Watching Avengers: Endgame, I noticed the movie spent the first hour showing the characters reacting/processing what had happened in Infinity War. This makes sense. They just lost their biggest battle against their biggest foe and saw the biggest genocide take place in the universe.
Compare this to Game of Thrones season 8 episode 4. In episode 3, the North were facing the biggest, baddest army of the dead. Every character lamented their looming deaths. Then the long night came. And went with the North victorious. Yay! Episode 4 begins and they spend the first five minutes burning their fallen heroes in massive funeral pyres. Great. Now let’s party it up and drink like it’s 1999. That’s actually what happened. They drank and drank, people fornicated, and a big blonde woman lost her virginity. Uh...
In storytelling, scenes should have consequences, good or bad. Otherwise, why show them? Then there needs to be an equal reaction to the weight of that scene. For example, if a guy get’s the date with the girl of his dreams, that’s great. However, the fact that he’s taking the girl of his dreams out on a date begins to weigh down on him. He might stress over how to dress, feel incompetent, or wonder if he can keep the conversation going. Worst yet, does he go for the kiss? If he doesn’t, he might look like a wimp. If he does, then he might be moving too fast.
GoT episode 4 spends almost no time processing that win. No one talks about the health of their armed forces, takes account of their resources, or wonders if they are capable of beating their next foe. Taking the time to surmise the state of things can up the tension for the viewers and present problems that the characters have to tackle. They can still party and have sex, but save it for later though. Much later. At least let the smoke from the funeral pyres clear.
I was listening to a podcast about GoT’s recent episodes and how they sucked. Most of what they said could be argued either way. But a commenter made an important point: Good stories show “this happened because that happened”. Instead, the recent episodes showed that this happened, then this happened, then this happened, etc. In writing, there’s a structure in storytelling called MRU’s, motivation reaction units. The motivation can be summed up as a goal. Whether that goal is reached or not will result in how the character will react. Here the character spends time thinking about what happened and discovers the next goal, which leads to further action until that new goal is either met or not met. Another reaction ensues. And on and on. Using MRUs makes it easy to structure your scenes and helps the viewer and reader understand what’s going on. Because this is how we live life. We all have goals. We all celebrate our wins or lick our wounds. And then we move on. Hopefully.