Millennium Episode Guide

Essay by Anthony Leong © Copyright 1997


wait...

worry...

who cares?

All ratings are from * (sucks donkeys) to **** (hell, tape the reruns too!)

Pilot (25/10/96)

Rating: ***

In the much-hyped premiere episode of the series, we are introduced to Frank Black (Lance Henriksen), who has the unique ability (perhaps psychic) to see what the killer sees, which aids him in solving murders. At the beginning of this episode, he has moved back to his hometown of Seattle. He quit the FBI after receiving polaroids through the mail taken of his wife Catherine (Megan Gallagher) and Jordan (Brittany Tiplady) by an unknown stalker. After a brief period where he refused to let his family out of his sight, he was approached by the Millennium Group, a team of ex-law enforcement professionals who are working towards averting the 'great madness' that will engulf us all in the year 2000.

Frank reads about the murder of a stripper which leads him to contact his former boss at the Seattle police department and offering his help in the investigation. The pursuit for the killer, who quotes French poetry, leads them to find other victims, buried alive with their mouths and eyes sewn together. Finally, Frank finds the murderer-- a technician within the police forensics department who warns Frank that he can't stop the changes that will occur with the new millennium.

This episode had the subtlety of a snuff film. If there is one thing that could be said about this episode, was the visceral shock value. A scantily-clad stripper dancing in a booth as blood runs down the walls. The opening of the coffin and finding the man with his eyes and mouth sewn shut. No wonder advertisers are boycotting the series. This series pulls no punches in showing the depravity of the human condition (as Frank Black would say in his gravelly voice).

However, the plot did keep you going along, and perhaps the novelty of the whole thing was able to keep you interested. This episode also established the 'stalker' story arc, with Frank receiving a fresh set of polaroids in the mail at the end of the episode.

Bletcher: This Millennium Group... they really believe all that stuff: Nostradamus and Revelations, the destruction of the world?
Frank: They believe we can't just sit back and hope for a happy ending.

Gehenna (1/11/96)

Rating: **

I smell blood and an era of prominent madmen.
W.H. Auden

The cult of the killer telemarketers. As the Cypress Hill soundtrack blares in the background, we find a Russian youth on an LSD trip taken to an abandoned factory where he is killed by some half-man half-dog creature called the 'Beast'. The evil behind this heinous act is a cult which uses brain-washing techniques on the members to push hair products over the phone to help fund the purchase of biological weapons. Those who do not follow end up dead, burning in the fires of Gehenna, the Hebrew word for hell.

This was an okay episode. The microwaving of Frank's colleague in the industrial microwave was disturbing, though not any where near the degree of the atrocities seen in the pilot. The nature of the 'Beast' was never resolved-- was it merely something hallucinated by the victims as a result of drugs and brainwashing, or was it a living breathing entity? If the 'Beast' was actually a creature of some sort, this episode would have probably made more sense as an X-File.

Dead Letters (8/11/96)

Rating: ****

For the thing that I have greatly feared has come upon me. And what I have dreaded has happened to me. I am not at ease, nor am I quiet; I have no rest, for trouble comes.
Job 3:25,26

Starring James Morrison (Col. McQueen on "Space: Above and Beyond") as Jim Horn, a potential Millennium Group candidate, this was one of the better episodes. Jim Horn is what Frank is afraid of becoming: a world-weary cop who has become impatient with the justice system and seeks to exact punishment on the scum he comes across. Together, they track down a killer who dismembers his victims and leaves cryptic clues, ending with Jim losing control and beating the crap out of the killer, blowing his chances of joining the Millennium Group.

This episode had some interesting aspects. Frank seems to be able to see into the future in the episode, with visions of things that haven't happened yet, pointing to his special ability as indeed being psychic. The surrealistic opening sequence with the evil clown was a nice touch, serving as a metaphor for the state of contradiction in which both Jim and Frank find themselves in as a result of their work. On the other hand, the attack on the Nurse in the parking lot, even though it didn not really show anything, was disturbing, harking back to the shockploitation of the pilot episode.

The Judge (15/11/96)

Rating: *

... the visible world seems formed in love, the invisible spheres were formed in fright.
Herman Melville

The episode starts with a woman receiving a human tongue in the mail and leads to a man who calls himself Judge, who hires ex-cons to kill who he believes have not been adequately punished by the system. This take on vigilante justice was plodding and left a lot unexplained. Why does the Judge mail the body parts to people totally unrelated to the victims? Just so the episode could have an interesting teaser? Another problem with the whole premise of the series is also exemplified here: being a consultant, Frank does not carry any kind of weapon with him, which would stretch the credibility of some of the situations in which he puts himself in. I found it difficult to believe that at the end of the episode, Frank would walk into a darkened farmhouse belonging to the Judge, unarmed. It is there that he discovers that Judge has been killed by his own henchman, who is still there. Not very bright.

Frank: When you believe in nothing, everything is acceptable.

522666 (22/1196)

Rating: ***

I am responsible for everything... except my very responsiblity.
Jean-Paul Sartre

Mr. Black goes to Washington when a mad bomber is exploding bombs and phoning the telephone operator just before each detonation, and punching in the numbers '522666'-- spelling KABOOM. He monitors the police communications and leads Frank on a cat-and-mouse chase, until he actually 'rescues' Frank from an explosion in an office complex and is lionized by the media. Frank then figures out that the bomber 'gets off' by experiencing the chaos with his victims and seeks to become 'a star'.

Why would the FBI call in the Millennium Group on a bombing case, when their specialty is serial killers (it's like calling in Frank to investigate traffic violations)? I'm sure there are more qualified investigators in the FBI for this sort of thing.

And speaking of the FBI, this episode was a missed opportunity to do a cross-over episode with "The X-Files". Even if they couldn't get Duchovny or Anderson to do a brief appearance, even one of the second bananas showing up, such as A.D. Skinner or even Cigarette-Smoking Man, would have been cool.

Overall, it wasn't a bad episode, with some interesting sequences showing the flashpoint of the explosions.

Kingdom Come (29/11/96)

Rating: ***

And there will be such intense darkness, that one can feel it.
Exodus 10:21

An excellent episode that dealt with the viablity of faith when the world is collapsing all around you. Galen Calloway, a man who lost his wife and family in a fire, shattering his faith, is killing priests, culminating in a hostage taking in a church.

It was nice to see the conversations between Frank and his daughter Jordan about death following the death of a bird that had crashed into a window of the Black home, showing the 'family man' side of Frank, and was a nice tie-in to the religious tone of the episode. Though this theme of having one's faith challenged has been done before at least two or three times on "The X-Files", it was still well-done nonetheless. One complaint I would have would be the emerging pattern in the episodes:

1. Opening shot of some gruesome murder.

2. Frank gets the call, takes a look around, sees flashbacks of the act, etc.

3. Frank finds some obscure clue buried nearby, carved into the body, etc.

4. Frank goes home and worries about raising a family in a world full of depravity.

5. Frank catches up with the killer, and has a conversation about motivation, etc.

6. The killer dies before he can be brought to justice.

7. Frank goes home and tries to reconcile the depravity he sees everyday with his desire to keep his family safe.

This episode and the previous two followed this pattern. Relying on this pedestrian sort of plotting gets old real fast, and runs the risk of turning Millennium into a 'Killer of the Week' show.

Frank: ... you're trying to kill your faith, but it's inside of you.

Blood Relatives (6/12/96)

Rating: ***

This generation is a wicked generation; it seeks for a sign, and yet no sign shall be given to it...
Luke 11:29

Finally, Catherine Black gets to do something! A woman is killed following the funeral of her son, and Catherine is called in to comfort the family, as part of her duties in Victim Services. At first, it is thought that the killer is James Dickerson, a resident in a juvenile correctional centre, who is posing as a long-lost friend of the recently deceased, in order to be 'part of the family' he never had when he was given up for adoption. However, Frank soon discovers that it was not James that had murdered, but it was the manager of the reform centre, who for some reason, wants James for himself.

An interesting episode that didn't fall into the rut established by the previous three episodes and pulled the rug from under the viewer at the very end. If you look closely, there is a continuity error when James is talking to Tina by the river. As the camera cuts between two camera angles, the distance between the two characters shifts dramatically.

The Well-Worn Lock (20/12/96)

Rating: ***

The cruelest lies are often told in silence.
Robert Louis Stephenson

Catherine Black plays a pivotal role in this episode, which is a refreshing change from listening to Frank whine about the encroaching moral depravity. Focusing on peripheral characters is always a good strategy for keeping audience interest in a series, especially with such a narrowly-focused series such as "Millennium", without the luxury of an ensemble cast. This episode essentially deals with incest, and the control that the father had over his daughters. It was a truly moving moment at the end of the episode when Connie, having been subjected to twenty-three years of abuse by her father, finds the courage to testify against him in court.

Catherine was not the only one put in an unconventional situation in this episode-- Frank was also in an odd situation, where he wasn't entirely in the loop. As Catherine was working on getting Connie to testify, Frank had to stand back and 'wait by the phone'. An interesting role reversal.

Catherine: Tell me honestly Frank, am I going too far?
Frank: We live in a world where too many people won't go far enough... won't do what they know is right... what theybelieve. I don't know how or why it got this way, but the world has become so complicated, to involve yourself in someone else's problems is to invite them needlessly on yourself.

Wide Open (3/1/97)

Rating: **

His children are far from safety. They shall be crushed at the gate without a rescuer.
Job 5:4

John Allworth goes to an open house and hides inside the closet, thereby defeating the home's state-of-the-art alarm system. Later that night, he emerges to kill the young couple who live there. Initially it is thought that the couple's daughter has been kidnapped, but soon she is found in a vent. She is placed under Catherine's care, and there is pressure to have the young girl describe the murderer. Frank soon realizes that killer wants the young girl to relive the murder, a form of torture, and keeps Bletcher's men from questioning her.

An interesting premise about the false sense of security we all have and how nothing can really be prevented, much like Frank's job. Frank can't prevent a serial killing-- one victim must be killed to provide clues to prevent subsequent victims. So while he can prevent the serial killer from taking any more victims, the first one is always lost-- a pyrrhic victory. However, like so many of the other episodes, there were some holes that were never filled. What was the significance of the cross under the welcome mat? After the second murder, wouldn't the realtor who conducted the open house have remembered someone who had a keen interest in the security system?

Bob: I guess... er... one of us ought to call the paramedics?
Frank: Do you remember the number?
Bob: Not off hand.

Wild and Innocent (10/1/97)

Rating: ****

O Lord, if there is a Lord save my soul, if I have a soul...
Ernest Renan

Frank receives a lead for the whereabouts of a serial killer, Jake Waterston, that had eluded him several years earlier. However, when he gets there, he finds that Coleen Haskel, the woman he was living with, has committed suicide and the daughter, Madeline, is missing. It is soon apparent that it is actually Jake that had been kidnapped by Madeline and her boyfriend, Robert, who are on a quest to find 'Angel'. In the end, it is revealed that 'Angel' is Madeline's son, born a year prior, who was 'sold' by Jake for $7000. Madeline and Robert arrive at the house of the adoptive parents, ready to take 'Angel' back. However, Madeline realizes that she loves 'Angel' too much to tear her away from his adoptive parents, and gives her back. Robert then goes nuts, and attempts to use 'Angel' as a hostage when the police arrive. It is then that Madeline decides to shoot Robert to protect her daughter.

My favorite episode, with an unconventional narrative and beautiful poetic monologues spoken by Madeline to 'Angel'. The interest is kept up through the episode as the viewer tries to figure out who 'Angel' is and why Madeline and Robert are going to so much trouble to find him or her. And the very end, when Madeline's maternal instincts kick in to protect her child from Robert-- Millennium doesn't get better than this. I can't wait for this one to be repeated.

Weeds (24/1/97)

Rating: *

But know ye for certain... Ye shall surely bring innocent blood upon yourselves and upon this city...
Jeremiah 26:15

Another vigilante justice episode, with someone killing the children of an upper-middle class suburban neighbourhood, to punish for the sins of the parents. This episode also has the cheesiest Black-ism I've heard on "Millennium":

Resident: Why is this man doing this?
Black: He doesn't need a reason... he's insane!

Almost as memorable as the line from the first season of ST:TNG: 'It wasn't him. It was never him. It was his assistant!"

Loin Like a Hunting Flame (31/1/97)

Rating: ****

Two souls, alas, are housed within my breast.
Faust

A cool episode. A pharmacist seeks victims to stage various sexual acts to fill the empty spaces in his unconsummated marriage to his wife. He starts off in a night club, offering ecstasy to two clubgoers and ends up with a recently-married couple on their way to their honeymoon.

This episode featured an unconventional serial killer, who wasn't sadistic (Art Nesbit, the pharmacist, wanted his victims to die in a state of ecstasy, at their 'happiest'). The sequences seen through eyes of Art were particularly well-done, bringing to mind the stop-motion/washed-out color look that is so typical in the films of Wong Kar-Wai. Another interesting angle is the effect that these types of cases can have on an investigator: Thomas, the police officer Frank is teamed with, admits that his previous work on sex crimes left him impotent and was a contributing factor in the break-up of his marriage. Thomas found it hard to be intimate when sex and death were so freely intermingled, and he eventually equated sex with evil.

Force Majeure (7/2/97)

Rating: **

You may remember a single deluge only, but there were many previous ones.
Plato

Finally, the millennium story arc comes back after languishing for a couple of months. It begins off with a young 25-year old biology student setting herself on fire during a hailstorm. As Frank investigates, he is joined by Dennis Hoffman (Brad Dourif, who has played a serial killer on "The X-Files", "Voyager", and "Babylon 5"), a former Millennium Group member, but was kicked out. According to Dennis, the world will end on May 5, 2000, when the seven inner planets will align for the first time in 6000 years, and that the hailstorm was one of the signs leading up to the catastrophe. As more women disappear or wind up dead across the country, the investigation leads Frank to a compound in Idaho where an old man in a respirator is trying to be the second Noah. He fathered several identical children who were given to different families across the country to be raised as the best and brightest of humanity, to be preserved when the great cataclysm arrives. The identical daughters are all rounded up and put on a bus, to be returned to their homes, but soon it disappears to, along with Dennis, who is apparently one of Noah's followers.

This episode seemed more at home on "The X-Files", with the sci-fi elements in the story. Though it was a refreshing change from the typical serial killer of the week, the plot device of clones has already been done to death on "The X-Files". But nonetheless, it tried to further the mythology arc, which had been lacking in many episodes. If one looks at the current offering of sci-fi television, it is the series that have built and maintained good story arcs that have done well: "Babylon 5" and "The X-Files". With the case of "Millenium" it was mentioned early on in the series and then forgotten. I only hope that it is not another three months before they pick up on it again (which is why I still think "Profiler" is the better series in this genre, with its mythology arc that is updated almost on a weekly basis, enticing you to tune in every week).

This episode also teases the viewer with the supposition that Jordan, Frank's daughter, is psychic like her father: Frank brings home a scale model of the solar system, and she immediately aligns the planets up.

Peter: So how does it start, the great cataclysm?
Frank: They don't. They only know how it will end.

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