Human Target: Tanarak
March 31st, 2010
SPOILER WARNING: Tonight’s episode of “Human Target,” Tanarak, chronicles Chance’s adventures on a small mining island in northern Canada. A doctor named Jessica Shaw (a distant cousin of Kendra Shaw perhaps?) is the target of an assassination attempt because she knows the corporation is storing deadly toxic chemicals in the mines. Relatively light on the bigger mythology of the series, this episode still offers a glimpse into Chance’s past as he bonds with Shaw.
The episode begins with a unique orchestration of the Chance Theme, this time performed by a solo French horn. A small percussion and clarinet groove picks up steam as the logo ends, transitioning us directly into the first cue of the show:
Given the amount of screen time dedicated to her, I knew I needed to write a Jessica Shaw Theme. Thusly, her melody is featured prominently in virtually every scene, beginning with the teaser. She frantically drives through the wilderness, trying to escape the island, as an English horn presents her theme:
The melody itself has a nice harmonic rhythm, feeling at home with the series but also clearly unique from the many other female characters who have their own themes (Maria, Katherine, Alison, Laura, Emma, Eva – did I forget anybody?). I haven’t listened to the mixes of this episode in a while but, hearing that clip now, I’m suddenly reminded of the toms in the beginning of Dire Straights’ Money For Nothing. I certainly didn’t do that on purpose, but now it really sticks out to me!
In the first act, Chance drives to the island in a new Camarro, blasting the single from the upcoming Brendan’s Band album, Ain’t We Famous. This song was featured in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, but this new recording is an even better performance and mix. Tonight’s “Human Target” is the first time any of Brendan’s new recordings have ever been heard.
Brendan’s Band has a full-length album due out this Fall. They frequently play in Los Angeles, but I hear rumors of a West Coast tour this summer, so check out the official site for details in the coming weeks.
(It’s Kelly, from BSG!)
(And while I’m at it, isn’t that Laird from Pegasus?)
In the second act, Chance and Jessica have escaped Kelly and the other mutineers from Galactica… wait… I meant they’ve escaped the bad guys by jumping off a cliff. They find a moment to catch their breath while huddled together naked by a fire. The life of a bodyguard is a rough one, I know.
In this intimate conversation, we learn that Jessica became a doctor because she wanted to travel to the world’s hotspots and make a difference in the lives of people who need help. In many ways, Chance can relate to her instincts. A solo piano and two clarinets state the Jessica Theme as they talk:
At the end of this act, Jessica and Chance make it to a vehicle and decide not to escape, but to stay and find the evidence they need to bring this company down. At first, Jessica is hesitant and wants simply to run away. But, as the reality of her situation dawns on her, a solo English horn plays her theme over the suspenseful, electronic accompaniment:
Chance begins to plan their escape, and a heroic version of his theme swells in the brass:
He asks Winston what pilot they know in the area who could fly them out within four hours. This triggers a hilarious dialog, as they go through the list of pilots qualified for the job, all of whom happen to be deceased. Here, the score shifts to a lighter, more comedic sound, with multiple, overlapping statements of the main theme melody from the woodwinds and horns.
The most revealing scene in the episode comes in the fourth act, when Chance and Jessica are stuck in a collapsed mine. While treating his wound, Jessica notices the collection of crazy scars on his body. The score throughout this scene is intimate and simple, but also follows the arc of the conversation very well.
First, as they discuss the various wounds on Chance’s body, a solo flute and small wind ensemble offer a plaintive version of his theme:
The conversation shifts to Jessica, as she describes how she couldn’t save a patient early in her career and vowed to never let that happen again. The score shifts as well, bringing back the English horn to play her theme:
This is my favorite arrangement of the Jessica Shaw Theme in this episode. At the end of the clip, a heroic yet melancholy French horn plays the Chance Theme, as he finds himself relating all too well to her situation. He realizes that he became a bodyguard for the same reasons she became a doctor.
(They cast the PERFECT guy for this role: corporate evil incarnate!)
While Chance protects the girl, Winston and Guerrero track the source of the corporate espionage. This leads Winston to a showdown in the limo with the head of the company. Winston explains that he’s caught and can either go to jail for corporate crimes or attempted murder. Underneath this scene, an ominous percussion and bass ostinato lay the foundation for a moody version of the Winston Theme:
I wanted the theme here to play a subtle, menacing threat. In this scene, Winston blackmails the bad guy. Even though we all know Winston is the good guy, I hoped a spookier variation of his theme would highlight the darker side of Winston we’ve never seen before.
Winston succeeds in dealing with the corporate bad guy and Chance saves Jessica from the hired goons. At the end of the episode, Jessica stops by to say goodbye before heading off to a new destination. I quoted her theme one final time, this time noticeably more resolved and warm.
I actually scored this episode fairly early in the run, so it was produced before we started video blogs. Regrettably, that means no video this week. But, we’ll be back next week with a good one, showcasing one of our featured musicians. And then, the following week is the big finale, so don’t miss it.
Well, its time to quit this blog entry now, so I can get back to writing the final cues of the season. We’re recording on Friday, and I’m told on good authority that the season finale will feature the largest orchestra ever assembled in the history of series television. Even though I’m not done composing it yet, I can safely say the final episode this season will blow you guys away!