The X-Files #141: The Beginning & the End

"Welcome Frank. There are 833 days remaining."
ACTUAL DOCUMENTED ACCOUNT: Frank Black tracks his wife's abductor, the Polaroid Man who's been hounding him.

REVIEW: Morgan & Wong become showrunners for the second season of Millennium, and things indeed are changing. They've given the Apocalypse a countdown, and put cataclysmic explosions in the opening montage. (Gone is "Who cares?" at least.) The quotes at the start of the episodes are gone. Jeers, I rather liked them. They seem to want to focus more on the Millennium Group as a conspiratorial organization, one that has kept secrets from Frank that have put Catherine in deadly danger. And I was going to say they made Frank's gift feel more supernatural, but that pendulum has always been swinging, and though there are bit in the season premiere where he seems prescient, the Polaroid Man makes a good case for it just being expert profiling. And in the short term, they separate Frank and Catherine, but I think they earn it.

See, the whole episode is about a progressive osmosis between Frank and the Polaroid Man (who, by the way, is played by the same actor who played Tooms on X-Files, a similar role and perhaps a little too recognizable to make absolute sense as a casting choice), pushing Frank to become a killer, something Catherine ultimately cannot stomach. As his investigation proceeds, he first realizes he, not Catherine, is the Polaroid Man's victim, something cleverly narrated by the villain as he profiles Frank. The Polaroid Man is hiding in another yellow house, acting out a vile version of Frank's family life (the basement lair full of CSI artifacts, i.e. the pictures, a wife tied up, the -faked- corpse of their daughter). Frank at first tries his old address, a similar confusion of identities. And when he finally finds the Polaroid Man, he murders him (even if the scene has, that justifying cop is right, self-defense written all over it). And once out of the house, and this is presaged in the teaser, he looks up at the "Millennium Comet", subject of deep interest to the Polaroid Man. The transformation is complete. And what should we make of Jordan seeing angels in her room, there before Frank goes out to kill the Polaroid Man, but gone when he returns? All that Alpha and Omega stuff is there for a reason, and Frank doesn't know if something just ended or began with his murderous act. What the Polaroid Man has to say is just as chilling as his having a cage under his car, and the other psycho-type stuff we've come to expect from the show's antagonists.

The Millennium Group also makes some important statements. The idea that their interest in Frank stems from the same roots as the Polaroid Man's is intriguing. See, he seems to think Frank would somehow be able to usher in the Apocalypse better than he could, that he'd be able to make a sacrifice he couldn't. Was Frank's capacity to become such a lynchpin the reason the Millennium Group took and interest - they either need to watch him, or actually ARE trying to provoke the End of Days as opposed to stem the tide? Or am I reading that in reverse? They just need Frank's profiling skills, and those are exactly what makes him "turnable" from the Polaroid Man's point of view? If that's true, why withhold information from him? Did they need to see his resolve tested? Sacrifice is very much on everyone's minds. Peter Watts tells his origin story, and we discover that he too is a family man, and that he essentially made a pact with God that he would sacrifice his ever having a male child if he could track down and stop the killer of a 4-month-old baby. Though he's cool as ice, his motivation is born out of trauma, like Frank's. He's haunted. And what he's come to wonder is if you can actually sacrifice one thing for another; there don't seem to be guarantees. So when Frank sacrifices his humanity to save Catherine, it's a little like that. The loss does not sting less because of the gain, and conscience will always ask whether there was another way.

Oh and a few words about the snorting IT boys who invade Frank's basement and put protection on his computer. I've read the Brian character returns. I'm wondering if he's being added to the cast to provide comic relief, because I'm not sure Millennium needs it. His one scene felt like it was from an entirely different show - perhaps the Lone Gunmen series - and left a humorless Frank looking perplexed. I like a good Soylent Green joke as much as the next guy; it just didn't fit the tone of the program.

REWATCHABILITY: High - While the jury's still out on some of the changed wrought this season, there's no denying the power of its first episode, as Frank loses everything that kept him human.


Jeffry Willis said...

Here we go! I adore this season. [settles in]

Siskoid said...

No pressure for me to like it, then ;)


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