In The Desert Of Seth

By G. B. Marian

Category Archives: Horror

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.

I’m All Out of Bubble Gum…

I can't even believe this is a thing that happens.

I can’t even believe this is a thing that happens.

John Carpenter Is Fighting With Internet Nazis Over His Cult Classic They Live

Sweet Seth O Mighty! So this happened a month ago already, but it’s still one of my happy thoughts for this week. Thank you, John Carpenter, for being so awesome!

“I’ve come here to chew bubble gum and kick ass…And I’m all out of bubble gum.”

Approved by none other than the Maestro himself.

Approved by none other than the Maestro himself.

Millennium: “522666” (Season 1, Episode 5, 11/28/1996)

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"

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 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.

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.

Millennium: “Dead Letters” (Season 1, Episode 3, 11/8/1996)

In just the third episode of Millennium, we get a real doozy. This one’s about a guy in Portland, Oregon who’s abducting women, covering their faces with duct tape, and cutting them into little pieces. Detective Jim Horn (James Morrison) is in charge of the case, and he’s a candidate being considered by the Millenium Group. He’s also going through a terrible divorce, and it’s seriously effecting his judgment.

Frank Black and Jim Horn investigating a crime scene.

Frank Black and Jim Horn investigating a crime scene.

The Group pays for Frank Black to fly in and help, and after seeing the evidence, he instinctively knows that the killer is leaving messages for the police to find, even though no one’s noticed. He’s right, of course; closer inspection reveals that the messages have been written on the victims’ hair. But Frank also gets the sense that Detective Horn might be dangerously unbalanced himself, and he has to fight for the guy’s soul while they’re both trying to catch the monster in their midst.

Holy SHIT!

Holy SHIT!

Meanwhile, Frank’s daughter Jordan is having freaky dreams back at home. They’re about clowns, and they give us our first hint that Jordan may be more like her father than he knows.

This episode is one of the best in the first season, when Millennium was still mostly a straight detective show. The Jim Horn character adds an even darker twist to what is already some pretty twisted subject matter. This is a man whose marriage has failed, whose life is being torn apart, and who can’t stop seeing his wife and his kid in the victims. It makes you think just how thin the line between order and chaos really can be. The way I see it, Horn is being hypnotized by the Backward Face, and Frank has the steely eyes of Sutekh, piercing through something that would drive most people mad.

Frank meets Jim's son.

A brief interlude with Jim’s family.