Warning: Spoilers contained for the original two seasons of Rise prior to Pacer1, spoilers contained for the Rise: Remastered (though none I'm sure you'd mind hearing), and spoilers contained for Season 3 and Season 4 of Rise that you'd probably rather not hear.
Welcome to the State of, a new series that I hope to hold after the seasons to each series come to a close in order to provide insight into the direction- both past and future- of the series being discussed. Today, I want to address the latest two seasons of Rise and what to expect moving forward as we not only enter the fifth season of the series, but also reunite it with its first two seasons. Before we talk about anything relative to the series' future, let's first begin with addressing the past and why the series not only launched on Pacer1 with the start of the third season, but why it nearly died before Pacer1 ever launched.
The Earliest Years of Rise
Premiering in December 2018, the original incarnation of the series spent little time in throwing readers into the post-apocalyptic world of Rise. Beginning with the introduction of protagonist John Callis, his wife Jessica and their only child, and infant daughter named Amy, Rise takes place in a small Connecticut town just as the outbreak responsible for creating the sickening monsters referred to as zombies throughout the series was beginning to take shape. Along the way, readers are made privy to existence of many other characters present throughout the duration of the series, with its first season running for eight episodes.
Notable for only chronicling the events of the first outbreak's first two days, the first season lacks a lot of depth that could provide crucial information to the world it takes place in, instead skipping six months into the future with the premiere of the second season. Beginning with John Callis already appointed to the position of overseeing daily operations within the New World Order, the series' follow-up installment inevitably sees the compound fall to the strength of outside forces. In addition to betrayal and inside-information being leaked, the second season concludes with a drastically different picture of where the stories would take onward. Concluding with the fall of the New World Order and the deaths of some main characters, the second season was chosen to be left behind when the series made the jump onto the Pacer1 platform.
Though it was never written into existence, the third season of the original series would have seen the cast split off into various different, much smaller groups. Some being located north of the American border whilst others would remain close to the original settlement the New World Order had once served as, the third season would have seen the beginning of a series-long travel to reunite as one group. It is this third season that I am glad never saw the light of day.
In addition to suffering from twists I would now see as nonsensical and a poor attempt at providing shock value to a series devoid of true depth, the second season finale especially was one of my most self-critiqued creations yet. The entire sixteen episode slate that comprised the original seasons were written so poorly and with such amateur touch that it would be a sharp contrast from even the earliest material produced by Pacer1- material that, for all its strengths, I deem to be far inferior to the material that the project has still yet to publish. It didn't read like a story, but rather like a poorly strung-out plot synopsis for a television show- truly inexperienced, deeply flawed, and horribly thought out. It was in writing the remastered versions that I took pleasure in knowing that- when the time came where I could legally get away with it- I never had to let those seasons see the light of day once more.
But why could I not legally get away with re-releasing the first two seasons even if I wanted to? Why did I launch Rise with a radically-different third season than the one initially written? The answer is because of another project that I choose not to name. In the time since the original run of Rise, the business seems to no longer be operational. It's not hard to find what the group is if you were to look hard enough, but I personally choose not to spend any moment of my time further than what I already have on them and their operation. Rise, however, was originally written to be released on platforms that they oversaw. It carried the project's name, was made available through their channels and I was not willing to work with them any longer than I already had at some point. In addition to requesting my departure from the project, the individuals in the highest positions of the business chose to do what they could to not only prevent me from writing Rise or Rise-related content under my own banner, but prevent Rise from existing in the first place.
For a specific period of time, I was not legally able to provide additional material to the franchise. If not for perseverance and a well-timed pandemic taking their attention to more-crucial aspects of their operation, Rise would never have made its way to Pacer1. In addition to this, I would not have been able to explore perhaps the most in-depth world I've created to date under any circumstances. RISE and REVOLT would not exist, the characters throughout the series would have never seen redemption from their poorly written origins, and the series itself would be left dead in the water. However, fate took a different turn as far as the series' luck would turn out, and because of that- Rise currently releases a new season ever year under the Pacer1 banner.
With that, I'd also like to admit that I made plenty of mistakes when initially writing the series. It was the only series that I was releasing during the time, and I planned on releasing a new eight-episode season every six months. Not only was I not a good enough writer at the time to make that work, but I had no clue where I actually wanted to end the series outright. I'll take this time to completely spoil what my original intentions for the series were going to be considering they absolutely do not matter any longer.
In addition to having Jack O'Rourke align himself with the antagonists at the end of the second season, I would have seen Tyler lose his arm at the bloodthirst of the 'Scavengers". Reggie would have gotten his own spin-off after leaving the group following Shauna getting bitten, the characters I had originally conceived in the short run 2017 series "Deathly, Sickly, Dead" would have paired with John, and the others would have been scattered elsewhere. Eventually, John would have been killed and Jessica would have gone out in search of Charlotte. After redeeming himself, Jack would have been killed by someone that I never made my mind up over, but was probably Tyler- and the series would end with Jess killing Charlotte. Like I said, I was not good enough to pull off what could have been a respectable premise. The series was not well-written, but I also knew that the day would come where I'd need to finish the literal start of the series, which is when I decided to begin work on Rise: Remastered.
Rise - Season 3: Where it Gets Complicated
In addition to a new font and an admittedly badass promotional poster for the series' release, the third season of Rise found itself earning something other than the Pacer1 connection with the release of its third season- better fuckin' writing. Honestly, you would've thought I'd gotten off drugs between writing the original second season of the series and the third season of the now-canonical run of the series. Hell, you'd probably pay me out of gratitude for just writing the story as if it were that instead of a plot synopsis.
That's obviously not to say that the third season didn't have flaws, because it did- plenty of them. In addition to sidelining some characters completely, the third season was built off of the foundation laid by the original two seasons, since I had not planned to remaster them until after the creation of the fourth season. Though for its flaws- not least of whom are the various grammatical errors that litter much of the earlier seasons on Pacer1 stories- it has plenty of strengths compared to its predecessors. The world of Rise feels much more explained than what it had been in the now non-canonical versions of the first two seasons, and some characters earn more depth than they ever had in the series before.
You may be wondering why I insert the third and fourth seasons into this edition before the remastered versions are discussed, and the reason is what I referenced in the last paragraph- the third and fourth installments were written prior to the remastered iterations. This is a big deal for one major reason, everything in the third and fourth season takes inspiration not from the remastered versions, but from the unowned original two seasons. With that, some of the friendships and events that take place in the remastered version don't actually get referenced much unless they were carry-overs from the initial run. A group that I believe most people would look forward to reading more of following the remaster- Franklin, Alicia and Salem- were not present for much of the first two installments. Therefor, aside from the relationship between Alicia and Franklin, the bond between the trio isn't referenced much at all in the third and fourth seasons.
I was very happy with how the Sheol arc worked out, as- though some of the inspiration behind its reason for taking place makes little sense in the grand scheme of things- I believe much of the pay out with various characters was well-earned and properly thought out. I believe Tony was a viable villain and his view of people as currency in the world was something that inevitably makes a comeback later on in the series. The entire principle of Sheol- a compound created just as the world was coming to an end and turned into sanctuary for the living- was a more than realistic depiction of how survivors would take advantage of benefits when provided them. I still wanted to make Tyler a more sympathetic character knowing that I was writing his death into the piece, and that is where the plotline of Angela and the sympathetic guardsmen in the compound originated from. I felt as though most of the characters had reasonable arcs throughout the series, with the exception of near-criminal misuse of characters like Alicia and Franklin, Jack and Lauren, and Troy.
On its own, I thought- and still think- the third season is a fine piece of work when disassociated from its direct predecessors and successors. With that said, I prefer the style of writing and the concept of the characters seen here in post-remastered iterations of the series than I do here. It's for reasons such as those, that I am going to split Rise into two different eras- the pre-remastered era and the post-remastered era. In many ways, the first two seasons of the series, as well as the third and fourth seasons are jumbled into the former category, inspired by the original work as opposed to what was to come- something better. Though, those two eras can be classified as something entirely different that- from the perspective of a fan of the series- would likely end up being referred to as the John Callis-era of the series, and the post-John Callis era of the series.
Rise - Season 4: Pretty much a Shit show
Yes, indeed- John dies at the end of the fourth season. For some, that was a more than pleasurable conclusion to a character that either grated on readers or was simply just an underwhelming protagonist. I take full accountability for writing him in such a bipolar way and have more than learned from my mistakes. With that said, it remains true- fatally wounded from a stab wound in the fourth season finale, John sacrifices himself to rid his closely-knit group of the dangers held within the collective force of Sun City's militia. Though it takes place in the pre-remaster era of the series, John Callis' death is- for obvious reasons- an often-spoken and critical event in the series throughout the post-remaster era.
I will be honest here now that it's already happened- I've been waiting ages to kill John. It's not out of hatred for the character or anything, I just always wanted John's death to be the catalyst for something bigger- something worth capping the entire series off with. If not Charlotte killing John like was originally planned prior to Pacer1's launch, it would have been John getting bit during a battle at the New World Order. If not that, it would have been something else I'm sure of. The point is, John was never meant to last through the entire series. I wanted to write him as a likable guy with shortcomings that were more than understandable, but I also wanted to write him as someone that made you question that moral-grey area on your conscience that you'd colour in a positive light whenever questioned regardless of whether or not it was right to.
But with that, I must admit- John's death might have been the only redeemable piece of the fourth season of Rise aside from smaller factors. In addition to John, other main cast deaths included Meghan, Troy and Cameron- characters that were either crucial or a non-factor dependent on the versions of the first two seasons- and ended up being dumped when I figured there was no longer a point to them. Prior to the remaster, those three characters all had varying degrees of importance, but they had all been misused to such an extent that it was pointless to keep them alive when I had nothing of value prepared for them. In many ways going forward, the deaths of these characters will be used as inspiration and motivation going forward, especially with how some of the relationships between characters are rewritten in the remaster to fit the future of this series.
Aside from those deaths, Sun City was barely fleshed out as more than just a community on an island in the Atlantic. Seth Havermeyer should have been a better piece to the puzzle, but I instead foolishly used him as both a villain and a call back to the political past of Emilio and Franklin, which made him practically redundant. I do like the personal downfall of a man like Dawson, and I do like the fact that I set up a long-term future plotline for Heather and Ameil, but I hate how most of what was introduced had little of value provided. The pirates were a 'blink and you'll miss it' endeavour, Sun City was an afterthought rather quickly, and apart from a decent two episode opening at the start of the season, the entire installment felt empty and contrived. A lot more was fit into sixteen episodes this time around than in any season prior, but an increase in quantity doesn't always indicate an increase in quality- season four proves just that.
Here are some redeemable pieces, however. John's death is perhaps the most crucial element taken from the fourth season of the series. Sun City at least added sense to the idea that communities in the post-apocalyptic, zombie-covered wasteland are not as sparse as they may appear. Emilio is built into a changed man- someone that took the greatest grief one could experience and used it to harden himself into a more well-rounded individual, something desperately needed in a world where the group can no longer blindly-follow John. The group has a shared sense of unity in a way that I don't think was done justice in anything that precedes the series- remastered era or otherwise. And in addition to this, the series has finally- though you've yet to learn this- found itself a character spun off from the RISE and REVOLT spin off. For the first time in season four, this character appears flying over the group's island residency with a paramotor, guiding the group onward toward greener pastures.
Speaking of the island residency, another thing that takes this season down a notch is how much of an afterthought the island turns out to be in spite of more than a season-and-a-half build up to its appearance. Clint and Nessie will become more prominent in the following seasons in spite of their light appearance in the fourth season, but it's easy to forget that they're there sometimes throughout this installment.
If it ever reaches that point of fandom, fan-made lists ranking the seasons of the series from worst to best will likely start off with the fourth season, putting it dead-last in a place that even I- the creator of the series- believes it's probably worthy of. With that said, the decision to restart what drove the series as its unseen engine was where the luck of this series- and the quality of it going forward- would seemingly change.
Rise: Remastered, Season 1 and Season 2 - Writing Past Wrongs.
During the original writing of the series, there were a lot of qualities in characters that I liked, plenty that I hated, and some that I hated that I didn't write more of. With Rise: Remastered- which will become the canonical first and second seasons upon their premiere- I was tasked with two different things. On one hand, I was tasked with writing a set of seasons that already had an end-point in mind. I wasn't going to rewrite the third or fourth seasons regardless, and I knew that I needed to make the first two seasons not only add a lot to characters that had not been present in the original writing, whilst also making sure the plotlines that would inevitably come about from the third season would be left undisturbed. The second was that I had to make sure I wrote plenty more than just what was put into words with the original writing. As I already stated earlier, the original writing saw a six month gap between the first and second seasons that left a lot of context out of the series. The original intention was to greenlight a mini-series at some point that documented the travels of the characters from their small Connecticut town to the spacious compound of the New World Order. That, of course, never came to see the light of day.
So here's what I decided to do for the remastered versions of the series, perhaps my greatest ambition thus far- not leave important shit like that out this time. In addition to writing a halfway-decent series, I wanted to ensure that I documented everything of importance between the first day of the outbreak and where the third season picks up from. I can promise you that the start of the series picks up with the spirit of what the original writing intended (with much more detail added in) and the remaster finishes with John's departure from the quaint home on the side of the road.
Something else that I will ensure is that the groups will be given a lot more attention in the time between being run out of the Callis neighbourhood at the start of the series and when they finally reunite at the New World Order. Franklin, Alicia, and Salem will all get plenty of time together and much attention throughout the remaster as I know people would look forward to. Lauren and her interactions with Kelsi and Tori will be present plenty, as will the Scavengers. Janice, Bill, Meghan and Tyler (the young one) will all have their travels documented just as the warehouse group of Jack, Tyler (the grown up one), Reggie and Shauna will. Plenty of attention will be placed on the New World Order, and the explanation behind its existence, creation and continued-operation will all be well-documented. Charlotte will have an increased role in the series in ways that she never had in the original, and it will all spill back into what becomes the third season.
Before the remastered version reaches eyes, I'd like to make it clear that readers will take from it a very different experience than when reading the third and fourth seasons of Rise. The order in which the seasons were written will now be shuffled, and it will be noticed by readers now that the third and fourth installment will appear more like oddities than they did on their lonesome. The third and fourth seasons will now have been written before the first and second remastered seasons, and immediately after the remastered seasons- the fifth season was written. I mentioned a few weeks ago that the third and fourth seasons of the series would feel more like the black sheep or red-headed step children of the series will the addition of the fifth season and the remastered installments, and that will seem much more clear by the end of 2023, when Rise's chronology has been entirely back-logged. That is not to say that the third and fourth seasons will suck if you're one of the people that enjoyed them, but rather it is to say that it will feel odd to read those seasons when listening to the entire series back. The remastered seasons and fifth season were written in a very different style to that of the third and fourth, with a lot more description and plenty more dialogue that the latter seasons did not contain as much of. You may find the third and fourth seasons to be a less-smooth read following the remastering.
However, the fifth season will pick up in the same spirit that the remastered version carried. The same description, the same visceral nature to the series, the same increased-dialogue and improved detail will make the fifth season feel like a more natural follow up to the remaster than the third and fourth do in the chronological order. With the changes that have taken the series by the end of the fourth season, it will be made even more clear that the fifth season is a new beginning for Rise when it premieres in 2023. So, let's talk about that now.
Rise - Season Five: A New Beginning.
It's not hard to see why the fifth season will begin such a dramatic overhaul of the series. The protagonist is now dead, the group is semi-fractured, they continue to follow the RISE and REVOLT spin-off paramotorist character toward greener pastures, and they are effectively leaderless in a way that they haven't been since the earliest days of the outbreak.
As of the fifth season of the series, we are now a number of years into the post-apocalyptic world of the series. Overgrowth has begun the process of allowing Mother Nature to reclaim major cities all over the world, the government is nothing more than a remnant of the past and those still alive have already proven that they can manage well-enough in this chaos-strewn world.
The fifth season begins a process of reflection in the face of the future for our protagonist group. Whilst they are no longer led by John, his way of leading the group is something that sticks with our cast as they prepare to venture onward. In the fifth season, through means that readers will discover when the fifth season of Rise premieres, the group finds itself at the next stage in what is their quest to find the one place where they can live out their days- a community on the outskirts of New England known as Cumberland. With the addition of multiple main cast members, the group finally comes to realise that the day needs to come where they settle in somewhere for the sake of never needing to seek refuge again.
The first four seasons will prove to be a stone passageway for our cast to look back on in search of new ways to address the future. With the New World Order having fallen, with their direct actions having cost the lives of thousands in the fall of Sheol, and their own involvement with Sun City having cost them two waves of leadership, the group finds itself understanding that blood has been left on their hands. Lessons of the past will dictate the calls this group makes regarding the future, and their collective direction will take a turn with an eye on what lies ahead.
The fifth season will bring about the series a direction for where it is to go, something that it never seemed to have over the course of any rendition of the first four seasons. The fifth will breathe new life into the series as far as what is to be expected from it moving forward, it will establish long-lasting dynamics between characters and speak to and call back to the friendships and bonds crafted in the remastered versions. By all accounts, the fifth season vastly improves upon the best qualities of Rise and overhauls a lot of what made some of the prior iterations feel a little less than what they were hoped to be. Whilst I cannot promise that the fifth season will be every you- the reader- has wanted and more, I can assure you that legitimate care went into crafting it. The care for the series and the stories told within its fifth season will be made apparent as it runs in 2023, and I cannot wait for people to read it.
The fifth season of Rise premieres on the 13th of August 2023, right here on Pacer1!