Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Season 3: Episode 5 " . . . 13 Years Later"

Directed by Michael R. Perry

Written by Thomas J. Wright

Air Date: October 30, 1998

". . . 13 Years Later" is a heavily meta episode, a welcome change from the stark tone thus far in season three, sending up slashers even Millennium itself as a TV series. It's both riffing on Scream and the tropes of '80s horror. KISS also appears.

The episode begins with the framing device of Frank lecturing at the FBI Academy about a famous case he worked on known as the Dale Barker murders.

Later, Frank and Agent Hollis are called to investigate the murder of the director and cast member during a film production based on the Barker case. The cold open is an homage to Psycho as the film's director and starlet are murdered. 

Going further in the "meta" element, Frank discovers the lead character in the movie is based on a "Hollywood" version of himself. Frank is further annoyed when the actor starts to question Frank about his work methods. Offended that a b-movie level horror movie is being made about a case that's haunted him, Frank maintains his composure and continues the investigation. 

The episode follows a traditional slasher structure with characters being killed off. After a publicist is found murdered, Hollis begins to connect the murders to horror movies airing on television on those nights. An aficionado of horror, Hollis schools Frank on how to deconstruct slasher movies. In a scene of dry humor, Frank profiles Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees (although one would think Frank would've known those movies since in an earlier episode, he was familiar with Silent Night, Deadly Night movies). 

Frank assigns Hollis to watch the Horror Movie Marathons airing on Halloween night, as he stays on the set to look out for clues as a KISS concert is being filmed. When no crimes occur, Frank concludes the local crazy who confessed to the crime is the culprit, but it turns out the actor playing Frank is revealed to be the killer when he attempts to kill Hollis. It's revealed the character giving the lecture at the beginning was the actor playing Frank, who is now incarcerated. 

Mythmaking is a major theme in the episode. Hollis even references "the Frenchman" from the Pilot episode of Millennium. It's also an intriguing artifact from the late 90s with Hollis studying TV Guides, and foreshadowed the mass commodification of true crime for mass entertainment.

By all accounts, it was a difficult episode to shoot, but Michael R. Perry's sharp script of films references and in-jokes make it a fun curiosity in the series canon.