The discovery of an extremely valuable religious artifact -- a portion of the very cross of Christ’s crucifixion -- and its subsequent theft, force the Millennium Group’s two disagreeing factions, the Owls and the Roosters, into battle. Frank Black and Lara Means, both valuable individuals to either side, find themselves caught in the middle of a conflict that could very well decide the fate of the human race.
Written by Glen Morgan & James Wong
Directed by Thomas J. Wright
Edited by George R. Potter
Lance Henriksen as Frank Black
Megan Gallagher as Catherine Black
Kristen Cloke as Lara Means
Kimberley Patton as Clear Knight
R.G. Armstrong as The Old Man
Malcolm Stewart as Mr. Johnston
Bob Dawson as Helmut Gunsche
Michael Tiernan as Millennium Group Driver
Brian Downey as Mr. Dean
Judith Maxie as Finley
John Juliani as Mr. Plunkett
Mark Holden as Amadou
Bruno Verdoni as Le Fur
Gardiner Millar as Mr. Otto
Nino Caratozzolo as Sentry
Philip Baker Hall as Group Elder (I)
Barry W. Levy as Driver (III)
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 Owls episode transcript which has been painstakingly checked for accuracy against the actual episode.
In Damascus, Syria, a group of men using sophisticated radar locate and unearth a piece of petrified wood--the remains of the cross of the crucifixion--near a mosque. Their secret mission is interrupted when two assassins step from the shadows and open fire. One of the team members, a man named LeFur, clutches the wood to his chest, as if invincible. Suddenly, the assassins’ guns inexplicably jam. LeFur opens fire, killing his attackers. Later, LeFur’s pager explodes as he attempts to transport the wood through airport customs. A chaos erupts, a man named Helmut Gunsche uses an electronic device to disable the airport surveillance system, allowing him to make off with the wood undetected. Gunsche then phones an associate in Paraguay, a man named Axmann, and informs him his mission was a success. On Axmann’s sleeve is a cuff link, on which is engraved an ancient Germanic rune.
Meanwhile, back in the United States, Catherine meets with Clear Knight, the Vice President of Personnel Relations at Aerotech International. Clear offers Catherine a position as psychological counselor, explaining that many of the company’s employees are new to Seattle and experience problems adjusting to the area. Catherine accepts the job.
Watts meets fellow Millennium Group members at an isolated warehouse. The men discuss the theft of the cross, and how it threatens to split the Group into two parts. One is known as the Owls, who believe that if a theological event does not occur in 672 days, a secular Millennium will result--leaving them in control. The other is known as the Roosters, which includes Watts and, theoretically, everyone at the meeting. The Owls stole the cross to weaken the Rooster’s faith--and make themselves invincible.
Lara experiences another vision of an angel. While researching the psychological effects of hallucinations, she is approached by Mr. Johnston (who attended the meeting with Watts and the other Roosters). Identifying himself as an Owl, Johnston believes in a secular prophecy that will change the Earth. He urges Lara to work with the Owls.
When Frank arrives home with Jordan, he finds Watts inside. Watts justifies the intrusion by explaining that Frank’s modem line has been tapped. The two become embroiled in a heated argument. At the conclusion of the discussion, Frank tells Watts he wants nothing more to do with the Group.
Later, Watts tells Lara about Robert LeFur and his effort to transport the cross into the United States. According to legend, the cross makes its possessor invincible, and was even sought after by the Nazis during World War II. Lara tells Watts that she believes the Owls are not responsible for its disappearance, as the theft would only lead to a civil war within the Millennium Group.
As Catherine exits Aerotech one evening, she discovers that her automobile will not start. She telephones Frank for assistance, but he cannot determine the source of the problem. Clear Knight, who also wears the Germanic rune cuff link, approaches the car and, in an overly friendly manner, invites Frank, Catherine and Jordan to her home for dinner.
As Mr. Johnston drives along a deserted section of roadway, he is passed by another car driven by Helmut Gunsche. A few moments later, Johnston’s automobile dies (the result of the electronic device used by Gunsche earlier). Johnston steers the automobile onto the side of the road. Shortly thereafter, he is knocked to the ground by Gunsche, who also wears the Germanic rune cuff links. Gunsche forces a tube into Johnston’s mouth--and the other end is placed inside the car’s gas tank. After Johnston loses consciousness, Gunsche places a board of wood--exactly the dimensions of the crucifixion cross--inside Johnston’s trunk, as if hiding it. He then sets the car, and Johnston ablaze.
Watts, Lara and Group pathologists examine Johnston’s burned remains. The examination is interrupted by Owl group members, who insist they be allowed to observe. Preliminary reports reveal that the wood planted inside Johnston’s trunk cannot be accurately dated due to the fire. While examining Johnston’s partially charred notebook, Watts discovers an entry about Johnston contacting Lara Means. Watts immediately bans a stunned Lara from the Group.
Using his computer, Frank identifies a watercolor hanging in Clear Knight’s office as one having once belonged to Adolph Hitler. His work is interrupted when he notices two men surveilling his house from a car. As Frank approaches the men, gun in hand, the driver identifies himself as a Group member by giving the password. Unbeknownst to Frank, the passenger readies his handgun.
TO BE CONTINUED
Background Information and References
The two-parter "Owls" and "Roosters," revealed a new level of conflict among the Millennium Group, when an artifact believed to be a part of the True Cross is stolen. One faction, the Roosters, believes it was taken by another faction, the Owls, to weaken the Roosters. Morgan said that "Owls" and "Roosters" grew directly out of "The Hand of Saint Sebastian," an episode he had loved. "It's nice to be so influenced by something your partner did," he said. "I wanted to break the split we saw in that episode into a secular one. How can you make people believe that the end of the world is in sight? I tried to look to a scientific possibility. In the two-parter at the end of the season, I tried to tie those together with a plague. I started reading about germ warfare and thought, "Here are scientific events occurring in our world, and they're predicted theologically."
Source: "TV's Best Kept Secret Improves In Its Sophomore Season" - Cinefantastique Magazine (1998).
Each of the episodes in this two-part story is named for one of the two opposing personality types associated with apocalyptic fears. The owl is often used as a symbol to represent those who do not believe in an impending apocalypse, the type of cautious or wary individual who fears the fervor and unrest potentially created by doomsayers. Within the Millennium Group, Owls are those who believe in a distant, secular end to the world rather than an impending religious Armageddon. As the Millennium Group Owl in this episode explains, "The owl knows it is still late at night, the foxes are about, the master sleeps. This is who we are."
The mysterious and sinister company that has employed Catherine Black in this episode, Aerotech, shares its name with a mysterious and sinister corporation from Glen Morgan and James Wong's science fiction drama series Space: Above and Beyond.
Clear Knight, the devious Aerotech executive who seems particularly preoccupied with the Black family, is portrayed by Kimberly Patton. Patton is just one of various pseudonyms utilized by actress Kim McKamy. The actress, under the pseudonym Ashlyn Gere, has had an illustrious career as an adult video star and was the winner of the adult film industry's FOXE 1991 Fan Favorite, 1992 Vixen of the Year, and 1993 Best Female Performer awards. In mainstream media, she has worked extensively with Morgan and Wong and appeared in nearly every one of their television and film productions.
Credit: Brian Dixon, The Millennial Abyss
Notable Episode Dialogue
- Roosters crow at the dawn hoping to arouse the barnyard. But the owl knows it is still late at night. The foxes are about. The master sleeps. This is who we are.
- Mr Dean: Only twice in two thousand years has the Millennium Group been so divided. (a beat) But this is our darkest hour.
- MR. JOHNSTON: I agree, if a theological event does not occur within the next 665 days, then the Owls' belief in a secular Millennium decades from now is correct. They would gain control of the Millennium Group in only 666 days.
Original Fox Promotional Episode Stills
View the 6 available original 1996 Fox Millennium Episode Guide images for this episode of Millennium here.
(Comprised of 7 murders + 2 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.
- European Assassin #1 was responsible for the attempted murder of Le Fur during this episode of Millennium (Owls).
- European Assassin #2 was responsible for the attempted murder of Le Fur during this episode of Millennium (Owls).
- European Assassin #1 was responsible for the murder of Amadou during this episode of Millennium (Owls).
- European Assassin #2 was responsible for the murder of Amadou during this episode of Millennium (Owls).
- European Assassins was responsible for the murder of 6 guards during this episode of Millennium (Owls).
- Helmut Gunsche was responsible for the murder of Le Fur during this episode of Millennium (Owls).
- Helmut Gunsche was responsible for the murder of Security Officer during this episode of Millennium (Owls).
- Helmut Gunsche was responsible for the murder of Mr. Johnston during this episode of Millennium (Owls).
- Helmut Gunsche was responsible for the murder of The Old Man during this episode of Millennium (Owls).
- Le Fur was responsible for killing European Assassin #1 in self defence during this episode of Millennium (Owls).
- Le Fur was responsible for killing European Assassin #2 in self defence during this episode of Millennium (Owls).
(View Millennium's Violence - Deaths, Killers, Victims and Criminality Analysis)