When a meeting between Frank Black and Millennium Group superiors leads to an angry exchange of verbal blows, Frank decides that he's going to pursue the investigation of a teenager who's gone missing in the Alaskan wilderness despite their explicit objections.
Written by Chip Johannessen
Directed by Thomas J. Wright
Edited by James Coblentz
Lance Henriksen as Frank Black
Megan Gallagher as Catherine Black
Brion James as Sheriff Bowman
Matthew Walker as Inquisitor
Rob Freeman as Mr. Glaser
Tamsin Kelsey as Mrs. Glaser
Tobias Mehler as Alex Glaser
John Moore as Lecturer
Hagan Beggs as Doctor (II)
Bernie Coulson as Pilot
Syd van Rood as Astrologer
Judith Maxie as Finley
Jessica Schreier as Barbara Watts
Gardiner Millar as Millennium Group Member (I) (Mr. Otto)
Bart Anderson as Clerk (I)
Marke Driesschen as Weatherman
Robin Collins as Fisherman
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 Luminary episode transcript which has been painstakingly checked for accuracy against the actual episode.
Frank meets with the Millennium Group's members. During the tense inquisition, the question turns to Frank's family and his stabbing of a suspect the Group was in the process of investigating. Frank grows enraged and leaves the room. Later, Frank, Catherine and Jordan attend a lecture at a planetarium. Catherine introduces Frank to the Glasers, a couple whose son, Alex, disappeared in the Alaskan wilderness. As Frank and the Glasers talk, Catherine takes an interest in an astrologer's account of the stars and the millennium.
Frank accompanies the Glasers to their home. There he observes Alex's bedroom and his many belongings. The Glasers explain that they paid for Alex's trip to Alaska as a high school graduation present. Frank then makes his way to the bedroom of Alex's younger brother, Ian, where the boy busies himself with a refractor telescope. After Frank receives an internal "hit" from the telescope, he tells the Glasers he will be traveling to Alaska to find their son.
Watts tells Frank that the Group has cut off its assistance meaning Frank will be on his own. Undaunted, Frank flies to Stebbins, Alaska, where he meets with Sheriff Bowman. The Sheriff tells Frank that the wealthy Alex made enemies of the locals by buying expensive gifts for townspeople's wives. Bowman also recounts how he saved Alex during a barroom brawl. Shortly thereafter, a body washes up in a fisherman's net. The Sheriff and a local doctor examine the badly decomposed corpse. The Sheriff concludes the body is that of Alex Glaser, but Frank disagrees. Frank then retrieves a sprig of cedar from the victim's crushed face. Later, Frank has difficulty accessing his desktop computer through his laptop. He asks Catherine to drive to his apartment in an attempt to straighten out the problem. With Catherine's assistance, Frank determines that Alex made a five hundred dollar credit card purchase at a general store in Stebbins. Shortly thereafter, Watts and his men burst into Frank's apartment and begin dismantling his computer equipment.
Frank learns from a clerk at the general store that Alex, using the pseudonym "Alex Ventoux," purchased a telescope, which he had the clerk deliver to the second grade class of a local elementary school. Frank realizes that Alex was jettisoning all of his material possessions in an attempt to make peace with the world and begin a new life. Using a calculator and charts mapping seasonal currents and drifts, Frank determines the location where the body fell into the river. He charters a seaplane to fly him up the coast. The pilot tells Frank that he will leave at four thirty sharp with or without him.
Frank begins the arduous trek up the river bank. He eventually comes upon the exact location where the body fell into the river, and spots a smashed emergency radio transmitter, a towering cedar, and Alex's diary, nearby. Frank also hears a voice in his head -- the voice of Alex. He tells Frank that he broke his leg and will never make it back home. Meanwhile, when Frank fails to return at the designated time, the pilot flies away, leaving behind a survival pack.
Frank heads towards a bluff when he notices the night sky pulsating with light. Above him, an atmospheric disturbance sets the area aglow. He then hears the voice of Alex Glaser. Turning, he sees Alex propped against a rock, his leg broken, emaciated. Frank promises Alex he will not let him die. He constructs a makeshift stretcher from the surrounding brush and drags the injured boy through the wilderness. As he traverses a treacherous path, Frank loses his footing. Alex plunges into the river, and Frank leaps in to save him. During the struggle, Alex collides with a boulder and loses consciousness. Frank picks Alex up in his arms and makes his way to the seaplane, where Sheriff Bowman, Watts, and a rescue party await.
Alex is flown to a hospital for treatment. But when Frank stops by for a visit, he is told by a nurse that Alex has disappeared. Later, as Mr. and Mrs. Glaser listen, Frank reads aloud Alex's final passage from his diary. In it, Alex makes mention of a past life, and signs the entry "Alex Ventoux." Frank explains that, five hundred years earlier, a man named Petrarch climbed a mountain just to see the view, ushering in the beginning of the Renaissance. The name of the mountain Petrarch climbed, Frank states, was Ventoux. Later, Catherine gives Frank a letter from the Millennium Group stating that he "passed the first election."
Background Information and References
The picture ("Receiving Wisdom on Mt. Ventoux) shown in the book that Catherine is looking through and which Jordan points to and says "That's Daddy" is a copy of part of the "St John Altarpiece" (1474-79) by Hans Memling. The original painting depicts St John the Evangelist on the Island of Patmos where he received his vision of the Apocalypse.
Credit: Viivi of TIWWA
The Japanese laserdisc releases include quite a nice booklet with each set, that give a lot of character and episode information, including air dates.
The season one, vol 2 booklet goes on to list season 2 episodes and air dates - and list episode 11 in season 2 as 'Mistery Play' - probably a very bad Japanese / English translation. Obviously episode 11 was Luminary.
Maybe a change in plans, or perhaps it didn't have a proper name and the Japanese publisher put 'mystery play' not quite understanding what it meant?
Source: Dave Heel 17.07.13
Another episode that traced Frank's growth as well as his relationship with the Millennium Group was "Luminary," written by Chip Johannessen. Frank defies Millennium Group orders and searches for a young man lost in the Alaskan wilderness who may have already died from exposure. "I wanted to write a story where Frank chose to stand up to the Millennium Group and do something he felt was personally important, based just on his instinct and his vision," Johannessen said. "Although the Millennium Group was clearly pleased with him in the end, it wasn't a task they set for him. And yet it was the right thing for him to do, and they were wise enough to see that. I wanted Frank to get out in the woods, having followed his inner voices, and have this moment where he realizes that the kid is dead and that he had been completely wrong to go on the search. It should be one of those moments in your life where you just feel lost. And then he'd realize the kid was still alive and that he was called there for a reason."
Source: "TV's Best Kept Secret Improves In Its Sophomore Season" - Cinefantastique Magazine (1998).
Chip Johannessen's script for this episode was inspired by the real life experiences of Chris McCandless. Like Alex Glaser, the disillusioned McCandless abandoned all of his worldly possessions and a promising academic future to take a new name and immerse himself in the Alaskan wilderness. McCandless' search for enlightenment was chronicled in the acclaimed Into The Wild by Jon Krakauer. Into The Wild, like this episode's story, is accompanied by journal entries written by the young man during his journey. Ultimately, mounting perils and misfortune caused McCandless to die of starvation on August 18, 1992.
Source: Brian Dixon, The Millennial Abyss
Into the Wild (the book and inspiration for Luminary) was made into a feature film in 2007, directed by Sean Penn and starring actor Emile Hirsch as Christopher McCandless.
Notable Episode Dialogue
Alex Ventoux: God doesn't move us by telling us the facts. He moves us by pains and contradictions. He's given me a lack of understanding: not answers, but questions. An invitation to marvel.
Original Fox Promotional Episode Stills
View the 8 available original 1996 Fox Millennium Episode Guide images for this episode of Millennium here.
(Comprised of 0 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.
(View Millennium's Violence - Deaths, Killers, Victims and Criminality Analysis)