the original teaser sequence should be clear to the viewer.
A last twist punctuates this third act to bring us to Act Four, the final act regarding the stand-off/situation between the SRU and the antagonist.

Everything is finally resolved by Act Five, although aftershocks can still be felt.
This final act sums up the episode while the “A story” dissolves little by little to allow the B and C stories final thoughts, leaving us wondering what will happen next for the SRU.

Three things must be noted about any given Flashpoint episode:

– A “Case of the Week”, symbolized by the teaser scene.
As you saw in the 3 breakdowns, I always named my “A story” thanks to the events that transpired in the teaser.
In the case of Episode 1×09, for the sake of clarity, I broke the A story into an A and a B story (“A” being everything around the teaser scene – pre-assault, “B” everything happening during the assault).
Although SRU’s POV of the event (normally the B story) was always named the “Ab story”.

– Also happening each episode is a focus on one (or two) SRU characters: the “SRU Character of the Week”.
Usually a background storyline (C/D story) that still permeates through the global SRU storyline (Ab/B story). Whether by dialogue or action.
The pilot episode, while still having to present to us the SRU, dealt mainly with Ed’s personal life. On the scene, he was the one who had to shoot the gunman.
Episode 1×08 also was centered around Ed, dealing with the repercussions (both legal and psychological) of his actions during the pilot episode. He was also taken hostage by the felon.
Episode 1×09 was all about Jules and Greg, both having personal problems. In the house, Jules had to talk down Penny, with the help of Greg.

– And last but not least, we have in almost every FP episode a musical montage.
This occurs during the last 4 to 6 scenes of the episode (Act Five) and is not specifically written in the script (at least it wasn’t on the pilot script). The last scenes should be therefore very brief (about a paragraph) with no dialogue, and more visually thematic.
For instance the final scene of 1×08 is the felon putting a candle on his lover’s grave: the circle is complete.

Even in Episode 1×09, where there is dialogue and not a clear musical montage, you can hear in the background the main song (“Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”) of the episode — linked to the character on screen (Penny).

A list of the songs played during each FP episode is available here.


  • The Teaser is always the key scene of the episode, symbolizing the “Case of the Week”. Mostly the stand-off between antagonist and SRU. Although its purpose can sometimes be to mislead the viewer. Let’s not forget also that the teaser is what will capture your reader’s attention.
  • Act One is a set-up and delves into the antagonist’s past, leading to the situation.
  • Act Two usually ends with the teaser scene.
  • Acts Three and Four resolve the teaser scene and the stand-off/situation.
  • Act Five sums up the episode, closing the “case of the week”, with still hints at future problems (for the SRU team-members), including a musical montage with the last 4-6 scenes of the episode (this montage is not per se written in the script but the last scenes have rarely dialogue and are short).
  • Throughout Acts One and Five can we see scenes focused specifically on one or two particular SRU character(s). All part of a global season-arc for that character. This focus must also be seen in the rest of the episode, whether through dialogue, wiewpoint, or action. Let him/her deal with having to shoot a human being, or talking down a crazy gunman from killing people.

Join us next time, where we will explore in more depth the various SRU characters.

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  1. tramp394

    Excellent show, with movie quality cinematography and also with great storyline & great characters. Overall its a fantastic show.

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