Somebody bombs a classy restaurant in Washington, D.C. where important dignitaries usually go to get sloshed. At first, the FBI thinks it’s some anti-Zionist terror group that’s behind all the mayhem; but just from seeing news coverage of the explosion on TV, Frank Black immediately knows that the perpetrator is really operating on much simpler impulses. He also knows the FBI are going to call him for help, and sure enough, they do – right after he starts packing his bags.
Terry O’Quinn as “Peter Watts”
In D.C., Frank meets up with Peter Watts (Terry O’Quinn), a high-ranking Millennium Group member who appears in several episodes of the show (and who happens to be my second-favorite character). Soon afterwards, Frank’s “second sight” tunes him into the bomber’s mental frequency, and what he sees is even sicker than expected. This asshole has no political agenda whatsoever; he just enjoys blowing people to smithereens because it gets him off. Thinking of all that innocent flesh melting away from charred bone just makes this guy want to beat his meat. He also gets a sexual thrill from the fact that he’s being hunted by the FBI, and he follows their investigation by listening in to their radio communications with a bunch of high tech recording equipment. When he hears Frank’s voice amidst all the radio chatter, he picks up on the fact that Frank can see into his mind. Then he tracks down Frank’s cell phone number and starts calling him to boast about how smart and awesome he is.
The mysterious “522666,” a.k.a. “Kaboom”
The most disturbing scene in this entire episode is one in which Frank is waiting for the bomber to call him again. Peter and the FBI dudes have his phone bugged so they can track the source of the call, but Frank’s wife Katherine ends up calling first. He has to hang up on her, but he calls her back on another phone. She just wants to wish him a good night before she goes to bed, but then the bomber calls. Frank picks up his cell phone and stalls for time by getting inside the bomber’s head and appealing to his ego. Unfortunately, Frank forgets to hang up the other phone, and Katherine hears everything he says. Imagine that your spouse is off traveling somewhere for work, and you call them to say good night, only to hear them launch into a grisly explanation of why watching people die and hearing them scream makes them want to touch their private parts. Katherine knows good and well that this isn’t really coming from Frank – he’s just channeling the bomber’s feelings to distract him – but she’s seriously creeped out by it nonetheless. Can anyone really blame the poor woman?
Anyway, Frank’s profile suggests that the sexual satisfaction this guy gets from his terror streak is extremely short-lived, which means he’s probably planned out his next attack already. But as the FBI searches for the next bomb before it blows, Frank starts to realize that there is yet another disturbing layer to the bomber’s madness, and it may be too late to keep him from getting what he really wants.
It takes all kinds to stop the Backward Face.
Most of the first season of Millennium is focused on Frank catching serial killers, which is already scary enough to start with; but this episode is memorable for raising the stakes. This is a story about one man taking an entire city hostage (our nation’s capital, no less), and for nothing more than his own personal pleasure. I also love this episode because it shows how great a team Frank and Peter are, and it shows the FBI, the police, and the Millennium Group all working together as a team to crack the case. When true evil strikes, I like to see different people come together to fight it, just as the many Netjeru come together to stop the Backward Face.