X Company: Mark Ellis and Stephanie Morgenstern Talk “Friendly Fire”

CBC
CBC

*** Warning: This article contains major spoilers for the X Company episode “Friendly Fire” ***

Throughout X Company’s three seasons we have seen Sinclair (Hugh Dillon) ask his team and those he commands to make many sacrifices. In this week’s episode he made the ultimate sacrifice, taking his own life in the hopes that Neil (Warren Brown) would be able to escape. Unfortunately, Neil was still captured by the Nazis and is in more danger than ever heading into the series finale next week. Elsewhere, Aurora (Evelyne Brochu) and Alfred (Jack Laskey) finally shared a moment of happiness that has been building between them throughout the series’ entire run. What does that mean for their future?

To get a glimpse at what’s to come in next week’s series finale, X Company creators Mark Ellis and Stephanie Morgenstern once again joined The TV Junkies for their weekly postmortem. They share in the happiness over Alfred and Aurora and looked at what danger Neil may now be in as they discussed “Friendly Fire,” written by Daniel Godwin and directed by Morgenstern. “It was a great joy to watch Daniel Godwin write this episode,” said Ellis. “He’s been with us almost since the beginning of our days at Flashpoint, working his way up through the ranks, and it was a thrill to see him handle such an important episode,” Ellis enthused. Read on below for more of the creators’ take on the series’ penultimate episode.

 

The TV Junkies: Alfred and Aurora finally had a moment of happiness together and it feels like a surefire sign they are doomed. [laughs] I assume that was the second moment Mark was talking about when he said there were two that should leave us worried about Aurora.

Mark Ellis: Yes, to me it’s that long look back at each other that they don’t give that makes me worry for them in the next episode.

TTVJ: This moment between them has been building for three years and it was really nice to see them genuinely happy, however brief it was. Was that moment as satisfying for you guys as it was for us viewers?

Stephanie Morgenstern: It’s one of those classic things where you set these two people in motion and create a powerful dynamic between them, but if it’s too quickly or easily satisfied then it loses all its power. We’ve been stretching this elastic for as long as we think is right. We definitely wanted to give them this moment of being able to be completely free with each other. Of course they can’t go skipping through the daisy fields because the city is being bombed and they have places they need to be. That’s a way of keeping it real because you don’t know how long you’ll be around, or how long you have, so you seize this moment when you can. They are both in a position of having finally spoken complete truths to each other, and it felt like it was the right time for them to pull together and embrace.

We really felt that as much as all of us have been longing for a while for them to come together, it’s not something you want spelled out on screen either. We really wanted to do it with a light touch and a suggestion rather than explicitness. That’s why when they draw towards each other and the clothes are starting to come off, and they are starting to finally release their passion, that we wanted to do it in as much of an understated way as possible so we can imagine it. Because no matter how it acted out or how you try to portray it on screen, it won’t be as intense as the desire you have as you watch it to imagine what that may be like.

Mark Ellis: I found it really nice for the two of them to have their moment. Having created a short film so many years ago where we saw the very seeds of Alfred and Aurora start to take an unconsummated interest in each other, this was just really satisfying to be able to see the characters come together at last.

CBC
CBC

TTVJ: All season long Sinclair has been asking those he commands to make sacrifices for the greater good, but this week it was his turn. He made the ultimate sacrifice and why did that feel like the right ending for him?

ME: It was an earned death, and we really made it clear last season what the consequence can be of being captured and having someone you care about tortured in front of you. The enemy was going to try to use his strongest bond of love as his weakness, and Sinclair was human enough to know that would break him. We were interested in peeling back all the layers of Leader and Spymaster to reveal the vulnerable man, the father, underneath.
SM: We also felt it was a satisfying resolution to the ethical conflict that had been simmering for a long time between Neil and Sinclair, about the meaning of duty and of sacrifice. Sinclair’s controversial principle that some lives are more valuable than others – sometimes you have to sacrifice the pawn to save the king – comes full circle here where the ‘king’ himself understands his life must be sacrificed as well, for the good of the greater number. Over this season, Neil had lost a lot of respect for the choices Sinclair had made, treating human beings as if they were no more than chess pieces. He never could forgive him for what happened to the two young Camp X recruits. But in the final moments between them, he comes to see Sinclair in a new light.
ME: I kind of love Sinclair when he makes that choice, because we have to remember this is a calculating and strategic man who considered letting a village be wiped out by the Nazis in one of the first scenes in the pilot. To get away with that, we also had to believe this was a man that would just as well put himself on the line the second he’s asked. The scene he has with Neil where he’s explaining why he had to let those two boys get killed, he already knows the end game he’s moving toward, he’s speaking right from the heart, one mortal man to another. It’s like the tables have turned: the king becomes the pawn so that someone else can be set free to get the job done, to help Aurora get to the finish line.

TTVJ: Where does Sinclair’s sacrifice leave the others in the finale? Will they know what he’s done?

ME: Neil hears a gunshot and he knows what’s happened. Krystina, Alfred and Aurora are still safe from the news. We can expect to see their reaction and the anger that is going to whip up inside them.

CBC
CBC

TTVJ: With Neil being captured in the final moments what lies ahead for him in the finale?

ME: We’ve seen Neil fight and use his fists, his bravery and his guns many times throughout the series and all of that is stripped away from him. I love the image of him being captured, almost like a wild animal, at the end of the episode. He’s going to be reduced to just using his wit, intelligence and skills as a true spy to survive the situation. In a way, Sinclair’s legacy is created through Neil because Sinclair, throughout the course of the series, has shown Neil he transcends being a warrior.

TTVJ: We finally got to see Krystina out in the field and she was great! What is her next move and role in the finale?

ME: Krystina has been a rock for Camp X and this team throughout the series, and she will continue to be that in the next episode.

TTVJ: Now that you guys have put the finale all together with the finishing touches, how do you feel about this being the end?

SM: It’s a sad thing to part from something that’s been such an intimate part of our creative vision for a long time, but I feel very satisfied. I don’t think there was anything that we desperately needed to express that we didn’t get a chance to.

ME: I’m really sad to see the end of writing for this show and writing for those fantastic actors. I’m sad to not work with a great crew. I’m sad to not be able to go to Budapest every year and reconnect with our friends there. But I think the finale we wrote is immensely satisfying to us. I think no one is ever universally happy with how a series ends, but I feel like I can happily withstand any criticism and stand by the work we put on the screen.

SM: I think there’s a power and poetry to the way things were resolved. I don’t think it’s necessarily what people will expect.

ME: That’s true, but not everyone gets a happy ending.

 

One one episode of X Company remains! Share your predictions in the comments below!

X Company’s series finale episode airs Wednesday, March 15 at 9 p.m. ET on CBC.

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