Friday, August 6, 2021

Millennium Season 1: Episode 20: "Broken World"

Directed by Winrich Kolbe

Written by Robert Moresco, Patrick Harbinson

Airdate: May 2, 1997

Guest Stars: John Dennis Johnston (Sheriff Balkner); Ingrid Kavelaars (Sally Dumont); Donnely Rhodes (Peter Dumont); Jo Anderson (Claudia Vaughn) Van Quattro (Will Borgsen)

After a sequence of stellar episodes with evil forces literally arriving at Frank Black's front door, "Broken World" is a return to the standard format of the first season, tracking a potential serial killer. The Millennium Group sends Frank to North Dakota to investigate a string of horse killings that have the community on edge.

In the cold open, a female stable hand is also attacked, leading Frank to believe the killer may also be targeting people. Evidence at the scene indicates the suspect also experiences sexual satisfaction after the attacks. When human victims begin to turn up, Frank works with Peter Watts and local veterinarian Claudia Vaughn, who provides insight on the killer's background, to stop the killings. Scenes with Frank interacting with the skeptical provincial police force are amusing, but he persuades them his investigative methods work.

The suspect (local man Will Borgsen) begins to taunt Frank with phone calls, promising to strike again. Knowing Borgsen must be apprehend or the murders will continue, Frank realizes time is of the essence. Eventually the authorities surround Borgsen at a slaughterhouse where he's taken Claudia hostage. With Frank being held at gunpoint, Borgsen gets trampled by horses - call it poetic justice.

There's a prairie noir vibe to the episode with its rural setting in an otherwise routine affair. Originally titled Equus in an allusion to the 1973 play by Peter Shaffer about a troubled young man obsessed with horses, the episode does tap into the psychology of the play. Other than the echoes of Equus and the rural setting, "Broken World" is an unremarkable episode at that point in the first season. The deux ex machina ending with Frank getting saved at the last minute felt uncharacteristically melodramatic for Millennium


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