#MLM-205 A Single Blade of Grass
Frank Black gets himself into some trouble as he travels to investigate a recent murder near an excavation site of Native American Indian tribe artifacts in the middle of New York City. Here he finds a hidden tribe of men that have come together to spout ancient prophecies and legends, some regarding a man with powerful visions who can be the one to link the spiritual world with the world of reason.
Written by Erin Maher & Kay Reindl
Directed by Rodman Flender
Edited by George R. Potter
Lance Henriksen as Frank Black
Megan Gallagher as Catherine Black
Amy Steel as Dr. Liz Michael
Doug Abrahams as Sgt. Manny Walters
Floyd Red Crow Westerman as Old Indian
Garry Chalk as Richard Powell
Michael Greyeyes as Joe Reynard
Byron Chief-Moon as Fenton
Rondel Reynoldson as Coroner Hutson
James Nicholas as Ernie
Seasonal Episode Tagline
this is ... who we are ... the time is near
Please note that this is the original Fox synopsis and occasionally this may differ from the events that were actually filmed. Please also view the A Single Blade of Grass episode transcript which has been painstakingly checked for accuracy against the actual episode.
Several figures wearing false face masks force a Native American man, Daniel Olivaw, to consume rattlesnake venom. As the poison takes effect, one of the masked men, Joe Reynard, asks Daniel to describe what he sees. But Daniel begins to scream and convulse, and falls to the ground in agony.
Daniel's body is discovered at a Manhattan construction site/archeological dig near the remains of a withered, mummified body. New York City Police Sergeant Manny Walters asks Frank for his help in solving the case. Frank cannot help but notice the similarities between the ancient remains and Daniel's corpse, next to which is a false face mask. Walters explains that a dispute has erupted between a construction foreman, Richard Powell, and the head archeologist, Dr. Liz Michaels. Powell, whose crew is mainly Native American, is under pressure to continue the construction work, while Liz insists the site must remain intact until it can be properly excavated.
Frank senses that Daniel's murder transpired in the basement of a nearby hotel. After examining symbols painted on the basement wall, Liz notes a common theme: communication with the spirit world. Later, Frank approaches Joe Reynard inside a bar and, using a napkin, draws a symbol that appeared in one of his internal visions. An old Indian Man steps forward and explains that symbol is a warning. When Frank leaves the bar, Reynard tells his cohorts that Frank "is the one."
An autopsy of Daniel's corpse reveals his appendages were cut from his body and then reattached. Liz explains this ritual was used by the Seneca tribe in attempt to revive the dead after the victim passed into the spirit world and communicated with ancestors. Frank discovers a prayer-stick, a kind of Indian rosary that contains elements of Christianity and Native American religion. On the stick is the same symbol Frank saw in his vision. Later, Frank and Liz are summoned to the construction site when Powell boxes and removes the ancient bones. A fight breaks out between Reynard and Powell, and a few moments later Powell dies of a massive heart attack.
When Frank returns to his car, he discovers that someone placed a false face mask on the back seat. He shows the mask to Liz, who explains it represents the power to walk between the real and spirit worlds. Frank hypothesizes that, hundreds of years ago, an Indian tribe concealed their existence from the white man by blending into existing tribes. Now, in the present day, they have been told by prophesy to reunite. Frank suspects that the prayer stick is "a blueprint for another culture's apocalypse." One of the symbols represents Daniel's journey to the land of the dead, while another represents Frank, whose death will open a door to another plane of existence.
Frank is surrounded by a group of Indians, taken prisoner, and forced to consume rattlesnake venom. He begins experiencing visions... but insists they are not a product of the poison. He predicts the tribe will reunite and buffalo will return. Shortly thereafter, Liz and a group of policemen rescue Frank and take Reynard and his followers into custody. As the group is being led away, four buffalo that escaped from a rodeo run through the streets.
Background Information and References
Writers Erin Maher and Kay Reindl also highlighted Frank's development. Their first episode, "A Single Blade of Grass," sent Frank to New York City to investigate a death at a construction site that employed a Native American crew. The story included a ceremony where rattler venom induced hallucinations. At Morgan's behest, Reindl and Maher restored Frank's gift--his near-psychic abilities--which had vanished early in the season. "I felt last year those visions were a cheat," Morgan said. "The camera would go to a coffee cup and Frank would say, `The murderer used a coffee cup.' It drove me nuts. What we were trying to do this year was to elevate Frank's visions to a dream-like state, so he would have to interpret what he's seeing. There would be more mystical, symbolic imagery that might give him more of a sense of what's going on. I had wanted to strip away the gift for a long time and see if the show really played well without it. But we got back into that. The Old Man in `Beware of the Dog' was trying to tell Frank, `Your gift isn't gone; it's going to be different.'"
Source: "TV's Best Kept Secret Improves In Its Sophomore Season" - Cinefantastique Magazine (1998).
The dice bet that proves lucky for Frank Black - "eight, the hard way" - is a reference to Glen Morgan and James Wong's production company, Hard Eight Productions. The company's logo was a pair of red dice falling four and four on the green felt of a craps table.
Credit: Brian Dixon, The Millennial Abyss
Original Fox Promotional Episode Stills
View the 6 available original 1996 Fox Millennium Episode Guide images for this episode of Millennium here.
(Comprised of 3 murders + 0 kills in self defence + 0 justifiable homicides + 0 suicides.)
NB. Where applicable, large groups of victims (such as multiple victims in a plane crash) are represented by a count of group count of 1 due to impracticalities with listing so many unidentified persons. For enhanced details, see the Violence Markers below.
- Joe Reynard was responsible for the attempted murder of Frank Black during this episode of Millennium (A Single Blade of Grass).
- Joe Reynard was responsible for the murder of Daniel Olivaw during this episode of Millennium (A Single Blade of Grass).
- Joe Reynard was responsible for the murder of Richard Powell during this episode of Millennium (A Single Blade of Grass).
- Unseen Assailant was responsible for the murder of Security Guard (III) during this episode of Millennium (A Single Blade of Grass).
(View Millennium's Violence - Deaths, Killers, Victims and Criminality Analysis)