Monday, January 8, 2024

Season 3: Episode 2: "Exegesis"

Directed by Ralph Hemecker

Written by Chip Johannessen

Air Date: October 9, 1998

Guest Stars: Terry O'Quinn (Peter Watts) Doris Chicott (Elderly Woman)

"Exegesis" was the second part of Millennium's two-part premiere, offering an increasing number of plot twists and retcons to clear up lingering questions from the previous season. In saying that, "Exegesis" establishes the Millennium Group as the new villains, reintroducing Peter Watts, a former mentor, and confidante to Frank Black who's know his nemesis.

The plot machinations continue with the women who are indeed being targeted by the Group. Frank and Emma discover a connection linking the women to a "remote viewing" program from the 1970s, the government believing these women had the ability to project their consciousness to locations thousands of miles away. There is a history of the U.S. Government exploring such phenomena. Frank and Emma manage to track the "Elderly Woman" they observed remote viewing on an old tape to an abandoned silo, where they get into a shootout with group members and Frank almost gets crushed by an elevator. The woman reveals the end of the Cold War has led to an existential crisis, no longer having the power of the button has made the powers that be restless, hungry for more power. Frank decides to cover up the involvement of the Group in connection to the plane crash and the murders in his final report to protect himself.  

If anything, "Exegesis" induces a reevaluation of Peter Watts who was actually grooming Frank all along: providing emotional support, earning Frank's trust, preparing him to join the group. Frank is now in the position of having been deceived by a friend and colleague and will face consequences for going against the group. 

In a rarity, the episode ends with Frank's narration after he's purchased a birthday present for Jordan, "We can see the future in tantalizing glimpses that vanish as quickly as they appear . . Not that the future is, but that it is. Waiting for us. A reassuring thought."

Frank's notion reminds us why Millennium remains one of the great shows focused on existential and spiritual crisis, resonating even more this deep into the 21st Century.

Season 3: Episode 1: "The Innocents"

Directed by Thomas J. Wright

Written by Michael Duggan

Air Date: October 2, 1998

New Cast Member Debit: Klea Scott (Special Agent Emma Hollis)

Guest Stars: Ken Pogue (Tom Miller); Peter Outerbridge (Special Agent Barry Baldwin); Stephen E. Miller (Assistant Director Andy McClaren)

The second season of Millennium ended on the grimmest note imaginable. As a deadly virus appeared to be spreading everywhere, Frank Black took refuge with his family in the mountains, only to see his wife Catherine succumb to the disease. Faced with a tragic dilemma, Frank gave the vaccine to his daughter Jordan, saving her life. 

But with the series unexpectedly renewed for a third season, the two-part premiere had a lot of explaining to do.  

For the most part, "The Innocents" and "Exegesis" succeeded in telling an ambitious story tying up some lose ends from the previous season and setting the stage for the new season with the Millennium Group set up as the antagonists - and Frank determined to stop them.

The episode begins in a house as an old woman utters, "it has begun." Then we move to a commercial jet and follow a young woman into the bathroom where she finds a gun, shoots the ceiling, causing a fatal crash that kills over 100 passengers. 

Meanwhile, the scene shifts to the DC Metro area where Frank has relocated with Jordan. Catherine's parents are helping out, but her father Tom blames Frank for her death.  For it's revealed the Marburg Virus was contained to the Pacific Northwest, so it was not the apocalyptic event everyone feared. Life has returned to business as usual. Frank is back working with the FBI where he's something of a legend, but he's lost in grief and his therapist advises him to take things slowly.

At the crash site, the FBI is investigating the event as a crime. We're introduced to Special Agent Emma Hollis, who will become Frank's partner. The ambitious lead investigator, Special Agent Baldwin, believes it was a simple case of sabotage by a disgruntled employee. Frank begins experiencing visions of the crash and offers his assistance, where he and Hollis discover evidence linking the crash to mothers and daughters who all look similar - and the Marburg Virus.

If it all sounds a bit convoluted, you're not alone. Frank's superior, Assistant Director McClaren, finds it hard to believe to believe as well. A string of further incidents, a gas explosion in Salt Lake City, where the victim are also a blonde mother and daughter, the mother confesses at the hospital they are being targeted by the Millennium group for unspecified reasons, and provides information about the next target.  Frank and Emma pursue the lead, only to witness a fatal car accident with another mother and daughter. 

There's almost a Final Destination vibe to the episode with all the freak accidents being orchestrated. The machinations of the plot do force some mental gymnastics, but the steadiness of the direction and sheer assurance of seeing Frank and Jordan (and the addition of Klea Scott) provides a strong foundation for a new season.