Mark Stefflin is a character in the Ferris Access Channel and Dozerfleet Studios original miniseries Blood Over Water, as well as its Cataclysmic Gerosha-canon novel remake in Dozerfleet Comics. He was, along with his twin brother Aaron, portrayed by actor Zach Foster.

Character bio

Miniseries history

In the miniseries, little is known about Mark except that he worked at Sleet Mountain and that he stole the "Confidential" folder (which was in-turn hidden inside a "Confidential"-labeled manilla envelope.) He was described as a "good friend" to Chris Kennal, who treated Chris "like family." He is shown as being aware that stealing folders from Clyde Spendelworth is "risky," but he doesn't seem to exercise a whole lot of common sense nor much knowledge of defensive maneuvers and survival tactics. Some time after stealing the folder, he claims to Aaron that he has to "check some things."

He reads a book before calling it a night, but is interrupted by Ashley Phillips knocking on his door. He should have expected it to be some kind of trap; but he was completely oblivious that it would be Chris that would betray him. For purposes of convenience, Mark is only ever portrayed in flashbacks.

Novel history

Early on, Mark gets a lot more emphasis than Aaron; the latter of whom takes over as the main character upon the former's assassination. Mark's history before dying is explored in a lot more detail in this version. Unlike his Ferris student twin, Mark was able to use his different personality and business world connections to climb the ladder at Sleet Mountain in almost no time flat. He becomes the office manager for Sleet Mountain's Lower-Northern bottling plant in Michigan. However, he has shown himself to be more corruptible than Aaron. He and Chris are much more prone to party on the open waters with beer and loose women, something Aaron finds little time or interest in.

Also, Mark is trusting to a degree that far exceeds that of Aaron. This leads to Clyde believing that Mark can take the bait. However, Mark begins to doubt his commitment to Clyde's scheme almost from the start. When Vance Lingolin goes missing, Mark becomes curious enough to make George uncomfortable. George offers to meet with Mark to "talk things over." However, Mark at this point begins doing enough detective work about what Clyde is really into, that he decides he can no longer keep silent. He attempts to steal some of Clyde's incriminating sex videos, but is unable to acquire a copy of them. Instead, he finds several bits of incriminating paperwork that Clyde compiled into a "Confidential" folder - that contained mostly-redacted files. He makes off with that folder in a manilla envelope.

Clyde pretends not to notice the next day, deciding to give George the day off. He instead blackmails Chris into formulating a plan to eventually trap and kill Mark. Chris reminds Clyde of Aaron's speech about blood and water, warning Clyde of the fact that Aaron has become a second conscience giving Mark a strong sense of integrity. Mark begins to smell that Chris is behaving differently, but is reluctant to say anything where the other employees can hear it.

In this version, Mark and Ashley begin to form a relationship with one another both on and off the job. Alas, Clyde uses this to blackmail Ashley into going over to Mark's house in an effort to talk him out of ratting Clyde out to the EPA and FBI. Ashley goes over to the house, and seduces Mark. However, she begins having second thoughts about talking him out of coming clean. He begins suggesting to her that the two of them could run away. She warns him that Clyde has dirt on everyone, and will not hesitate to use it.

As Mark and Ashley are having sex, Chris seizes the opportunity to exploit their distraction; and carries out Clyde's actual agenda of having Mark killed. No sooner do Mark and Ashley look up to see Chris show up with gun-in-hand than Chris aims his gun. He states to Mark: "You shoulda went with the plan!" Chris then fires his shot and blows Mark's head off, finishing with the line: "Now it's time for you to die!!!" Under orders from Clyde, Chris then forces Ashley at gunpoint to help him clean up any evidence of the murder. Mark is buried in a mound of dirt not far from the Muskegon River, before Chris abducts Ashley and takes her back to Clyde. While Clyde initially promised that Ashley would be put in a sort of "witness protection" to both keep her from talking and keep her from being killed or prosecuted, he reveals that he tricked Chris. Ashley instead gets sent into the Gleeful-N-Young brothel, held as a prisoner and sex slave. Chris then sneaks a copy of some of the videos that Clyde has been helping distribute in his free time. However, Chris doesn't find the amusement in the videos that he thought he'd find. He instead finds appalling abuses that make him feel sick to his stomach. This causes him to begin secretly plotting how to betray Clyde.

Even with Mark dead at this point, his spirit endures - and proves difficult to stop. Shortly before Ashley visited him, he made a phone call to Aaron and promised a fishing trip. Aaron takes note that the fishing trip never happened. He heads over to investigate, and nearly gets spotted by a Sleet Mountain cleanup crew. He manages to avoid detection through sheer luck. However, he finds a hole in the carpet leading to the secret location where Mark stashed the "Confidential" folder. It was the one place nobody at the apartment thought to look, as nearly the entire apartment was being torn apart in search of the folder.

Kyle and George head over to the apartment to oversee cleanup operations, and to assist with finding the folder. However, they pull into the driveway right as Aaron is pulling out, carrying what obviously appears to be the folder in his left hand while driving with his right hand. A brief chase ensues, but Aaron cleverly finds a way to throw George and Kyle off. He then gets lucky when the two slow down to avoid a nearby traffic cop growing too suspicious. A dynamic develops of Chris trying to avoid having to tell George and Kyle that it is Aaron they're chasing, not Mark.


Miniseries characterization

Mark is portrayed as being a fairly uptight-but-worldly individual. Details of his love life are not well-known, but it is known that he has a strong bond of family loyalty to his twin brother, as well as a firm sense of friendship loyalty with Sleet Mountain co-worker Chris Kennal. In the series, Mark is mostly contrasted with Aaron. Mark is a stuffy office worker with very little known personality, who is shrouded in mystery. Mark requires glasses to see, unlike Aaron. The reason for this is never explained, but it is assumed that Mark's frequent computer work at Sleet Mountain has damaged his eyesight while the more outdoors-oriented Aaron doesn't share that problem.

When frightened, Mark prefers to remain as calm as he can and take the rational approach. Aaron, however, is far more emotional in his responses; especially his responses to threats. Aaron has also shown himself capable of far more survival skills than his brother ever demonstrated. Nevertheless, the two of them are equally willing to throw themselves into dangerous situations to expose corruption.

Novel characterization

The novel takes Mark's major character flaws from the original and exaggerates them. He is shown to be the kind of man who would not leave town even after discovering evidence that men from his company meant to kill him. While everything in the miniseries leading up to his murder happened in a matter of a few hours, it takes at least a day for Clyde to organize the conspiracy to have Mark killed. And to not expect that a man like Clyde, that Mark knows is a skilled manipulator, would ever possibly mean to use Ashley as a trap, indicates his naivety. His overall weakness with women was an added vice for this version, to explain why he'd be willing to put himself in a compromising position with Ashley such that he had little chance for escape.

Even so, his relationship with Ashley has ironically very little to do with making him a more interesting character. Instead, that angle was pursued to make the Ashley character more interesting. Ashley in the original got only two lines of dialog, and was barely ever visible. A lot of that was due to Angelica showing a lack of confidence in her own acting abilities. However, the novel is able to pursue the Mark-Ashley romance angle left out of the miniseries; due to the characters no longer being dependent on their original actors.


For the miniseries

Originally, the character of Mark was known in development merely as "Twin M," meaning, he was the "Missing Twin." He eventually acquired the name "Mike Monaco," with his twin "A" (for "Alive") being named "Alvin." Mike and Alvin Monaco were then renamed Mark and Aaron Stefflin, to appease the director's vision.

In the Remastered Recut of Blood Over Water, Mark and Aaron do not have listed last names. Production of the first two cuts by editor Kyle Mayer listed Aaron's surname as "Stieffel," over the Dozerfleet founder's objections. In addition to "Monaco," last names for Aaron and his brother have ranged from Sterplin to Stefflin. In the final approved-for-cable release, Aaron's last name was changed back to Stefflin and Zach's real surname was masked behind a pseudonym of Zach "Finster."

For YouTube, Zach's real surname of "Foster" was listed properly in the end credits. This ending is retained for the 3D cut.

For the novel

The novel sought to provide prequel and sequel details for the original miniseries narrative, as well as re-make continuity for events originally depicted in said miniseries. Numerous subplots were left unresolved, with several fan questions left unanswered, by the original. Not the least of these unresolved questions involved what Mark and Chris' lives as friends were like before the corruption at Sleet Mountain turned them into mortal enemies.

One major compromise made for the miniseries - possibly the most noticeable - was the nature of Mark's death. The original script called for him to be wrestled to the floor and knocked senseless with a backhand blow from Chris. At that point, Chris was to pull out a gun and blow Mark's head off. Instead of seeing the bullet trajectory, a cutaway to blood splatter hitting the wall was desired. In the novel, the scene is made extra cruel by having Mark be shot while helpless in his bed, with Ashley then tricked into serving as a weight to hold him down and make sure he could not get up and defend himself. The novel also makes Chris' use of a silencer on the gun explicit, leaving no doubt that Chris under the influence of Clyde's greed is capable of absolutely inhuman deeds of wickedness.

The reasons that the miniseries did not depict Mark's execution this way were many. First off, real-life Chris Wilson had his real-life apartment in Big Rapids double as Mark's apartment for shooting purposes. Because of this, fake blood on the walls would stain about as thoroughly as real blood. He didn't want to be charged extra by his landlord for the cost of removing stains from his walls. Secondly, a fake silencer would have been deemed "too much trouble" to assemble for the fake gun. Thirdly, nobody wanted to spend the money, time, or do the research necessary to concoct fake blood and do a splatter pattern with it. Therefore, a very cheap "strangling" effect was used to depict the murder. Mark's fading out of consciousness was a cheap focus ring trick on the camera, using practical effects to substitute for the high-budget effects that were out of the question in 2009.

This led to another issue that the novel sought to correct: making sure the title isn't ironic. The fairly bloodless ways in which Mark, George, and Kyle are shown being executed in 2009 make the title of Blood Over Water seem like an empty boast, like the title should be Blood (but very little of it) Over Water. The novel spares no expense compensating, making Mark's death even more bloody and horrific than even what the original show script called for. George and Kyle's demises are by no means rendered bloodless in the novel either. On top of that, Chris goes on to commit 22 additional bloody murders in his attempt to free Ashley from a Gleeful-N-Young brothel.

See also

External links