Greetings from the official VS5 blog. In this entry we’ll be going over episode 14, “Flew”, which was written by Angelo Shrine. It’s more of Millennium Group type episode, coming on the back of a number of more standalone episodes in recent weeks. I think it mostly works, and I’m fairly pleased with it, although there are just a few elements which could perhaps have achieved their goals a little better.
The idea behind this episode came out of the writers’ room by and large. I wanted to do an episode that dealt with avian flu, because it seemed like one of those obvious elements in today’s world that speaks to that kind of unease about a coming apocalypse. It’s not hard to hear stories about the spread of this disease and link it to things we’ve seen in the series in the past, most notably in “The Fourth Horseman”. So, it seemed like good subject matter for us do be dealing with and how the Millennium Group had an interest in it. Some of the elements that underpin the story structure came from Jeremy Daniels in the early planning phases, but after he parted company with the season it was really Angelo who fleshed out everything from the bare bones and turned it into the script you see now.
The teaser begins with a dream sequence for Jordan which was in the initial concept that Jeremy started working on. At that time though, we talked about having Catherine appear in the dream, but we decided that wasn’t really the route we wanted to go down, and instead brought in Peter when we realise we could use this episode to explore more of the relationship between him and Jordan which had never really been touched on in the series. The imagery at work here, with the beach and the birds and the blood is all really effective I think, and ultimately adds up to one of the more interesting teasers we’ve done so far. I very much like the way this dream underpins the episode and recurs at certain points, and I think it’s a very nice way to open this episode that makes it a bit out of the ordinary.
Act One then brings us up on the image of the birds in flight, which is just really another bit of visual iconography to underscore the thematic level before we move on to the action in Turkey. This was an element from the original concept that we perhaps weren’t fully sure how to use to the best effect. I think it began as an idea of where the bird flu itself could originate from, the idea that it was spread from abroad, but as we went on it really just became more cumbersome and slightly redundant, so we minimised that and only really go to Turkey as a location in this one scene.
We then cut across to the school to feature Jordan more heavily, probably the most we have since “Gotterdammerung”. I also like the way that Angelo chose to bring back Bethany who appeared in that episode and debuted all the way back in the season premiere. I think that a nice touch of continuity to keep bringing back Jordan’s best friend in what is a small but pleasant little recurring role that has been carved out. They also mention a boy that Jordan is interested here, which I think was originally scripted as Jimmy, but I changed it to Aaron just to touch on another small element from “Gotterdammerung” in which the same was mentioned in the teaser. So, it’s a tiny little thing, but I thought why not keep that from before given the option.
A little bit later on we have the first scene between Frank and Peter, which kind of plays out a bit more like their more acrimonious meetings of Season 3. That’s not really an inconsistency though, I think it’s just an example of how Frank is reluctant to mix the world that Peter represents with the life of his daughter. He really wants to keep the two apart as much as possible, which dates all the way back to him keeping his work locked away in the basement of the yellow house.
This introduces the element of the kidnapped daughter which Frank goes on to bring Locke into. It serves a purpose in giving them something more concrete to be investigation, but I do think this is an element that could have done with more clarity. There’s just something slightly overly-complicated about this old family from Seattle and the abduction of the girl there while the father is over here in Washington D.C.
Then the act our for Act One introduces us to Trepkos again, who makes his third appearance following “Who We Are” and “Forty Days and Forty Nights”. That was a requirement I gave Angelo, that we wanted to use him again, since he’s developing into an important recurring character, plus we just love Clancy Brown. He adds a wonderful extra layer of villainy to the piece. A nice and sinister appearance to take us out of Act One.
At the top of Act Two, Frank meets Tyler for the first time and they start getting into the background of their two daughters. Again, this is an element that I think could have used a bit more clarity, but it does do something that I’m more fond of in that it touches on the theme of the season premiere story of the significance of children and their role as a driving force for the story and the motivation of the fathers. That’s a more positive side of it.
As we go back to Frank and Tyler, we have our first of several flashbacks to previous point in the series. This one takes us back to “The Fourth Horseman” and the parakeet that Frank bought for Jordan in that episode. That’s a nice resonance from the past. In some ways I’m not sure now, in retrospect, whether or not it was a good idea to put in these little flashbacks. It’s not something we’ve really ever done before, and I’m not sure whether it comes across as interesting or a little overly keen to go back to clips from the show’s history.
We then see Locke and Peter clash again, which is the antagonistic relationship we’ve established between the two from “Forty Days and Forty Nights”. I’m glad that’s still an element at work here, as it’s a good source of conflict. A more problematic part of this scene though is that it perhaps risks painting Peter in more of a negative light, and it could be read to imply that he’s complicit in the more sinister side of things going on with the Group. That’s never something that we’ve really wanted to do with Peter’s character this season. He’s more meant to be a part of the Group, but not part of the bad stuff being done by Trepkos’s side of it.
Jordan and Frank then play a scene together, and there’s a line here on page 30 that I changed slightly purely for a little in-joke. It’s when Frank shows Jordan the drawing of the parakeet that he retrieved earlier, and originally Jordan said “I drew this”, but I changed it to “I made this” simply because it’s the line that was always spoken over the Ten Thirteen Productions logo. So you can put that one down as a pointless joke/reference that probably didn’t even register with anyone when reading.
Act Three then brings us up on another moment of conflict between Peter and Locke as they talk over the investigation with Frank before we go a more crucial scene between Peter and Jordan. As I mentioned before, this is one of the themes of the episode that we set out to touch on, the relationship between these two characters that don’t often speak, so this is an important scene in that regard. There are some more flashbacks here to Jordan’s dream which highlights Jordan’s mistrust of Peter and uncertainty about his role in her father’s life, and by extension her own life. I then added in another flashback to a previous episode that wasn’t in the first draft in order to highlight a scene from the episode “Walkabout” when Peter enters the yellow house on his way to the basement with Catherine and exchanges a long glance with Jordan. That kind of stuck in my mind when thinking about the general feeling between Jordan and Peter throughout the series. I also added in another from “Roosters” just after which does the same thing. Angelo originally had this conversation between the two ending with an affirmation of friendship and a handshake, but I didn’t want to go quite that far, and wanted to preserve a little bit of uncertainty, so cut that.
At the top of Act Four we have a scene where the tests are gone over by a doctor with Trepkos and Peter. Again, I think this part risks painting Peter in a bit of a negative light, and connects him to the bad side of the Group in a way that we perhaps shouldn’t have. We then cut to events as the kids’ party which I was tempted to cut for a long time. I’ve never really been interested in exploring this side of Jordan’s life, which while it inevitably would be, doesn’t quite feel like the stuff we want to be focusing on. These sorts of things have often been the first thing I’ve looked to cut throughout the season, but in this case I ultimately decided that it does serve a purpose in getting Jordan and Tyler together.
There’s then a longer flashback to a moment with Jordan and Megan. For anyone who’s not as familiar with the show’s past as long-time fans will be, this is not from a previous episode the way others have been, but is in fact new material. Tyler then explains that the experiments in the episode have in fact not used the bird flu virus directly, but have instead been about brain engineering the way the plot of the Season 3 episode “Goodbye to All That” did. This was Angelo’s desire to pick up on that thread, which is something I’m interested in keeping alive too, but at the same time I think it did ultimately detract from the bird flu plot somewhat and slightly confused what the episode was ultimately about. You could argue that we’ve spent a lot of time in the episode setting up this stuff about bird flu, and have ended up undercutting that here by saying it was more about the brain surgery stuff. I don’t think it’s a huge flaw, but it’s another element that just adds a bit more confusion that we would have liked.
The same could perhaps be said of Locke’s pursuit of the Millennium Group vehicles and then finding the girl at the beach. On the one hand this has a nice symmetry with Jordan’s dream sequence, but on the other it seems a bit fortuitous and not as clear tas it could have been. Again, not a huge problem, just a bit of an issue that meant the episode could have been improved slightly, perhaps with a bit more time and redrafting. Of course, time is a commodity that we’re all constantly in need of.
One final change I made was to insert Peter into the final scene at the Eunlaith residence. Originally this was not the case, but I thought Peter had somewhat disappeared from the episode and needed to touch base with us at the final moments. This also gave us chance to reaffirm Peter’s innocent and show him to not be complicit in the sinister agenda after all. Tyler’s last remarks about his daughter being more important than any of the work he was involved in also has a nice resonance to Peter’s character and the way he’s separated from his family this season as a result of his unending pursuit of evil and so forth. Putting Peter in the scene allowed that to be underlined a little more. We then end of the tender moment between Jordan and Megan which I cut back ever so slightly just to pare it down to the essentials.
So that’s “Flew”. As I said, works on some levels, but room for improvement in others. Not a bad episode by any means, and overall a success, a worthy entry in the season. I’m glad we got the chance to explore bird flu and touch on the threads with the Millennium Group and Trepkos once again, and also to explore the previously untapped relationship between Jordan and Peter. So, time well spent in those regards. Now a quick bit of Q&A:
I'm a big fan of Detective Giebelhouse, and even though he is in the Seattle PD, do you think you might be adding him to any of your future scripts?
Yes. Giebelhouse will indeed be appearing this season. We’re all fans of his too, and it wouldn’t be Millennium if we was absent from a whole season for the first time ever. You’re going to have to wait until part one of the series finale though, “Resurrection”, when events take Frank back out to Seattle.
That’s the only question, so keep ‘em coming people. The more the merrier. That just leaves me to thank you for reading, and to promise you I’ll try to be more efficient and gets these entries back to their regular rhythm!