The X-Files #212: Millennium

"And anyway, 2001 is actually the start of the new Millennium." "Nobody likes a math geek, Scully."
ACTUAL DOCUMENTED ACCOUNT: A necromancer raises Millennium Group members to provoke the Apocalypse. Frank Black guest-stars.

REVIEW: Getting Frank Black to the year 2000 so he can complete his arc is a praiseworthy goal, but this isn't that. It's an X-Files episode in which Frank acts as star witness, a guy for Mulder and Scully to talk to that leads them to the bad guy. He eventually gets into some action, but the plot has nothing to do with the Millennium Group as presented in any of that show's seasons (they had three to pick from) and we're left wondering just what happened in the 200 or so days since the show went off the air. No Peter Watts. No super-psychics to take over the Earth after the Apocalypse. No Owls or Roosters. No change of tag line. Not even the correct mood. The sunny Californian latter-day X-Files are at odds with Millennium's rain-drenched atmosphere, and the lightness of these later seasons jars with Frank Black's world to the point where the Millennium theme playing feels intrusive. We're told the Group fell into disrepute and off the map, and that Frank is in a custody battle for Jordan with Catherine's parents, and that he's booked himself into a psych ward because he admits he cared more for his work than for his daughter. Maybe he believes it, but it just sounds wrong. If the episode fails at giving us closure, leaving scarcely enough clues to figure out what happened to the Group. Did Watts ally with Frank to take them down? Is it during the crusade that he neglected Jordan? Unknown.

Instead, the story focuses on four Group members we've never heard of who want to kickstart Armageddon as described in Revelations by becoming the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Or zombies. Whichever's easiest. And so a Millennial epic End of Days scenario turns into a basement shoot-out out of a clunky living dead movie. It's stupid and has nothing of Millennium's subtlety or stakes. Frank is apparently aware of this plan, though he doesn't think it will work, and isn't really profiling the culprit when the FBI comes to visit (note: no flashes). He's just guiding them, all too slowly so people die, towards the man's compound. Not a great legacy for the character. And is that really the retcon they're going with? Frank was kept safe by elements inside the Group so he could become one of the Horsemen? So Watts had nothing to do with it? Did the other dead members also have special powers? Doesn't seem like it. It just stings that three seasons of (admittedly erratic) the Group planning something big results in, at best, a zombie apocalypse of five living corpses, with a sixth (the coroner's) not even bothering to rise. Lame.

If I give the episode any credit at all is in its epilogue. Here we see Frank reunited with Jordan, and can believe in a happy ending for them. It's the only time the episode feels of a piece with the series. He doesn't even stick around to see the ball drop in Times Square, showing rather than saying how he really has put his daughter first, and left the Millennium behind. And at midnight, Mulder kisses Scully, you're gasping in shock, and coming out if it, he says "The world didn't end". A very cute meta comment on the "unresolved sexual tension" key to their relationship (Doctor Who would later do the same, "The world doesn't end because the Doctor dances"), but of course, your mileage may vary. The look they give each other is one that suggests romance, not just a simple and innocent New Year's tradition. But if you're going to let them go at it, Mulder's last season is the time to do it.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium
- Happy to see Frank and Jordan Black again, but they and the Millennium Group deserved better than to basically be an excuse for one Siskoid to integrate Millennium reviews into his X-Files project, y'know?

1 comments:

Timothy Brannan said...

This is the last episode of the X-files I can remember watching. I was out at my inlaws playing with my baby son at the time. I walked away and almost missed their kiss at the end.

 

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