And so we come to the series finale, “Resolution”. It’s certainly been a long road since we first began working on “The Begotten”, but the time has come to offer some insight and do a bit of rehashing of the last ever episode of Millennium.
First comes the teaser, and with this being the last episode, we knew it had to be one of the most epic, large scale and memorable teasers in the history of the show. It was basically the last chance we would ever have to do one of these, so it was an opportunity not to be missed. I had a clear image in my mind for the very first shot we see, a kind of tableaux of the night’s skyline at sunset as a helicopter cruises along to introduce us to Trepkos. There was just something about that picture that seemed to set the tone just right for the final curtain, something that made it feel like a landmark, and I imagine that would have been helped no end by the dramatic underscore. I don’t usually put in any real references to the music in my scripts unless it’s a basic source track – for one thing it’s not done in professional circles, and for another it’s usually rather pointless. But in this case I could just hear it in my mind, and felt that it was important to try and convey that since it added a lot to the idea of setting a tone and atmosphere for the finale. As I wrote it, I listened to a number of existing tracks, such as “Anakin’s Dark Deeds” from Revenge of the Sith, “Jack’s Revenge at the Docks” from 24, and “Trinity Blast” from Carnivale composed by John Williams, Sean Callery and Jeff Biel respectively. I have no doubt that Mark Snow would come up with something similar and equally effective for this.
We then launch into the voice-over from Trepkos as we see his twisted perspective on the world. The idea of point-of-view and people seeing the world differently was a big theme of the first season and an integral part of the pilot episode, so it was quite fitting to incorporate that to this sequence one more time. Only this time we push it right to the limits of plausible budget and see things to their full extreme – not just individuals and killers and such, but the whole planet and mass chaos, in short a vision of the apocalypse in real terms. This also had to match up with Trepkos’ words, such as the blood flowing through the streets when he mentions “the blood-dimmed tide”, the birds falling down from above with the words “the falcon cannot hear the falconer” and “the indignant desert birds”, and people turning on each other in mass violence as “mere anarchy is loosed upon the world”. You’ll also notice that a lot of the lines in Trepkos’s soliloquy comes from the William Butler Yeats poem “The Second Coming”, which was of course the poem of significance in the pilot episode. I had originally planned to make the dialogue hear all original, but the more I read over the poem and contemplated its lines, the more appropriate it seemed for the circumstances. It was just perfect for the point of the scene and indeed Trepkos’s agenda in general.
We then round out the teaser with what would be a huge effects shot with Trepkos looking out of the window, his face reflected in the glass while nuclear explosions go off just outside. Of course, it wouldn’t be remotely possible to stand and view those explosions from such close range in real life, but that’s not the point. It’s supposed to be a vision of the apocalypse, a twisted fantasy, not reality. I had this picture in my head as the final shot of the teaser, and like I said it should hopefully come across as one of the biggest and most spectacular of the series, as it should be for the finale.
Then it’s down to earth somewhat as we head into Act One and open with a quick recap of everything that happened in part one, “Ressurection”. Then it’s the last opening quotation of the series, and it’s one from Emily Dickinson. At first I wracked my brains trying to think of something that spoke of ending and beginnings and just couldn’t quite come up with anything that worked. Then, pretty much out of nowhere, this one came floating back into my head and I just thought it was perfect of the finale and saying goodbye to Frank. It spoke of partings, the idea that we’re parting with Frank and the series, and it also invoked the notions of heaven and hell which have, of course, been a huge part of the show since the beginning. I’m pretty pleased with it, all things considered.
Then it’s straight back in on where we left off in part one, namely the aftermath of the car bomb that killed Danner but was meant for Locke. It’s a sombre note to start on, but we’re also in the middle of something here. So it’s time for Frank and Peter to get themselves back to D.C., now that they realise that the case in Seattle has been a deliberately-engineered distraction. The whole notion of two parallel stories on opposite sides of the country kind of presented a bit of a challenge in this regard, but it’s largely something that’s shied away from in both scripts. There was the issue of time difference that I just stayed away from in part one, and this time there’s the issue of getting Frank and Peter on a coast-to-coast flight and getting on with the plot without too much of a time delay. At the end of the day though, this isn’t a real-time show, so there comes a point where you just have to do what’s best for the story. No one wants to have a load of scenes of characters twiddling their thumbs waiting for a flight, and I don’t think anyone really cares. I imagine if there was a vote, it would be a landslide in favour of getting on with the story.
As we get back to the police department, there’s a degree of which we have to play a bit of catch-up, just to remind everyone what’s going on and where we are in terms of the plot. There’s a line that has to be straddled there between easing people back into the story without running away with it, but also not boring people with spending too long going over old news. I chose to put this conversation in Danner’s office, just to add that extra layer of emotion to things with empty chair and such so that there’s something more to it than just the essentials.
Frank then goes back home, more than anything so we can just touch base with Jordan and Miranda. In all honesty, they don’t have much of a story here in the finale, but you can’t give everyone something of their own in the space of just two episodes, it’s just not possible. Instead, they play more of a supporting role here, so I wanted to keep them involved and give them some scenes to play, but obviously that had to be balanced with keeping the story moving, which they themselves weren’t directly involved with. This was also a chance to, first of all, remind us about the surprise in the pipeline for Jordan and the new family unit, which gets paid off in the very last scene, and second of all to go back to the deceased characters in Frank’s subconscious (with another quick glimpse of the Mitch Albom book, “The Five People You Meet in Heaven” remember, wink wink).
First to appear out of the five this time is Mike Atkins, following on from his brief scene in “Resurrection”. Much of his dialogue here is actually a bit of a red herring, subtly implying Frank’s mortality. I knew there would be a certain percentage of the audience that would be anticipating Frank’s death by the end of the episode, so I thought I might just play on that a little bit and keep you guessing as to how things might turn out. I can’t help but wonder if that actually fooled anyone or not.
We then pick up on Trepkos again to remind us exactly what he’s up to, and to show us just what weapons and technology he has at his disposal. This was basically an attempt to show how all the different strands are starting to come together, and that Terepkos is rolling it all into one big package to get the DOD contract. Again, that’s a way of upping the stakes and showing that it’s all or nothing at this point. Then we have the act-out which is back over in Seattle, with Dillon being executed by a mysterious figure in black. I mentioned this in the build-up in “Resurrection”, that Dillon was deliberately captured alive in that episode to play against expectations, and also to allow us to play this scene here which was just a bit more sinister than being conveniently shot by a cop. It also cemented the two story strands together somewhat, as I think everyone can gather than Dillon is executed by an associate of Trepkos here in order to stop him exposing what they did to him and why.
At the top of Act Two we see Emma again, following on from her appearance in part one. Again she shows us a bit of nostalgia, but also gets us and Frank thinking about Trepkos and who he is. It’s then left to Giebelhouse to interrupt and break the news of Dillon’s death. Giebs perhaps gets a bit of short shrift in this episode when compared to the others, largely because he had more screen time in part one where his side of the story was largely complete. So here he plays a much smaller role, and this scene is in fact the last time we see him. He’s probably the only one that doesn’t get a sentimental final goodbye, but in a way I think that’s no bad thing considering the rest of the episode is fairly overflowing with such things. It doesn’t hurt to have someone have a bit more of a low-key last scene.
Which brings me to Peter as we open on him in the next scene. He also presented a tricky prospect of how much story and screen time he could get. He has more than Giebs and the aforementioned Jordan and Miranda, but it was still a bit of a challenge to service him as much as he perhaps deserved to be. He’d been around the longest next to Frank, pretty much, and he’s a big part of the show. At the same time though, this is Frank’s story, and there were certain elements of the plot, with the investigation into Trepkos, that just demanded forward momentum and didn’t provide quite enough time to just linger on Peter for the sake of it. Having said that, it’s not as if he’s entirely ignored. I think, on balance, his side of things worked out okay. He had just about enough to keep him involved in things, but even so I was always looking to give him dialogue wherever possible in scenes such as this one at the FBI Analysis Centre in the aftermath of the suicide bombings.
In examining the debris, this was pretty much the last opportunity to show Frank’s internal viewpoints, of him using his facility, as it were. That’s naturally one of the hallmarks of the series, and as the plot drove things forward I found opportunities to use the stylistic device getting rarer and rarer. So I wanted to make the most of it here, really use if to its maximum degree as Frank inspects the evidence. It’s left to Peter here to really spell out the significance of everything with regard to an apocalypse of our own creation and so forth. Peter has traditionally been given these long speeches, in no small part owing to Terry O’Quinn’s fantastic delivery and articulate voice. This was one of those moments, one final chance for him to shine in the exposition mixed with quasi-religious theology.
It was at this point that I kind of had to engineer a bit of a contrivance in order to get all the characters to where they needed to be. As I mentioned before, I wanted to keep Peter in the thick of things, and pairing him up with Locke was a chance to capitalise on the conflict between them but also show them moving past it to some degree, while I also wanted Frank to have a bit more time at home with Miranda and Jordan, and of course to see some more of his past faces. So the contrivance was to make Frank a bit tired, to play on his age. I tried to make that a virtue and pass some comment on the fact that Frank is actually getting on quite a bit now, as of course he his. There has to be a point where even Frank is too old to be off chasing down killers and saving the world, so I thought I make that contrivance a virtue as best I could and comment on that, which is helped by another appearance from Cheryl Andrews.
Peter and Brad then go off in search of evidence, and it’s thanks to some gizmos of parobolic microphones that they get it. I don’t like to do too much techno-talk in the show, and what with the terrorist connection and the bombings there was a risk that this could suddenly morph in 24 at any moment. Part of this was by necessity though, as I knew they needed to get something to set them on their way. They ultimately needed to get their hands on some evidence, or they wouldn’t be able to confront the media about it all as I knew they had to later on. So, it’s a bit of a stretch at this point, perhaps one of the weaker parts of the episode. Again, it was a case of needing to move forward, and if we had taken any more time over this the script would have got dangerously bloated. I also wanted to inject a bit of action to the episode at this point, as I knew it wasn’t enough to just have character’s coming full circles and people talking about the Group and so forth. There needed to be a little energy and excitement to spice things up at this point, and what better than a good old-fashioned car chase? Again, dangerously close to 24 territory, but nevertheless it’s what I think we needed right about now – a bit of spectacle. It’s also a chance to dispose of Cain, the ever-silent right-hand-man of Trepkos. I hope we managed to make him one of those figures of menace that are more effective by staying silent, by just being there, not knowing exactly who he is and what his game is. Sometimes you want carefully crafted characters with complex backstories, and other times you just want an ominous figure. That’s what Cain is. As such, he meets his end here in what would hopefully be a fairly elaborate and cool bit of stunt work as his car plummets off the bridge and into the water. Meat and potatoes action it may be, but as I said, I think that’s what the episode needed at this point to punctuate all the intrigue and nostalgia that was going on.
That takes us out of Act Two, and when we come back in on Act Three it’s time for one last scene between Frank and Bob Bletcher. He references Mount Baker here, and “the one thing in life that will never change”. Long-term fans will of course tell you that’s an allusion to the first season episode “Lamentation”, where Bob takes Frank on a trek up Mount Baker to see the view and makes that comment on it. That’s also the episode in which Bletch dies, so it’s quite appropriate I think. Again he drops another little hint about Frank’s mortality, which is another way of keeping people guessing as to whether Frank is going to end up dead or alive. That’s also kind of the point of making a bit of a bigger deal than usual of Frank and Jordan saying goodbye.
Then it’s off to DARPA for the big exposure sequence, where Frank gets a chance to finally dish everything out to the media and the little press-conference. In a way, the idea here was for Frank to be able to blow open all the cloak and dagger stuff about the Group once and for all, to finally be able to get everything out in the open which was a way of being able to brings some sense of closure to things. Making these kinds of revelations to the press was the best way I could see of being able to beat that kind of darkness, to force it into the light and bring and end to things. This requires something of a long speech by Frank, and I was conscious of needing to make that linguistically engaging and dramatic whilst also making the sequence have some energy and be visually exciting. Originally, my take on this was to just keep intercutting with Trepkos’s escape and Brad’s pursuit of him up the stairs. There is a degree to which Frank is giving a quick potted history of the Group’s misdeeds in this sequence, and I wrestled with whether or not to put in any flashbacks right up until the last moment. Part of me felt that this was just a little too expected and standard-fare for series finales, and also that we had kind of done all this with the “previously” sequence at the beginning of “Resurrection”. Then the other part of me said that it would help to keep this visually fresh, to create a sense of pace and interest in something that could otherwise risk trying people’s patience and attention spans. Ultimately, I decided to go with the flashbacks to make this sequence it bit more elaborate and more of a full meal. Then the act-out shows us Trepkos getting away in his chopper, which sets up the final confrontation to come.
At the top of the fourth and final act, we come down from all that tension and anticipation to the aftermath of Trekos’s escape. Frank, of course, has to face this final battle alone. Again, that requires a slight stretch of the imagination and a contrivance in sending Peter and Brad away to organise back up, but it has to be done to service the story and the thematic needs of the show as a whole. It has to be Frank facing down Trepkos alone, it just has to be. And it’s the Millennium Group Headquarters that provides the crucible for that final confrontation, and again that makes thematic sense given how central the Group has been for a long time.
Before he can go in though, Frank has a moment with one final face from the past – his late wife Catherine. It wouldn’t be the last episode without Catherine, would it? I deliberately saved her until last, not appearing in part one but as the last figure in part two. At the same time, I don’t think it’s a surprise to anyone to see her turn up, especially given that we’ve nailed our intensions to the mask in terms of deceased character in part one, hence why it wasn’t necessary to leave Megan Gallagher’s name out of the lengthy opening credits as we have done under different circumstances. It was important to give her and Frank their final scenes together, and I wanted to make the most of it in terms of emotion and nostalgia and such, and hopefully it was satisfying in those regards.
Then it’s on to the endgame. This was quite a challenge, as at any moment something like this can descend into melodrama and sound very much like the bad guy cackling and twirling his moustache while the good guy says he’ll get him. It’s like the final lightsabre battle of every Star Wars film or the big gunfight duel at the end of every western. Yet it has to be grounded and believable for the real world that Millennium exists in. No easy task.
There are references here to a number of names from history and such here, from the Antichrist and Lucifer to Vlad Tepes, Rasputin, and of course Yaponchik. This is of course familiar to fans from the episode “Marantha”. The idea here though wasn’t to necessarily say that this was another incarnation of the same person. This was very difficult to get across in terms of what we were really getting at here. The idea is more that Trepkos is one of those figures that is very powerful and influential, but not necessarily supernatural. We’ve already kind of wrapped up the Legion arc in “One and Many” with Lucy Butler. That was the side of things that was more about the Devil. But the Antichrist isn’t actually a supernatural being the way the Devil is. It’s more of a human figure that has apocalyptic significance. That’s kind of what Trepkos is. He’s a man, he’s not the Devil or a monster. But the power at his control and his apocalyptic intensions make him into one of those cultural myths that have endured through the ages. That’s the idea here, but it’s one that’s very difficult to put across on paper. Even now I’m not sure I’m making complete sense, so it’s even harder to do in the confines of believable and engaging dialogue whilst also getting on with the story.
Then there’s the fire element. I wanted to make this as crucial and dramatic a final confrontation as possible, but another reason for the fire was kind of to torpedo the Millennium Group once and for all, to bring that extra level of ending to things. To some extent, the Group has been around for forever and will endure as an idea no matter what, but the idea here was that the infrastructure and reputation of their current incarnation would be so damaged after all this as to effectively make them a non-entity for the foreseeable future. Again, to bring an end to things all the more. I’m not sure that part of it, regarding the big fire, ever truly came across as it should have.
Then it’s up to Frank to ultimately defeat Trepkos, but again this presented something of a challenge because Frank isn’t an action hero and has gotten pretty old by now, as is Trepkos himself. So you can’t have a massive elaborate fight sequence here, it would just be ridiculous, plus it’s not really the show. But at the same time, there has to be some drama here, not just an easy solution. Fortunately, we had set up this idea of a large glass side to the office that looked down to the street right from the very first episode in which Trepkos was introduced, so we had that bit of slight foreshadowing of sorts on the table, and had stressed it back in the teaser sequence to this episode by featuring it very prominently. So now it made sense for Frank to defeat Trepkos by forcing him out of that window and down to his death. Hopefully that provided a suitably dramatic and exciting ending to this confrontation. The spike at the bottom going through his head was really just another reference to the Antichrist legend, that it was the only vulnerability, but we don’t make a big deal out of that here.
Frank is still in a bit of trouble at this point though, since the fire has gotten completely out of control and fills the office. I wanted this to be one of those moments where his life truly hangs in the balance, where the audience really isn’t sure which way it’s going to go, whether he survives or dies a heroic death. Ultimately though, it way never my intension to kill Frank in the finale. That didn’t feel right to me. It’s sometimes the first idea people have for a series finale, for the main character to die. I didn’t want to do that though, and it didn’t feel like the right ending for Frank. He deserved to have something of a happy ending really. As bleak as the show has sometimes been, it’s never been totally downbeat like that, and to end with Jordan and Miranda grieving over Frank would be a horrible way to close the book on the series really, for my money.
So instead we take him right to the edge here as he sees those five faces one more time – Mike, Cheryl, Emma, Bob and Catherine. This is where Peter comes in and has his chance to shine, his chance to contribute to the ending and be something of a hero himself. He’s the one that goes into the building and saves Frank’s life. We don’t see that all on screen because I think there’s much more suspense in putting us in Locke’s shoes and watch the building in flames with hope running out to finally see them emerge at the last minute.
Then the action is pretty much complete and we go back to Quantico to bookend the two-parter and indeed the season by ending where both of those began. This also gave us a chance to bring Brad’s character arc to its final point and make him an FBI Agent. That’s the first thing we really learned about him, that he was once a student of Frank’s but was washed out of the Academy, so it made a neat kind of sense to bring him around and let him achieve that goal. That’s kind of true to life in way too, that you can get somewhere and achieve something, but it usually doesn’t happen in the way you think it will. SO Brad has ultimately grown and evolved over the season, and now he’s earned his position as an FBI Agent. In some ways it requires a slight stretch of the imagination, that Frank could pull that string for him and secure him a position so quickly, but I think it’s more important to pay-off that character arc in a nice, meaningful way. So it’s a happy ending for Brad, just as it’s a happy ending for Frank.
We were conscious of that though in plotting exactly how everyone was going to end, and didn’t want there to be an overload of happy endings. There needed to be something to balance that out. Not everyone can go off into the sunshine and wrap things up in a tidy package. So that brought us to Peter. Where was Peter going to end? We weren’t going to kill him off in saving Frank, because for one thing the show has already played that card back in “Goodbye to All That”. Instead, we wanted Peter to go off having not learned the lesson that Frank has spent so long learning, of letting go. Frank gets to that point and so gets happiness, but Peter doesn’t. He’s still hung up on the past and chasing evil, which will ultimately leave him alone. So we draw that parallel between him and Frank, and show them taking different paths. Peter takes the path of obsession and it leaves him isolated, alone, and unhappy. Frank takes the opposite path.
I also wanted to work in the Polaroid shot as well to reflect the way the pilot ended. That final scene way back showed us Frank receiving the Polaroid in an ominous and terrifying sense, the signal of the stalker still out there. This time though, the Polaroid is a happy one, a shot of the unified family, representing the exact opposite of what the polaroids have been as a symbol of terror over the years. It was important to me to incorporate that just on some small level, especially since the Polaroid flashes have still opened up every act this season and have been an integral signature of the series.
Then that takes us to the final scene. I knew I wanted this to the final scene for a long time, way before we even started plotting the finale. I wanted it to be an exact mirror of the first time we ever saw Frank and Jordan back in the pilot so as to bookend the series with exact symmetry. Again, I went so far as to incorporate bits of Chris Carter’s original wording in his pilot script, and of course lifted bits of dialogue. Only this time it’s Jordan who’s covering her eyes and being led to the new house. Then those final lines that say that house isn’t yellow, and that “it doesn’t have to be”. That, to me, spoke volumes about the themes of the show over all five seasons and showed how the characters had come around. Frank doesn’t feel the overbearing need to paint away the darkness anymore, he doesn’t have to make-believe. He has happiness, and he has balance. He doesn’t need to fake it with a yellow house. He can have a normal home, a home for his family, and he can be safe and happy because he’s neither chasing evil or running from it like he has been in his past.
I thought that was a nice final shot to end on, ascending up from the house like the first scene of the first act of the pilot did, and also how the final shot of the main title sequence did for the first two seasons. To me, it felt like the perfect place to end. I can only hope that people reading felt the same way.
And so that brings us to the end of “Resolution”, the end of the virtual fifth season, and indeed the end of Millennium. All things considered, I’m pretty pleased with the way the year turned out as a whole. It took us a long time to get it on the page and then to the finale, but I think it’s been worth it. It’s certainly not been perfect, there are times when we slipped and fell a little, but overall I think we can all walk away and say we did good work, never descended into “fanfic”, and turned in something with professional sensibilities that was true to the original series. I’d like to thank everyone that worked on the project at every point, you all know who you are, not least of which is Tony Black who came up with this whole idea in the first place and set the ball rolling.
Of course, I must also thank everyone who took the time to read our episodes, because at the end of the day that’s what it’s all about, and reading the comments and feedback make it all worth while. I hope you’ve enjoyed it.