X Company 309: Writer Daniel Godwin breaks down “Friendly Fire”

Spoiler warning: Do not read this article until you have seen X Company Episode 309, “Friendly Fire.”

In X Company‘s penultimate episode, “Friendly Fire,” Duncan Sinclair (Hugh Dillon) bet on Franz Faber’s (Torben Liebrecht) word and lost. Desperate to rescue his POW son, the team leader agreed to turn over the blackmail tape he was holding over Faber’s head. However, during the exchange, Faber had Sinclair and Neil (Warren Brown) arrested to prove his triple-agent status to his incredulous superiors.

“The big question—and we’re starting to answer it in these last two episodes—has been, ‘Can we trust Franz Faber?’ And that answer is really starting to become clear. He’s somebody who wriggles out of those tight spots,” says episode writer Daniel Godwin.

In a fruitless attempt to help Neil escape, Sinclair chose to take his own life, giving himself up to the greater mission, and, as Godwin explains, paying for his mistakes.

“He’s definitely feeling a lot of guilt over becoming emotionally compromised by the involvement of his son, and I think he’s maybe starting to realize he was wrong about trusting Faber, and that’s what came crashing down on him,” he says.

To get us ready for next week’s series finale, Godwin joins us to break down Sinclair’s sacrifice, Faber’s double-cross and all the other plot points of the action-packed episode, including Alfred and Aurora’s long-awaited romantic interlude.

Stephanie Morgenstern directed this episode. Did that add any excitement to the assignment?
Daniel Godwin: For me, it was very cool, because it was Stephanie’s first hour of television that she’s directed, and it was a big honour. Because the first hour of television that I got to write was actually thanks to Stephanie, because she’s the creator also of Flashpoint, which was my first writing credit. So for that to come full circle and have my script be the first thing she directs for TV, how cool is that?

And her attention to detail is so impeccable, and then, of course, her experience coming from the acting and writing worlds combined with her knowledge of the show, I think it really shines through in this episode and you’ll see in the final episode even moreso. I can’t think of a more fitting director to wrap up the series, really.

I was so sad that Sinclair died, but his sacrifice made sense to the story. Why was the decision made to kill him?
That’s a good question. We talked a lot about this in the writers’ room. In fact, we talked through just about every version of these last two episodes, in terms of who would survive and the outcome of that. Going into the final season, Mark and Stephanie had a pretty clear picture of where they wanted things to end for each of our spies. And this season, we were fortunate to have such a talented writers’ room. I think we were all interested in chasing down a conclusion for Sinclair that felt the most emotionally satisfying, and so when we looked at him, Sinclair’s a guy who believes in protecting this bigger picture and this great mission. He’s definitely feeling a lot of guilt over becoming emotionally compromised by the involvement of his son, and I think he’s maybe starting to realize he was wrong about trusting Faber, and that’s what came crashing down on him.

And, you know, with his son, he’s someone who’s given so much to this war, and it felt like a fitting sacrifice for him in the end for Neil just to have a chance of escaping. And it kind of sets the stakes of where these guys are at and the reality of that, and that’s why it was just such a tragic conclusion when Neil was recaptured at the end there.

For me, actually writing that final Sinclair scene was really tough. I’ve known Hugh since back on Flashpoint and killing a main character like that, unfortunately—or fortunately—I’ve never had the pleasure of doing before. So getting to write that was such a privilege. And if anyone is a fan of Flashpoint, for me, I wanted to play with that final scene a bit. I wrote it as sort of an anti-Flashpoint moment. Normally, at that point, Hugh would be the one trying to talk down the guy with the gun, so it was a lot of fun getting to reverse those roles and take him to that really dark place.

And what about William? I’d hate to think both of Sinclair’s sons died.
Well, you may want to tune in next week!

Faber faced a nightmare version of This Is Your Life, when his superiors laid out all his inconsistent actions since Season 1. It was fascinating to see him get out of it, but he turned on Sinclair to do it.
Faber is one of my favourite characters to write for. Torben, in particular, does such a great job at bringing him to life, too. The big question—and we’re starting to answer it in these last two episodes—has been, ‘Can we trust Franz Faber?’ And that answer is really starting to become clear. He’s somebody who wriggles out of those tight spots, and that’s where we like seeing that character when his back is against the wall. And, you know, at the end of 308 when he revealed he’s a triple agent, it’s all starting to catch up to him. And, for me, I loved just kind of pinning him with all those questions, especially this being the penultimate episode, seeing him sit down and have to answer about all these lies and all these things that he’s stacked up over the last three seasons and just picking at those scars and those scabs, and I think truth is really catching up to him. And for the first time, I think we’re starting to see Faber for maybe who he truly is, and he’s starting to realize it, that he’s a pawn in this much larger game.

I can’t decide if I think Faber should die for his sins or be forced to live with his actions.
That’s what we talked about in circles for days and days and days. Which is a sign, I think, that you’re on to something good, when you can inspire those conversations and those thoughts.

It was so much fun to see Krystina out in the field. She was so in charge with Manfred, and it was wonderful to see her alongside the rest of the team.
Well, Lara Jean is such a great actress, and think we were all dying to see her in the field properly and have Sinclair make good on his promises of getting in the field. I really liked how we revealed that, too, without making a huge deal about it. We just pick her up, and she’s in Berlin, helping to set up a mission just like any other team member. And like you said, watching her in action with the team, alongside them, like I would watch an entire Krystina spin-off series.

Now that Sabine knows the truth about her father’s beliefs, she seems ready to fully embrace her autonomy and start standing on her own. What can we expect from her in the finale?
I think you’re definitely on the right track there. I think Sabine is someone who’s been told how to act and told what to do her whole life, and you see that coming from her husband and from her father and the spies are telling her what to do. And her awakening has really been in full force this season, with the bullet holes she saw in the clothing, and she’s really starting to open her eyes to what’s going on. And now with Ania during that air raid in this episode, that moment where she starts comforting that girl, I think she’s starting to notice that she’s playing a part in this whether she wants to or not, and she’s more powerful than she knows. So she’s got some choices to make, coming up, to separate her from the people who are controlling her and telling her what to do.

When we last spoke to you, you were worried fans would hate you because you broke up Aurora and Alfred, but you got the chance to make amends in this episode. Are you happy with the way that payoff played out?
So happy. Again, that was such a long arc in the making, so I think it concluded in such a great way. And for Alfred and Aurora, they’ve been resisting this for so long for all the same reasons that Sinclair has been fighting, for that bigger picture, the mission, the duty of it all, that kind of thing. And for both of them in this episode, the reality is setting in that they’re behind enemy lines, and this is an incredibly dangerous mission, and they both know that they could die at any moment. They’ve seen that with Harry and everything leading up to this moment, but I think that even on a deeper level, what’s happening with Aurora is that she’s questioning those orders in that bigger mission now. Because what she just did on ‘The Hunt,’ that insane episode, she’s starting to lose sight of who she is and what she’s doing, and our season theme of becoming the enemy is really ringing true for her. So, meanwhile, in this storm of the air raid, it’s Alfred with his perfect memory who’s able to remind her of exactly who she is. And Evelyne and Jack just played it so beautifully, and I think people watching that moment feel the same as Alfred and Aurora do, because if it’s not now, when? How are we gonna do this? Yeah, that moment really paid off in a great way.

Neil was captured at the end of the episode. How’s he going to get out of that jam?
We know Neil’s pretty strong. He’s always been one of our strongest team members, so we do have a plan. You’re in good hands. Keep watching, and I think everyone will be pretty happy with how things all go.

So everything comes down to the anniversary party with Voight. What can viewers expect from the finale?
I think it’s a really strong episode of X Company. It’s a really fitting way to say goodbye. It’s glamorous, there’s action, there’s plenty of emotion and so many turns. I think people are going to be really surprised at how everything shakes out and where it all goes. And I think you’re going to feel very satisfied. I think it’s a very fitting conclusion to the series.

This was your last episode of X Company. In 20 years, what do you think you’ll remember most about your time on the show?
I think for me, I’m just really proud of what we accomplished in three seasons. It’s been such an honour to be able to tell these stories and to write such compelling characters for the brilliant actors that we have and to be able to shoot in historic European locations and just working with Mark and Stephanie again. I’m so thankful to them for creating such an amazing series and just letting me be part of it. I think that’s what I’ll remember the most.

X Company airs Wednesday at 9 p.m. on CBC.

Images courtesy of CBC.