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The best episodes of Millennium

Mellennium poster

@lcfremont lists her favorite episodes...
Around 1995, the X-Files had taken over television and pop culture which meant only one thing for creator Chris Carter: spin off show. Debuting in 1996, Millennium starred Lance Henriksen as a former FBI agent who now works as a freelance forensic psychologist. Blessed/cursed with the ability to see into the minds of criminals, he works with the super secret Millennium group solving crimes that are a bit above the FBI’s pay grade.

Unlike a lot of shows, the pilot episode of Millennium immediately captivates and lures you into Frank Black’s gloomy and gifted mind. Henriksen plays Black with a perfect mix of seriousness and empathy. He may see into the minds of killers, but he’s a completely different man when he’s with his wife Kathryn and daughter Jordan: the three of them are a sweet family who live in a picture perfect yellow house full of love and laughter. After a stellar first season, the second season lost itself in an overly complicated conspiracy story involving the Millennium group. Thankfully, the third, and final, season went back to the formula of the first and focused on a different mystery each week. Sometimes it was a mortal killer and sometimes it was something a bit more supernatural, but it was always interesting. Truly, it’s Henriksen’s gruff, yet sensitive, portrayal of Frank Black that centered the show and kept you watching.

In a serendipitous twist of fate, 2016 marks the 20th anniversary of Millennium’s premiere. As someone who made the show appointment television twenty years ago and has since watched the entire series twice, I think it’s obvious that I recommend you check it out as well. Or, perhaps, have your own reunion with Mr. Black. In the past, both Carter and Henriksen have made noise about wanting to do a movie or bringing Mr. Black back to television. Twenty years ago, the fear of the new millennium was at such a fever pitch that it merited an entire television show about the many ways people were panicking and how they chose to deal with that panic. We now seem to find ourselves in another state of heightened panic, most of it seems to be rooted in xenophobia, but we live in a culture of fear, nonetheless, and it feels like a perfect time for Frank Black to grace our screens once again. Especially now that horror is taken seriously as a storytelling medium and tv is the format that has truly embraced it. What better time for a comeback? And now I present to you, my favorite episodes.

Mellenium image

Pilot:

Written by Chris Carter, the pilot episode set the bar high with a gritty look and tone that is very Se7en. ( But not in a Ryan Murphy Se7en “homage” way.) Utilizing the old standard of a guy using the Bible to justify murder, this story manages to feel new and is still chilling to this day. As an exotic dancer entertains to the sounds of 'Nine Inch Nails' while a psycho quietly says, “I want to see you dance on the blood dimmed tide,” it’s simultaneously eerie and a nice nostalgic moment of what the 90’s looked and sounded like. Dirty.

Wide Open:

This is the episode that truly disturbed me and, consequently, ensured that I will never, ever have an open house. A man who suffered a terrible experience as a child now goes to open houses, finds a hiding place and then murders the family later that night. Shades of In Cold Blood and Henry:Portrait of a Serial Killer make for a truly disturbing story that makes you wonder just how often this actually happens.

Thirteen Years Later:

This is a fun episode that goes full meta and features the members of KISS. Personally, I could have lived without KISS, but at least this is better than KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park. Frank ends up on the set of a movie where the lead is doing his best impression of Frank Black investigating a real life serial killer. This makes for some seriously funny moments of the actor hamming it up as he tries to be Frank Black. Imagine David Caruso via CSI:Miami pretending to be Lance Henriksen. To up the fun factor, the killer at large is using classic horror films as his inspiration for murder methods.

Jose Chung’s Doomsday Defense:

Charles Nelson Reilly reprises his role as Jose Chung from the X-Files (Jose Chung’s From Outer Space) on this wacky episode that takes a not so subtle stab at Scientology. They rebrand the religion as Selfossophy and it’s complete with Ratfinkovitch’s, people buying up multiple copies of the founder’s science fiction books in order to keep them on the best seller lists and a machine called an Onan-O-Graph. Reilly is a delight in this role and his curmudgeon brand of humor kind of makes you wish he was your cool uncle. He’s so good, in fact, that he was nominated for an Emmy for this episode.

Feeling like a completist? In season seven of the X-Files, there is an episode titled “Millennium” that, effectively, closes out Millennium and Frank Black’s story after the show’s cancellation. Revolving around necromancy, Mulder and Scully meet with the infamous Frank Black who helps them solve a case that, ultimately, revolved around the Millennium group. It’s a nice footnote to a show that was ushered out a bit too hastily. Bonus: Vince Gilligan is one of the writers on this episode and when Frank tells Octavia that he’s checking out of the mental institution, it’s Octavia Spencer who answers him.

With six new episodes of the X-Files currently airing on television, the time is definitely ripe for a reboot of Millennium. So, who’s starting the online petition?

Lisa Fremont

Twitter: @lcfremont

Images: wikipedia & google.com

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