Saturday, June 20, 2020

Season 1: Episode 9 "Wide Open"

Written by Charles D. Holland
Directed by Jim Charleston
Air Date: January 3, 1997
Guest stars: Glynn Turman, Brittany Tiplady, Bill Smitrovich

Opening Quote: "His children are far from safety; They shall be crushed at the gate without a rescuer."

 - Job 5:4

"Wide Open" is a slightly derivative, but still effective, episode of Millennium with Frank and Bletch on the search for a killer. The episode begins in an almost subversive matter with a house showing at an affluent suburb in Seattle. After a family has purchased the house they are murdered in terrifying fashion by a man who followed them there and hid in an upstairs closet. Real nightmare fuel. Frank and Bletch are called upon to investigate the case, while investigating the crime scene of the house Frank discovers the couple's daughter alive and well inside a vent. They realized the girl (named Patricia Highsmith after the author) witnessed everything and Bletch pushes Frank to get Patricia to talk, but Frank refuses. Catherine takes over the girl's case, offering comfort and support in her recovery from an unthinkable trauma.

The episode is structured as a cat and mouse game. The killer, fits the usual profile of a young white male reveling in his duel with law enforcement. They are able to locate the man and anticipate his further plans of targeting new houses and the capture in a suspenseful sequence that ends with his death from a fall. Frank's skills and compassion managed to win the day, Patricia would not be forced to recall the awful events. 

The episode ends with a moving scene. Frank and Bletch are reflecting as the Patricia is leaving the hospital and going to a foster shelter. Bletch reveals the killer himself survived horrific abuse as a child and muses, "Tragedy begets itself."

Frank replies, "Till the circle is broken."

Jordan accompanies the girl as she leaves the hospital. Frank finds Catherine quietly weeping in her room as the camera pans to the girl's drawings, haunting sketches of how she made sense of what happened. We hope Frank is correct and cycle of tragedy will be broken, but the pain will never go away. The theme of abandoned children echoes an earlier episode "Blood Relatives" only in this case the evil comes in the form of an outside threat. The healing sentiment expressed at the end suggested hope, a faint one, but hope nonetheless. 

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