#MLM-223 The Time Is Now
As Trust representative Richard Gilbert dies under tragic circumstances, Frank Black is given a lecture by Millennium Group superiors that only intensifies his fears regarding the now apparent cult-like organization. Peter Watts fights back against the Group he followed so loyally for so many years. Lara Means, confronted with the knowledge and sights of the coming doomsday, finds herself spiraling into insanity. As the bloody plague spreads far and wide, killing many, Frank, Jordan, and Catherine retreat into the woods of Washington to escape a grim end to the world as they know it.
Written by Glen Morgan & James Wong
Directed by Thomas J. Wright
Edited by James Coblentz
Lance Henriksen as Frank Black
Megan Gallagher as Catherine Black
Brittany Tiplady as Jordan Black
Stephen Macht as Mr. Lott
Glenn Morshower as Richard Gilbert
Kristen Cloke as Lara Means
Daryl Shuttleworth as Brian Dixon
David Palffy as Dr. Sorenson
Hiro Kanagawa as Team Member Lewis
Ian Robison as Computor Monitor
Barry W. Levy as Braylock
David Longworth as Farmer Duffy Deaver
Clayton Watmough as Millennium Group Member (III)
Terry O'Quinn as Peter Watts
Promotional Episode Tagline
Season finale. 5.9 billion people will die. A killer virus is unleashed all over the world and there's only one drop of vaccine left... Tonight, the end begins.
Seasonal Episode Tagline
this is ... who we are ... the time is near
Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.
And he said to me, "Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for 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 The Time Is Now episode transcript which has been painstakingly checked for accuracy against the actual episode.
In this continuation of the previous episode... Jordan, Frank and Catherine bury the dead parakeet, prompting more questions from Jordan regarding God and the hereafter. Later, a Millennium team clad in biohazard suits sweeps into the Davis home, where earlier an entire family was wiped out by the mysterious virus. Outside the house, in the backyard, are a dozen dead birds of various species.
Catherine, Frank and Jordan return to the yellow house. Frank realizes that, with all of the unhappiness associated with the structure, such as the deaths of Bletcher and the Old Man, it is time to find a new home. A short time later, Frank receives paperwork in the mail, indicating his father left him a cabin in a remote wooded area. Frank tells Catherine about Watts’ prediction that there would be an earthquake. Although he distrusts the Group’s power and control, Frank cannot walk away until he knows what the future entails.
Richard Gilbert meets Frank in a parking lot. When Frank reveals he has decided to stay with the Group, Richard warns against it, as even now, they are being spied upon by Group members. Gilbert drives off in his car, and shortly thereafter, Mr. Lott steps from the shadows. He reveals that the Group is uninterested in any single individual life, but feels its responsibility lies with the whole of mankind.
The next morning, Frank discovers that Richard lost control of his automobile as he drove away from their meeting. Frank examines the automobile, searching for evidence that it was tampered with. Watts informs him that the Group is not at fault, its attention focused on something far more important. He reveals that he broke into the Group’s database, and has learned that the mysterious virus was discovered by the Soviets years earlier in the jungles of Africa. It was then genetically enhanced, creating a biological weapon of astonishing toxicity. When the Soviet Union fell, the virus was inadvertently exposed to the environment, and carried aloft by birds. In 1986, a Wisconsin farmer and his entire flock of hens died from exposure, but like the Spanish flu of 1918, it mysteriously went away. The boy who died by the lake the previous week had somehow contracted the disease. Watts believes the Group developed a vaccine to the virus back in 1986, but produced only enough to inoculate its own members (both Frank and Watts received the vaccine during their quarantine period). Frank instructs Watts to find Lara Means and meet him back at his house, as he knows of a location where they can live until the crisis passes.
When Watts arrives at the cottage where Lara is staying, Blaylock and another Group member intercept him. During the ensuing struggle, a gunshot rings out. Frank receives a phone call, and listens to the sound of the struggle, followed by the sound of a car pulling away in the distance. With help from Giebelhouse, Frank traces the call to the cottage.
Lara experiences powerful visions of the apocalypse. For a moment, she considers taking her own life. Instead, she writes something on an envelope. Frank breaks down the door and races inside. In a nearly psychotic state, Lara raises her gun and opens fire, narrowly missing Frank. Paramedics rush inside and help restrain Lara. As she is wheeled away, Frank takes the envelope, which contains a syringe filled with a vaccine to the virus.
Frank telephones Catherine and instructs her to begin gathering provisions. He then drives to the psychiatric hospital, where he speaks with Lara. He asks her about Watts’ fate, but she can only stare back with lifeless eyes. Frank thanks Lara for the vaccine, then drives his family to the remote cabin.
Frank tells Catherine that during the years of the Black Plague, people gathered their families and retreated to the mountains, allowing them to survive the outbreak. Later, as Jordan sleeps, Catherine listens to a news broadcast, which details the symptoms of the virus. Catherine asks Frank to kill her if she should become infected. Frank counters it would be impossible for him to do so, arguing that if he got sick, he would go off into the woods to die. He then produces the syringe containing the vaccine. He explains that he has already been inoculated, and the syringe contains enough vaccine for one person. Catherine immediately insists that Jordan be given the shot.
Later that night, Catherine wakes experiencing symptoms of the virus. She quietly walks out of the cabin and heads towards the woods. Finding blood on Catherine’s pillow, Frank watches the darkened forest. The next morning, Frank’s hair has gone completely gray. As he holds his daughter in his arms, he experiences internal blasts of static, interspersed with apocalyptic distress calls in many languages. And it is in the cabin that Frank and Jordan remain... alone... and uncertain.
Background Information and References
The season's two-part finale, "The Fourth Horseman" and "The Time Is Now," showed the outbreak of a plague which builds on the division within the Millennium Group and Frank's growing distrust. He is tempted by an offer to join a rival investigatory group called The Trust. Meanwhile, he and Peter investigate the outbreak of a deadly plague, while Lara, who has been initiated into the Millennium Group's secret knowledge, begins her final descent into madness. At the end, the Blacks have taken refuge in the remote cabin of Frank's late father, where a sick and probably dying Catherine sneaks off into the woods so that already inoculated Frank can use their one vial of plague vaccine on Jordan. The cabin, for Morgan, had become Frank's yellow house, where the Blacks are reunited, even if death soon takes Catherine away. "I didn't feel right leaving Frank without his yellow house. I think in life you sometimes search for a yellow house, but for Frank, it actually was that cabin."
Morgan and Wong wrote the season finale not knowing whether MILLENNIUM would be renewed. They pitched several endings to Carter, who made a surprising suggestion that they kill Catherine. Morgan and Wong were taken aback, but didn't object, especially when Carter said to leave her death ambiguous. After thinking how to make Catherine's death meaningful, Morgan discussed it with Megan Gallagher and described the scenario to her. "I told her the neat part will be that after Frank Black has done so much sacrificing for his family, ultimately it will be Catherine who makes the ultimate sacrifice. She liked that. So that had a big part in the decision to kill Catherine."
Like so many plot ideas, the plague as millennial doom emerged from the writers' research. "When I looked at the current research, I found the thing that was most likely to get us was some sort of plague or virus," Morgan said. "I didn't really pay much attention during the mad cow scare in England, but in reading about it I found it horrifying."
One of the most striking sequences of the two-parter is the third act depicting Lara's visions of the apocalypse and her breakdown. It was shot and cut much like a music video, accompanied by the Patti Smith song about heroin, "Horses," which had been a college favorite of Morgan's. He had always envisioned someone going crazy to it. "Editing was really difficult. Doing this was rather naive on my part," Morgan admitted. "Music videos probably have a budget close to what one of our entire episodes costs, and we had only three days to put it together. I don't think we competed very well with the kind of imagery you see on MTV. But I felt that this hasn't been done on a primetime, network drama. I'm glad we did it, but it was really, really hard."
Morgan and Wong have departed, satisfied with their work on the show. "I'm really proud of a lot of the episodes this season," Wong said. "The frustrating thing was that we didn't find a new audience. Some of the people who watched it the first season decided it wasn't for them and didn't come to watch it this season to see if they liked it better or see how it changed."
Source: "TV's Best Kept Secret Improves In Its Sophomore Season" - Cinefantastique Magazine (1998).
This episode's title presents a variation on one of Millennium's second season taglines, "The Time is Near." That phrase is taken from the opening chapter of the Book of Revelation, prophesizing the end of the world and final judgment.
Credit: Brian Dixon, The Millennial Abyss
Notable Episode Dialogue
- Mr Lott: "How is it decided... who lives and who dies? Maybe, individually, we are allotted only so many days of life. Maybe as a whole, mankind is only allotted so many days of life. So you see, in what appears to be the plan for mankind, the death of one individual is absolutely inconsequential. The Millennium Group is not concerned with any single individual life. Do you see where I am going with this?
Our responsibility--and remember that word; it will come up again--our responsibility is to the life of the whole of mankind. And so we must proceed in a manner that increases the odds of that survival. Sounds like a paradox, but it is the very nature of our responsibility. If one life appears to interfere with our protection of billions of lives, (laughs) it really becomes a no-brainer..."
Original Fox Promotional Episode Stills
View the 7 available original 1996 Fox Millennium Episode Guide images for this episode of Millennium here.
(Comprised of 1 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.
- The Millennium Group was responsible for the murder of Richard Gilbert during this episode of Millennium (The Time Is Now).
(View Millennium's Violence - Deaths, Killers, Victims and Criminality Analysis)