Hello, and welcome back to the official VS5 blog. This time around we’re going to be deconstructing episode 12, “Ondrædan Ende”, which was written by Angelo Shrine. This one was actually moved forward quite significantly from its original place in the schedule because we’ve been let down quite badly in recent times by some writers here and there. Fortunately, we also have Angelo who’s a wonderfully efficient writer, and had this one done ahead of time despite it originally being slated for about episode 18.
This one was an original idea pitched to us by Angelo, and it was envisioned as a very dark and graphic standalone episode. That’s ultimately what it turned out as, with a disturbing storyline and twisted set of characters in a very odd family dynamic. It works well in that respect, gets us away from your run-of-the-mill murders once again (which is something I think we’ve done very well with in the last few weeks), and might be evocative of such past episodes as “Loin Like a Hunting Flame”, or even the X-Files episode “Home” which we talked about in discussing the tone of this episode.
The teaser here introduces us to the principal antagonist of Darien Graunger, whose last name was deliberately chosen and researched by Angelo to be quite old in order to explain the desire of the family to preserve it. This might also be a good time to explain the title, “Ondrædan Ende”, which is a kind of old English that literally translates as “Fear of the End”, which is of course the fear these characters have of the end of their family, wile also tying in to the show’s overall theme.
As we see Darien at the bar in the teaser, I particularly like the way we get to see some unusual point-of-view shots, demonstrating Darien’s twisted perspective on the world. This is a nice nod to the tradition of the show right back to the first season, as far as the pilot, and was also employed to good effect later in such episodes as “Weeds” and “Covenant”. That was kind of the thematic hallmark of the first season, ways of seeing the world, and it was good to return to that to a degree here.
While Darien’s actions are disturbing enough here, the real tease or psychological scare comes from what we see of the characters of Mellie and Janice. When we first see them you’re naturally expecting them to be innocent and unaware of what Darien is up to, but the fact that they come down and just tell him to keep the noise down and carry on is really disturbing.
We’re then into Act One where we have a briefing scene with Danner on the unrelated matter of the mob case. On the one hand, it’s good to see Danner again here, as we haven’t used her much recently and she could do with a bit more of an effective outing, but on the other this is really only one of two scenes she has in the episode and it doesn’t quite justify her inclusion.
We’re later introduced to Janice and her job at the hospital, which hints at things to be developed later and establishes her relationship to the family. None of this really went through any changes, as it all seems to do its job pretty well, all things considered. We also learn at this point about the death of the father and of the Graunger family, and that it occurred at a New Year’s Eve party at the turn of the millennium. I think this is a really nice touch, tying in the date of the apparent end-of-the-world with the end of the family’s personal world with the death of the patriarch. That’s a very effective way of mirroring the larger world events with the very personal level.
At the top of Act Two, we get so see Frank’s at Quantico again which I’m quite pleased about. It seems like a while since we’ve seen him here, and it’s the position we set him up with at the beginning of the season, so it’s good to touch on that once again. I perhaps envisaged seeing him a bit more often than we have done, so it’s good to bring this in again. He is a lecturer now, after all, and that’s the root of his relationship with Brad, so it something that’s more than welcome for this scene.
It’s later in the second act that we’re introduced to the character of Yelena Holmes who is investigating the case on her home turf. Angelo felt it was important to have a strong female character to act as a counterpoint to the twisted couple of Mellie and Janice, which was certainly the right call. We have Mellie, the blind old woman masterminding these abductions and rapes, and we Janice, her lesbian partner doing the same, so we really need another female character to stand in opposition of that and show the other side. That’s what Yelena provides, and she’s got a strength of character in her own right who you could very much believe would have investigated and possibly solved the case by herself whether Frank and Locke had shown up or not.
We then go to the cemetery scene which is an important one in fleshing out more of the motives of this family, and showing us some of its history. Having Mellie talk to Darien and give him a bit of a dressing down in front of the gravestone of his dead father and brothers makes the point in a more visual way, with the iconic image of the tombstones working well in conveying the ideas of death and family and lineage and continuance. That then takes us out of the act when they learn that none of the latest victims are pregnant and that Darien is going to have to go out and “try again”. In keeping with the episode in general, that’s another psychological and disturbing scare, and while it’s perhaps not the most striking of act-outs, it’s very much in keeping with the established tone.
Act Three is where some slight changes took place from the original draft, whereas the first two were pretty much untouched. Once we’re told of the latest girl to be kidnapped, Samantha Brazentide, we move on to her brother Jesse who was with her when she was taken. As originally scripted, this was in fact a sister named Theresa, but I decided to change this to a brother in order to facilitate something else that we changed later in Act Four, and I’ll get to that later. The actual dialogue in these scenes didn’t really change much though, as for the most part we could just stick with everything that was given to Theresa and make it come out of Jesse’s mouth. There’s also another added few lines a bit further on where Frank questions Locke on his empathy with Jesse and his determination on the case in general, and that’s never answered in this episode, instead left over as something about Locke’s character that will be explored in more detail in “Golgotha”.
The act then ends with a fairly bold choice in having Janice kill Darien because he almost got them caught. This is very unexpected, as most of the plot so far has been built around Darien as the primary, or at least one of the primary antagonists. So to kill him before we even get into the final act is quite surprising. I was initially opposed to this, since I felt it would undercut the idea that both Mellie and Janice were equally determined to carry on the family name, and it wouldn’t entirely make sense that they were prepared to kill the last surviving son when the death of the others effects them so much as to motivate them to such extremes of action. I think you could still argue that to some extent, but it helps that it’s only Janice committing this act, not Mellie, as Mellie is the only one who is actually Darien’s felsh and blood. Janice is more in it out of allegiance to Mellie, rather than an allegiance to the family as a whole.
That then leads us on to Janice’s plan to still continue the family name in Act Four. She suggests that Mellie could have a child, and that even though it wouldn’t be a continuance of the Graunger bloodline, it could still technically keep the name alive. This is perhaps a bit of a stretch, but I think it works in taking us in to the final act of drama in the episode. Originally, this involved having Locke as the one who was abducted in place of the women in order for him to be forced to impregnate Mellie. However, I felt it was necessary to change this as I didn’t want to place one of our lead characters in jeopardy again. We’ve done that a few times already this season, most recently in “Sleep of Reason” with Miranda which now became the directly preceding episode due to us moving this one up, and I didn’t want to do that to Locke again. Angelo actually made a very good case for why this wasn’t quite your standard jeopardy situation, since Locke wasn’t in danger of death but instead in danger of what was essentially a rape, and even suggested that we could go through with that and actually have it happen. I was almost convinced by that, although I really didn’t want to have Locke actually suffer that fate.
There was also another issue in that, as originally scripted, Locke was captured by having the previously kidnapped girls, including Samantha, be released in the ambulance with instructions to bring Locke back. I knew this part would have to change though, as I couldn’t really buy the idea of the girls going along with this, and that their instinct would just be to run once they got free. So, in order to solve both of these problems, I decided that it would be a different male character that was taken for the final endgame. One option was to make it the guest detective, and have Yelena Homes be changed into a male character, but as mentioned before we needed to preserve that strong female character. So, the best option was to give Samantha a brother, which is why we changed Theresa into Jesse as I talked about before.
So, Jesse was now the one that Janice turned her attention to in an attempt to impregnate Mellie – yet another sickeningly disturbing element to this story, which is exactly the kind of thing I love in Millennium! For the scene where she gets a hold of him, we made this into a simple exchange, where Samantha is swapped for Jesse. We dropped in a few hints about the cell phones in order to give you the idea as to where Janice learned about Samantha’s brother from, and this put it across without having to go into too much laborious detail. Having Janice actually there and making the exchange also made it a lot more believable to me too.
Fortunately for Jesse, the trio of Frank, Locke, and Yelena are able to get there in time, or it might be more appropriate to say that Mellie dies just at the right time. I think it could perhaps have been a bit clearer as to how the detectives figured things out and knew to charge off to the house, which would probably have improved the climax a bit, but I still think it works. What’s better though, at least for me, is the code in which Samantha learns she is pregnant. I think this was an excellent choice by Angelo, as it takes us out on a haunting note, as all the best episodes do, and shows that Darien was actually successful after all, and that the Graunger bloodline is going to continue. I think that’s a very effective irony, that despite the apparent triumph, the villains actually got what they wanted in the end, and it wraps up the theme of the story in a nice, downbeat way.
So, overall, I think “Ondrædan Ende” was a success as a good, middle-of-the-road standalone. It’s perhaps not the greatest of the season, but it’s nowhere near one of the worst either – a good middle-ground. I think it’s the darkness and the daringly disturbing ideas behind the episode that it will be remembered for, and that’s no bad thing at all.
Next up is “Golgotha” which is another of my scripts that airs on Good Friday. It wasn’t really designed this way, or ever meant to be “an Easter episode” – not that there’s really such thing – just a serendipitous kind of thing. I always had the idea of wanted to do one of the more extreme episodes of the season based around modern-day crucifixions and sexual abuse at a Catholic Church, and when we noticed that it’s place on the schedule was very close to Good Friday, we decided that the kind of resonance it had to that date was too good an opportunity to pass up, so made sure it would air for the occasion. It aims to be very extreme in all senses, extremes of violence and extremes of content – not just for the sake of it, but because the kind of story really demands it, and it’s not something that you can shy away from. Not for the squeamish, shall we say. I should preface it in general that it doesn’t reflect any wider agenda or view of Catholicism or religion in any way, it’s not intended to cause offence or be against the Church, it’s just a story. If you’re of a strong religious conviction and are wanting to enjoy your Easter without any controversy, this might be one to skip. Here’s the print ad:
And that’s all for this entry. Still no questions, so you’re leaving me with no fun in that regard. No fair. I’ll just give you a slight peak at a bit of dialogue from “Golgotha”, and say thanks for reading.
This is where they found him. Whoever did this dragged
it out, made it last. You would have been able to hear the
screams a block away, but thanks to the way we live now,
nobody got involved. He died one of the slowest and most
painful deaths imaginable before the police showed up.
Any initial thoughts?
I’ve witnessed a lot of violent murders. Horrible crimes.
Depravity…but this is extreme.
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