Start > Middle > Finale vs Finale > Start > Middle > Finale (full)
Effective? Ineffective? Possibly disputable but opening scenes are one of the biggest pros and cons for any show since it’s the first thing your eyes see and they become the first impression you get out of it. Not all shows have over the top opening scenes (would that be something) to brag about but having one is a surefire way to get the viewer’s attention is by showing them something that will catch their attention no matter what.
You know something that gets me? When a show has a scene from the end as their opening scene. It’s something. Maybe not the very last one as it’d be too much of an spoiler to bear but a scene close to it.
Aside from a show’s premise what do we know about it? Main character, a problem arises, something is about to start (or end). They are musts for a story to feel complete and make sense, which the show will eventually explain as it goes. When we’re unspoiled of any kind, knowing nothing whatsoever of the show, that is great. When the viewer is ready to experience something new, then it happens. The movie just starts and there it is – the end. Starting with a scene of the end in the highest form of direct foreshadowing like a premonition like we saw something we shouldn’t.
Who are these people? Why are they (or not) doing that? Based on the little information I couldn’t know and you couldn’t know either. Scenes of dark rooms, out in the open, ones where character is out of himself or herself or maybe the world just ended or something has gone really wrong – absolutely nothing makes sense. Before we know it the show moves back to the very beginning and the story starts as if everything has reset to the very beginning when it in fact it hasn’t because the movie just started.
Opposite to the more standard format of Start > middle part > Finale, everyone is used to, starting with the End (or very close) works out differently and has a strong effect depending on the viewer. This technique operates drastically different by introducing us to the final scenes before kicking things off and transforming it into a Finale > Beginning > Middle > Complete Final. This way we go around counterclockwise by starting with the shocking final scenes moving to the beginning so the show gets back on track to the traditional routine and proceed as planned. The rest is well known history.
On the other hand, there it is also – the already knowing “how the movie is going to end” more or less. When shows start with a scene of the finale there goes the big surprise of “not knowing the conclusion” and no bigger hints are necessary to the big finale. When giving that much info it’s usually enough to figure out how the how is going to turn out. It can sometimes backfire when it wasn’t desirable or expected by the viewer.
At the high risk of spoiling the audience too much, using this technique works great as a real attention grabber, that I have to agree. It’s a surefire to get catch the viewers’ attention. Personally, I’m always interested in finding out what a show is about when they’re introduced to me in this way because of its efficiency and element of surprise. The scene is introduced right away the movie is played and Lo and behold. I don’t know how it happened but I’m now sure that event will definitely happen. The intentional spoiler works as intended. The show intentionally spoils the viewers by giving them a little taste, sneak peak, look into the future of the show’s finale and getting them ready for the show. Probably by this time I’m already subscribing to the show.
What’s fascinating about it? Making sense of it. How the main story gets to that point where everything tells us otherwise. There’s no way it could end like that, right? But it’s still going to happen anyway unless something drastically changes or in most cases that’s how the story goes. What is great about technique is that its best selling point is the story’s development without a doubt. What isn’t so great about it is that takes a portion of the later shocking factor and near conclusion by introducing at the beginning as an opener. What’s more important is how these shows are constructed, how the current events led up to the final conclusion and putting all the effort on making the show’s story and characters stand out in the best ways possible so the finale’s final conclusion stills shines for the ultimate form of foreshadowing.