“If there’s anybody that can tell us about the Millennium Group, it’s him. He used to consult for them. Later, he fought to bring them down at the expense of his own career and reputation.” — Fox Mulder
“Single-minded.” — Dana Scully
“Yeah.” — Fox Mulder
“Sounds like someone I know.” — Dana Scully
It’s a crossover event when Frank Black of “Millennium” ends up working with Mulder and Scully on a zombie-esque case.
Radhika: What happens when you’re the creator of a couple of TV shows on the Fox network and one show gets canceled? You give it a crossover conclusion ending of sorts on the non-canceled successful show, of course! And so that’s how “Millennium,” which includes characters and plots from the show Millennium, came to be a thing on The X-Files. This may also be the episode best remembered for finally throwing shippers a bone with a Mulder/Scully kiss.
Mulder and Scully are called in to figure out the case of former FBI Agent Raymond Crouch, who died and is now missing from his grave. (In the teaser, we saw a man named Mark Johnson partake in a ritual that may have had something to do with it). We learn that Crouch is one of four former FBI agents whose graves were exhumed — and all four men had committed suicide. Mulder thinks it’s an act of necromancy and Skinner eventually asks the agents to investigate Crouch’s ties to the Millennium Group.
So our agents decide to talk to Millennium hero Frank Black, who is in a mental institution while sorting out a custody battle for his daughter, Jordan. He eventually reveals that the four former Millennium Group members believed they could bring about the end of the world by killing themselves before the millennium — becoming the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. We learn that the four corpses have reanimated, which means trouble: Mulder ends up locked in Johnson’s basement with the four reanimated corpses, killing one. Frank Black shows up, kills two and Scully eventually arrives to kill the final zombie.
By the episode’s end, Black discharges himself from the hospital, joined by his daughter, while Mulder and Scully share a kiss while watching Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve on TV. We essentially go from dark and creepy to a nice happy ending — a way to wrap up the Millennium plot and hint that something is up with our favorite FBI agents.
I didn’t watch Millennium minus an episode here and there, though I certainly read over what Max had to say about that show before we started this season of The X-Files. Even now, I view this as a reasonable episode of The X-Files, but I don’t find it earth shattering. (That’s right, my cold dead non-shipper heart did not feel particularly aroused by the kiss). The atmosphere is deliciously creepy in the beginning, but as the plot goes along, it honestly doesn’t feel particularly special to me. An episode featuring zombies (well before zombies became a played-out trope on the big and small screens) and the threat of the apocalypse should have had more tension than this one did in my eyes. I’m not sure what could have made the events of the episode more urgent, but I wish I had felt as though there was more at stake.
And now, some retrospective thoughts about the kiss: I was a “noromo” during most of the show’s run, though I had previously hoped for an endgame relationship between the characters. I just didn’t want the show to become about the Mulder/Scully romance, though I’m perfectly willing to admit that the seeds for such a romance were there (if only because the two characters had little-to-no interaction with the opposite sex and spent all their time together). The kiss here is interesting: It actually is a nice moment, though not particularly earth shattering either, but I think that was a clever move.
“The world didn’t end,” Mulder says, with Scully quietly agreeing. The dynamic hasn’t shifted significantly just because of this kiss, which took place during a moment where a lot of people kiss. It’s subtle enough for us to wonder if this truly is the first kiss between the characters or if something’s been going on under our noses all along. Those of us who’ve watched the show before know how things will eventually unfurl — and I think that if we ultimately had to see romantic moments of this nature onscreen, this subtlety was what the show needed in order to move things along while not making everything too terribly out of character either. In other words: I can live with it.
Max: This episode had a lot of heavy lifting that it needed to do, and had to work in a myriad of ways, so on rewatch I give “Millennium” more credit than I have given it in times past. It not only had to work as an episode of The X-Files, but it had to operate as a kind of series finale for the beleaguered Millennium as well. Add to that the need (much like Fight the Future) to cater to casual or non-watchers of either program and you can see the seeds were planted for an entertaining if mediocre episode. Much like the Y2K bug that gripped the public’s imagination and fear in the year or so leading up January 1, 2000, this outing was ultimately a bit of sound and fury signifying nothing.
It is saved though by the dint of the irrepressible Mulder and Scully chemistry as well as Lance Henriksen’s always magnetic performance as Frank Black. Frank, in dealing with the death of his wife as well as the need to balance his dedication to Jordan and his quest to demolish the Millennium Group, is seemingly resigned to his fate after coming so close to slipping from the rope. Throughout the series, we’ve seen a lot of examples of what Mulder could potentially have turned out to be (Bill Patterson, most notably), and Frank is held up here as an additional cautionary tale. Given the “shippy” aspects of this episode, the argument can continue to be made that it is through Scully’s grounding support that Mulder has been able to outlast them all, including most of the members of the Syndicate that he sought to expose and bring to justice.
Skinner brought his agents on board with this case because of the FBI connection, and it is still a bit humorous that so much skullduggery and bugaboo has run through the offices of the J. Edgar Hoover building. Radhika made an adjoiner in our review of “Patient X” when she noted that of course Jeffrey Spender was an FBI agent, given his mother’s claims of extraterrestrial encounters. Frank, naturally, worked for the Bureau before and during Millennium‘s run (Mulder was familiar with his work with violent crimes), and his insights proved useful to our heroes. In an alternate universe, I could easily see Frank working X-Files in the 70s and 80s.
The hasty conclusion to the saga of Frank Black still leaves a bad taste in my mouth, when there should’ve been something much more intriguing, particularly for a program as compelling as Millennium. Tackling the end times has become a cottage industry (evangelicals are having a field day with it), and Millennium was one of the first pieces of pop culture (of which Stephen King’s The Stand is the granddaddy of) to deal with it head on. It took the questions of faith and belief that The X-Files dealt with and expanded on their possible answers with fascinating results. But here we have Holmes Osborne playing a Johnny-come-lately in respect to the Millennium Group’s dealings, which is apropos since this episode is ultimately an afterthought. Luckily, for fans of Millennium, it seems that we are getting a comic book series next year that will hope to salvage the story as much as the X-Files Season 10 comics are attempting to course correct the mythology missteps of seasons seven through nine.
In the beginning (and the end) though we have our own Alpha and Omega in the forms of Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, ushering in a new millennium (nobody likes math geeks Scully!) and a new stage in their relationship with a kiss. I agree with Radhika in that it was clever and handled quite well, and in fact the underplayed nature of it works to everyone’s advantage. It is a thing that happened between two people who shared a long, intense, emotional history. The scene is not the grand fireworks of what would have been in Fight the Future, and for these characters, is more natural the Hollywood version of an explosive emotional release. And for the time being, it hasn’t sent the show careening toward its own apocalypse.
YES, IT’S THOSE GUYS
Lance Henriksen – We’ve gone on about his time on Millennium plenty, but Henriksen is known for plenty of other roles as well, including roles in the Alien flicks and a part in The Terminator. He has also done some work in voice acting.
Holmes Osborne – Appearing here as Mark Johnson, Osborne has appeared in Richard Kelly’s films Donnie Darko, Southland Tales and The Box. He’s appeared in other films and TV shows such as House M.D., Dharma and Greg and more.
Octavia Spencer – It’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it role for the Oscar winner in “Millennium,” where she plays a nurse. Spencer won her Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in The Help and has also starred in other movies like Fruitvale Station and Snowpiercer, as well as the TV series Red Band Society.
Dick Clark – You don’t see him in this episode, but you certainly hear him: The famed radio and television personality who hosted American Bandstand and countless New Year’s Eve celebrations did a voice-over bit for the episode, announcing the year 2000.