Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Season 2: Episode 22: "The Fourth Horseman"

Directed by Dwight Little

Written by Glen Morgan and James Wong

Air Date: May 8, 1998

The wildly engaging, occasionally uneven, but relentlessly compelling second season of Millennium concluded with "The Fourth Horseman" and "The Time Has Come." Apocalyptic in tone and imagery, there are some truly bonkers moments. These two episodes are a head trip above all else. 

Both revolve around the deadly Marburg Virus which poses a dangerous threat to humanity. A variation of the dreaded bird flu once contracted it can kill within minutes. The cold open is set in 1986 showing a farmer discovering all his chickens died of the novel virus. Then the virus disappeared, but it resurfaces in the Seattle area 12 years later.

The amount of plot wedged into these two episodes is impressive. As Frank is being recruited by a new group called "The Trust", Lara Means. has gone MIA after being initiated as a full member into the Millennium Group. Jordan is having terrifying dreams with diseased monkeys. Meanwhile, Peter and Frank investigate a strange death near a river and notice dead birds everywhere and are then placed in quarantine.

Peter takes on a more antagonistic role in these episodes. The tension between the secular and theological factions of the group have hit a critical mass, with Peter certain all the prophecy in the Book of Revelation is true and coming to pass - quoting from it frequently during the episode. An about face for the character that's been building up all season.

In another jarring scene a family in Georgia sits down for Mother's Day dinner and quickly begin to show symptoms of the virus and quickly expire (graphically). News reports of the virus appearing began to spread all over the world.

Meanwhile, Catherine and Frank have finally reconciled and return to the yellow house, but it proves to be a short respite before tragedy. 

Written by Glen Morgan and James Wong, their pulpy, visionary, and apocalyptical script made for compelling, even transgressive, television. The world building of season two truly comes to head in these final two episodes. The Millennium Group is revealed to be nefarious. They conceal information and demand a cultish loyalty. 

Perhaps character development gets lost in all the plotting, but you forget with Morgan and Wong's inventive narrative strategy of never letting the audience breathe.

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