How "VANISHED" Ended
Midway through November sweeps, FOX realized their slick, yet often preposterous abduction drama "Vanished" lost all steam on Friday nights (surprise, surprise) and decided to ditch the series, streaming the final 4 unaired episodes over MySpace. So, how was the Sara Collins case resolved?
When "Vanished" premiered in August on FOX Mondays, its "Prison Break" lead-in gave it a decent sampling of over 8 million viewers. Over 7 million of them watched the show on regular basis.
Then "Heroes" premiered in late September and one million viewers switched over to NBC. FOX decided to move the series to Friday night "death zone", the one night it has never been successful on ('The X-Files' being the only exception).
The inept programming move was designed to help Jerry Bruckheimer's new series "Justice" to survive, but it ended up costing both series their life as neither show managed to add viewers in their respective new timeslots on Monday and Friday nights.
Viewers of FOX Mondays have learned to suspend their disbelief after many heart-pounding hours of "24" and "Prison Break". Despite that "Vanished" was often accused by TV critics of being on the edge of utterly ridiculous.
Surprisingly, the show had actually improved to a great extent in its final hours (including the first of the unaired episodes), but it all came crashing down in the rushed, contrived and disappointing series finale.
Here is a little recap for those who missed the end of "Vanished":
8. THE AFTERMATH (aired November 3)
Following the brutal assassination of agent Kelton (Gale Harold), agent Lucas (Eddie Cibrian) takes over the Sara Collins abduction case.
Senator's daughter Marcy asks her mother to help her get boyfriend Ben out of jail. She agrees and leaves town with son Max.
Senator Collins is flown by private plane to Washington D.C., but the pilot veers him off-course to North Carolina, where he meets Sara's abductors as well as Sara herself, tied to a chair.
The men demand that the Senator confirm Rainer on the Supreme Court. FBI locates one of the men (the assassin who murdered Kelton), but he commits suicide by slashing his own throat in front of them.
9. THE NEW WORLD (aired November 10)
In a truly exceptional episode, the viewers are finally shown the cell in which Sara Collins is kept and exposed to mental torture.
After she is injected with a micro-transmitter into her arm, a man pretending to act in her best interest visits Sara on regular basis trying to persuade her that her husband has moved on without her.
Using information from dead assassin's cell phone, the FBI locates a research facility where scientists are examining an ancient looking document. Following a shootout, the researchers run away and the FBI only manages to capture a part of the document in digital form.
An FBI specialist determines the people who kidnapped Sara Collins were in a possession of one of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the oldest surviving transcriptions of The Bible. When they were found in 1947 several chapters were missing including Ezekiel 40.
A man named Aaron Hemsley is at the center of the conspiracy. A celebrated biblical scholar, Hemsley appears to have found something so disturbing in the Dead Sea Scrolls of Ezekial 40 that he killed his entire research team in order to hide his findings.
Hemsley is in prison waiting for his execution about to take place in 4 days.
Marcy is shocked to learn that her father is about to give into the blackmailers' demands and visits judge Rainer with whom she had an affair. She asks him to step down or face public humiliation when she reveals that he is the father of her unborn child, conceived when she was a minor.
Sara realizes another woman is being kept in the cell next to hers.
10. THE CELL (streamed November 17)
The feds manage to find the cypher wheel used to decode the biblical document and add it to evidence, only to have two men working on the side of the conspiracy break into the federal headquarters in Atlanta in order to steal the wheel back.
Both are slain by Agents Mei and Lucas, but not before they take one agent's life and destroy an entire floor of the office building.
Hemsley's references to apocalyptic occurrences in the Bible when interviewed by Lucas lead them to see the seriousness of what the documents might represent. They realize Judge Rainer is to be put on the Supreme Court in order to help overturn Hemsley's death sentence.
Marcy decides to follow up on her threat and contacts Judy Nash wishing to tell her story on live television. The night before the broadcast, however, she wakes up in pain covered in blood realizing she may have miscarried her baby.
The FBI tells Hemsley they know his wife is actually alive and the people behind the conspiracy have kidnapped her. Hemsley drops the insanity act and asks the FBI to help her, promising cooperation.
It is revealed his wife is the woman kept next to Sara.
11. THE PROFFER (streamed November 24)
At this point, the writers were told they had to wrap up the storylines by episode 13, rather than 22 as originally planned. Suddenly, losing 9 episodes, the series loses its sense of pacing rushing towards a forced conclusion.
The FBI manages to locate the high-tech underground compound in the middle of a national park where Sara is being kept. They storm the premises killing some of her captors, but the man who tried to trick her into thinking her husband no longer loves her and Hemsley's wife have disappeared.
During the shootout, Sara escapes not knowing the FBI is trying to save her. Soon, though, she encounters the police telling them who she is.
Test results from Marcy's pregnancy increase suspicions of foul play. She discloses to her boyfriend Ben she was raped by judge Rainer and he may have induced her miscarriage after she had blackmailed him.
Senator Collins tries to prevent judge Rainer from using his new power to the benefit of the conspirators by revealing to other judges his intentions with the Hemsley case.
12. THE VELOCITY OF SARA (streamed December 1)
The feds are withing minutes of rescuing Sara Collins, but a tracking device previously injected in her arm hinders her escape and the Sheriff's station is targeted by fake feds. Sara however manages to escape once again.
Sara's former lover, Peter Manning resurfaces in this episode and finds out the little girl Sara's parents are trying to keep away from him is indeed his and Sara's daughter.
Max and his mother are back as the FBI gets hold of a tape where Max is venting his anger and trashes Sara. They realize the tape was made while he was in alcohol recovery at a rehab center called Encompass.
Coincidentally, the helicopter that the feds were concurrently trying to track down was registered to Encompass Holdings. Senator Collins however discloses Max was sent to the center after Sara had recommended it.
The FBI learn that many years ago before she even met her husband Sara Collins had herself been treated at the center as well as exposed to shock therapy and Senator Collins' father was involved in it.
That would imply their marriage had been arranged by him and the conspirators, for whatever reason.
13. WARM SPRINGS (streamed December 8)
This is the drama's rushed and contrived series finale filled with numerous twists and turns, that promised to resolve the Sara Collins' kidnapping, but ultimately failed to answer many of the core questions.
The men behind the conspiracy (Wallace Rainer, Senator Collins' father, Judy Nash's TV network CEO and even the FBI senior official - agent Lucas' boss) are revealed to the viewers.
Sara Collins had been treated at the Encompass rehab facility years before she even met Senator Collins, and she was observed by his father while being tortured.
Marcy's boyfriend Ben flies to Washington and shoots Wallace Rainer, as a revenge for what he had done to her, possibly killing him.
Believing mistakingly her husband Senator Collins may have never loved her, Sara escapes not only the conspirators but also the FBI to meet at the end of the episode with Peter Manning, apparently her true love.
They meet on his boat and leave with intention to meet her parents and their daughter in Orlando.
Senator Collins remains with his former wife and their children.
The questions that remained unanswered:
We learned who the conspirators were and why they kidnapped Sara Collins - they tried to force Senator Collins to approve Judge Rainer's nomination for the Supreme Court, so Rainer could overturn Hemsley's death sentence and get a hold of him, as he was the key to unlocking the shocking biblical document.
What we don't know is what was so special about Sara Collins that she had been tortured at Encompass years before she even met Senator Collins and whether their marriage to his son was arranged and if so, why?
Why did Sara Collins' parents try to hide their granddaughter from her father Peter Manning and how will they react to seeing him back with Sara?
Also, what was so shocking about the document that had been uncovered by Hemsley that caused him to kill everyone on his team?
Where is his wife and what will happen to them?
Is Senator Collins' former wife and the mother of Max and Marcy a part of the conspiracy, and if so will Senator Collins ever learn that?
Will the conspirators ever be uncovered and forced to pay for what they had done?
Once again, FOX's last minute decision to end a highly serialized and at times intriguing drama left a true mess behind, one that will end up being sold to international markets to make up for the high production cost.
It is unfortunate that "Vanished" had not originally been conceived as a 13-episode mini-series. Instead, FOX ended up with another failed attempt at launching the next big serialized thriller.