Saturday, June 11, 2022

Millennium Season 2: Episode 8: "The Hand of St. Sebastian"

Written by Glen Morgan and James Wong

Directed by Thomas J. Wright

Air Date: November 14, 1997

Guest Stars: CCH Pounder (Cheryl Andrews); Phillip Baker Hall (Group Elder); Gottfried John (Josef Heim)

A myth building episode speculating on the origins of the Millennium Group, "The Hand of St. Sebastian" follows Peter Watts and Frank Black to Germany where they investigate a murder that may lead to answers about the group's history. The pacing of the episode is methodical and by turns abrupt. It also sets the stage for the second season's deep dive into the group's mythology.

The prologue is set in 998 AD, following a monk being betrayed by his companion, revealed to have markings on his body that connect him to the group. Watts has a growing obsession with the group's origins and asks Frank to accompany him to Germany to investigate the murder of a doctor whose lab held mummified bodies. Watts informs Frank he's investigating without permission.

While in Germany they butt heads with German authorities who are suspicious of them and their motives. Frank and Peter narrowly escape a car bomb and find more surprises. Peter discovers the German scientist heading the lab is still alive, but later gets framed for the actual murder that occurs later in the episode. CCH Pounder reprises her role as Cheryl Andrews and informs Frank she was sent to keep tabs on Peter. Their investigation leads them to a bog where they discover another mummified body with markings relating to the group (for a harrowing moment Frank almost sinks and must be pulled out). Frank discovers Cheryl has betrayed Peter by trying to frame him for the murder. The episode ends with Frank dissuading Peter from his pursuit of ancient relics and suggests they rely on their own reasoning abilities.

Frank's observation at the end made for a clever ending: although their trip to Germany was foolhardy and put them in unnecessary danger, Frank realizes they must stay focused on the present and not get trapped in the past by searching for relics. Yet Peter's cryptic motives and Frank's ambivalence suck the energy from this episode at times, their usual chemistry feels a bit off. Cheryl's turn also seemed random. The group's motives and history are left to be more mysterious than ever, hinting at something nefarious and complicated yet to be discovered, epitomized by the great Philip Baker Hall appearing as an elder with lots of secrets. Veteran actor Gottfried John also adds some gravitas as a German detective who loves quoting American cop shows. 

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