DVD Pilot Commentary by Chris Carter
This article was contributed by Libby and relates the episode Pilot of Chris Carter's Millennium television series.
This article was contributed by Libby and relates the episode Pilot of Chris Carter's Millennium television series.
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A vicious serial killer is on the loose in Seattle, roaming strip clubs and gay hang-outs, believing he is on a mission to cleanse the plague-infested city from sin in preparation for the apocalypse. At the same time, renowned FBI profiler Frank Black retires to Seattle with his family as he gains membership in the secretive Millennium Group. He soon realizes that he must be the one to bring closure to the so-called Frenchman’s grotesque crimes, before further innocents are brutally killed.
Written by Chris Carter
Directed by David Nutter
Edited by Stephen Mark
There are a total of 130 available images from Pilot.
Millennium - Best new television dramatic Series (Winner)
Pete Wunstorf - Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography in a Pilot (Nominee)
In typing this commentary I did make use of Maria Vitale's excellent transcript, and I have to say that her scene descriptions are probably the best I have ever read. On the couple of occasions where the scene descriptions are particularly vivid - you know who to thank.
The city of Vancouver, like in the X-Files, played a very important part in the look of Millennium, which was supposed to be gray and bleak.
We shot this in the time of year when it's grayest and bleakest, the early spring.
(A man going into a peep-show club.)
The peep-show club here, which we called the Ruby Tip, was inspired by a Seattle institution which is called the Lusty Lady which is on Main Street in Seattle, which is where the pilot is set and the show is set.
We got a chance to cast beautiful women for a change. On The X-Files so much of our casting was of character actors, this was I think a pleasure for everybody involved. And so it was easy to cast Kate Luyben and April Telek in these parts. They were terrific actresses and beautiful to look at. Kate would appear later in at least one X-Files episode, and she had a larger part in Harsh Realm.
I know that director David Nutter went down to Seattle also to see how this peep-show worked. Working with Gary Wisner who was on the production of the pilot I think we re-created almost exactly what was in Seattle.
(The Frenchman holding up a piece of paper in the booth window.)
This idea of the Frenchman played by Paul Dillon really came from the Nostradamus prophecy which had a lot to do with the idea of the series, the idea that there is something approaching at the millennium, this series being produced I think four years before the end of the century, that we were headed toward something grave and foreboding.
The idea was that Frank Black who we've yet to meet knew something and felt something that others didn't know about this oncoming evil.
(The Frenchman: I want to see you dance on the blood-dimmed tide.)
We spent a long time trying to figure out what was the proper way to do this which is really a point of view of this strange dance, this effect of the blood running down the walls, how real it should be, how much of a sort of imagining it should be.
(The Frenchman: This is the second death. Calamity: Tell me what you want. The Frenchman: You'll have your part in the lake. In the great plague in the maritime city.)
This is the Frenchman reading from a William B Yeats poem about the apocalypse that foretells the blood-dimmed tide at the end of the millennium. The editing done here is I think a work of art by Stephen Mark who was a very important part of the X-Files for the first few seasons.
Ramsey McDaniel, a woman who had done some work on the X-Files early on, came in and did a beautiful job on the opening credits of Millennium, which I think are evocative and they set the mood and the theme for the show.
The idea was to make a murder mystery each week but to give it a millennial feel. The idea that it was all part of the oncoming disaster or apocalypse at the end of the millennium, to use the fear that everyone seemed to have about Y2K, to bring it to life on this TV series each week.
(The Black family arriving outside their yellow house.)
The character, Frank Black, cares more than anyone else, that he actually feels responsibility, the weight of the world, he is the sort of super adult.
Everyone else who doesn't want to face the horror to come. Brittany Tiplady who played his daughter - she was a choice of one, there was no other kid who even came close. She was a bit of luck. The same with Megan Gallagher, she was just perfect for the part. She seems like such a hopeful optimistic person and yet she had the quality that you could feel, the weight that she carried of her husband's burden of being able to see the darkness.
Lance Henriksen was my, really my first and only choice for this part, and I wrote it with him in mind. I ended up slipping him a note under his hotel room door asking him if he would please read the pilot and consider it because he had not done television before. It was really fortunate for me that we were able to get somebody who for me embodied this character of Frank Black, a person who has the weight of the world on his shoulders, who loves his family, who loves his wife and his daughter, who wants to start a new life in Seattle with them, leaving the FBI, with the idea that he could leave this past and this darkness behind. But who ultimately was unable to and it begins with picking up the morning newspaper.
Jack Meredith was my neighbor when growing up, my across the street neighbor. He was like this fellow, he was as nice as could be. I don't know why people took this guy as being a sort of nosy, busybody, but I just saw him as the quintessential caring super-nice neighbor.
(Jack: What kind of work do you do, Frank? Frank: Well, I do some consulting. Jack: Ah, good. Look, can we invite you folks over for dinner this week. I see you have a little girl. Frank: Thank you. I'll talk to my wife. Jack: Good. They walk off back toward their respective homes. Jack pauses. Jack: Say, Frank. You couldn't have picked a nicer place to come back to.)
The idea of the yellow house was that you can try to paint away the darkness, that you can create an environment where you can try to deny that which you know to be real and true and frightening about the world.
(Frank goes to Bob Bletcher's office. Bletcher: I think I've just seen a ghost. Frank: Hey, Bletch.)
'Bob Bletcher' was actually an attorney who did some work for me, just some legal work. He lives in Santa Barbara. But he's a big, masculine guy with a very outgoing personality and I like him very much, and I like the name and it stuck. 'Giebelhouse', played by Stephen Lang here, was another name from my childhood. The Giebelhouse family were the cousins of another very good friend of mine. This idea of the hard-boiled detective is a kind of cliché but whenever you go and meet detectives in any police precinct, department, whatever, it's just as hard-boiled as people imagine them to be, or conceptualize them. I think that these characters are very real to life, who live in and work in this police department.
(Bletcher and Frank walk through the department.)
This work was all done on stage, shot beautifully by Peter Wunstorf, directed beautifully by David Nutter who added to the project in so many ways, even as it came on, things that he saw visually that were able to actually change and make the script more concise.
(Bletcher: Yeah. I heard you took early retirement. Frank: Any chance you could take me down to see the body?)
Michael Puttonen also had been on the X-Files before so I was familiar with his work, he was easy to cast.
All this lighting and production design to make this dark and forbidding were thought through very completely and talked about as really setting a tone for the show.
I had the idea for these visions and then there was another show on the same year, that premiered, called Profiler starring a woman but she had visions just like Frank Black did here. It was funny to see that someone else would have the same exact idea in the same subject matter, same genre.
(Bletcher: A carving knife was missing from a kitchen set. Frank: She was clothed. A vision. Frank: There was no evidence of sexual assault. Bletcher: What else? Frank: He cut off her fingers.)
What worked with Bill Smitrovich and Lance Henriksen as far as casting goes - they'd never been in the room together before this - was that they're both very powerful personalities and there was a sort of competition going on between the two of them both on-screen and off and it worked, it created a nice tension between the two of them.
(Frank leaves the morgue and Bletcher follows up the stairs.)
Doing scenes like this in stairwells are very difficult because the sound is very difficult, it bounces around and you've got a crew that's basically leading people up stairs, so there's lots of noise bouncing around, and I think this scene was done without any looping or dubbing, which was pretty amazing.
(Frank: I don't know yet. I'm working with a consulting group. These guys have a lot of experience with this sort of thing. They could take a look.)
The actual Millennium Group, which is what Frank is referring to here, were a group of retired FBI agents who I came into contact with, spent some time with, out in Virginia, who were very helpful with giving me a real life idea of what guys who have left the FBI do, how they make their living. And even though what I imagine is not in fact reality, the idea that there are group of people with special knowledge about crime in the world and criminals in the world and a certain horror - it was not such a far-fetched idea, that there were men out there with certain skills who are able to work extra-legally.
(Frank has gone to the peep-show club. Frank: I just want to talk. Tuesday: Talk to me. Tell me what you want. Frank hold up a newspaper clipping with Calamity's photo. Frank: You knew her, didn't you? Tuesday: This isn't an interrogation booth. Frank: I'm not a cop. Tuesday: I've already given my statement. Frank: I might be able to figure out who killed her.)
Music played an important part, Portishead here, earlier you heard a White Zombie song, both big take-offs from work that I'd done earlier on the X-Files, which was really all score. This was a show that wanted to use songs, including the theme song, or theme music, which is very important. It actually came from, was inspired by a Kylie Minogue song - not something you'd think of as associated with this genre, but there was a certain violin lead in that Kylie Minogue song that I think tonally set the mood from Mark Snow, gave him something to go on when I played that piece of music for him.
(Frank: Can you think of any reason someone might have killed her? Tuesday: A reason? Men don't need reasons. All they need is an excuse. Frank's vision. Frank: I'm sorry. Thanks for your time. He starts to leave. Tuesday: There's a guy.)
Lance has this sort of lean, dangerous look. He looks like he has the weight of the world on him and I think that plays such an important part in what my ideas was, the idea of Frank Black, a person who was always suffering in a way. I give them this instruction, and he said it was one of the hardest things for him to do, which was never to use his hands, to keep his hands at his side, that this was a character that didn't have any salesmanship in him, that a person who uses his hands is actually a person who has a lesser ability or an inability to communicate in language or with his voice or with his person. Lance wanted to use his hands, it had been a way he'd worked before. It was important to me that he did not, and I think it helped the character, helped to create the character.
(Night. In the woods, a cruising area for gay men. The Frenchman walks through the woods, seeing young men, but they have their eyes and mouths sewn shut.)
Once again, we are in this killer's point of view, the Frenchman, here seeing his visions, and Lance, the character of Frank Black, was able to to get into the head of the killer, that was his ability, to see the darkness through the killer's eyes. That's his blessing and his curse, as he'll say.
Paul Dillon has a great look for this character. He happens to be a terrific actor, very, very smart guy, a playwright, somebody who stepped in here and did a great job for us, but probably was completely under-used.
(The Frenchman is sat in his car. A young man knocks on the window of the Frenchman's car and then goes round to the passenger side and gets in. The car is parked on a hillside next to a metal bridge support and overlooking the city.)
This is a shot under the Lions Gate bridge on a very, very crystal-clear night, cold, crystal-clear night.
(The car driving on the bridge.)
This is the Lions Gate bridge. There's such beautiful shots of Vancouver. I think the filmic quality of the work is something that we were very proud of when we were finished. Peter Wunstorf came from Edmonton and had an idea to shoot this all with tungsten, I believe, which would be something he would correct for in post-production, so it was a very smart, creative way to create this dark, dark mood that we wanted. Something that I think is going away to a certain extent on television now, which worked with the X-Files and is working for Millennium and other shows, and now watching shows like CSI, I see that they're dealing with the same subject matter but sometimes in, I believe, a less dark and filmic way as we did, but that's a factor of so many things including time and money. They're doing so many things right where we made mistakes, but I still think the look of this show was so beautiful.
(The yellow house. Frank awake in bed, he and Jordan looking at the newspaper ads for puppies, while Catherine pretends to be asleep.)
The contrast here - you get the Black house which is bright and sunny, in opposition to the world outside.
(Frank and Bletcher and other officers at the crime scene in the woods.)
The big idea for me was a guy who wants to have a normal life but he sees the world differently than everyone else and can't ignore this ability. I think it's something that talented people do, geniuses often do - they see the world in a different way. I think it's something that artists aspire to do, scientists do - they're able to push our concepts of the world forward by looking at things and then communicating them in different and new ways. That was the kind of idea behind this character of Frank Black - somebody who doesn't necessarily have an inborn gift but something he's developed through his hard work with catching criminals, seeing how they operate, knowing them and ultimately being able to see like them.
(A burned body, covered by a sheet.)
The men surrounding Frank here, they represent those of us who can't or won't see the world like he sees it. Bill Smitrovich's character, Bob Bletcher, plays a man who struggles to understand and ultimately comes to Frank's point of view to an extent.
(Frank's vision of a burning man. Bletcher: Frank. Frank: It's the same killer. Bletcher: What? Frank: He did it here. The victim was set on fire here in the woods. How far to the river? Bletcher: Four miles. Frank: That's where they came from. Helicopter search.)
It's also our idea to cast this with real men, with adults, not with beautiful actors or soapy starts, that these are people who were real, who were working to protect us. Maybe aspire to be too real in some ways.
(The discovery of the coffin. Later, Frank's jeep driving in the pouring rain.)
There were times when we had to create rain in Vancouver (laughs). It was very, very cold, I remember, during the shooting of this but there were very clear days sometimes and so the idea that you'd actually have to bring out rain machines in Vancouver in the wintertime was ironic.
(In the car, Bletcher and Frank. Bletcher: He told them he was part of something called The Millennium Group. Frank: Yeah. Bletcher: Is that who you're doing this consulting for? Frank: Mm-hm.)
David Nutter makes interesting choices here in his camera angles. In the X-Files, the camera angles are much more tight on the eyelines, but I think that David made a proper choice here by keeping the camera wider in certain instances.
You create a TV pilot, you are choosing things that will stick with the series: cars, wardrobe, hair, make-up, all these things require a tremendous amount of thought, and argument sometimes, and the decision-making process is critical because you're going to end up setting sail with so many of these choices.
(Frank drives his jeep into the driveway of the yellow house. Just as he walks up the steps, another car stops on the street. A man gets out and calls to him. It's Peter Watts.)
Casting Terry O'Quin here was a no-brainer. He had done a wonderful job for us on an X-Files episode. I remember talking to him on the set this night, thanking him for doing the job - I'd cast him without ever talking to him, just on the basis of his good work - and he came up to me and we shook hands, and he thanked me and said, "I love the words." That was, of course, music to my ears because I wanted to write a character who had a very dry, matter-of-fact and articulate way of communicating with Frank. Terry O'Quin just nailed that character for me and so it made him fun to write as the series progressed.
(Frank: The killer was covering his tracks. The victim may have scratched or bitten him. He may not have gone down there to kill her. Watts: The kitchen knife was convenient but he knew what he was doing. And with real sang froid, judging by his tidy clean-up. Frank: What does the Group think? Watts: That your instincts were right. The killer's being compelled by an extraneous stressor. He's out of control. Frank: Anything else? Watts: That you're the right man for this. All our resources will be available to you. Watts leaves.)
This yellow house which we spent a lot of time making into the sort of perfect house - we re-shingled the house, we painted it a particular color of yellow. When we went to start the series after the pilot had been picked up, we were no longer able to shoot at the house. It was a very expensive set to lose. I think the biggest beneficiary was the family that lived there who basically had a remodeled house.
(Catherine: I can handle imposition, Frank. What I can't handle is secrecy.
The beautiful saturated color here is Peter Wunstorf with really a clear idea of how he wanted this film to look. I think it was a cut above your usual television film, but you do get a greater chance, more time, more money, more chance to work artistically on a television pilot and hope that you have the ability to set a tone that the people who do it on a weekly basis during the TV series can recreate.
(Catherine: You can't stop it. Frank: I want you to make believe that I can. Fade to black. Frank's basement office.)
The idea was that Frank had his place in the house where he'd go, in the basement, where he could keep his work and his thoughts and his life, and his previous life, and his now undeniable life, away from his family. He's obsessed in this way, he's born to this. He can't deny it.
(Frank, checking the video from the peep-show club, writing notes: BLOOD _____ TIDE, etc.)
There were inspirations, of course. The movie Se7en was a big inspiration. In fact, Gary Wissner, the production designer worked as an art director on that movie, and he was so helpful to us. They had has o much more time and money than we had and he was able to take a lot of lessons that he learned working on that movie and apply them on a much more television budget for us.
We had the good fortune of having Brent O'Connor come and work with us as producer on the pilot and he had done many features in Vancouver and was able to pull in the right crew. I had been in Vancouver, working, for three years and thought I knew everyone but Brent was able to really facilitate a lot of great work.
(Frank in the woods, the gay cruising area.)
I lived in an apartment building in Vancouver for about five years and I was able to look out of my 15th floor window and watch men moving in the bushes - there's a certain area where men congregate - which is what inspired this scene and the scenes involving the Frenchman in the woods here.
(Frank senses something. The Frenchman comes into view, sees Frank, recognizes who he is, and runs. Frank takes chase.)
This chase was certainly inspired by the movie Se7en because I wanted it to be as much a point of view as possible, keeping the camera moving and kinetic. There was a very well shot chase scene in there, done by David Fencher and his team.
(The chase through the woods and up on to the bridge. Frank continues the chase through the traffic.)
This scene on the Burrard bridge, which was also right down below my apartment building, was very complicated to do, working on a bridge. I had never done this before, where you have to shut down the bridge and shoot in one direction, then shoot in another direction - requires logistical forethought that I had never imagined. You're stuck on a bridge and there's no place to hide your equipment or your crew or your team, and so when you have to turn around and shoot in another direction, it requires you to move everyone en masse.
(The Frenchman has disappeared. Frank moves through the grid-locked traffic, but there's no sign. A driver calls out, "he jumped", pointing to the side of the bridge. Frank goes over and looks - no sign. The Frenchman is hanging on to a strut below the bridge, out of sight.)
This scene was actually shot twice, because I felt that the first time we shot it, it just didn't work with the killer hanging, as you'll see here, below Lance - that he wasn't hanging in a believable way, so we went back at some great expense. It was a lot of, what I would call it, had feelings from the studio about re-shooting this because it was costly, but because it didn't work and I felt we were doing such great work elsewhere on the piece, I thought it was worth it. I think in the end they saw the beauty of it but it was expensive.
(Frank briefing the detectives.)
This scene was actually shot fairly early on, where I had asked Lance to try not to use his hands, to keep his hands at his side, out of his pockets, to give him a very centred quality which is what I was looking for, for this character generally.
Diane Widas did the costume design. I have to say I was very particular about what I wanted Lance to wear, what his range of clothing was. I wanted it to be very simple and basic and I think that as the series went on this is something that, for whatever reason, sort of disappeared. Lance started to look different and I think it changed the character and made him something that I didn't recognize from the pilot. I'm sure it wasn't Diane's fault but these are choices that are made by either the actors and other producers about what they see and think as we got into year 3 of the series that it had been revolutionized, the idea of Lance's wardrobe.
(Giebelhouse: So, what's he trying to say? Bletcher: He's preaching. Frank: He's prohesizing. Giebelhouse: The end of the world? Frank: The great plague of the maritime city.)
There's a mistake in this scene when Lance says he's prophesizing, it actually should be prophesying and that's my mistake, it was wrong in the script. Actually, Paul Dillon, who was on the set this evening for some other reason - he actually played the Frenchman, not in this scene - had corrected me but it was too late.
(Frank: Seattle, the maritime city. AIDS, the great plague. Death avenged by a just man, taken and condemned for no crime. Kamm: So the killer thinks he's righteous, a just man. Bletcher: Who's the great lady, and why is she outraged. Frank: The killer is confused about his sexuality. He feels guilt, quite possible from his mother. So he goes to peep shows to try to feel something toward women but all he feels is anger - anger that fuels his psychosis, that distorts his view of reality. Giebelhouse: Twists it to fit some screwy French poetry? Frank: The killer doesn't see the world like everyone else.)
Randy Stone did the casting. He did the original X-Files casting and I think that as important as anything for a pilot is to have the right mix, the right blend of people, and Randy who had talked David Duchovny into doing the X-Files after he had agreed to do it then dropped out, came through once again in helping to get Lance, Megan, the starring cast. Coreen Mayrs who had been working on X-Files for a number of years did the Vancouver casting along with Lisa Ratke who was our X-Files extras casting person who did a great job.
(Giebelhouse: We're not the FBI. We got limited resources. We go chasing after the wrong guy we could end up with more victims. I don't think we have time to waste, do you? Bletcher: No. Frank takes out the video. Frank: I've got to get home to my family. Frank leaves. Frank driving through the basement car park. Bletcher stops him. Bletcher: Tell me why I'm wrong. Why should I listen to you?)
Lance's character here, Frank Black, stands out because of his conviction, his centeredness, his calmness, in the face of a lot of opposition, hostile opposition.
(Frank: I see what the killer sees. Bletcher: What? Like a psychic? Frank: No. I put myself in his head. I become the thing we fear the most. Bletcher: How? Frank: I become capability, I become the horror. What we know we can become only in our heart of darkness. It's my gift. It's my curse. That's why I retired.)
This was a scene that was actually parodied on MadTV, they did a skit called "Suddenly Millennium" which was a sort of combination of "Suddenly Susan" and "Millennium", (laughs) and this line "It's my blessing, it's my curse" which Frank Black says here, was made fun of, I thought in a great way.
(Frank arriving at home and dashing through the pouring rain to the front door. The door is open - he warily goes inside. He searches the house, calling Catherine's name. He goes outside again where Jack Meredith calls to him.)
This was beautifully shot, light shining through both men's very clear eyes, the lines on Lance's face tell the story. Sometimes he doesn't have to speak, he can just be.
(The hospital. Frank: What happened? Catherine: I found her on the floor in the bathroom. She'd passed out and hit her head. They're running tests. Frank: Where is she? Catherine: Sleeping. They sedated her. She's got a very high fever.)
Color played an important part in this show because every time he came home to the house or every time Lance stepped into that car, you saw the trappings or the effects of his wishes that he could paint the darkness away.
(Frank and Catherine at Jordan's bedside. Frank: So fragile.)
Which, of course, he can't.
(Catherine and Frank asleep in Jordan's room. A nurse enters to take blood from Jordan.)
David Nutter was very instrumental in making this scene real. I had written it, there were too many words, certainly as you came into the hospital room. And David and I talked about it. He had ideas about this playing with feeling and with silence, particularly in this section.
(Frank, now awake, watching as the nurse draws up blood in a syringe.)
Instead of talking about it, just letting it play.
(Catherine awakes and notices Frank watching intently. Catherine: What is it, Frank? Frank: He's taking blood. Catherine: Who? Frank: The killer. He's got more bodies.)
Mark Snow's music here is just so subtle and quiet and right. This is a sort of idealised wife, the idea that she understands her husband's need and what he can't deny about himself and she has to live with it along with him.
(Search in the dark woods - flashlights.)
Of course, Frank sees things differently than the rest of us. He's able to make connections which I guess is a sort of mark of genius, the idea of seeing patterns and things that other people don't see.
(Bletcher: We'll come back in the light of day. Frank: They could be dead by then.)
(By the river.)
This was a very, very cold night, in a place they call the GBRD, which is the Greater Vancouver Reclamation District, a place that is used time and time again for forests and wilderness. I don't believe there's a time of year when it's not cold at night there, but this time of year it was particularly cold.
(Frank wades across the shallow river and Bletcher begins to follow.)
Going into the water like this was just an extra degree of difficulty.
(Bletcher: Oh! It's a good thing I already got a family.)
(Searching through the woods. Bletcher steps on something wooden, hollow. Bletcher: Frank! They scrape away the leaves. Yells from inside. "La Grande Dame" scratched on the top of the coffin.)
I think this scene is very successful, the urgency created. What plays so well without dialogue, with just good direction, editing, music and something that I think that is everyone's nightmare, which is being buried alive.
(Bletcher calling for paramedics. The rest of the officers on the far bank of the river, starting wading across.)
That shot ended up being the poster shot, or at least one poster shot, for Millennium, those men standing on the river bank with those flashlights.
(Frank supporting the victim.)
I think that David Nutter actually helped this area so much too, with Lance holding the victim here, with the emotional part of the scene which was not in the script.
(Bletcher holds up the plastic bag with the severed head. Frank: There may be others.)
This was, needless to say, not your usual television fare.
(Office. Giebelhouse hands Frank a mug of coffee. Giebelhouse: They found two more coffins. Both of them were empty. Bletcher: He just gave us a description of the suspect. White male, early 30s, wearing a ball cap. He was taking blood from the victim. Giebelhouse: I'll put it out on the air. Frank: The killer's passing judgment. He's probably testing the blood, carrying out his death sentences on the afflicted. Check in with any medical facility that handles blood. Bletcher: We got the word out to the labs. Frank: I've got to call Catherine. Bletcher: 18 years, Frank. 18 years, I don't think I've ever seen anything as terrifying as what I saw tonight. Frank: You ever see your kid lying on a bed in an emergency ward?)
I guess you could say that this is, strangely, a family show (laughs) in the most peverse sense, in that it really is about a man trying to conduct two lives - his family life and his professional life - which he tries his best to separate but can't.
(Bletcher: Made sense to me out there. What it does to you. Why you quit. Frank: The cruelty, the unspeakable crimes. It all becomes numbing, depersonalized common. Bletcher: What was it then? Frank: I was on a serial case in Minnesota. The killer's name was Ed Cuffle. He would choose a neighborhood and he would go up to a door. If he found it unlicked he considered that an invitation to in and kill anybody home. He would take polaroids of his victims which he'd send to the police. Took us months, but we caught him. He's serving triple life sentences. Bletcher: And that was it? Frank: A year later, I reach into my mail box and I take out the mail and there's a letter addressed to me - no return. Inside are polaroids of Catherine at the supermarket, Catherine at the school. Suddenly the psychic novocaine wore off. The numbness became paralyzing fear. Bletcher: You ever find who sent them? Frank: No. But I couldn't leave the house. Why should I go to work when I can't even protect my own family.)
This became the theme for the show, or the idea behind the show was that there was one man who was terrorizing Frank Black and his family and that he couldn't find him and until he found him he couldn't stop, he couldn't let down his guard, or he could never feel safe at night in that house. Of course, he never would tell his family and we start to learn more about the character here and what drives him and it makes sense because that's everyone's nightmare.
(Bletcher: This Millennium Group. They really believe all that stuff? Nostradamus and Revelations? The destruction of the world. Frank: They believe we can't just sit back and hope for a happy ending.)
It's interesting to look at Millennium at this remove now, after the year 2001 when we quit looking at the world the way we did before 9/11, and see that maybe there was something to prophecy, to some of the foreboding. A lot of the millennial prophecies had said that the millennium did not start until 2001 and not on the turn of the century, which makes this show in a weird way look prescient, but of course not exactly on the mark.
(Frank has picked up Bletcher's phone - taking a message from one of the labs about the blood samples. Frank: Where were they sent from? Caller: Ah, that's just it. They were sent through the same channel - intra-office. Frank puts down the phone and call for Bob. Basement. Frank exits lift. Speaks to morgue assistant. Frank: Excuse me, I'm looking for the pathologist. Asst: Sorry. He's not here.)
This is a scene that plays well, I think, because of its suspense. We know before the protagonist here, Frank Black knows, that this is the killer.
(The Assistant - the Frenchman - turns and looks at Frank.)
Now it's what will happen.
(The Frenchman picks up knife. Frenchman: Who are you to condemn me? They're the guilty. I took responsibility. You see them out there where Satan has them all. Frank: Drop the knife! Frenchman: The great plague! Frank: Then we'll talk! Frenchman: They don't ask who take responsibility! He slashes at Frank with the knife and pushes the stretcher over on its side. It knocks Frank down onto the floor and he's trapped by the weight of the corpse on top of him. Frenchman: This is prophecy! The final judgment and victory! This is the way it ends! But you know that. You can see it - just like I do. You know the end is coming! The thousand years is over! He thrusts his knife at Frank who manages to pull up the corpse in front of him which absorbs the blow. As The Frenchman struggles to pull the knife out of the corpse, Frank finally frees himself of the weight and crawls backwards toward a column as the Frenchman advances on him. Frenchman: But you think you're the one to stop it! You think it can be stopped! A gun shot rings out just as The Frenchman raises his knife to stab Frank. He collapses to the ground, dropping his knife. Bletcher can be seen, gun in his out-stretched right hand, approaching. The Frenchman lies mortally wounded on the ground. With his dying breath, he says - Frenchman: You can't stop it.)
And Bill Smitrovich's character here, who was in the middle, between his men, in between his friend, Frank Black, comes to his rescue, because he becomes a believer.
(Frank driving his jeep up to the yellow house. The rain has stopped and the sun is shining. He enters the house and whispers to Catherine. Catherine: Oh, I'm glad you're home. I'm going to be late for my interview. What are you doing? Frank: Where's Jordan? Catherine: She's up in her room. What are you doing, Frank?)
This is one of my best casting moments.
(Frank shows Catherine the puppy he's been hiding inside his jacket. Then Jordan's bedroom - she has her fingers over her eyes, not supposed to be peeking, and Frank puts the puppy on the bed on top of her.)
So we get killers and violent men and puppies and kids all in the same package.
(Jordan: Can I name him? Frank: He's your puppy, isn't he? Jordan: Oh, I love him so much. The puppy reciprocates the affection by licking her face.)
(Downstairs, letters are posted through the letterbox in the front door.)
Everything you see, usually from license plates to addresses, has an important role. That was the idea at least - Frank's address would come to play a very important part later on the series - Ezekiel Drive.
(Frank tears open one particular envelope and feels inside. Catherine comes downstairs. Catherine: You've already got a mess to clean up up there.. Frank: Right. Catherine: Wish me luck. Frank doesn't/can't respond. Catherine: What? Frank: Nothing. Be careful, OK. She leaves.)
Of course he can't stop the horror. He knows what's in the letter. He knows what he's going to pull from the package.
(Frank takes out the contents of the envelope: Polaroids of Catherine and Jordan - taken in Seattle.)
"MILLENNIUM" and all related characters are © Copyright Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, Inc and its related entities. All Rights Reserved.