Reviewed: Kingdom Come
Well, as I have recently mentioned here, and many probably disagree, Millennium's first season started with a flourish and five consecutive 5 star episodes, but then, in my mind, had a fairly long run of seven consecutive episodes that, while still generally being pretty good, fell short of being extraordinary by Millennium standards. As mentioned previously, this run of 3 star and 4 star episodes was enough to give season two the edge as my favorite season over seasons one and three.
Kingdom Come, in my opinion, was the first of these season one episodes to make a break from the level of excellence that was established in the Pilot through 522666. This is not to say it was a poor episode, in fact I would give it a solid 4 star ranking, but this was one of the few episodes where I didn't find myself thinking "wow, that was a lot better than I remember it being the first time around". However, by the end, I still remember having that feeling of satisfaction and the continued realization that I was watching something very special.
To me, the episode got off to a bit of a rocky start, and instead of feeling like the story was unfolding before me at a perfect pace, it felt a little rushed, as though they were trying to fit too much story into a 45 minute time slot. Also, this is one of the rare episodes where some of the details of the story seem a bit contrived or far fetched. For example, we see them draining a lake on the off chance that there might be some evidence on the muddy bottom. Then, when the search reveals no evidence, Frank, on a complete whim, decides to take a stroll to the area where they found the body, and whada ya know, it takes him all of 5 seconds to find a nice shiny ring sitting right there on the surface with no other debris around it. Frank also somehow tracks down a book that conveniently has illustrated pictures that match the carving on the post where the priest is burnt to death, and other illustrations of murder details that Frank seems to find with a couple of flips of the pages. This, and other evidence seems a little to obvious and easy to find.
OK, just when I started to feel like I was panning the episode, on to the positives. As much as the story seemed to feel rushed early on, as it proceeds, it seems to slow down some and flow a little more smoothly, as if early scenes might have been cut or edited at some point in favor of what are considered more important scenes later in the story, but who knows if this was the case. The overall story is actually pretty good in my opinion, and the idea of the killer trying to kill his faith with these murders is a unique idea, just as the killer in the episode is unique, complicated, creepy, well written and brilliantly acted by Michael Zelniker, and at times he even shows a sick sense of humor with some classic one-liners. Lindsay Crouse also does a fine job as Ardis Cohen, and I enjoyed the interaction between her and Frank. The two characters seem to have a great deal of respect for each other, both personally and professionally, and we even see one of those rare scenes I made mention of recently where Frank breaks down and cracks a smile in response to a "one-liner" from another detective, as Ardis asks Frank if he is talking about drowning or golf in reference to torture of heretics, or something to that effect. While the story does seem to me to be a bit lacking at times as a crime story, it more than makes up for it with the development of the characters, especially the killer, as well as being one of the better episodes I have seen as far as character interaction, especially with some great scenes between Frank and Catherine and between Frank and Jordan, including some excellent dialogue. As I have mentioned before, it's almost sad looking back on some of these season one episodes and seeing a happy and intact family. This episode does contain one of my favorite Black family scenes, when Frank is in an especially joyful and relaxed mood and making breakfast. When they ask him what it is, he says "scrapple" (leftovers), and in the most adorable way Jordan looks up and says "What's scrapple?". Kingdom Come is further evidence that Millennium was about so much more than gore and evil, but also about things like faith, hope and the good we see in people. Add this to an interesting story and some great acting across the board, and you have the makings of a very good episode that falls a little short of being great.