How Defying Gravity would have ended: the final chapter

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Exactly a year ago tomorrow, I posted many bits of a discussion I had with Defying Gravity‘s creator James Parriott, where he explained much of how he envisioned the series would have continued, had it endured past its one season run. The show was canceled late in its first and only season, the remaining episodes viewable now via DVD. At that time, Parriott wasn’t yet willing to divulge everything about the series. He didn’t want to fully explain the ending and so forth, because there was still a teeny, tiny chance the show might be brought back in some form. The actors were all still unattached to projects, for example. So, he told me if nothing became of the series after six months, he’d spill it all to me.

Well, six months came and went, and no word came of how Defying Gravity would have ended. I won’t get into why Parriott didn’t follow through at the time, as it’s off the record. So, six months more of my pestering the hell out of the poor man, I’ve finally got what we’ve all been waiting for.

Much of what Parriott told me was already mentioned in my previous post, though he did go into more detail. Below, in Parriott’s own words, is what he has revealed as how Defying Gravity would have ended, though do make sure you check out the original post first.

The second season would be the flight to Mercury and the landing there on “the terminal” (the line where day and night meets).  This is the one area where you can land on Mercury and neither freeze nor fry. It serves as a metaphor – the in-between place – for what Nadia is experiencing, and it is she who will be making the solo landing and have to choose between day and night to survive.

Nadia, in season two, will be revealed in flashback, to have been a true hermaphrodite.  She carries the internal frustration that she allowed the decision to become female to be made for her. Her hallucination is a vision of herself as she might have been. Mintz will draw this out of her (as a shrink) and become her closest confidant. Eventually, over a season or two, this relationship develops into a full blown romance of uncommon dedication. Why?

Because Nadia, after Mercury, slowly starts changing into the man she could’ve been. This miracle (of course caused by the objects’ ability to affect the astronaut’s genes) inspires a kind of faith in Mintz. He moves from cynic to believer (in fact, we come to understand that, in his hatred for the brutality of man, he never intended to return to Earth).

Mintz and Nadia’s true love would transcend their sex, and give the writers the platform to discuss what love is (and address gay marriage, etc.)

Zoe will heal. And her love for Donner will bloom (in contrast to the relationship hell going on in the flashbacks to the ISO training). This is darkened, though, by their mutual dream. Is it possible for her to become pregnant? They do body scans to make sure their tubes are still tied.

And Donner begins to dread what they’ll find on Mars.

Wass and Paula will continue their shy romance that dances around the subjects of science, religion, and faith. He will help her deal with her rape as a child, as they both search for answers as to what the fractal objects really are. Paula will become convinced that the burning bush that spoke to Moses was, in fact, a fractal object.

In terms of Wass and Jen not having hallucinations: I had a storyline for Wass in the very beginning that revolved around him being an Aspberger’s kid and hating being touched. (kind of the opposite of Jen). I dumped that when it became apparent that he and Paula had chemistry and I hadn’t come up with a replacement arc. Jen’s non-hallucination is Beta screwing with her – making her face her loneliness and outsized need for intimacy.

Jen will be forced to deal with those needs. Rollie won’t be available to her – his second-season arc would be to pay for his hit and run and go to jail. The bunny will be discovered — its fur screwing with the ventilation – and be put down. It will devastate Jen. Ted, who is feeling distanced from Eve, will become her lover.

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On Earth, Eve will have to deal with Ted’s betrayal; and Jen’s betrayal of Rollie, to whom Eve feels close. She will also have to deal with the fact that her genes are changing like the astronauts’ … and her repeated dream of Ted yelling “go … go!” in the middle of a Mars dust storm. As the dreams become more vivid, she will realize that this isn’t a vision of the past – Ted’s helmet visor clearly says ANTARES – rather, a vision of the future. Her future. She realizes that the fractals want her to go to Mars.

There would be a re-supply ship launching for Mars at the end of the second season. Eve will be on it — as will Rollie (the pilot), who, it will turn out, has been genetically changing as well. They will meet Ted and Jen on Mars and get a chance to confront them directly.

Claire will be freaked out by the gene modification happening to Eve, Rollie, and the astronauts and will seriously start to question the mission.  This is all far darker than she ever imagined – and clearly, as the probes on Venus showed, there is a larger, international agenda.  She will find herself becoming an ally of her ex-lover, Trevor – who, with his black rock clue delivered by Arnel Poe, starts some serious digging.

This digging and unraveling of the true nature of the mission continues over several seasons and will, eventually, involve Ajay, as well. And, ultimately, even Goss – who will discover that he’s been played all along by the uber bosses:

The true mission isn’t to bring the objects back (or assemble them, as Wass discovers) – the uber bosses want the world to remain as it is. Whatever the fractal objects are, they don’t want them. The true mission is to collect them and send them and Antares out of the solar system into deep space. To simply get rid of them.

Mars.  This will be a lot of season three and into season four. I honestly haven’t thought through it. Obviously, the Eve/Ted/Jen/Rollie stuff will play out. But the center of it is Donner and his discovery that Karen Walker lived for weeks in the habitat after he left her on Mars; and was, in fact, pregnant. The ISO knew it and blocked her radio transmissions. In the writers’ room we were playing with Karen being alive when they got there – and maybe we would have gone that way. At the very least, alive in Donner’s mind as an hallucination.

But it is when they leave Mars (and I think one or two of them will be left behind, dead) that they discover 1) that the fractals are a puzzle to be assembled, and 2) that they’ve been seriously shorted on fuel (Ajay and Claire will tip them). Their choice is to try to return home, or go for it.

Goss, who now knows that he’s been played, tells them to go for it.

So the end game is to get the rest of the fractals – which involves each of our characters overcoming their weaknesses – in effect, proving themselves to the universe.

Yes, Zoe will become pregnant, even though hers and Donner’s tubes are tied. And yes, their dream will, in fact, come true.

The dark planet is Pluto (okay, Pluto’s no longer a planet). The bright light emerging from behind it is the assembly of objects – now, as bright as the sun and put together by Wass and Paula in a surely suicidal mission. But they have faith that something greater is going to come of it. And it does….

As the light hits Zoe and Donner, we’ll flash back to all of those moments in our characters’ lives – the moments that shaped them – the moments that they could have done something to change.  And this time, like a giant do-over, they go the other way. Other moments, unrelated to our characters, shift as well. A road untraveled is taken. A life is spared. And, in a brilliant flash …

Antares is floating again above Mother Earth. Coming home. Its astronauts shuttling back to the surface after a successful mission. Climbing out of their shuttle to cheering crowds. Ajay, Goss, Arnel, Claire — a completely different crew.

Donner and Zoe cheer from Mission Control with their family.

It’s a different world. A better world. The only constant is Trevor Williams, asking into his camera if it was all really worthwhile.

I pressed Parriott for further clarification on something at the end there. Here’s his response:

The objects, Wass realizes, are a puzzle to determine man’s worthiness to exist in a greater universe. Mankind is being tested. In the retrieval of the objects, and in figuring out what to do with them in the end. If we fail, we will simply be allowed to progress on our self-destructive path and cease to exist. If we succeed, we are given a push (don’t forget that time is elastic) by re-doing bad decisions that lead us on the wrong path. Like Ganesh, the god of destruction — but also of new beginnings — we are given a chance to start over. Call it an alternate universe, if you like.

The Antares is returning from a tour of the solar system (the mission as it was conceived, minus the fractals and intrigue). Yes, an alternate universe mission — the mission it would’ve taken had we been on the right path. Donner and Zoe, in this universe, were never on it. (although, in thinking about it yesterday, a better ending would be for Zoe to have been on the mission and for Donner to be married to Karen — in the re-do, he never left her on Mars). It would’ve been a more bittersweet ending — and I like that.

Well, there you have it. I’m sure Mr. Parriott will be glad to not have to hear from me anymore, and I’m hoping having this information revealed to fans will give him some satisfaction that there’s some closure out there for us. Before I posted this, I asked Parriott if this was really how he’d like for the rest of the story to be told, via this little ol’ site called CliqueClack. Could it continue in book form? Comic books, perhaps? Unfortunately, FOX and ABC own all rights to the series, so unless they decide to release or sell the rights to the series, it’s dead and buried; no life left in the girl.

Thank you again to Mr. Parriott for all his time and dedication to the fans, in releasing the final words on Defying Gravity. And thanks everyone for reading.

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