X-Files and Millennium: The Truth is In There
The last part of my ickle Millennium series analysis.
(You can read the complete series of articles on Laredo's blog.)
So "Goodbye To All That" brought an end to Millennium, and with its touching and well constructed finale, the beginning of so many questions. Fans couldn't help feeling that they'd not only lost a good show, but lost the resolutions they hoped they'd received before it finished.
So pant-wetting rejoicing came forth with the news that the X-Files would carry a Millennium episode to finish off the story of Frank Black. And did? Well - did it?
Most will say "Millennium" wasn't exactly a story that carried the taste of Millennium in narrative content or atmosphere. Many more would say it really did nothing to answer so many of the questions the series failed to resolve. In essence, a lost cause.
Well I stand here looking to defend "Millennium" on such grounds. If we put aside the question of X-Files tone to this tale (for unsurprisingly, a popular mainstream cult show was unwilling to bend its formula and flavour for a less cancelled one), and look at what we do have in there that relates to the story of Frank Black, one can find some semblances of events that rather explicitly answer some of the questions the series sowed.
Look closely, and you'll see it answer the big question that the series didn't:
What happened to the Millennium Group?
The first point of call comes from Skinner's comment about the Millennium Consulting Group just disappearing. Now, on its own, this doesn't really point to much at all - it could simply mean it has hiding in a more clandestine shadow of its former self. However, consider:
- Frank has checked himself into the mental facility under his real name. Consider also the fact Jordan is being contested with her grandparents. Now we look at these two facts and relate it to Skinner's comment that the Millennium group has dissolved its ties and vanished. This is implies by several facts that when tied together creates a coherent answer.
Most importantly is the fact that Frank Black is either no longer a threat, or that there is nothing left for him to threaten by the time the X-Files episode comes round. We see in "Millennium" his desire for normalcy can be sought with no visible fear for the Group. This could be because the files he carried off in "Goodbye To All That" are enough ensure he is longer threatened by the Group. This makes some vague sense, but to me, it doesn't really fit. I find it hard to believe that the Group, especially a Group now underground would not be able to retrieve the files from Frank by force - particularly if they knew where he - and his daughter resided.
So more likely - given what we see - the Millennium Group actually HAS self destructed. This isn't a notion one couldn't feed into what we seen in season three where the Group appears far more antagonistic that culminated with Watt's murder. The Group had already splintered once in season two - (Owls and Roosters), and it would make sense that the nearer the millennium came, the more emotive and separate the ideologies are bound to become. So maybe season three shows a group searching for more practical consolidation into one power, and with the weight of both the millennium and its recent actions (I'm sure the plague would have caused some dissension being a pretty extreme act for both ideologies to follow could be the instigators towards a group implosion. If we then add the inference in season three that Legion is now definitively part of the Group, we have a third antagonistic factor that would have a lot to gain from the righteous Group imploding.
It's a logical progression, fortified by other points or rational assumptions that can be gleaned from the story.
a) First and foremost, as has been pointed out, Frank is alive and in open legal contact with Jordan. The fact he's looking to wipe the stain of the Millennium Group from his character, and look for a normal life contradicts any possibility of the Millennium Group being a threat. This would heavily imply that the Group is gone - at least in any antagonistic form it once was. To be looking for a normal life, to be letting himself and Jordan have legal transparency strongly implies the Group is no longer active as it was.
b) The plot itself. Would the Millennium Group be so truly unaware of this "fringe" group's zombie plan if it was still active? For these antagonists in the show to be a fringe group - extremists as Skinner infers - by definition implies they are not working to the Group's mandate. If this be the case, would the Group themselves be letting them get away with this act? Given how easy it was for Mulder to locate this sect, the Group surely could have terminated this very definite act to bring forth Judgment Day pretty quick. I can't imagine the Group happily allowing some extremist fringe bringing on Judgment Day without themselves being in control.
From what we see, the Group did not try and stop this rite from occurring, nor did they look to protect the extremists either (in the assumption that the rite was in the Group's favour). This all strongly implies that the Group are: a) no longer in the position to do stop the act, b) not in the same controlling mindset as previously seen to need to interfere, c) no longer exist to act in any way whatsoever.
c) There are hints - be it for ease of plot or something more subtle - that imply that Frank has had contact with the group since the end of season three. He knows the Millennium Group members - well enough to identify them to Mulder - information that is doubtful to have come through the course of Millennium (unless he was doing some naughty research in season two). The fringe group's contact in the show knows a lot about Frank and it seems unlikely he would be so certain Frank would join this event unless Frank DID have newer, more definitive ties to the Group than he left at the end of series three. Maybe even he used Peter's info to find a way to get closer to the group, maybe even caused the ripples that meant the Group changed from the high profile spider it was to either something different or something very dead. The conclusion has to be (from what we've seen) that between GTAT and "Millennium" Frank has had very close contact with the Group given his close knowledge of the Group and the trust certain members have in him with the Group. Whatever happened, be he sided with the Owls against Roosters, or vise versa, or played each off, there seems to have an outcome where Frank's had a close connection to the inner Millennium Group and maybe even gained trust.
d) Frank's reactions throughout "Millennium". His life isn't just openly transparent now, he seems to have moved on to a new stage in his life. The issue with the Group has ended - he doesn't seem to fear reprisals from the Group. However the course between GTAT and "Millennium" fared, the end result has allowed him to openly start his life once more. He doesn't mention any threat from the Group; it seems they are an issue of the past, a problem that Mulder is trying to unearth, that is no longer a current problem for Frank.
In fact, he's not even bothered about being contacted by the fringe group in this episode UNTIL there until it was proven this MG fringe was a threat. This shows how little relevance the Group has over Frank and his family. He was willing to go on the run at the end of GTAT, taking his his daughter on the road fearing the reprisals from the Group. Now he's transparently looking to fight for legal custody with no paranoia about the Group whatsoever.
SOMETHING has changed between GTAT and "Millennium", and most likely the Group has been destroyed given Frank seems to have resolved that very direct threat and is now just concerned about the grandparents getting Jordan. It should be pointed out even on the legal issue with the family, it's his PAST actions, not his current situation that are grounds for the custody battle. It's not that Jordan IS in danger, but because of Franks actions in the past. The Group is NOT a topical issue in "Millennium", and given its might that seems unlikely unless it no longer exists in the form we saw at the end of GTAT.
e) The splinter group moves in the relative open. Again, by definition, a splinter will see differently to its core - and there is no attempts to hide their plan. It doesn't fear reprisals from the Millennium Group.
The bottomline is if the Group was still active, Frank wouldn't be able to practically or ideologically settle into a position of normalcy or have legal transparency. Neither would it seem likely the Group would allow this "End of the World" without their direct control. Both the extreme group and Frank wouldn't be working so blatantly in their respective worlds.
So while "Millennium" is unsatisfying to watch in some senses, the "cap" it creates for the show is one that can either be seen as specific or removable. There is enough space for the story to continue (Peter MAY not be dead, the Group MAY be just resting.. etc), but overall, I'd say "Millennium" as an episode may not be the perfect epilogue to the show, but the episode pretty much finishes the central arc, albeit behind closed doors; the Group seems quite clearly to have destructed - be through the Group's own growing conflicting ideologies as the time grew near, through Frank's intervention or even Legion's own interference (Seven of One). Maybe a bit of all three.
Regardless, "Millennium" shows a man trying to piece his life together with the threat finally over.
I think in this light "Millennium" makes a nice gap to a series which should have gone longer but failed to do so. It would have been nice if it really had filled in these blanks in the script, but actually if you work what we know in GTAT and "Millennium" we actually get a rough overview of what must have gone down to make the two shows work in tandem and thus bring a certain closure - even if its closure that can easily be rewritten in the future if it was to return.
But in the end, isn't that the best form of closure a show can have? One that can so easily be undone for a return? "Millennium": It may lack Millennium substance, but it does close the story of the misguided, conspiratorial Millennium Group that dominated Frank Black's life and shows him moving on to a new chapter. Who knows, one day we might be privy to see what that chapter holds.