Where Angels Fear to Tread
Here were are. At last. The final episode of Star Trek: The Final Frontier. I must admit, this is quite an accomplishment. Five years, 120 episodes. Nobody else has even come close… and for time, I was certain that I would never achieve this goal. But I did. History has been made… and you have been a pivotal part of that history.
So, where should I begin? There is so much to say about this episode, I could very easily devote another 93,888 words to my feelings about the episode. And yes, for those of you who must know, the entirety of “Where Angels Fear to Tread” clocks in at an amazing 93,888 words. The average episode of TFF clocked in right around 15,000 words, but I knew going into the episode that it would be much longer than that. When I started writing the episode, I was actually shooting to make the episode a good two-parter, and call it a day at about 30,000 words—maybe 35,000 since it was the final episode… But as you can see, that didn’t quite pan out, and I actually tripled the episode length over the course of the year it took me to write this behemoth.
From a technical standpoint, the episode was surprisingly easy to write. Coming into the episode, I had a very good idea where all of the plots were going. I knew exactly how I wanted everything to end, right down to the final moment with Angela on the beach. From a technical standpoint, it should have taken me about two months to write the episode. And had this been any other episode, that would have happened. But this, as it turns out, is the final episode of TFF, and that small facet added a big emotional element to the writing process. After five years, I am really quite fond of these characters, and as I wrote I found it increasingly difficult to say good-bye. I wanted to do these characters justice. As such, the notion of an exact release date became secondary. As you probably know, this episode had about 15 different release dates, most of which were missed by a wide margin—but I was not content to release a smoldering pile of dung. Not this time.
My vision for the episode changed with time, as well. As a whole, it is remarkably similar to the episode I envisioned back in Season Two. Yes, I knew exactly how this series was going to end during Season Two. How is that for advanced plotting? Anyway, the episode gradually came to encompass a much larger canvas than I had anticipated. The very first draft of the episode started amidst the battle in the Adin Kel System; you were literally thrust into the situation aboard the Jevian in Chapter One. Xi'Yor kidnapped Angela in Chapter Three; he creamed the Starlight in Chapter Four. Everything was happily ever after by Chapter 12. It could have worked. But there has always been more to TFF than explosions. A big factor in the continued popularity of the series has been the characters, and exciting as the original draft of “Angels” was, the characters seemed to get the shaft. I mean, there were still plenty of great moments, but in the aftermath of the Starlight’s destruction, there was always a muted, darker tone to the episode. And while I did want that, I didn’t want it for the whole episode. I wanted to see the characters interacting in a far happier environment—I wanted to see them in their prime, one last time. Hence the addition of the first big chunk of the episode—which really, really enhanced the episode’s inherent theme: moving on.
Astute readers might have noted that Chapter One of “Where Angels Fear to Tread” mirrors—almost exactly—the first chapter of “Beginnings” (the very first episode for you non-astute readers). I figured there was no better way to show how much these characters have grown than to draw parallels with the very first episode. At the same time, you can see how much better the writing has gotten. In retrospect, I’m not certain WHY I thought “Beginnings” was so very well written, because today it seems rather sparse, and somewhat clunky. Anyway, these additions to the episode really boosted it to another level… in my heavily biased opinion. I’m not going to sit here and extol its greatness, but, suffice to say, I was very pleased with the way things ultimately turned out, and the first part of the episode was released on November 30, 2005.
Then, in an unprecedented move, I canceled the rest of the episode a few weeks later.
Now, before I continue, allow me to make one thing clear: I am extremely appreciative of every last person that reads TFF. And I know there are a lot of people out there reading. I have had the pleasure of chatting with many of you… and since I closely monitor the Site Statistics, I know there are many, many more that just like to read through the episodes without commenting. This, unfortunately, is where things went bad back in November. After I posted “Angels” online… well… the response was so utterly nonexistent that my confidence in the episode started to waver. I think that three… maybe four people took it upon themselves to share their thoughts with me. Now, I checked the Site Statistics. I knew that many more people had downloaded/read through the episode online. But their silence was very… frustrating, I guess. Suffice to say, I took that as a sign that people were not reacting well to the episode. To this day, I don’t really know if that’s the case, but, thanks to a number of very devoted fans, I decided to go ahead and finish the episode anyway.
And here we are. The completed episode. Admittedly, I did get a little emotional whilst writing the last few scenes. I mean, this was a very difficult write. Words cannot adequately describe how incredibly difficult it is to encapsulate five years of your life… five years of Alan Christopher’s life… of Erin Keller’s life… and just wrap it up with a neat little bow on top. Even though I knew exactly where it was going, I struggled with this ending more than any other facet of ANY other episode in the history of TFF. It’s not easy to say good-bye… but in my opinion, I think that this is as good a conclusion as one could hope to get, and I sincerely hope that all of you feel the same way. It might not be the happiest of endings, but as long as it put even a little smile on your face, I think that my mission will be a success. And I do hope to hear from you!
Moving along… a lot of you know that it doesn’t take much for me to provide spoilers. A little prodding here and there, and I’ll reveal just about anything. Some people knew YEARS in advance that the Starlight would get creamed in this episode. It was also relatively common knowledge that Bator would get the ax… but I let slip on more than one occasion that Alan Christopher would also meet his demise. And that, originally, was the plan. As far back as Season Two, I fully intended to kill off Alan Christopher. It’s even alluded to in “The Sands of Time” and “Dimensional Analysis.” But as the course of Season Five progressed, I started to have second thoughts. I started to get the feeling from readers that, perhaps, a happy ending would be a far better route to take, especially given all of the darkness that pervaded Seasons Four and Five. It turns out that the readers were right. I actually tried both endings, and the happier one was, by far, the superior version. As you might have guessed, Alan was supposed to get killed by Xi'Yor during the fight on Tal Qirat—instead of just getting his shoulder whacked, poor Alan was impaled. He still managed to kill Xi'Yor and save the day, but his victory came with a very high price. But it didn’t work. So Alan lives to see another day. Yes. Read on, dear friends…
This episode is also pays homage to MANY of my favorite things. Now, I’m not going to point out all of them like I did in “Twilight of the Gods,” but I will say that if it seems familiar to you… then it probably is. The “Lost” numbers (4, 8, 15, 16 23, and 42) make numerous appearances, and the sequence in the Bamboo Forest near the end of the episode is also an homage to Lost, complete with giant trees vanishing in a puff of smoke. Of course, they’re actually just falling off the side of the mountain, but… hey… I couldn’t exactly fit the “security system” into the episode. There are also plenty of “Final Fantasy VII” references… and if you notice the word “Oblivion” creeping up, it’s because I’ve wasted 50+ hours of my life playing “The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.” Boy, do I hate minotaurs (though that minotaur that followed me into the Inn of Ill Omen certainly wishes that he hadn’t).
So… is this really the end of TFF? Am I really going to call it quits and never return to the series?
In a word: No.
There will be more TFF in the future. It turns out that my affinity for TFF is so great that I simply cannot turn my back upon it, even though I have tried. Thus, I am pleased to announce TFF’s next chapter: “Untitled Story about Alan and Justin.” I am currently looking to release the episode in late 2006 or early 2007, so stay tuned for details (and join the update list if you haven’t already done so!). In the interim, I intend to flesh out the database a little bit more, and perhaps even go back and proofread some of the episodes in Season One. Because they need it.
So, this concludes Star Trek: The Final Frontier in its current form. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing it—and I hope to hear from you soon!