Human Target: Christopher Chance
Tonight’s episode of “Human Target,” Christopher Chance, is the season finale. It answers many questions that have arisen throughout the series, and asks new ones as well. The episode is the culmination of my thematic approach to the series. Characters we see for the first time, such as Katherine and the Old Boss, already have their own firmly established musical themes. Combining them with more familiar melodies, such as the Chance, Winston and Baptiste Themes, I wrote one of the most operatic scores of my career.
(Mark Valley, Bear McCreary and Jonathan Steinberg)
“The idea of scoring the show thematically, almost like an opera, was something that happened very early in the process,“ executive producer and writer Jonathan Steinberg recalled. “For most of the audience, it’s not something that jumps out at them, but it’s a crucial part of the way we set tone, and the way our stories are told. Using thematic music to that extent is a bit of a lost art, I think; score has become much more atmospheric for the most part in the last 10+ years. But I think the music for ‘Human Target’ has contributed a tremendous amount to the positive reaction we’ve gotten from our audience.“
(Click image to see the high resolution panoramic. Session photos courtesy of Andrew Craig)
This score is my largest and most ambitious yet. Recorded with over 90 musicians, I have been told on good authority it may be the largest orchetsra ever assembled for episodic television.
Getting a 65-piece orchestra for every episode thus far was already a major achievement for the producers and Warner Bros. When Steinberg told me he wanted to go even bigger for the finale, I was skeptical the studio would go for it. “I think budget is just a question of priorities; what’s crucial and what you can live without,” Steinberg explained. “The stuff you can live without tends to be the stuff that gets short-changed. And we were very clear throughout production of this show that the score was something we couldn’t live without. And to their credit, the studio was extremely supportive in helping to make it work.”
The orchestral sessions for Christopher Chance were a unique thrill for me. The expanded string section soared, and the creative possibilities of having woodwinds in threes provided endless inspiration. I was able to achieve sounds that, until now, were impossible on this show.
The sessions were especially fun because Christopher Chance himself, Mark Valley, stopped by and hung out with us all day, even picking up a flugel horn and learning his own theme song!
Steinberg told me that attending these sessions was “one of the most fun experiences I had with the show. And hearing how excited the players are about what we’re doing is icing on the cake. When people who do this for a living are so enthusiastic about something you’re trying to accomplish, it means a lot.”
* * *
SPOILERS AHEAD: The title card of Christopher Chance is unique. I dropped the shades of intrigue and mystery that usually accompany the title cards, and favored instead a simple, powerful statement of the main theme in the horns and trumpets, punctuated by violent hits from the percussion, low brass and strings:
[audio:http://www.bearmccreary.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/ht111-01.mp3|titles=Human Target – Christopher Chance Title Card]
My goal was simple. I wanted the score to tell the audience that the forthcoming episode of “Human Target” is going to be awesome, and I think this arrangement of the theme accomplishes that perfectly.
From the title card, we cut to a team of bad ass mercenaries invading Chance’s office. They burst in through the windows and doors, but find no one there. A solitary cup of warm coffee suggests that someone recently was there, however. From the cup of coffee, we cut suddenly to six years in the past, to the moment when Chance and Winston first met.
Chance, working as an assassin, not a bodyguard, steals Winston’s cellphone and uses it to figure out where Katherine Walters, his next target, is located. Despite his sinister intentions, the camaraderie between them is already apparent. I underscored this moment with a very subtle flute solo playing the Winston Theme:
[audio:http://www.bearmccreary.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/ht111-02.mp3|titles=Human Target – Meeting Winston]
Hearing the Winston Theme here foreshadows the many events in their future where I also used this theme, the crazy exploits and hilarious dialog that have become familiar to the audience by now. His theme transitions us back to the present, where Chance, Winston and Guerrero jump out from hiding to attack the mercenary invaders.
They are unsuccessful in thwarting the invasion, and are captured, separated and taken to different rooms for questioning. In this sequence, we meet the interrogator (we never learn his real name). The interrogator is the antagonist of the episode, although really he is a catalyst for the larger “Chance and His Old Boss” storyline that has been just under the surface of the narrative for virtually the entire series.
It was important to establish him as a unique threat, but not to let his menace overshadow the darkness implied in the Old Boss Theme, which I knew would also play an important role in the episode. I composed a melodic Interrogator Theme, set against two distantly related minor chords:
[audio:http://www.bearmccreary.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/ht111-03.mp3|titles=Human Target – Interrogator Theme]
The Interrogator Theme underscores the various scenes throughout the episode where he questions Chance, Winston and Guerrero. He attempts to untangle the events of Chance’s last case as an assassin, in hopes of finding a mysterious MacGuffin (a.k.a. “the book”).
The events surrounding the book’s disappearance are the same as those leading up to Katherine Walter’s death, so Chance is forced to recount the story of how he fell in love with a woman who made him give up his old life and become a hero. While we cut back to the present every once in a while, the bulk of the episode is told in flashback, and finally fills in the missing blanks in Chance’s backstory.
While the Interrogator Theme was the only new melody I wrote for Christopher Chance, the episode was, nevertheless, the most challenging thematic interplay I’ve yet composed for this, or perhaps any, series. Since the pilot, I’ve known the finale would involve a host of returning characters and story arcs. I was able to plan ahead and write themes that wouldn’t pay off in a big way until now. Of course, the Chance, Winston and Baptiste Themes all come into play, but more importantly, the Old Boss Theme and Katherine Theme finally move from subtle, subtext hints to full-on thematic splashes.
The decision to develop these secondary themes resulted from my first conversations with executive producer Jonathan Steinberg about the finale. We felt the score should not quote the Chance Theme at all during his transformative process. He’s on his way to becoming that hero, but he’s not there yet. As a result, this episode is almost entirely devoid of variations of the Chance Theme, especially in any heroic context. I saved it for a few key moments, which I’ll discuss as we get through the episode.
Leaving out the Chance Theme opened up a world of musical possibilities. I realized how frequently I relied on that melody to provide the thematic backbone for my cues. Deciding to avoid it left me looking for new themes to bring to the foreground. The melody that became the de facto main theme of this episode would be the Katherine Theme:
The Katherine Theme evolves throughout the story as their relationship grows. It begins simply as they flirt upon first meeting. The tune grows warmer and darker as their relationship and dire circumstances become more pronounced. Ultimately, it evolves into the tragic and operatic finale to the entire season.
(OMG this puppy is SO CUTE!!!!!)
Before we meet Katherine, we witness Chance introducing himself to Carmine. At this point, Carmine is the most adorable puppy ever unleashed on television, and I had no choice but to write “adorable puppy music.” First, the woodwinds playfully enter on the first three notes of Chance’s Theme, hinting at the relationship to come. The strings enter, playing his theme, but suddenly, Katherine walks into his life and picks up the puppy. Here, the strings and English horn take over, offering the episode’s first statement of the Katherine Theme:
[audio:http://www.bearmccreary.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/ht111-04.mp3|titles=Human Target – Carmine and Katherine]
The arrangement is warm, without being overly sappy. I wanted to underscore their instant connection, without pushing the romance too far too early. However, with precious little screen time available to develop their relationship, I had to make every available second count.
Chance has finally found his victim, but has second thoughts about killing her. He calls his boss, to tell him he thinks the assignment is wrong. Here, we get our first glimpse of the Old Boss.
This character, played by Armand Assante, has been a specter haunting Chance for the entire season. We first see his face in reflection on a glass table, before panning up to him on the phone with Chance. Admittedly, this shot did not provide me the huge dramatic moment I had been hoping for, where the orchestra could come blasting out with his theme.
However, it was important for this story that we see the Old Boss. And, during the flashbacks, he’s still a normal part of Chance’s life, not the mysterious, vengeful figure he would become. So, the Old Boss theme blasting in the brass would have to wait. Instead, I heralded his introduction with a dissonant cluster of trilling and tremolo sul ponticello violins and violas. As we pan up to his face, the low winds offer a moody, brooding statement of his theme:
[audio:http://www.bearmccreary.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/ht111-05.mp3|titles=Human Target – Seeing the Old Boss]
Despite Chance’s protests, his boss tells him he has to kill Katherine. Chance realizes he has reached the threshold of his moral and ethical boundaries. We cut to the next scene, where Chance goes into Katherine’s room and convinces her to leave with him. However, by this point he’s already made up his mind. We never actually witness the moment where Chance makes this life-altering decision.
Because we never see this shift, I wanted the score to help sell the inner turmoil in his mind. Swirling strings cascade over slowly shifting harmonies, crescendoing and building intensity all the while. As he speaks to Katherine, the severity of her situation dawns on her and the music continues to build energy:
[audio:http://www.bearmccreary.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/ht111-06.mp3|titles=Human Target – Switching Sides 1]
Finally, he confesses he was sent to kill her. Since the score had already built up for so long, I couldn’t get any bigger for this crucial moment. The most effective shift I could create was a sudden drop down to a single, tremolo note in the violins.
While it was tempting to quote the Chance Theme during his confession, I knew it wasn’t yet time. After all, he hadn’t really adopted his new life yet, he just knew he didn’t want his old one anymore.
Instead, the double-reeds quote an emotional, but somehow suspenseful, version of the Katherine Theme:
[audio:http://www.bearmccreary.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/ht111-07.mp3|titles=Human Target – Switching Sides 2]
Chance explains if he doesn’t help her, his boss will simply send “the next guy” to finish her off. Here, the low strings and stopped horns quote the Old Boss Theme, reminding us he’s out there, ready to send in Baptiste should Chance fail or betray him.
Chance gives her a gun, not realizing that she knows how to use it. Within seconds, she has the gun pointed at him and must now decide if she trusts him or not.
She asks why he would risk so much to help her. The sincerity in his eyes as he tells her he doesn’t want be an assassin anymore convinces her. This moment was a real challenge because I had to shift from complete suspense, to inquisitive mystery to hesitant tenderness seamlessly:
[audio:http://www.bearmccreary.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/ht111-08.mp3|titles=Human Target – Switching Sides 3]
The Katherine Theme, played by the strings, is woven throughout this moment, between lush chordal passages in the winds and brass.
Chance takes Katherine to a secret safe house (well, not that secret) to hide out for the night. In the bedroom, they share a tender moment that is the first to solidify their forming romance. The score here needed to be warm and soothing, bigger than their first meeting, but not so sweeping as to overwhelm the simple tenderness in the scene.
The Katherine Theme worked beautifully, this time arranged with the lush orchestration that has worked so effectively in the past, in Sanctuary and Victoria in particular. This cue is special, because it introduces the Katherine Theme B-Section for the first time in the entire series:
[audio:http://www.bearmccreary.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/ht111-09.mp3|titles=Human Target – Katherine Theme B Theme]
Stated first in the flute, then picked up by the clarinet, this secondary melody offers a new side to the Katherine Theme. Though brief, this melody is still a definitive component to her melody.
(Music Prep Team L-R: Jonathan Beard, copyist; Henri Wilkinson, orchestrator; Ed Trybek, orchestrator; Bear McCreary; Neal Desby, supervising orchestrator; James Hopkins, supervising orchestrator)
The score makes a sudden transition as we cut outside the house, where an unknown assailant breaks in. Here, a solo contrabassoon announces the arrival. I had originally scored this passage to be doubled with string basses and celli, but supervising orchestrator Jim Hopkins suggested holding back the celli, and allowing the contrabassoon to have its only solo in the entire score. I’m glad I trusted his instincts, because the contrabassoon alone resulted in a very spooky, unusual color that is rarely heard in orchestral music and had never yet been heard in “Human Target:”
[audio:http://www.bearmccreary.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/ht111-10.mp3|titles=Human Target – Guerrero Sneaks In]
After the solo, muted brass and string clusters combine with a subtle glissing harp to increase the tension as Chance wakes up, hearing someone enter the house.
That someone turns out to be Guerrero and the orchestra blasts a triumphant statement of the Guerrero Theme! … Just kidding. I never wrote a Guerrero Theme, but if I had, this would have been the perfect place to bring it back, wouldn’t it?
Chance and Guerrero battle. Size trumps agility this time, and Chance finds the opportunity to put a bullet in Guerrero’s face. A surprisingly emotional moment ensues as Guerrero says “don’t make a whole thing out of it,” trying to suppress his fear. Clarinets and harp begin an evolving ostinato as Chance grapples with the decision. I avoided playing suspense and instead went with an entirely emotional approach, which I felt would augment the tension in the scene more effectively:
[audio:http://www.bearmccreary.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/ht111-11.mp3|titles=Human Target – Sparing Guerrero]
Katherine steps into frame, accompanied by Chris Bleth’s solo flute playing her theme. Mike Valerio’s electric bass gives the moment added darkness and warmth.
Chance spares his life and knocks Guerrero out cold. When he awakens, he sees Baptiste waiting for him. An English horn and bass clarinet re-introduce the Baptiste Theme that figured so prominently in Baptiste:
[audio:http://www.bearmccreary.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/ht111-12.mp3|titles=Human Target – Enter Baptiste]
As I described in detail in the Baptiste blog entry, his theme is literally Chance’s theme turned upside down. I was thrilled to see Baptiste return in this episode so I would have another opportunity to develop his theme.
Chance and Katherine, on the run again, go to the one person who can help them: Christopher Chance. Portrayed by the perfectly cast Lee Majors (Six Million Dollar Man), Old Chance is the one person who was ever able to successfully protect a victim from being assassinated by Mark Valley’s Chance.
We later learn the name “Christopher Chance” is more a title, passed down through generations along with the training and skills necessary to be worthy of the name. I believe that each new Christopher Chance also inherits the musical theme! As we reveal Old Chance, the horns and trumpets blast a powerful statement of the Chance Theme, made all the more dramatic because it is the first time we’ve heard it in full since the opening title card:
[audio:http://www.bearmccreary.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/ht111-13.mp3|titles=Human Target – Old Chance]
This dramatic musical phrase became executive producer Jon Steinberg’s favorite cue from the entire episode. “It’s so simple, just the horns in unison stating the same hero theme that we’ve used a hundred times during the season,” he told me. “But it’s the first time it’s just been stated so purely and forcefully in the horns like that, and to have it happen over an actor that isn’t Mark Valley makes such a strong statement.’
‘In one moment, every instance and every variation of the hero theme throughout the whole season now has a bit of nuance to it that wasn’t there before; it’s almost like each statement of that theme has been a slightly imperfect replication of this original statement of it. That Chance isn’t just a hero, he’s a guy who’s desperately trying to live up to the legacy of a better man who came before him. A great example of how score adds dimension and context to a scene that dialogue and picture can’t.”
With the introduction of Old Chance, I was now free to begin developing the Chance Theme again. In the next act, Old Chance tells New Chance of the name’s origins. Accompanying him, the strings state the Chance Theme in a pastoral setting:
[audio:http://www.bearmccreary.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/ht111-14.mp3|titles=Human Target – Nobody Deserves to Die]
The melody is in C, but the use of a pedal Ab actually makes it feel like its been re-harmonized (it hasn’t). I liked finding a new harmony for the melody that we’ve heard so many times, to help drive home the idea that this man is Christopher Chance, just not in the way we’ve always known him.
With Old Chance’s help, Chance and Katherine set out to find the book at the docks where she worked. Chance insists that Katherine stay behind in the boat. They kiss for the first time, and the score swells with an orchestral statement of the Katherine Theme. However, I avoided the temptation to play the romance too big. In fact, the music dies down to an ominous, almost funereal passage as he leaves her. We all know where this story ends; I might as well let the music start foreshadowing the tragedy of her death.
Katherine stays behind in the boat, while Chance retrieves the mysterious book. As he steps out of the shipping container, Baptiste awaits him.
As we know from Baptiste, their relationship is complex. On its surface, this scene is about an antagonist trying to stop Chance from fulfilling his mission. However, its really about the fraternal friction between Junior (as he’s known) and Baptiste. To help underline the subtext of their dialog, the score momentarily avoids the physical threat Baptiste poses, and instead focuses on their emotional baggage. The woodwinds state a melancholy, yet subtly threatening version of the Baptiste Theme:
[audio:http://www.bearmccreary.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/ht111-15.mp3|titles=Human Target – Baptiste at the Port Yard]
Chance makes a run for it, and a searing percussion and electronics groove takes over the score. Leaping from container to container, Baptiste chases Chance to a final showdown. In their battle, the book falls into the bay. No longer having a reason to keep Katherine alive, Baptiste pulls out a detonator, revealing he is ready to destroy Katherine’s boat.
Here, a flurry of tremolo string lines ripple ever upwards, as a solo flute whispers the Baptiste Theme. With a final swell from the orchestra, Baptiste detonates the boat. A wailing, tragic arrangement of the Katherine Theme plays Chance’s shock and horror:
[audio:http://www.bearmccreary.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/ht111-16.mp3|titles=Human Target – Boat Explosion]
Katherine’s melody is in the strings, but you can hear brass and winds dancing around it with cascading phrases. The horns, more than anything else, rise up above the arrangement with a final, bombastic fanfare as we cut to black.
Chance is overcome with rage at the sight of his beloved Katherine’s boat in flames. The storm of tremolo strings return, this time with a tragic horn section stating the Katherine Theme. The trumpets reply with the Baptiste Theme as Chance attacks Baptiste:
[audio:http://www.bearmccreary.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/ht111-17.mp3|titles=Human Target – Old Chance to the Rescue]
Locked in deadly combat, Baptiste gains the upper hand and appears to have Chance beat. Tremolo strings and trumpets cluster, while the high winds trill, all of them punctuated by aggressive hits from the percussion and snap pizzicatos from the celli and basses. Its not looking good for Chance here.
Old Chance appears and shoots Baptiste. In a flash, Baptiste falls, spins around and throws a knife directly into his heart. I chose not to play a triumphant fanfare for Old Chance’s arrival (since it goes south so fast) and elected to play the chaos and confusion with quickly ascending phrases in the celli and violas.
Baptiste has escaped. Chance runs to Old Chance, powerless to help him. Old Chance’s death scene here is among my favorite scenes in the entire series to score. A somber brass choir states his theme one final time, in one of the most gorgeous arrangements of the melody I’ve ever crafted:
[audio:http://www.bearmccreary.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/ht111-18.mp3|titles=Human Target – The Death of Christopher Chance]
In the second half, the strings pick up the melody while the French horns offer a contrapuntal variation of the theme, soaring up above them. This would be fitting music at a lavish funeral for a hero surrounded by loving mourners. Old Chance has no such service, only a solitary former assassin and cloudy sunset to mark his passing. I owed it to him to give him a proper musical send off.
Scoring an older generation’s action hero passing the torch to the next generation’s was a moving experience, for both myself and producer Jon Steinberg. “There’s pretty much no one else in the world with the credibility and presence to pull off this role,” Steinberg told me. “It takes someone who was a genuine action hero in his own right, and Lee has that in spades. Along with that great bittersweet statement of the hero theme, it’s one of my favorite moments of the series.”
Right when the music feels like it will reach a soaring, emotional peak, the arrangement suddenly becomes hesitant. Chance stands in silhouette against the stormy sky as a solo horn, then bassoon and harp trade lonely phrases.
The interrogator’s voice prelaps our cut back to the present day. He tells Chance they looked everywhere in the water for the book and never found it. At last, he realizes Winston was involved as well, and must have the book or at least know where it is. At this moment, cascading woodwinds and trilling strings score his dawning revelation.
With a violent ascending phrase from the horns, the interrogator runs into the office where Winston is being held and confronts him:
[audio:http://www.bearmccreary.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/ht111-19.mp3|titles=Human Target – No Police]
Isolated phrases in the low strings and muted trombones combine beneath clouds of string clusters, woodwind ripples and harp solos to give this sequence an impending suspense.
As the interrogator figures it out, we cut to a flashback of Winston sitting in his car at the docks. Here, the brass offer a powerful statement of the Winston Theme. Cutting back to the present, the low string and trombone phrases return, this time augmented with field drums and more dissonant clusters. Above them, a piccolo and French horn play the Interrogator Theme:
[audio:http://www.bearmccreary.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/ht111-20.mp3|titles=Human Target – Winston Was There]
Left alone with a single guard (never a good idea), Chance reminisces about the guy who used to own this place. Returning to flashbacks, we see Chance coming back to the office, without Katherine or Old Chance, where Carmine awaits him. A solitary French horn offers the Chance Theme, marking the first time the melody has been used to underscore Chance in the entire episode:
[audio:http://www.bearmccreary.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/ht111-21.mp3|titles=Human Target – Carmine is Cute]
I couldn’t resist playing some beautiful, lush harmonies in the high winds and strings at the sight of that adorable puppy. He is so cute!
Chance talks to the guard and we suspect that he’s gearing up an escape plan. Energetic tremolo strings enter and amplify our suspicions.
In more flashbacks, Chance discovers that Old Chance had stashed weapons in every corner of the office. The score gets bigger and bigger, as low strings and winds enter with the Chance Theme, played in their bottom registers. Above the melody, blistering woodwind lines, fanfare horns and a charging string ostinato increase the tension, mystery and magic of the sequence:
[audio:http://www.bearmccreary.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/ht111-22.mp3|titles=Human Target – Hidden Weapons]
Finally, Chance is about to make his move. Beginning with the low winds, a contrapuntal series of Chance Theme statements build upwards, crescendoing to the moment where Chance breaks free and attacks the guard.
Antiphonal brass statements in the trumpets, horns and trombones echo one another, punctuated by the winds and strings offering a huge rip from their lowest to highest registers. Chance defeats the guard and storms into the office to save Winston.
As Chance blasts away other mercenaries, a powerful march plays in the orchestra. On its surface, this music is simply adding tension to the action. However, astute viewers will recognize this particular riff from Baptiste, where it was established as the Old Boss ostinato:
Unbeknownst to the audience, the reason the guards are scrambling is that the Old Boss has infiltrated the office. Using his ostinato here was my way of announcing to the audience that he’s getting closer, just around the corner! To drive home this idea, the high winds enter, playing the Old Boss melody. This moment is the most intense statement of the Old Boss Theme yet:
[audio:http://www.bearmccreary.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/ht111-23.mp3|titles=Human Target – Mercenary Fight]
Chance fights his way to the chair where Winston was being held only to find it empty. This was an important story point, so I hit this reveal with a big orchestral flourish. The French horns offer a brief, tragic statement of the Winston Theme, underlining that he’s missing. (This was a tricky challenge… use the music to indicate who isn’t in the chair, as opposed to who is.)
Chance is narrowly rescued from a mercenary who snuck up behind him. He spins around to find himself face to face, at last, with his Old Boss.
Here, Rose Corrigan’s bassoon solo plays a creepy statement of the Old Boss Theme, in the instrument’s highest register. Contrapuntal statements of the Old Boss melody, from various sections within the orchestra, underscore their conversation as the Old Boss approaches Chance with a proposal.
(L-R: Brian O’Connor, French horn; Chris Bleth, English horn, Geri Rotella, flute)
He suggests they join forces to go after the interrogator, to retrieve both Winston and the Old Boss’ book. Underscoring the tension and the impending new mission, the Old Boss ostinato sneaks back into the texture, played by low strings and winds while the violins and violas steadily march with col legno quarter notes:
[audio:http://www.bearmccreary.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/ht111-24.mp3|titles=Human Target – Face to Face with the Old Boss]
The final beat of each bar of 7/4 is punctuated by an aggressive hit from the low brass and percussion, underlining the unusual meter. Violas and winds offer a final statement of the Old Boss Theme before Chance is joined by Guerrero and Carmine, whose arrival is heralded by a fanfare of French horns.
Returning to the past one final time, we see Winston has tracked Chance down to Old Chance’s office. Set against bittersweet orchestral passages and canonic hints of the Chance Theme, Winston tells him what happened to Katherine wasn’t entirely his fault.
“You’re not as stuck as you think,” he says. This is not the first time we’ve heard these words. Chance himself said this to Laura in the airplane wheel well in Rewind. For that sequence, I wrote the Chance’s Past Theme. We now realize Chance was referring back to this very moment, so I knew I had to bring that theme back:
[audio:http://www.bearmccreary.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/ht111-25.mp3|titles=Human Target – Chance’s Past Theme Returns]
Malcolm McNab’s solo flugel horn states the theme against a lush brass and woodwind backdrop. Having also been referenced in Baptiste, when Chance told Emma about Katherine, this theme here provides perfect symmetry to the entire season.
At the end of Malcolm’s solo, cascading strings begin a gentle pattern, as the swaying of trees in the wind. The violins and high woodwinds pick up the Katherine Theme, as more instruments enter the arrangement:
[audio:http://www.bearmccreary.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/ht111-26.mp3|titles=Human Target – Wasn’t Your Fault]
The music builds, adding French horn replies of the Chance Theme and busier cascading patterns beneath the melody. This was another moment that could have been scored with the Chance Theme, but I still wanted to wait. They are still dealing with the pain of losing Katherine, so the Katherine Theme worked better. Winston, having proposed they go into business together, tells him to think about it.
Before he leaves, he stops and asks “one more thing.” The score shifts suddenly to suspense, although still shaded with hints of emotional, cascading strings. The tension builds until Winston finally asks him his real name.
As Chance thinks over his response, the orchestra bursts into an energetic crescendo. We all know what he’s going to say next, and I chose to have fun with the moment rather than try to keep up suspense. He looks to Winston and says his name is “Christopher Chance.” At that moment, the score finally erupts into his triumphant theme fanfare for the first time in the episode:
[audio:http://www.bearmccreary.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/ht111-27.mp3|titles=Human Target – My Name is Christopher Chance]
This proves it. Once you claim the name… you claim the theme too!
We cut back to the present story line. Chance and the Old Boss prepare to leave in a helicopter, while Guerrero sees them off. The energy from the orchestra is intense, setting up the stakes.
Guerrero assures Chance they’ll find Winston, although you can tell he’s not his usual confident self. For this brief moment, the score settles down to offer an emotional version of the Chance B-Theme, marking the first and only time we hear it in the episode except for the Main Title.
Chance gets in the helicopter with the Old Boss. As the chopper takes off, the music slows down dramatically, crescendoing to a sweeping statement of the Katherine Theme:
[audio:http://www.bearmccreary.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/ht111-28.mp3|titles=Human Target Season One Final Cue]
This moment was a challenge for Steinberg and I to get just right. My original sketch of the scene ended with a dark fanfare of the Chance Theme. However, we realized the series needed to end on a different melody. Virtually every episode has concluded with that same tune, and this one needed to be different.
“The goal of those last moments was to build a ton of energy and gravitas into it, to send the season off on a strong note,” Steinberg told me. “But thematically, it was a bit more complicated than that. The assumption is that we would end on Chance’s theme. But when we played with that idea, it felt as though ending on the hero theme gave the story a sense of resolution and closure that wasn’t quite what we were looking for.”
Steinberg’s suggestion that this is less an ending and more the beginning of a new chapter in Chance’s adventure really clicked, and we started discussing other thematic possibilities. “It felt like using Katherine’s theme here did a lot of work for us, in terms of suggesting an unfinished story,” he said. “And also in suggesting that Chance was being pulled back into her story after avoiding it for so long. Hopefully it puts the audience in the right place.”
I tried a sketch of the scene with the Katherine Theme instead and it worked beautifully. Listen in particular to the expressive cello and viola line playing against the main melody in the violins for the first phrase. The sweeping orchestration feels appropriately big and powerful for a season finale, but the presence of the Katherine Theme helps propel the story forward, reminding us that Chance’s most dangerous mission lays ahead of him.
“I think the score for this show isn’t just an important component of our story telling process; I think it’s important, period,” Steinberg explained. “Score has become such an afterthought in television. But it adds so much to the experience when it’s done well. I think it’s added immeasurably to our show, and am hopeful that it catches on again in other shows.”
(Click image to see the high resolution panoramic)
As Chance’s new adventure begins, our own journey of the first season concludes. “Human Target” season one was not only creatively challenging and rewarding, but a project that will forever impact the way I write music. Like my experiences on “BSG,” I’ve emerged from this a better composer for having done it. And it has affected me personally as well. I’ve formed bonds with a great many musicians, instrumentalists, copyists, orchestrators and contractors: relationships and friendships I hope to develop for the rest of my career. All my fingers are crossed that my own adventure with “Human Target” is just beginning. But, regardless of what the television gods decide to do with this show, I am certain I will collaborate with all these people for many, many years.
Thanks to you loyal blog readers for being a part of this adventure with me! You guys probably know the score as well as I do at this point, and I hope to reward that enthusiasm with a kick ass, double CD soundtrack album. Keep an eye out here on the blog in the coming weeks for an announcement as soon as we have the details.
PS: I have a list a mile long of people to thank for helping this score come together, but in particular, I want to give a round of applause to the small but dedicated team that has toiled day and night to help get these blog entries out in time each week. Special thanks are in order to Kevin Porter for doing these amazing video blogs, Andrew Craig for the session photos, Arild W. Tvergrov for setting up our video and audio plug-ins, George Grout for being the maestro of screen caps, and Nikki Nieves for mastering the audio clips for you all.