The art of playing the long game

Evan Williamson, Courier Staff

Playing a long game in movies, TV., books, etc. takes a special skill. It also comes with a huge risk because many factors can derail your plans. I mean, how many shows have been canceled, leaving questions unanswered? Most of them you probably wouldn’t count as a long game, but still.

Other factors could be a change of direction of the show for whatever reason and sometimes they just forget. Playing the long game means having a long-term plan or goals or doing things now that set up the future. It’s hard to tell what had been planned unless the writers reveal it later and what just happened by chance, so we aren’t going to worry about that. The long game can be frustrating for a lot of people but the end result is sometimes the best part of the series. I will say that a lot of little hints of the long game here and there are probably just little Easter eggs or just something you can revisit in a story. This is something they do all the time in wrestling. It is very rare that they actually play the long game on purpose, at least over more than a year or so, due to a number of things that can happen, like injuries. An example of WWE using a revisit for a storyline was over the summer when WWE Champion Kofi Kington renewed his rivalry with Randy Orton using their rivalry in 2009 that never really paid off.

There are a decent number of examples for the long game working. I wrote an article last semester of the series a Throne of Glass and one of the things I loved about it was things that were set up in the first book that weren’t revealed until the last one. The teasing of The Thirteen’s redemption was one of my favorite things, not only because I love redemption stories but because at first, the story revolving The Thirteen was boring but that changed quickly.

Fairy Tail is very good at playing the long game. Things that are teased early are revealed over 100 episodes later and you might forget about it, but it is fun to look back and find those things. This is actually a good transition to Doctor Who that has both types of a long game.

Doctor Who also had a problem though the River Song stuff that happened 2008-2015 was hit or miss as it was very confusing at times, and the long game with Amy Pond and Clara Oswald had its moments, but it felt like they tried too hard to put it all together at the end as they ran out of time. It is fun to rewatch episodes of the show and catch things that you missed.

Now for an example of the long game not working, I will say I am behind on Marvel’s Agents of Shield, but I know that the direction of the show changed a bit. Marvel didn’t own X-Men so they decided to go with Inhumans which was a nice change of pace. The first few seasons of the show built up this arc of the Inhumans and it was supposed to lead to the Inhumans movie that was planned as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. For whatever reason, that planned movie turned into a TV series that only lasted a couple of episodes. I believe that the Inhuman stuff is still a thing but it’s no longer the focus. The long game can be hit or miss but when it hits, it hits hard.