Welcome back to the official VS5 blog. I’m making every effort to get caught up with this and stay on track, but we’ve been busy writing the finale episodes so as you can imagine it’s all hitting the fan. This entry then will rehash episode 17, “One and Many”, which is our Lucy Butler episode of the season. Once we’ve done a little bit of deconstruction of that I’ll offer a little bit of a preview/tease of the forthcoming finale, despite the fact that “Burning Man” is the next episode to get the blog treatment (because that one’s already aired and I’m a bit behind).
Anyway, on with “One and Many”. This is an episode that we’ve had on the board for a long time and had just been waiting to come around since it was always slated to go right near the end of the season. I have to say, it’s one that I’m pretty pleased with overall. I like to think I’m pretty honest in this blog, and I’ve spent enough entries pointing out the bits where we’ve gone wrong, so I hope that puts me in good stead to not sound totally self-serving and egotistical when I’ve got good things to say for a change. The idea here was, first off, to bring back Lucy Butler for her customary appearance and to make it a good one, but at the same time I thought it was also an opportunity to really bring together the story thread about Legion and its various forms and make something of a final battle about it, since we are treating this as the final season of the show.
We had also established very early on in the season that Legion’s agenda was shifting toward Jordan, and so that had to be an equally big part of this episode too. As such, it seemed to make perfect sense to bring back Lucas Sanderson too, since he had been established as something of an equivalent to Lucy, and then play out a parallel story involving the respective nemeses of Frank and Jordan. So I wanted this to be a big epic conclusion of these story threads, taking all the best parts of episodes like “Lamentation”, “Antipas”, “Saturn Dreaming of Mercury” and “Seven and One” and really giving this episode the scope it deserves if it’s going to wrap up this side of things. I also wanted to make sure to give Lucy as much screen-time as possible, and to make sure she played as many scenes opposite Frank as possible. That’s where her character really shines, in my opinion, and it’s her rivalry to Frank that is so important, so I didn’t want anyone to come away feeling cheated out of those things. To an extent, I think you could argue that was something of the case in “A Room With No View”, the second season’s Lucy Butler episode, that while it was great to have her back, it was a shame she didn’t really have any scenes with Frank. I was determined not to have that be the case here.
The teaser begins in the Church we saw back in “Seven and One”, and with Father Yahger of the same episode. This set up a lot of things of what was to come later, including the thematic idea of Lucy/Satan trying to sew seeds of hatred towards organised religion, as well as the place that would serve as the crucible for the final battle between Frank and Lucy. Opening on the stained-glass window was also very deliberate to set-up the tool of Lucy’s demise, that of the lightning bolt that would shatter the glass and impale her, specifically featuring images of angels to convey the idea of the hand of God at work. I think’s it’s Chekov’s principals of drama that say if you have a gun being fired in the fourth act, you have to show that gun on the wall in the first. That’s what’s going on here with that opening shot.
The essence of the scene between Lucy and Father Yahger is all about temptation, of sin vs. faith, chaos vs. order, and ultimately the Devil vs. God. That’s what you have here with Lucy attempting to tempt Father Yahger away from God with her sensual ways. It’s also as much about atmosphere as it is about content, with the dark Church, the storm outside, the lightning, Lucy wet from the rain and all that. Classic gothic visuals really, which is what an episode like this calls for. I also wanted to make as much use of the Long-Haired Man as possible, since that dichotomy has always fascinated me since I first saw “Lamentation”, and the idea of the two sides in one being was particularly scary, especially in a visual sense – so he appears right from the beginning here. When Lucy is ultimately rejected by Father Yahger, he is instantly punished by her powers as the police come knocking on the door to accuse him of rape and murder. And of course, Lucy is nowhere to be seen. I had all those pieces of the teaser in my mind for a long time, and I think they came together pretty well in the end.
Act One then opens in stark contrast to all this with the bright sunshine and happy family home. I might also take this opportunity to mention the opening quotation/epigram, which I don’t normally comment on much, but in this case I think we were very lucky to find this one from Walt Whitman, since it just seems to fit absolutely perfectly with what I had in mind for this episode and where it ultimately ends up, especially with the idea of evil “merging itself”, which was just perfect for the final morphs when Lucy meets her demise.
Back to the matter at hand, the opening of the first act is essentially just to provide that contrast and place of happiness, and also to set up the idea of Jordan working as a volunteer for the weekend, since she needed a place of her own to be interacting with Lucas, and I didn’t want to make it another school setting. For one thing, we had already kind of done that in “Gotterdammerung”, and for another I’m also looking to get away from the typical high-school teen soap opera feel wherever possible when it comes to Jordan’s storylines. Anyone who knows me will know that I hate those kinds of shows, so I wanted a completely different location where Jordan would be forced into interacting with Lucas and where he could torment her and have his showdown with her.
We then go over to the police station to have Frank’s reunion with Father Yahger. I didn’t want to go too over-the-top in referencing “Seven and One” at this point, as I didn’t want it to feel like that kind of fanboy-ish bringing back of an old character just for the sake of it. That wasn’t the intension here. The idea of the priest character was always very important to this episode and its conclusion long before I thought of Father Yahger, and using him came later as a way of just tying the case to Frank in a more plausible manner, and having it be a character with an existing relationship rather than a new one which would have been less effective.
Locke comes in for the first time here, and he’s perhaps not as central to the narrative as he has been in the past. In a way, that’s a necessity for this episode. The conflict with Lucy is a very personal one for Frank, plus we also have the parallel story with Lucas and Jordan, so there’s not really all that much room to give Locke his own side-story too, and doing so would just have been overkill anyway I think. Instead, he serves his purpose as an investigator alongside Frank, and is also on hand when needed to go and check on Jordan later in the fourth act when Frank is busy at the Church.
After a brief bit to establish Jordan at the convalescent home, we then go to Lucy’s spiritual circle and her first scene with Frank. The idea of the spiritual circle and its atheist, anti-religious beliefs was really born out of the thematic idea mentioned earlier. The Church was an important setting for the conclusion, out of the idea that only a strike from God could possibly kill Lucy, so I didn’t want that just to be a convenient location, it had to be tied in thematically to the rest of the episode. From that, the logical idea came that Lucy, or the Devil if you will, would naturally be trying to foster a resentment toward organised religion and be discouraging any belief in a God of any kind. She wants to kill faith and goodness, and part of that involves trying to kill off organised religion. As a result, you could possibly consider this the other side to the message being put out by “Golgotha” which I wrote earlier in the season. In that episode, a pretty damning picture is painted of the Church and the priests abusing the choir boys, whereas in this episode the Church comes out much more favourably as a force of goodness being targeted by the Devil. I should just make it clear that that wasn’t a deliberate attempt to do some reverse-angle on “Golgotha”, or trying to make up for the way the Church was depicted in that episode. As I’ve said before, there’s no social or political agenda to the episodes, so “One and Many” isn’t an attempt to even the scales by any means. It just so happens that the implications are on the other side this time around.
When Lucy and Frank talk again for the first time, I wanted to capture the essence of Lucy and how she addressed Frank in both “Lamentation” and “Antipas”, the way she is in command of the situation, the way she knows everything there is to know, and the way she is able to precisely articulate the legal side of things to exploit the specifics of everything to her own ends. Hopefully that came across just the same here.
The act-out then re-introduces us to Lucas Sanderson for the first time in the episode as he comes face to face with Jordan. In a way, this was a bit more challenging that the other side of things, since the last time we saw Lucas he was just an eight-year-old boy. There wasn’t really any point in trying to cast the same kid only older, so we needed to bring in a new face which in this case was envisioned as Zac Efron to be Lucas, the kind of teenage male equivalent to Lucy. As such, you don’t have the advantage of an existing character and chemistry to play with the way you do with Sarah-Jane Redmond, so in a way the scenes can’t work on quite the same level. Consequently, a little flashback scene was needed here just to remind us of who this was, and to make it clear that we are now dealing with an older version of the same character who has aged just the same as Jordan has.
At the top of Act Two, Jordan and Lucas get their first bit of proper interaction. The idea for Lucas was to play him as a kind of smarmy, manipulative kid who would ingratiate himself to the adults around him and Jordan in the same way that Lucy comes across as all sweetness and light. He would then torment Jordan as much as tempt her over the course of the episode, leading up to the final showdown in parallel to Frank and Lucy.
Frank then fills Locke in on a few of the gaps about Lucy, which might be reminiscent of how he has to do the same for Emma back in “Antipas”. He feels he has to get away from this, and is also eager to warn Locke away so he doesn’t end up getting sucked into her trap of a lifetime of torment the same we he was. We then go to another scene with Lucy at her spiritual circle which was actually added in quite late on, just to give her a bit more presence at the beginning of the second act instead of being absent until the end of it, and also to maximise her screen time as I said before. There’s no point in bringing Lucy in and wasting her, after all, so I decided to add in another little scene for her here, which also made the most of the spiritual circle which otherwise have gone unseen hereafter too.
The following scene between Frank and Miranda is a bit of a slower one. On the one hand it was necessary to re-establish everything that Frank has to lose, and it also served a function of making it clear that Miranda was returning to her own apartment for the night in order to facilitate the later scenes where both Frank and Miranda are visited in the night by Lucy and the Long-Haired Man respectively. Back at the top of Act One, you had Miranda washing breakfast dishes, and in a way that kind of implies that she spent the night there. We want to be moving their relationship on to that kind of point by this stage in the season, but at the same time it’s not something we want to make a big deal of. We don’t want to descend into soap-opera territory. So, having them be breakfast dishes she is washing just makes that tiny implication without coming out and saying it. However, in order to have the parallel scenes of the night visitations, she had to be in a different location, so this scene just served to make it clear that they’re still living in separate places most of the time.
Having said that, it was also a chance to explore some of the more theological ideas about Evil and its nature in a more open and discursive way. In part, this was inspired by the scene between Frank and Catherine back in “Gehenna” where they discuss a similar subject over an open Bible. In some ways, you could criticise it in that regard and for being a bit too on-the-nose and not subtle enough, plus it’s quite a still, static scene, so maybe you could regard this as one of the weaker parts of the episode. However, I do think it serves its purposes, and provides a bit of a respite for both Frank and the audience given all the stuff that is to come.
Back with Jordan and Lucas, we see that he’s moving between torment and seduction in much the same way that Lucy does, and this also played on the idea of Jordan and boyfriends which you could never really do back in previous seasons where she was just a six/seve/eight-year-old. Of course, every time she rejects his advances, he punishes her with a bit more torment in just the same way that Lucy did to Father Yahger back in the teaser.
The act-out then shows us the beginnings of the night visitations for Frank and Miranda. This kind of took bits from “Antipas” in terms of the sex/rape, and bits from “Lamentation” in terms of when Catherine finds the Lucy/Long-Haired Man in the darkened house. As I said before, I wanted to give the Long-Haired Man a bit more to do than he had before, even to the extent of giving him just a little bit of dialogue here. This then takes us over into Act Three as the scenes play out in full. The basic idea here is the old myth of the Succubus (female) and the Incubus (male) which I had done some reading about, as well as the psychological idea of the anima/animus which explores a similar dichotomy. I felt it was important that Lucy, in the Succubus role, didn’t have all that much contact with Frank as to avoid a repeat of what happened in “Antipas”. Instead, they have more dialogue than in that scene. It is Miranda who gets more of the rape nightmare with the Long-Haired Man, in the Incubus role. All this just amps up the terror even further and allows us to play with some more gothic visuals in the dark houses and apartments when the power goes out and the storm rages outsisde.
After this peak of action/horror, it’s then time to cool things down a bit as the calm before the big endgame to come. So Father Yahger is released, since he was always innocent and the male hairs thus came from the Long-Haired Man, and Lucas torments Jordan a little further by engineering a bit of a medical emergency with one of the old women. Of course, he makes her out to be at fault, and makes himself look just perfect, and this sets up the location for their final confrontation in the staff room at the end. Frank then gets the call of distress from Father Yahger at his Church which takes us out of Act Three and sets up the endgame that awaits.
Act Four is then all about the final showdown that things have been leading to: Frank trapped in the Church opposite Lucy, and Jordan trapped at the convalescent home opposite Lucas. Again, the Church setting and the stormy weather provided ample opportunities for gothic horror images, and I wanted to play them up as much as possible. Risks of overkill, perhaps, but I thought it was worth it to make this as epic and memorable as it deserved to be for the last Lucy Butler/Legion episode.
It was important to keep Father Yahger present but just out of the way and in the background for these scenes, as he was vital to the final act in defeating Lucy. So he is knocked out and thrown aside by the Long-Haired Man, since I thought it was always very interesting the way the Long-Haired Man came out whenever there was violence to be done as we saw most clearly in “A Room With No View”. Just as she does in that episode, Lucy refers to him in the third person in stating “He made him angry… you wouldn’t like him when he’s angry”. That little bit is of course also a little nod and wink to The Incredible Hulk.
Lucy then makes it clear that it is Jordan who is the ultimate goal at stake here, and that she is the one coveted by Evil now. It’s not Frank anymore, he’s long since rejected Legion’s temptations and it’s thus given that up as a lost cause and moved on to the new generation – Jordan. That’s the key here, and that’s another reason for the parallel story. Frank of course would do anything to save her, even offer himself freely and willingly, which is a huge moment since he’s never done that before. But it’s not enough, because Legion thinks it has Jordan in its grasp.
We then get a big visual sequence that I’d had in mind for a long time, where the customary lightning-flash cuts that we’ve seen ever since “Lamentation” comes to incorporate all the facets of Legion that have tormented Frank over the years, in reverse order through Mabius, Del Boxer, Al Pepper, the Judge, and even Ed Cuffle (since he was pretty much Frank’s first ever nemesis). This would be the money-shot, as they say, and I think it would be a memorable one and one that cement the episode as a suitably epic final occasion.
Meanwhile, back with Jordan, Lucas is attempting his final seduction of Jordan over to the dark side, so to speak. The kiss here is important, as it could well be Jordan’s first kiss which allows us to again touch on those issues of her as an older girl, and it also ties back to the general undercurrents of the episode – from the rape that Father Yahger is accused of to kick-start the story, to the Incubus visitation of Miranda and now to Lucas forcing himself on Jordan.
Both scenes then get even bigger as water starts filling the Church, calling back to Frank’s fear of water/drowning established back in “Seven and One”, and also snakes which spontaneously start appearing at both locations. Snakes are obviously a big symbol for Satan, and it was another case of just making this as huge and epic as possible. Again, you could accuse it of being too much, but I think the occasion calls for it.
Lucas then morphs into Paul Leonard and the Janitor from a VS4 episode in the same way that Lucy appears as the faces of torment from the past. This used a morph instead of those machine-gun cuts just to provide some variety. In a way, it’s a shame there weren’t some more of Jordan’s nemeses to use like there are for Frank, but that can’t be helped.
For the final defeat of Lucy by Father Yahger’s constant prayer and appeal to God, I decided to use some dual-dialogue which would again help sell the idea of a significant moment, both in the way that you would hear it and indeed in the way that it appears on the page. Father Yahger recites Psalm 23 while Lucy has her final speech, and they both end of the word “forever” in unison as a huge lightning bolt comes crashing through the stained glass window and impales Lucy with the flying shards. We all know that Lucy will never die, as Frank tells us as much in “Antipas”, since you can’t kill the Devil, but the idea here was that only an act of God could ultimately defeat her, and that while the hand of man couldn’t kill her, the hand of God could. Naturally, a lightning bolt is the prototypical act of God that we imagine in God striking someone down, plus that lied in to the storm which had been virtually omnipresent since the beginning. The angels on the stained-glass, as we saw from the very first shot, was just to try and make that clear. I had worried that people might be confused and say that Lucy shouldn’t be able to be killed, but I think in the end the idea of being defeated by God ultimately came across clearly enough. Lucy then morphs through a sequence of faces for one final time as she lays dying, which would have been more of a quick set of struggling morphs just to underscore the idea that she is dying, and that, as Walt Whitman said, Evil has “merged itself and become lost and dead”.
Likewise, Jordan is able to defeat Lucas by being strong and not being afraid, by standing up to him and looking him right in the eyes and telling him to go back to hell. As we’ve seen, Evil has no hold if you’re not afraid, and that faith and strength of belief ultimately wins out, thanks to Father Yahger clinging to his crucifix, the symbol of his faith, and praying out loud with the 23rd Psalm (which always sounds good).
So that’s “One and Many”. I hope it came across as the epic last hurrah for Lucy Butler that it was intended to be. Like I said, I’m pretty satisfied with the end result, and I think we used Lucy to her full potential and didn’t waste her. Lucas coming back also kept things fresh and gave us a nice parallel story. In the next blog entry I’ll go over “Burning Man”, but this Friday sees the first of our two-part series finale, entitled “Resurrection”. As I said before, we’re approaching this as the last ever season, so this isn’t just a season finale but a series finale, and hopefully we’ll deliver on the levels of nostalgia, drama, and poignancy that such an occasion demands. Take a look at the print ad:
Now I have a question to answer… and to quote Jose Chung, “it’s about time!”
Will any other characters be appearing in the 2-part series finale besides Geibelhouse? Lara Means (even though she is in that one hospital)? Will we see more of Ardis Cohen? Will we see a copycat protégé of the Frenchman from "Pilot?" Avatar? More Owls Vs. Roosters action? Another viral outbreak? Another visit from the ghostly Catherine Black?
Darn, that's alot of questions for the blog.
It sure is. I can tell you that you will be seeing a few more familiar faces in the finale besides Giebs. Like I said, we’re aiming to give the last two episodes that proper sense of occasion, so it felt right to touch on more than just our isolated VS5 people. Who might show up and when and why is just something you’ll have to wait and see. I can tell you that you wont be seeing Avatar though – that’s a story that I think was followed up in VS4. No Owls and Roosters shenanigans either – that was very much a S2 idea that I think is best left there.
I should probably say that, while to some extent the finale is going to be something of a “kitchen sink” episode, it’s not gonna get totally overrun by cramming in everything and anything just for the sake of it. There’s a story to tell here as well as an occasion to mark, and hopefully we’ll be able to strike a balance between the two that will be satisfying to most people.
I believe that was it, so I will just round out with a sneak peak of dialogue from “Resurrection”. Until next time.
I just stopped by to follow up on what we
talked about last week.
ASSISTANT DIRECTOR PERRY
Let me guess. You’ve had a few days to think
it over and you’ve changed your mind?
I’m afraid not. I’ve certainly enjoyed lecturing,
it’s given me a chance to give something back,
pass on my experience...
But it’s time for me to collect a pension. Have a
ASSISTANT DIRECTOR PERRY
Well, I’ll be sorry to lose you. Running this Academy
seemed like an easy job when I took it, but it’s harder
work that I ever thought. You’re certainly a big draw.
Nothing fills seats like a Behavioural Science legend.
Something tells me you’ll do just fine without me.