Northern Exposure Wiki
Northern Exposure Wiki
"The Final Frontier"
Season 3, Episode 20 (35)
Airdate April 27, 1992
Writer(s) Jeffrey Vlaming
Director Tom Moore
Guest star(s)

  • Doug Ballard as Ron
  • Don R. McManus as Erick
  • Akemi Namei as Tourist #1
  • Rob Narita as Tourist #2
  • William J. White as Dave the Cook
  • Paul Fleming as Bar Patron #1
  • Wally Dalton as Bar Patron #2
←   Episode sequence   →
"Wake-Up Call" "It Happened in Juneau"


Japanese tourists converge on Cicely to perform a ritual under the Northern Lights, Holling girds his loins to go looking for Jesse the bear in Widowmaker Cave, and curiosity gets the best of townsfolk when a package arrives with postmarks from around the globe.


In The Brick, Ed enters as Holling is in the middle of a joke. After Holling finishes, Ed tells him that Jesse is dead and Holling's mood darkens immediately. A patron asks who Jesse is and Ed tells him that Jesse was a bear. When Holling and Ed go out to check on the bones, Holling confirms that they are Jesse's, and that he died of natural causes. Although they were mortal enemies, Holling is sad at Jesse's passing.

Chris announces over KBHR that the Aurora Borealis is coming up and he notices a group of Japanese tourists visiting town. They go by Maurice's office, and Maurice discovers that they are admirers of his astronautical exploits. Maurice is annoyed, and a little condescending, but still polite enough. He is shocked to find that they are staying at the inn run by Ron and Erick, whom Maurice knows to be homosexuals, a lifestyle which he strongly disapproves.

Maggie shows up at Ruth-Anne's store with a package addressed to Richard McWilliams, in Cicely, Alaska. No one knows of such a person, and Maggie, Marilyn, Ruth-Anne, and Ed all try to figure out what it could be. Meanwhile, Ron and Erick visit Maurice, and ask him to speak for the tourists at their inn. Maurice is unwilling because he is strongly against their sexual preference. However, as the men raise their offer, and Maurice continues to refuse, they appear more amused than bothered.

The next day, Holling enters The Brick to find that Ed, Milt, and the guys have reconstructed Jesse's skeleton in the middle of the bar. Holling can only stand in awe of Jesse's magnificence. At the same time, Maurice relents to give some tourists a tour of his house. When they see the picture of his Korean son, Duk Won, they begin laughing, but Maurice asks all of them to step outside and they quickly apologize. After their cajoling, he finally decides to speak at the inn.

Maggie enters Joel's office carrying the package and asks Joel to x-ray it, but Joel refuses, citing laws against tampering with the mail. Again, Maggie is upset at Joel's inhuman lack of curiosity. However, later, she is able to get an x-ray from airport security, and Joel gives his own diagnosis about the contents of the box. Ruth-Anne decides to call a town meeting at the church to decide whether or not to open the box.

At The Brick, Holling is packing supplies when Shelly comes downstairs. Holling tells Shelly that he needs to look for Jesse in Widowmaker Cave, but Shelly is worried and scared. Holling tells her that it's something that he has to do, and leaves.

At the town meeting, Shelly presides, being the former mayor's almost-wife. Joel goes on the record saying that he is against opening the package and Chris comes out in support of him. Maggie says that she will take the risk and Chris supports her as well. Chris finally breaks into a long-winded speech about the price of knowledge and they finally agree to open the package. When they do, they find castanets, sunglasses, a boomerang, wooden shoes, I-Ching coins, and much more. There is also a letter from Richard McWilliams, dated June 8, 1988. Richard sent the package to go where he could not since he is only eight years old. The recipient is instructed to put something of their own into the package and then mail it someplace far away.

As Maurice gives his speech about his NASA experiences to the tourists, the Northern Lights begin, and they all run quickly upstairs, leaving Maurice hanging in the middle of his speech. Ron and Erick inform Maurice that the tourists believe that, by conceiving a child under the Northern Lights, the child will be gifted. Maurice is stunned, but concedes the men's good business sense.

Back at the general store, several people offer things to add to the package. Ed suggests a video tape of The Magnificent Seven, Dave the Cook thinks dried Morel mushrooms from his yard, Ruth-Anne suggests a reconsidering of a moose wood carving, and Maggie wants a Willow pattern ptarmigan plate. They finally decide on Joel's suggestion of a thermometer, which has been in the mouths of everyone in Cicely. Ruth-Anne asks Ed to pick a place as she spins a globe and his finger lands on Barwani, India.

Holling returns to The Brick the next day, completely worn out, and somewhat injured with his arm in a sling. He informs Shelly that Jesse is in Widowmaker Cave, in the forest, under the ocean, and in outer space. Jesse is always around the corner, and we have to be wary of where we step, in case we run into him. Nevertheless, Holling is exhilarated and goes upstairs with Shelly.

As Chris gives some parting words on-air, Ruth-Anne is shown putting the mailing label on the package and hands the newly-sealed package to Maggie.


Maggie (to Joel, on opening the package): Fleischman, you are just not human! Humans have inquiring minds and a thirst to know! You're just a thing! A rock! A shoe! A 2x4! A person with absolutely no imagination and curiosity!

Holling: You were a bear...a great big bear. You were wild and you were free. Godspeed, Jesse.



  1. Existence.-- N. existence, being, entity, ens, esse, subsistence reality, actuality; positiveness &c.. adj.; fact, matter of fact, sober reality; truth; actual existence.
"j'-", in French, as a prefix of "je", suggests "I". Therefore, "j'esse" might mean "I being" (or, more grammatically correct, "I exist"). This fits in with the theological subtext of "A Kodiak Moment" (1-7) with Jesse as the immanent representative of the God/ess, Being Herself. The episode concerned the transformation of Holling and his relationship with Jesse, i.e. a new way of relating to nature, man to woman, husband to wife, soul to body, etc."[12]


  1. Ed tells Holling that Jesse is dead.
  2. Also in Wake-Up Call (3-19).
  3. Chris on the radio before Japanese tourists arrive.
  4. Maggie shows Ruth-Anne the package.
  5. Also in "A River Doesn't Run Through It" (5-5) and "Bolt from the Blue" (5-14).
  6. Chris reads from Paddle-to-the-Sea.
  7. Ed and friends reassemble Jesse's skeleton in The Brick.
  8. John Hurley? Sharon Cash? Smoggy Valley Boys? Not Jack McDuff.
  9. Also in 3-3, 3-8, 3-11, 4-1, and 5-9.
  10. The group decides what to put in the box.
  11. Chris finishes reading Paddle-to-the-Sea and the package is on its way. Holling buries Jesse's bones.
  12. From the now-retired Kevin Wright's Culture NX website