Sometimes to take down the enemy, you must become the enemy. That’s the lesson the X Company team will have to learn in the CBC drama’s third and final season when it premieres Wednesday, January 11 at 9 p.m. The end of Season 2 saw the team’s biggest enemy, Franz Faber (Torben Liebrecht), offer his services to Alfred (Jack Laskey) and Aurora (Evelyne Brochu), but can he really be trusted? What about his wife Sabine (Livia Matthes)? She finally learned the truth of what her husband is truly capable of and had her friendship with Aurora exposed. What will she do with that information in Season 3? Neil (Warren Brown) and Harry (Connor Price), along with the others, are also reeling from the death of Tom (Dustin Milligan), so how do they move forward?
To gain further insight into the drama’s explosive final season, The TV Junkies spoke exclusively with creators Mark Ellis and Stephanie Morgenstern. The duo discuss the series’ end, whether or not Faber should be trusted and preview some new characters that will join the show in Season 3. Morgenstern also talks about directing the final two episodes, her first time doing so, and they preview how Alfred and Aurora will deal with their feelings for one another.
The TV Junkies: Coming off a stellar Season 2, and with the decision that it was the show’s last season, did you feel any pressure to make Season 3 really go out with a bang? How do you think you succeeded with that?
Stephanie Morgenstern: I think we do quite effectively go out with a bang. It’s not because we felt pressure to do it, it’s just because it was the best way to get the story told. It felt right.
Mark Ellis: One of the things with confining yourself to three seasons is that you can continue to up the stakes. You never have to tread water, and we never tread water in the third season. It’s all about driving towards a pretty tragic, yet hopeful, finish line.
TTVJ: I know it was your decision to end the show, but now that filming is done are you having any second thoughts?
SM: Not at all. This is a time of history where there will always be thousands of stories left to tell, but it felt right to bring this circle of stories to a close in a trilogy of seasons. The first season was launched when Franz Faber first opened the file on this team of spies who had made their first mark in Ville-Marie. It really feels right to push that to its absolute extreme and wrap up with the culmination of that story of the relationship between these two antagonists.
TTVJ: A lot of last season was leading up to the Battle at Dieppe. Did you have a similar guide post you wanted to hit this season?
SM: We wanted to take the team deeper into enemy territory than they’d ever been before so it felt right to make the ultimate destination Berlin. We thought a good high stakes event to circle around it would be the 10th anniversary of the Nazi accession of power in the beginning of 1943.
ME: Basically they are going to crash a very big party.
TTVJ: Faber is going to be working as a double agent. Can the team truly trust him enough to work with him?
ME: That’s the main question of the season. Here’s a man that has come to you and said ‘what do you want me to do?’ I don’t think the team has a very defined notion of what they want him to do. It’s been an impulsive move by Alfred and Aurora to recruit him and it’s a move that has to be vetted by Sinclair. So the first thing that happens at the beginning of Season 3 is that Sinclair drops what he’s doing, gets on a plane and goes head to head with Franz Faber. The question is of course ‘can he be trusted?’ And if we can trust such a high ranking Nazi, ‘how are we going to best deploy him?’
One of the fun aspects of Franz Faber’s character is that even though he’s come to them because haunted by the death of his son and driven by a sense of justice and morality, his instinct has always been to protect himself and protect his wife. What happens when what the team wants him to do is at odds with protecting himself, protecting his wife? Can Franz Faber ever truly be trusted? I think we’ll never really know in Season 3 until the final seconds of the season.
TTVJ: How does Sabine handle all this now that she’s aware of the truth about her husband and Aurora?
SM: Sabine has a really fun journey across Season 3. When she learns the decision her husband has made, without consulting her, she explodes. She becomes a very volatile, angry character and we get to see a side of her we never suspected she had. She’s tired of being told what to do and she’s tired of following rules. She has a very strong allegiance to the man who raised her single-handedly, her father, who is a very high placed officer in the Nazi hierarchy.
In the first few episodes of the new season we have no idea of how she is going to deal with this explosive information that she has–that her husband has placed his allegiance, verbally, to helping the enemy of her own country. Her journey goes from being a very doted on, protected and very delicate feminine creature, to being a person who gradually learns more and more truth about what her country is doing in the name of what they feel they deserve in the world. She has a coming of age where she has to face these brutal truths and the decisions that she makes when faced with this are going to take people by surprise and make her one of the driving forces of this season.
TTVJ: Now that it’s clear Alfred and Aurora have feelings for each other, where do they go from here?
SM: They didn’t realize that the events that happened in the Faber apartment in the Season 2 finale, where Faber grabbed Aurora by the back of her head and threatened her, they plant the seeds for a lot of trouble. Faber witnessed first hand that as soon as Alfred sees this woman threatened he becomes immediately compliant. Faber knows that there is more than friendship between the two of them and it becomes something he can use. At the end of Season 2 their feelings are strong and mutual, but that is no guarantee that they get to enjoy them.
ME: It’s like every relationship, there’s a time when they come closer together and there are times where they are further apart. I think they are always close on some level during the course of Season 3 but there’s an ebb and flow to their relationship. They both have to do their duty at different points of the season, and turn their gaze and affections elsewhere, and those are compelling in themselves, as well as how they relate to the relationship between the two of them.
TTVJ: What can you share about any new characters that will be joining in Season 3?
ME: One of the first images we had for Season 3 was of a new female German character who is inspired by these women that were a product of the end of WWI. They were young Aryan women raised with Nazi values and had a very clear sense of what was right and what was wrong. They were brainwashed in a way and yet they were very empowered, worked in jobs that carried great responsibility, part of an emerging feminist ideal in a time where many women were expected to sit home and raise children.
So we wanted to create a character of a young woman, Heidi Adler, who seems to have everything going for her–she’s progressive, intelligent, vivacious, attractive, and the kind of woman Aurora would fall into being good friends with and she does. Then we start to slowly uncover what’s at the root of Heidi Adler and the part of Germany she represents. The arc that Aurora goes on alongside her takes several episodes to climax towards but it’s quite exciting.
The other character we’re really excited about is Sabine’s father. He’s part of Hitler’s inner circle and becomes both a target to the Allies, but part of the personal entanglement between Sabine and Faber and Sabine and Aurora. Aurora has to get close to this gallant, old school, noble Nazi who has the heart of a poet but also represents the very worst of that regime. He’s played by a Danish actor named Morten Suurballe who was the lead in the original The Killing series.
TTVJ: Tom was a huge loss last season. How is the team still feeling the effects of that loss?
SM: Neil and Harry carry the weight of his loss particularly heavily, but the whole team does, as does Krystina and Sinclair. In a microcosm Tom represents the loss of a vivacious, hopeful, optimistic, idealistic side of why we’re fighting and to have had to leave his body behind left a scar on everyone. You can handle this loss in more than one way though, you can collapse under the weight of nihilism and grief, or you can fight back twice as hard so that we haven’t lost him for nothing and we can wrench some redemption out of this.
Because of Tom the team is twice as motivated, twice as desperate to make sense of this loss and his presence stays with the team in more explicit ways as well. There are a number of times when they are faced with a challenge or a puzzle or a conundrum and they stop and think ‘what would Tom do right now?’ That’s basically what is the most brazen, daring thing we could try. Tom is still very much with them just as he’s still very much with us. It really, really hurt to have him torn away from the fabric of the team but I think we still manage to honor his presence in what follows.
TTVJ: Stephanie, you directed the last two episodes of the season. What was that experience like?
SM: It was probably the most intense, challenging, terrifying, gratifying professional thing I’ve ever had to do in my life. I’ve been working in film and TV since I was 12, first as an actor, gradually as a writer, then gradually as a showrunner and every stage of that has taught me something that I wouldn’t have learned if I focused in on a single stage before. All of these things that I’ve been developing alongside each other played a role in my feeling ready to direct. The last 20-30 years have been a master class in how to tell a story. I don’t know yet, we’re still working on the episodes and it’s impossible to be objective about how I did. All I know is it felt right and it felt like the right time to be doing this as well, considering the seeds of these stories began about 15 years ago when I was planning to direct and now came full circle with my being able to bring this story to a close with my personal touch. It’s hard to find the words for it, but it was very satisfying and something I want to do again.
Are you excited for Season 3 of X Company? Can Faber be trusted? Sound off in the comments below!
X Company Season 3 premieres Wednesday, January 11 at 9 p.m. ET on CBC.
Editor in Chief Bridget Liszewski comes from a long line of TV Junkies who fostered her love of television from a very young age. She's channeled that passion into covering both US and Canadian television shows, and is thankful everyday for the invention of the DVR. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame, she loves college football and is a fan of sports in general. Bridget is always up for talking TV and you can follow her on twitter at @BridgetOnTV.