The X-Files #103: 522666

"I am responsible for everything... except my very responsibility." - Jean-Paul Sartre
ACTUAL DOCUMENTED ACCOUNT: Frank joins an FBI team intent on stopping a mad bomber.

REVIEW: I don't if it's the gorgeous shots of Washington D.C. at night, the bigger team of law enforcement officials, or the more technological bent of both the crime and the investigation, but there's something slicker than usual with this episode. I like it. The criminal is a bomber who thinks of himself as an artist, and wants recognition for what he's done. He wants to be a star, and if not famous, then infamous, a drive Frank finds harder than normal to "get into", perhaps because he's not at all like that, preferring to work from the shadows. He's the guy who refuses to give interviews. His prey is a showy Batman villain with a calling card (well, a call number - which cleverly spells KABOOM - but then, so does the Millennium Group - it's "2000"). And though they are different men, both have apocalyptic visions of people dying in a blast. Carter and Henrikson can claim the paranormal is not at work if they like, but in these early episodes, there certainly does seem to be something inexplicable connecting these men, and the bomber can sense it. Add to that Frank's daughter having another bad dream, about him, and just before HE'S caught in the blast, and you can't tell me some percentage of people AREN'T tuned in to some satanic frequency.

Just when I started wondering why they'd bring Frank in for a bombing, seeing as his specialty is sexually-driven crimes, they find a napkin full of... ewww! I actually think this is a good example of skeeving out the audience without outright telling us what we're looking at. It's subtle, it's done with humor, and still feels true to the procedural. It's also interesting to see Frank work with a full team, and a team that TRUSTS him, which can't be said of the Seattle P.D. outside of Bletch. These are the people he used to work with, and who are probably long past questioning his powers of deduction. Triangulating the bomber's position using cell towers would have been a new trick back then, and it's treated as such. I don't just mean it's explained, but that it's made into an important set piece. It's even a little exciting. And I love the way Frank plays mind games with the bomber to get him to stay on the phone longer and longer. And again, NO ONE QUESTIONS IT. Frank's gotta work with people like this more often.

Wong and Morgan don't find a lot of room for Catherine in this one, going so far as to make her the ironic dunderhead who lets the bomber visit Frank in the hospital, but she does have one key scene. When Frank is talking to the bomber on the phone, she waits for him to finish on the land line and hears his side of the conversation. She finds it disquieting and hangs up. The sequence makes good use of the "home invasion" theme, as Frank's world leaks into his home life, and though it's a subtle thing, you can see how much it stings him when he's forced to hang up on his wife or she hangs up on him. He's trying to shield his family from his world, but it's having an impact on them anyway.

Good showdown at the end as well, Frank and the bomber facing each other in their cars and playing a game of "which car has the bomb?" while snipers circle. The solution to the game is interesting, and the bomber gets what he wants the same way a lot of "lone gunmen" types do. Psychos seeking notoriety even over survival is something we're still very sensitive to today, and this feels entirely modern. In fact, it may sometimes seem like Millennium was just 20 years ahead of its time.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-High - The more I think about this one, the more I like it. Edgy, slick and a better procedural than most.

2 comments:

Dale Bagwell said...

I honestly don't know at this point whether its the way you review these episodes, or the episodes themselves, but color me intrigued enough to try and hunt these episodes down to watch on the 'net.

Siskoid said...

Well it's an intriguing show. The DVDs are super-cheap.

 

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