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"Resurrection"

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ZeusFaber

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Here we go again with some insight into episode 19, “Resurrection”, which is the first of our two-part series finale. I say that very deliberately as series finale and not season finale, because as I’ve said before we see this as the last ever season of Millennium. We’re approaching it as the last episode which closes the book on the story of Frank Black and associates.

As a result of that, we knew that this had to be a big event, a major point which touched on most of the important issues from across the entire series and weaved them together to provide a degree of closure. To set that up right from the very beginning, I decided to open this episode with a recap segment that reminded us of some important beats from right the way back to the pilot. Doing that really sets a tone from the very start and nails our intensions to the mast, as it were, by declaring that this will have significance to the complete series, and that you better sit up and take note. It also serves a more practical and specific purpose in reminding everyone about the Frenchman and who he was, which is important to the coming plot. The other moments also have their own relevance in reminding us about who the Group are and how nefarious they have become, as well as all the technologies and controversies they’ve had a hand in over the years, and finally the brain surgery that has an important connection to the story ahead.

Once we launch into that story proper, we see that is something of an echo from the pilot, which is a way of bringing the show full circle to end up where we began in a certain sense. We open on the Ruby Tip club, which is of course the same club from the pilot episode teaser, and these initial images are deliberately intended to make you think of those opening shots. I even went so far as to incorporate and reflect some of the language used in Chris Carter’s original pilot script. At the same time however, it was also important not to recycle the pilot’s teaser entirely, as it would be no good to be exactly the same. For that reason, I chose to have our antagonist here – Dillon Cole – follow a dancer exiting the club, rather than go inside the way that the Frenchman did back in the pilot. Instead, he wanders after her down the street, stopping at a payphone on the way in order to demonstrate his inner conflict. Another reason for the payphone was also to work in the dialogue exchanges that again reflect the pilot, namely the whole “tell me what you want” / “I want to see you dance on the blood-dimmed tide”. That was an important thing to work in, just to underscore the full circle effect, and then he can go off and commit his murder. In that sense, I think it works in reflecting and evoking the pilot without copying it verbatim, which is basically the overall aim of the episode as a whole.

As we head into Act One, we also get a chance to provide that bookending, full-circle effect for the season as a self-contained entity by opening on Frank giving a lecture at the FBI Academy, just as he did when we saw him for the first time back in the season premiere, “The Begotten”. He then goes off to play a scene with the newly-introduced Academy Commandant, Assistant Director Perry. He’s not intended to be a major character, just someone for Frank to report in to and essentially announce his retirement to the audience. We cast this role with Bill Duke for the gravitas, since an event like a series finale allows you to push the boat out a bit and get some bigger names than you might normally for these kinds of appearances.

Of course, there has to be more here than just nostalgia and full-circle moments, which is where Locke and Danner come in. I’m glad that they’re able to be a bit more pleasant and light-hearted with each other here, to show that they’ve grown a bit and developed since the beginning of the season. They show the first signs here of stumbling on to their side of the story, but admittedly it does take a little while longer to get going than usual since this is structured as a two-parter.

We then pick up on Frank again as he returns home to Miranda. This establishes the family setting and also gives us chance to drop in a quick reminder about the dream troubles that were mentioned back at the beginning of the season. This was just a way of bringing that back to the front of everyone’s minds in order to make sense of the appearance of deceased characters that is to come. I didn’t want people to start scratching their heads too much at that when it happened, or to start thinking they were ghosts in a literal sense. So by Miranda just touching on the topic of dreams and what had been established earlier in the season, it ought to have gone down a little easier when it occurred. We then make a brief mention of Frank and Miranda’s living arrangements and a surprise for Jordan, which is designed to set-up the new family house which I knew I wanted as the very last scene in the next and final episode. Putting an oblique reference to it now just makes sure it’s on the board and gives you something to wonder about as we go on.

You’ll also notice that we very meticulously show Jordan reading a book but don’t reveal the title, only that the author is Mitch Albom. No one has ever questioned me on this so far – either it was too obvious or so obscure that no one realised it was meant to be significant. Either way, I can tell you now that said book is meant to the “The Five People You Meet in Heaven”. I just thought that had a very nice resonance to the five deceased characters that make an appearance in various nods to the past. As you can see from the rather lengthy opening credits, we’ve got some Special Guest Stars to mark the occasion, and by the end of “Resolution” they total five, so sliding in this little reference to that book seemed rather apt, but I’ll talk more about these appearances later.

Next we cut to Dillon back in Seattle just to keep him in play and make sure you don’t forget about the danger out there before picking up on Locke at the hotel in Washington, D.C. This is where we get to something to give Locke his first breadcrumb to put him on the trail of the Millennium Group and Trepkos and what is happening in the capital. We don’t need to see what happened here or a big drawn-out build-up to the crime, we just need to come in and set Locke going. The fact that the gunshots are to the back of the ear let the audience know the Millennium Group is involved, but there doesn’t need to be too much more than that.

Peter Watts then makes his first appearance of the episode, naturally as interested in the case over in Seattle as Frank, so they prepare to head out. This is really the two strands of the episode: Frank and Peter in Seattle going back to the pilot, Locke and Danner in D.C. on the trail of Trepkos and the Group. By the time the next part comes along, “Resolution”, hopefully those two threads are fused together satisfactorily.

On the flight out, we see the first of our old characters returning in the form of Bob Bletcher. The idea here is to make the series finale an extra special event. It just wouldn’t be the last episode without people like Bletch who have made such an impact on the show over the years. However, I should stress that these aren’t really meant to be supernatural occurrences. It’s hard to make it clear just in the script, but the idea was for these characters to represent aspects of Frank’s subconscious, a mixture of memory and thought coming out through dreams. As such, you’ll notice that every time one of these characters appear it is preceded or followed by a moment of Frank opening or closing his eyes or resting his head and such.

When they arrive, we return to the Seattle Public Safety Building for the first time this season. The description of the angle and the weather here is designed to very much evoke the familiar image from many a first season episode. Hopefully that comes across. Likewise, the opening dialogue between Frank and Giebelhouse mirrors the greetings between Frank and Bletcher when they reunite in the same location in the pilot episode.

Giebelhouse was definitely someone we wanted to include at this point. He’s been in every season of the show so far, and it wouldn’t be right to do the last episode without him. That’s another reason why we hadn’t included him in an episode prior to this, since we knew this was going to be the last season, and didn’t want to just throw him in to a random standalone somewhere in the middle of the season, and instead save him for the finale to make it extra special. It’s just more logical this way too. Given the nature of the story, Frank definitely had to go back to Seattle for this one, whereas for anything else it might have felt a bit forced and contrived, especially mid-season, and it certainly wouldn’t have made any sense for Giebelhouse to just randomly appear on the East Coast. Bringing him in here just felt much more natural and logical, plus it tied in with the sentimental side of things, and it’s not often that those two are on the same side.

As we head into Act Two we get the majority of stuff happening at the Seattle Public Safety Building, whereas in Act One it was more a quick entrance and introduction before the act-out. Nailing down Giebelhouse’s dialogue was perhaps a bit of a challenging at first, but once you’ve cracked it, it kind of falls into place. It’s mostly about putting in double negatives and a lot of slang and contractions. Too much and it can get over-the-top, but in the end I think it works out well enough. He also makes mention about if he’ll live long enough to see retirement or some such, and that line is more of a little teaser because we’d already hyped the fact that someone would die in the finale, so I kind of wanted to keep people guessing about that, and maybe slip in a little red-herring to get you wondering if this is a foreshadowing of death for Giebs. Of course, we now know that that’s just a slight-of-hand, because he’s alive and well by the end of the season.

We then go back to Locke and Danner as they investigate the Defence Advance Research Projects Agency, or DARPA if you will. This is really to set up the idea of a major defence contract which served as the vehicle to suggest that the stakes were very high and that everything was about to come together in one package. That was the feeling we were generally going for with the finale, not one single piece of technology or a single shady deal, but something that would encompass every single thing that we’ve seen with the Group over the years.

When we return to Seattle, Frank drops in the idea of the brain surgery that we saw most prominently back in “Via Dolorosa” and “Goodbye to All That”. This really provided an excellent opportunity to return to the pilot and come full circle, not just a convenient copycat or a similar case, but a recreation brought to life very deliberately at this specific time to distract Frank and Peter from events in D.C. which we see from Locke’s perspective for the first of the two parts.

On the drive back, you’ll notice that Frank and Peter pass the turn off for Ezekiel Drive, which is of course where the original yellow house was back in Season 1. However, instead of going down and revisiting it, this time they drive on. There were a number of reasons for making this choice – first of all, it can get kind of predictable and mechanical to keep going back to everything from the past one after another, and after a while it becomes overkill. Second of all, that return to the yellow house had already been done really back in the third season’s “The Sound of Snow”. And thirdly, it also provided a nice opportunity to work in a resonant bit of dialogue with a trust old metaphor, the idea of having been down a road and knowing where it leads and wanting to go onward instead of back. All that works on the literal level with the car, and of course on the metaphorical level of Frank’s life.

Back at the motel, Frank has his second visitation or dream, and this time it’s Cheryl Andrews. She was another prominent recurring character that had died along the way that we wanted to work in, since she’s been in all three seasons and is quite a memorable figure, in no small part thanks to CCH Pounder’s portrayal. She’s perhaps not as big of a character as Bletcher is in terms of how familiar we are with her, but in looking back on the show and everyone who has died, she certainly seemed like one of the more important people in Frank’s life. She illuminates his subconscious processing stuff about the Group here and issues of trust and conspiracy, which fits perfectly with what we saw of her character in Season 2 and 3.

As we head into Act Three, things have to get a bit more pedestrian for a bit as we go through the investigative motions. I always say these are the hardest and least fun scenes to write, just getting the clues, the evidence, and connecting the dots. Much better to be writing a strong character scene or an action beat or something more poetic. First we pick up on Dillon cruising for boys, just to remind us he’s out there and stalking his next victim, then we go to the squad room and see Frank laying out the profile in a similar way as he did back in the pilot.

This leads on to the stake-out at the river where Frank has another dreamy encounter, this time with Mike Atkins who we know from such first season episodes as “Gehenna” and “Powers, Principalities, Thrones and Dominions”. Again, he’s perhaps not been seen quite so often as the likes of Bletcher and Emma to come, but he always came across as a significant person in Frank’s life, and we’re told he’s the person that brought Frank to the Millennium Group in the first place. Frank’s memory of him or his subconscious projection of him here talks about family and achieving balance, and even goes so far as to repeat his dying message from “Powers Principalities, Thrones and Dominions” that was relayed to him by Peter.

Back in D.C. meanwhile, Locke is hot on the trail of Trepkos and actually gets his name and crosses paths with him for the first time. This is actually the first time that anyone except Peter has played a scene with him out of our primary “heroes”. This was a bit of means to an end really though. It had come to the point where Brad really needed to know who he was up against and have a name to track down, and also this served the function of alerting Trepkos to the investigation into him which ultimately leads to the assassination attempt at the end of the episode.

Then it’s the chase. As before, elements of this are deliberately intended to evoke the long chase sequence in the pilot episode, and as with the teaser, I took some cues from Chris Carter’s original script in order to reflect it. Also like before though, it’s important not to just replay the same sequence exactly, and to make it a bit different at the same time. So this time around, there’s not going over the bridge and causing chaos with the traffic or jumping over the side – it’s not as big of a deal of that – he just gets away by the time they emerge onto the main road and there’s one of those cool 360 camera shots to show the surrounding and that there’s no sight of him while staying on Frank’s face for the whole turn. I like those.

At the top of Act Four we launch straight in on the appearance on Emma Hollis. By this point I think the audience have pretty much got the idea on how this is working and aren’t so surprised anymore, so it needs less introduction and adjusting too. At this point she’s really representing Frank’s drive to put the pieces together, and also his instructional side in being a mentor figure to both her and Brad.

Then we get to the point with the terrorist suicide-bombings at the football stadium and the Washington Monument at 6pm on June 6th -- or in other words 6/6/6. This was originally born out of an idea in the writers’ room that was actually slated for 12/12/12 a the time. However, since this episode was airing much closer to June than it was to December, and given the reference to the number of the Devil, this just naturally evolved into 6/6/6. The basic idea here was firstly to up the ante on things, second to give Trepkos even more of an evil and threatening nature, and third to link in that Satanic element. Of course, in terms of the plot, it was also to raise national security concerns and to try and push the DOD further into giving it’s big contract to Trepkos. I think these sequences, as harrowing as they may be in today’s climate, succeeded in giving the finale that extra epic feel and sense of something bigger than your regular episode.

Back in Seattle things start to move a little faster as we get to Dillon’s home and find the coffins in the basement and such. Again, this was to echo the pilot but not repeat it, so the buried-alive guy is down there, but it’s not in the woods by the river, it’s in his basement. You’ll notice that we don’t spend much time at this location and actually find the leaflet for the mobile blood van a little too quickly and perhaps slightly conveniently, but that’s because all the various elements that were going into the finale had just started to balloon by now and threatened to drag on if we didn’t get moving, and there was a definite point we had to be at by the end of part one. So it’s full speed ahead at this point.

Soon enough we get to the confrontation with the blood van, which was about as original a thing as I could come up with for where Dillon could be testing the blood. With the Frenchman in the pilot, it was of course the pathology lab at the police department, so this needed to be something different and not quite so dull and obvious as a hospital. So there you have it – mobile blood van. Frank’s decision to go inside alone is pure Frank, but it’s there that he’s threatened by a hypodermic needle. It occurs to me that we’ve never really seen that kind of thing as a threatening weapon much before, not in what I’ve seen anyway, and certainly not in Millennium, so again that serves as something original. By the same token, I knew that I didn’t want to have Dillon gunned down or killed by the end of this episode. That’s kind of the clichéd, standard expected ending to these things by now, and I’m sure if you had to place a bet the sweetest odds would be on Giebelhouse charging in and putting a few rounds in him. Instead, I wanted this to play against that, and for them to actually capture him alive as they wanted for a change. As well as making that a bit of a surprise, it also allowed us to add in the far more sinister execution scene in part two which tied things back to the Millennium Group and made for extra drama. I say that now as I’m sure by this point everyone has read to the end, and there are no spoilers to be risked.

As a final twist, Frank starts putting the pieces together and begins to realise that this has been an engineered distraction to divert his and Peter’s attention away fro events in D.C. So he calls up Brad, linking up the two strands of the story, and it is this fateful call that leads him to hand his keys to Danner. And then comes the boom and the death that was promised. By taking his keys and getting in his car first, she takes the bomb that was meant for him. The idea here was that Trepkos had been alerted to the investigation and was worried when Brad showed up and crossed his path earlier in the episode, so decided to have him done away with, as indicated by his earlier call to Cain, the ever-silent muscle-man in the shadows. I’m sure some people probably saw this explosion coming, especially if you’re used to watching thrillers by now, but I like it. I think it’s a shocking enough way to go out of part one and leaving you with your jaw just ever so slightly open for the wait for part two. Nothing like a good explosion every once in a while to keep things interesting. I also quite like the way we still hear the sounds of alarms and flames after the fade to black and while the old “TO BE CONTINUED” comes up. It just kind of allows the shock to continue being absorbed, gives it some more weight and milks the moment a bit. Even if you did see it coming, I think it would look pretty good on screen.

So that’s “Resurrection” done with. This was the side of the finale which was about the full-circle effect most of all, with revisiting the pilot plot and its locations, whereas part two goes more to the side about Trepkos’s plot and the final confrontations, although there are still one or two pieces of nostalgia reserved away for “Resolution”. I’ll come to all that next time. Hope you enjoyed it.

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