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What is it about the middle part of a series or a trilogy that makes it so good?

Of course, the title presumes that everyone likes the middle of a series or a trilogy as much as I do. But don’t you? No? What got me thinking about this was that I finished Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire earlier this week.

I haven’t read the last three of the series yet, but already I know this will be my favorite of the series. Why? Like other series or trilogies, of which I can think off the top of my head, it is the turning point of the series, where usually the series turns darker than it had been previously. Or where the trilogy kicks itself into overdrive.

Let me think about a few examples, in addition to the Harry Potter series:  The Empire Strikes Back (the original Star Wars trilogy, not the fake six-pack that Lucas packaged it in it later), The Two Towers, and, even for me, The Girl Who Played With Fire. While that latter definitely didn’t turn darker, since admittedly it already was dark (um, yeah, just a bit), for me, that book went at a breakneck pace compared to the other two. I almost literally couldn’t put it down. I think I read it straight through in one day.

In both the book and movie form, The Two Towers is my favorite, especially the Battle at Helm’s Deep. For me, that’s where the whole story turns. You knew the battle between good and evil was coming, but when it arrives — oh, boy. Not only are your oars knocked out of the water, the entire rowboat is thrown clear of the lake. There is no shore to row your boat a-to…well, at least, not one you can see right away.

Which leaves The Empire Strikes Back. Just watch up until 2:05:

As Lando sets off into what looks like another galaxy (true Star Wars geeks, please feel free to correct me on what it really is, and prove yourselves the geeks you are), and Luke and Laura — oops, I mean, Leia — along with R2D2 and CP30 watch the Millenium Falcon go, there still is hope. As Luke says to Chewbecca, “May the Force be with you,” and you know The Force cannot be beaten, no matter how grim it appears.

So which part of a series or a trilogy is your favorite? The beginning, the middle or end? Or does it (gasp, I hate to think it) depend on the series?

12 responses to “What is it about the middle part of a series or a trilogy that makes it so good?

  1. Pingback: Taking a break from one series to start another?!?! — and winners of giveaway announced (TSS) | an unfinished person (in this unfinished universe)

  2. I prefer the end. 🙂

  3. “Once upon a time there was a (character) who lived happily every after”

    That’s my kind of story.

    • But is that part of a trilogy? I think that would be the third part. 🙂

      • Well, I like the first part and the end part – they are usually the happy parts.

        The middle has to be so compelling that without it the story would remain incomplete – and there should be no part 3 without part 2.
        And it should never complete a story.

        The two towers is the best example… there is no way that one would simply finish watchin/reading it and say … I had enough.

        The Empire strikes back didn’t do a good job – it completes one story but creates another scenario leading to part 6.

        • I’ll have to disagree with you, my Canadian friend…well, one of my several Canadian friends. 🙂 I think The Empire Strikes Back did a wonderful job. The story wasn’t complete at all, but was just beginning…just as with the Goblet of Fire in the Harry Potter series. Who knew what was going to happen in those final parts? One had to hope it would be good, but wasn’t sure.

  4. I think the middle is compelling simply because the introductory business is out of the way, you know the ‘quest’, you are invested in the characters, and you begin to imagine how the third act might unfold.
    The only time this didn’t happen for me was with the Matrix. Reloaded just fills you with the sense that the story is about to fall apart. And oh boy, does it ever.

    • I think you explain it very well, Wifey. 😉 I also agree with you with The Matrix, although I still like Reloaded, but it’s nowhere near as good as the original — and the third, the Wachowskis should have ended it with the second one.

      I can think of one other book trilogy that I didn’t like the middle one as good as the first one, and that would be The Hunger Games. I thought that the first one was brilliant, but the second and third one didn’t quite “do it” for me. However, that might be because I was on the wrong “team” too.

  5. I think, Bryan, it is quite possible that you are unwell. Really, the middle . . . I guess maybe I can see that if you love what you’re reading/watching so much that you don’t want it to end. . . but especially in movies, I find the lack of rise and fall in action kind of tedious.

    I’m a beginning girl – I love the whole anticipation of what is to come.

    Interesting post though . . . one I”ll ponder a bit more today. Thanks.

    • It is especially in movies that I think the second parts are where the trilogies take off. Also it is that sense of anticipation still, with the directors setting up the grand finale, which usually is not to be missed.

      And no, I’m actually feeling pretty well today. Thanks for asking. 🙂