X Company: Mark Ellis and Stephanie Morgenstern Talk “Frontiers”


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

With the team now fully embedded in Poland and working with local resistance fighters, things on X Company are really starting to heat up. The CBC drama hit the halfway mark in its third and final season this week with “Frontiers,” written by Jillian Locke and directed by Julian Gilbey. While Neil (Warren Brown) and Alfred (Jack Laskey) worked to help free Faber (Torben Liebrecht) from the resistance fighters, Aurora (Evelyne Brochu) began her undercover job working with Heidi Adler (Madeleine Knight), and it’s one that proved to be quite disturbing.

Unfortunately, everyone’s lives got a little more difficult after the Germans found out that there are Allied spies working with the Polish resistance and that there is a mole in their office. Also, things at Camp X got tense when Sinclair (Hugh Dillon) decided to send two lesser qualified soldiers to the field over Krystina (Lara Jean Chorostecki). It’s a move sure to draw her ire, but with everything happening in the field Sinclair may not have time to dwell on it for long.

How will the team continue to fight and work to destroy Operation Marigold? Is Aurora in danger now that news of the mole is in the open? To get answers to these questions and more, The TV Junkies turned to our weekly postmortem chat with creators Mark Ellis and Stephanie Morgenstern.

The TV Junkies: Faber made another surprising move this episode when he snapped that guy’s neck. Will he have to explain that to anyone or is it just in the line of duty?

Stephanie Morgenstern: No, they weren’t meant to be taken alive in the first place. Edsel (Basil Eidenbenz) took him aside and said he kept one alive, the one who harassed his wife, as a bonus. So officially no, he doesn’t owe his superiors anything.

Mark Ellis: I think sometimes it’s easy to lose perspective on how highly ranked Faber is. As a Brigadeführer you’re well up near the top. So he’s allowed to get away with a lot of things subordinates wouldn’t. The question is how far is he willing to push that as the season goes along?

SM: Through Edsel he’d heard too much already, which is that there were Allied spies intermingling with the nearby resistance. He didn’t need to hear more than that.


The TV Junkies: We saw Faber tortured by the Polish resistance fighters, and while he’s usually very composed, he was quite emotional after. Will we see him feel effects from that and does that spell danger for our Allied spies?

ME: It was emotional for him in that we see him race back to his house and he’s desperate for a clean shirt because he needs to reroot himself in his uniform. He needs to stabilize himself again because he has been driven to an emotional extreme with that level of torture and emotional humiliation. What becomes difficult for him moving forward is that he has to reconcile his professed distaste for what the Germans are doing to innocent civilians, with what he has to do to protect himself and his family. Ordinarily, he may have looked at this group of Polish people with sympathy, how will he respond going forward after what they’ve put him through? That’s the question we keep coming back to all season long: How far will Faber go to put his money where his mouth is in terms of where his moral alliances are versus what will he do to protect or avenge his family?

TTVJ: I’m already so stressed by having Aurora undercover working with Heidi, so I’m afraid to ask what’s to come for her now that they are aware there’s a mole?

SM: You have to keep watching to see because she has a very delicate balance to maintain. She doesn’t know if she’s the one under suspicion necessarily. If she is then she’ll have to respond professionally to that. It is a pretty terrifying thing to know that they know and are watching with extra care of who might be leaking information to the Resistance.

TTVJ: Alfred is now posing as Alec at the train station. What does that new position entail?

SM: At a professional level, he now has access to information about transport coming in and out of that small town which is really important for him. They are going to try to track down where the sources of oil might be coming through and where they might be processed so they can sabotage that. At a personal level, it gives him a little window into what life is like for ordinary civilians and a loving family.


TTVJ: It was super quick, but I caught Amanda Tapping early in this episode. I know she directs a couple episodes later in the season, but how did getting her in front of the camera come about?

ME: Well, we were trying to write the most depressing hour of television for Amanda Tapping fans where you think she’s going to occupy the whole episode and then she’s only in one scene. [laughs] Unfortunately, she’s a bit too busy directing 307 and 308 to do much more, but if you have Amanda Tapping lurking around how do you not look for an opportunity to use her?

SM: Just to point a little trivia fact, the mole test that we see where you’re supposed to kill someone, as legend has it that’s the test that Ian Fleming failed when he was training at Camp X. I’m not sure how much fact this is based on, but he was supposed to fire live rounds at an instructor that came in but the instructor was able to defeat him. He was not as badass as James Bond. It’s also the same test that Aurora talks about in Episode 2 where she’s stranded in the hotel room for many hours. She didn’t fail that test though and actually succeeded.

TTVJ: Sinclair made the decision to send the two young male recruits over into the field instead of Krystina. The ladies on X Company don’t take many things lying down, so how is she going to react to that decision?

ME: Krystina won’t take that decision lightly at all. It feels like she’s been promised something by Sinclair, and his decision to send two other agents into the field must feel like a slap in the face to their friendship and work relationship. It’s unexpected and goes against the grain of who Sinclair is as a man of his word. We expect to see an extreme reaction from her in the next episode.


TTVJ: You wrote these episodes last summer and I don’t think anyone could’ve predicted the current political climate. What is like having the show air now, when so many people seem to be realizing the importance of resistance and standing up for what they believe is right?

ME: It was around this episode that we began to understand the US, and the world, could very well take an unsettling political turn.  The rhetoric we were hearing was truly scary, and definitely familiar.  As we were finishing the final scripts, and as we were in post, we became more acutely aware of the sudden timeliness and relevance of our show. I would have to say that’s probably the hardest part about ending the series now. I wish that we were there to continue to explore those historical parallels and themes. We’d want to try and widen the conversation about what’s happening in the US, and continue to underline that we’re only a generation away another horrific time, where ordinary people fell prey to an ideology that was all about scapegoating and creating the illusion of a great and noble national past.

SM:  Today again, we’re seeing a world leader whip up a similar sense of crisis, fear and paranoia, feeding on existing and latent prejudices and then strategically fanning the flames higher for his own ambitions and purposes.  A man singleminded and intent about cracking down on legal dissent, silencing debate and centralizing his own power.  The parallels are pretty unsettling.

ME: We’re heartened to see all the #resistance happening on the streets and in our social media — because that’s essentially what our show is about. Resisting. Refusing to roll over. Defying. Fists raised in the air.

What did you think of this week’s episode? Share your thoughts below!

X Company airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET on CBC.