'Flashpoint' finale brings the city to its knees, its fans to tears and Team One to its breaking point
How do you find an end point after 75 episodes of hostage negotiations, takedowns and bomb defusions?
A Team One tropical vacation might be fitting, but co-creators Stephanie Morgenstern and Mark Ellis had different plans.
Warning: SPOILERS AHEAD!
“We wanted to throw the biggest possible challenge to the team. We wanted to end on a note where everyone’s skills are challenged to the fullest, where there isn’t a split second for anyone to relax on the team and where ideally, there is a moment where we fear for each one of them,” says Morgenstern.
“If you want to make something on that epic scale, you need to have explosives. A single hostage taking isn’t going to do it. We needed to bring the whole city to its knees.”
And that’s exactly what they did.
“I remember reading the script and I thought, ‘Really? You’re actually going to blow it all up?’” says actor Sergio Di Zio who plays Team One’s bomb expert, Spike. “And as truly horrific as it would be (in real life), as an actor, it’s kind of playing inside a crazy dream.
“I got to play cops and robbers in the streets of Toronto. I was doing that when I was six or seven, with my mom grabbing me by my arm on the way to church, but now, I got to get dressed up in the cool pants and run around with my friends.”
In the first part of the finale, Team 3 leader Donna Sabine (Jessica Steen) died in a bomb explosion after the city was taken siege by a lone terrorist, and Ed’s (Hugh Dillon) son Clark was trapped under the rubble from a bombed out City Hall. In the first few minutes of Part Two, Clark is rescued (whew!) but Parker (Enrico Colantoni) walks into the ravaged building, only to discover the bomb was radioactive.
And as he goes to get tested and cleaned up, Team One is without their Sergeant, their headsets silent. It is unnerving to have a Parker-less Team One. He insists that even though he’s not with them, his hand is always on their backs.
Jules takes on Parker’s role as lead negotiator and the team starts to track the suspect amidst the smoldering city.
‘What have we done to our city?’
Where the sweeping shots of Toronto have always been inspiring, with glimpses of the lake and the CN Tower, during the finale, they are dire, with huge plumes of smoke filling the areas where the bombed out buildings used to be.
While the show was shooting outside Toronto’s Air Canada Centre (which functions as the emergency triage centre in the finale), Morgenstern and Ellis say things started looking incredible realistic.
“Seeing Lloyd Robertson (who returns to his news anchor chair in a cameo) projected on this huge screen with scenes of devastation unfolding behind him, that’s when it felt real to me. That’s when I thought, ‘What have we done to our city?’” says Morgenstern.
“People were pushing their strollers with their lattes, going, ‘Oh my God, what is happening?’ It looked too real. It was chilling because this is our home and it could happen.”
Eventually the members split off into Rapid Intervention Teams with an SRU member, a paramedic and a fire fighter to find the remaining bombs. But as the members of Team One find each bomb and relay how much time is left before they blow, Sam reveals to Spike that his bomb has just over five minutes before it blows. It very suddenly feels like Spike is right back to Season 2, with Lou standing on a landmine.
Sweat pours down Sam’s face as Jules joins the rest of the team in yelling at him to get out. He doesn’t leave himself enough time though and when the bomb explodes, Sam’s thrown by the heat of the explosion and lies in a crumpled heap.
But then Sam coughs and tells the rest of the team, "Trust me, you don't want to do this the hard way."
When Parker realizes that the tenth and final bomb must be inside the stadium-turned-triage-station, he sets off to find it. Turns out, it’s another “dirty” bomb with just over three minutes on the timer and just as Spike is walking him through how to defuse it, Parker is shot at by the terrorist, Marcus Faber.
In an intense shoot out, Parker still manages to cut the bomb’s wires and tell the shooter, “Your message isn’t going anywhere.” Ed manages to shoot Marcus seconds before he kills Parker.
But even with the “subject neutralized,” he still shot Parker four times. In one of the most powerful moments on Canadian TV, Parker lies in Ed’s arms, blood pouring out of his mouth with Ed insisting, “We’re not done,” as the tears stream down his cheeks.
One Year Later
Team One is far from being done, indeed.
“It was a great gift to know ‘Flashpoint’ was ending because we were able to book end the series,” reflect Ellis. “In the first season, we saw the seeds of post-traumatic stress in Ed and by the last episode, we see Ed who has gone through therapy and has emerged from dealing with his PTSD now able to cope with an incredibly difficult call, a call that really makes Ed have to step up, not just for his team, but for Parker, his best friend and for his family.”
That said, the pair also didn’t want to tie up every single loose end. “We didn’t want to end with a sense that Team One is completely dead or decimated. We wanted a feeling of continuity and that whatever the values that we felt they embodied – compassion and humanity – that those continue.
“We wanted a sense that everyone is on a journey somewhere.”
Ed returns to the SRU headquarters, pausing at both the Distinguished Service Award for Team One, and the memorial for Donna on her locker. But the tension dissipates when Spike and Winnie greet him, holding hands (Yay Spike!).
Then Jules and Sam arrive with their baby, Sadie, along with Leah, and finally Parker arrives, limping and with a cane.
They’ve all come back together to celebrate after Parker’s retirement party.
“Spike has come of age and finally has some wonderful stuff coming into his life,” reflects Morgenstern, adding that Jules has been mentored by Parker to be as good a negotiator as he was.
Parker has moved on to be an SRU instructor, and Ed is now the Sergeant of Team One.
“And Sam went from being verbally lashed by Ed in Episode 3 to a guy who can lead his own team and is as sophisticated a tactician as Ed,” says Morgenstern. Sam has been promoted to leader of Team Three.
“It’s been so great to have them all grow,” Ellis says.
“There’s a sense of forward momentum that the show ends with and anything else would’ve felt like a betrayal,” says Morgenstern. “We didn’t want to see our beloved characters stop what they’re so good at.”
Though Di Zio says ending “Flashpoint” was bittersweet, he does say shooting his final scene was one of the most powerful memories he’ll take with him. “On my last day of shooting, I ended up on a rooftop, trying to help my team from up there. I got to look out on Toronto, by myself.
“You walk in on the series on your own, and you leave the series on your own, too. But I got to be up there, looking down at what was our playground for the last five years.”
Full episodes of "Flashpoint" are available online at CTV.ca.
About Lindsay Zier-Vogel
Lindsay Zier-Vogel has been working for CTV.ca since 2008. Lindsay’s highlights include interviewing the famed American choreographer Bill T. Jones and Canadian prima ballerina Karen Kain, as well as covering the Juno Awards. Follow her on Twitter!