So, wait -- did the Five Movements work or not?
Heffington is more comfortable praising the work of the "great actors" who had to learn his precisely crafted, physically demanding, and rhythmically complex movements. While he was unable to be on set for certain scenes because of his busy schedule, Heffington would correspond via video, watch footage, and provide feedback. His assistants also helped work with the actors individually. Luckily, he was on set for the finale, when Prairie's friends finally execute the Five Movements in a violent, disturbing scenario.
Depending on your interpretation, the final school-shooting sequence is either a powerful statement or distasteful plot twist. "My job is my job, and I focus on that," says Heffington when asked about criticism of the scene. "I put a lot of time and love and research and input into it, and then I let it go. There's been so much feedback over the years -- even with like, 'Elastic Heart,' we got all these really interesting perspectives that I didn't understand, really, but I've learned to let people have their opinions."
One thing that's easier to agree on: the commitment of the performers in the scene, particularly Phyllis Smith, who plays lonely high school teacher Betty, aka BBA. She brings an intensity and rigor to each hiss, thrust, and hand gesture. Though most audiences know her from her time on The Office, Smith was also a cheerleader and burlesque dancer before working in TV. "She's just a joy," says Heffington.
While Season 1 gives no definitive answers to the many mysteries it sets up -- note: things get clearer in the brilliant second season (which of course ends with a new set of unanswered questions) -- leading to plenty of online chatter off-season about the twisted experiments, trippy flashbacks, and comfy-looking Patagonia jackets. But after Season 1, our biggest questions were movement-based: Will there be more dancing? Maybe a sixth movement?
Not surprisingly, Heffington is as unapologetically vague as the show he works on: "I think I'll just say, 'we'll see.'"