In The Desert Of Seth

By G. B. Marian

Millennium: “Monster” (Season 2, Episode 4, 10/17/1997)

Everything changes in the second season of Millennium. It all starts when Katherine Black is abducted by someone who later turns out to be a former Millennium Group member. Whatever it is this guy experienced during his tenure in the Group, it’s driven him totally crackers, and he gibbers some mishmash about being Jesus. It turns out he isn’t Jesus, of course, when Frank tracks him down and kills him, saving Katherine’s life. But Katherine’s experiences with her abductor have convinced her that the Millennium Group is dangerous and that Frank should cut all ties with it immediately. Frank really can’t argue with her, but he can’t bring himself to just walk away. He cares too much about some of the Group’s members (e.g., Peter Watts), and he figures that if their leadership truly is corrupt, then he wants to help those members get out. So Frank is determined to continue working with the Group, and to investigate them from the inside while he does so. But the way Katherine sees it, Frank is really choosing the Group over his family by doing this; so she takes their daughter Jordan and moves into an apartment across town. This is only the first of several heartbreaking things that will happen during this era of the show.

Meanwhile, the Millennium Group’s leaders decide that Frank should be initiated to the next level of his candidacy. They authorize Peter Watts to send him on cases that go far beyond anything he experienced during the first season. In the episode entitled “Monster,” Frank is sent to investigate a series of child abuse allegations that surround a rural child care center. He’s partnered on this case with another Group candidate named Lara Means (played by Kristen Cloke), who works as a forensic psychologist. The thing is, Lara has a special ability just like Frank does; while he can see demons, she can see angels. And there seems to be one angel in particular who follows her around, appearing to her whenever she’s in imminent danger. For the first time ever, Frank finally has a colleague who actually understands what it’s like to see into a higher plane of existence, and who understands just how heavy a burden this can really be. What’s more, their otherworldly sources are telling them both that there’s something far more sinister at work here in this particular town than any of the locals are willing to acknowledge.

Kristen Cloke as “Lara Means”

This is one of the all-time greatest episodes of Millennium ever. Lara Means is probably my third-favorite character (after Frank and Pete), and Kristen Cloke gives an exceptionally strong performance in the role. Bringing in another character with abilities similar to Frank’s was also a smart move on the writers’ part. There are two scenes in particular that always give me chills whenever I watch this episode. The first is when Frank and Lara meet for the first time; you can almost feel the planets going into alignment when it happens. The second is when Frank and Lara get to discussing the case they’re working on. This discussion is still one of the most well-written pieces of dialogue I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to. In fact, I’d say it does more to encapsulate the soul of Millennium than just about any other scene in the rest of the series.

I might also mention that the case Frank and Lara investigate together in this episode is inspired by the real-life “Satanic Panic” of the 1980s, in which many innocent people (especially day care workers) across North America, Great Britain and Australia were accused of being in an international Satanist conspiracy to sexually abuse and murder little children. “Monster” gives an excellent demonstration as to just how such a rumor panic can escalate to the point where people are arrested and imprisoned without any substantial evidence to implicate them at all. To think that such a (literal) witch hunt could take place in such an “enlightened” age as ours is truly horrific, and this episode of Millennium doesn’t shy away from exposing the flaws in our legal system that allowed it to happen.

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A visit from Lara Means’ heavenly informant.

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