Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Millennium Season One: Episode 17: "Walkabout"

Directed by Cliff Bole

Written by Chip Johannessen, Tim Tankosic

Airdate: March 28, 1997

Guest Stars: Zeljko Ivanek (Dr. Miller) Gregory Itzin (Dr. Hans Ingram)

Opening Quote: "I remember the very things I do not wish to; I cannot forget the things I wish to forget."

"Walkabout" flipped the script for Millennium, creating a mystery around the unexplained actions of series protagonist Frank Black. In the prologue, a John Carpenter style tracking shot goes into a medical building and pans down the hall and into a room with various people losing their minds under the influence of a drug - including Frank. 

Peter Watts appears unexpectedly at the Black household to inform Catherine that Frank's gone missing. Watts hacks into Frank's email and discovers he's been using an alias "David Marx", a name Catherine recognizes from a period when Frank was undergoing mental turmoil and would disappear for days. Frank is found at a bus depot in a dazed state with bleeding hands. Like the others at the drug trial, Frank had an awful reaction to the drug, but he cannot recall why or what he was doing there in the first place.

Frank returns to the site of the drug trial he recalls being there by sense memory - and even more disturbingly recalls witnessing a death. Later Frank is led to Dr. Miller who had knowledge of the test drug and its purpose from firsthand experience - to cure his own disturbing visions. Upon further investigation Frank learns of a Dr. Hans Ingram developed the dangerous hallucinogen to wake up all the "zombies" zoned out on anti-depressants. Ingram spiked the sugar at a city building resulting in disturbances among the employees.

We learn Frank was interested in the drug because he suspected Jordan was showing signs of inheriting his gift. Realizing he made a mistake, Frank realizes he must guide Jordan as her abilities manifest themselves.

'Walkabout" experimented with some of the conventions of Millennium and helped develop the Frank Black character with Henricksen fantastic as usual, bringing out a new vulnerability to his character. As a story the plot was opaque and somewhat contrived. Dr. Miller was a disposable character who deserved more. The same goes for Dr. Ingram who apparently had a master plot to drug people,  but his motives are never fleshed out. But those are minor quibbles, like all exceptional episodes of the series compelling questions are raised about the role of drugs in society then and now. 

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