Reassessing The Sicario Analysis

You can't have a Goal without Consequences--negative repercussions of failing to resolve the inequity.

Reflecting on my recent analysis of Sicario, I believe I was innacurate in regards to the Story Outcome of Success. Originally I wrote:

Kate…reassess[es] her position on activities near the border changing the present day situation in favor of the U.S. (Story Goal of The Present and *Story Outcome: Success).

This would mean that the Overall Story Solution of Re-evaluation would also be put in place. Unfortuantely, I don't think that happened. And while it is true that Graver and his crew were able to complete their mission, I think the intent of the Author was to show that nothing had really changed.

The key proof of this lies in that final scene where the son of the corrupt policeman plays soccer. As the child's widowed mother and neighbors watch, gunfire erupts in the streets of Juárez. The look on the parent's faces almost tells of an acknolwedgment that this inequity will continue. That final sequence of events acts as a bookend to our initial introduction to Juárez and the warnings left for those who might consider working with authorities.

Goals & Consequences

Every complete story has an Overall Story Goal and an Overall Story Consequence. You can't have a Goal without a Consequence, otherwise there would be no motivation towards that Goal. If the story ends in Success then the Goal is attained; if the story ends in Failure then the Consequence comes into play.

Stories with a Goal of the Present have a Consequence of Contemplations—and this is precisely what we see with Sicario. Those people left hanging from the steel girders during the extradition sequence? That is a message from the cartels telling the people of Juárez to think before they act. Those "fireworks" at the end that briefly interrupt the children's soccer game? A continuation of that uneasy state-of-mind and a call for the citizens of that border town to think before they contemplate snitching (Overall Story Consequence of Contemplations).

Signposts, Elements, and Storyforms

Interestingly enough this does nothing to change the order of Signposts in the Overall Story. Here you can see the order in a Success story:

Sicario with a Story Outcome of Success

And here you can see the order in a Failure story:

Sicario with a Story Outcome of Failure

The order of Signposts in the other Throughlines, however, do shift. The Influence Character Signpost One switches from Changing One's Nature to Developing a Plan. Alejandro was definitely not dealing with Becoming or Changing One's Nature during the first act. If anything he was there acting as an advisor on how best to plan a strategy to fight the cartels.

The Relationship Signpost Four also switches from Contemplations to Innermost Desires. While it is true there is a signficant amount of consideration forced upon Kate at the end, that is more personal in nature and less about the actual relationship. I think it is more accurate to see their Relationship devolving into a place of fear and terror (a negative desire).

Another significant change lies in the Relationship Story Problem and Solution, Symptom and Response. In a Success story the Relationship Story shares the Symptom and Response with the Overall Story; in a Failure story it shares the Problem and Solution. This means that the Problem that drives the relationship between Kate and Alejandro shifts from Probability to Evaluation. Again, I think it is safer to say that the problems in their relationship begin with their initial assesments of each other; first impressions are everything. And when I think about it even further, just like the Overall Story, the Relationship Throughline fails to reach a successful resolution. The Reevaluation that would bring them together simply doesn't come into play.

Accuracy of the Message

As with all things Dramatica, accuracy in the storyform is more important than getting it right the first time. I once spent seven years on a story that I thought was a Success, but my intuition kept forcing into a Failure. It wasn't until I aligned the storyform with my muse that I was finally able to finish the story properly.