Reviewed: The Curse of Frank Black
Contributor: The Polaroid Stalker
Synopsis: All in all, it's a strange trip down memory lane for Frank Black. Despondent over his separation from his wife and daughter, Frank spends Halloween alone... until he encounters ghosts from his own past and once again faces the supernatural nemesis bent on removing him from the struggle between good and evil.
The Stalker's Review: Hold tight, this is a long one...
This episode was scripted by "MillenniuM" executive producers and longtime writers Glen Morgan and James Wong, and watching it, I found myself murmuring "Wow" throughout the episode. I must have said it about ten times throughout.
I have considered "The Curse of Frank Black" to be the second greatest "MillenniuM" of all time, surpassed only by the season finale, "The Time is Now." And I have a lot to say for this one.
The concept of Frank becoming the guy "who lives in a house all by himself and nobody ever wants to visit him, because he's the town boogeyman" is executed beautifully in this episode. And those in-your-face visual in-jokes that Morgan and Wong use like they invented it are great.
The most blatant in-joke of all was when Frank was walking down the street when he came across <audible gasp!> a trick-or-treater dressed in a costume of an Alien Chig from their first solo series, "Space: Above and Beyond." When I saw the Chig standing there, I was going like, "What the..?"
But back to the storyline...
The scene opens with an episode quote, like from the first season (There were two in "Sense and Antisense," but this one feels just like it did back in Season One). It ties in perfectly to what Morgan and Wong are trying to convey with "The Curse of Frank Black." In the quote, President Lincoln says that he has felt like he has been "talking with the dead," since his son Willie's untimely death. And you could almost feel the suspense just in that opening quote. Not since "Lamentation" had I felt that atmosphere in the quote.
It's Halloween night at Frank Black's house. We see a figure holding a kitchen knife walking toward the camera... before plunging the blade into a pumpkin, carving out the final piece. It turns out to be Frank, carving a jack-o-lantern. <laugh here> He puts a candle in the jack-o-lantern, and gets a book of matches (from the 268 Club), only to find there's only one left. Frank, like another FOX character we all know, exclaims, "D-oh!"
He lights the match, but discovers he forgot to unwrap the candle. He does so, letting us see the price tag ($2.68). He lights the candle, leaning back to admire his finished work. As anybody who has seen this episode or pibbsneaker's Avatar knows, the jack-o-lantern is pretty creepy. Frank makes an equally creepy expression, before the flame goes out. Frank, saying "Hey, hey," (I think this is a la Krusty the Klown from "The Simpsons," but I'm not sure), checks the candle, trying to see what happened.
Later, we see a Post-it sticker on Frank's PC, saying "Jordan, Trick or Treat, 6 to 8." Frank puts on his jacket and heads to the door. He then sees two kids, wearing uniforms "26" and "8." Frank goes back in to get them some candy, but the kids run off before he can. Frank then peers across the street, and sees a demonic figure, the "Gehenna Devil" from, what else, "Gehenna," staring back at him from a house with the address "268." A few moments later, the figure is gone. As Frank leaves to get Jordan, the flame in the jack-o-lantern inexplicably reignites.
Later that night, Frank accompanies Jordan, who is dressed as Marge Simpson, through the neighborhood. Frank asks Jordan if he can have some candy, to which Jordan replies, "No!" Frank, again like that famous bumbling FOX oaf Homer J. Simpson, shouts, "D-oh!"
Jordan senses evil inside one of the homes (26_8) and decides to pass by. She tells her father there "are ghosts in that house." Frank dismisses the notion, saying "There's no such things as ghosts." But a few moments later, he relives a moment from his childhood.
In flashback, five-year-old Frank Black (dressed as General MacArthur), David Marx (from "Walkabout") and two other childhood buddies approach a creepy old house on Halloween, address 268. It's the home of Hank Crocell, a disturbed war veteran who lost many a friend in World War II. On a dare from his friends, Frank knocks on the front door of the old home. Crocell answers the door and invites the young Frank inside.
Crocell explains the meaning of Halloween, and how, on this night, the spirits of the dead return to visit the living. Crocell asks the young Frank if such a thing is possible. Young Frank responds that there are no such things as ghosts. Crocell nods, slipping further into depression.
Later that night, while driving home, Frank, trying to listen to his Bobby Darin CD, finds himself listening to "Little Demon" by Screamin' Jay Hawkins. His vehicle's odometer, the radio station, as well as his watch, all contain the numbers "2-6-8" (number which, if you haven't noticed, turn up again and again throughout the episode). Frank's Jeep then stalls, despite his attempts to restart it.
Frank makes his way to a nearby neighborhood, running into that Alien Chig trick-or-treater I mentioned earlier ("What are you supposed to be, anyway?"). He then comes across a home being egged by two teenage boys. Frank chases the pair away--only to realize he has come upon the abandoned Yellow House. He makes his way inside.
There, he experiences memories of happier times, of Catherine and Jordan. He then makes his way to the basement, following indiscernible whispers. He then discovers a group of teenage kids touring the basement, where Bob Bletcher was found murdered. A boy tells his friends a ghost story about how Bletcher met his grisly fate, and how his ghost has roamed about the home, waiting for the curse of Frank Black to be lifted. Displaying a slightly mischievous sense of humor, Frank waits until the young boy says that until the curse is lifted, "Frank Black will never be seen in this house again." He then takes a flashlight and, in a spooky way, announces his presence: "Except if you look over here." The terrified teenagers run off into the night.
After chasing the kids out, Frank recalls a moment in his past, when he was fourteen (looked like he had some of his gift back then, too!). The body of Mr. Crocell was discovered by authorities. His friends came up with all kinds of theories, but Frank says, "It's none of that. He killed himself." So Crocell, who had been plagued by evil for so long, finally succumbed to it and committed suicide, thereby damning himself. Could this fate await our hero?
As he heads out, Frank picks up a fallen Bible, looking briefly at its title "ACTS of the Apostles." Outside, Frank notices the teenagers' egg carton on the sidewalk. He picks up the one remaining egg, and chucks it at his old house, angered at himself for not being able to protect his family.
When Frank returns home, he is surprised by the sight of the lit candle inside the jack-o-lantern. He then goes through his mail, which is mainly junk. Though Frank doesn't realize it, the envelopes all contain the accentuated letters, "A-C-T."
Frank clicks on the television, only to notice that the numbers "2-6-8" again appear on a sports scores channel, in various combinations. Frank then realizes Crocell's address was "268." He also remembers seeing the Bible at the Yellow House, and the book's title: "ACTs of the Apostles." He searches through his Bible until he reaches Chapter 26, Verse 8. There he finds the sentence, "Why should it be thought incredible by you that God raises the dead?"
Finally! How many hints did Frank need from Legion before figuring this out? You'd think he would have gotten the idea earlier!
Before Frank can think about this, he hears movement in the attic of his house. He climbs upward, flashlight in hand, seeking out the source of the noise. There, he encounters a familiar face... the spirit of Mr. Crocell.
Crocell warns he has been sent to Earth because Frank has become him. He then tells Frank to "forget about this Millennium Group." He should return to his family, and live out the rest of a normal, happy life. He tells Frank that he will live in peace and happiness, only if he sits out the war on good and evil.
Okay. We've heard the offer before. First proposed by the Judge in the first season episode of the same name, then Alistair Pepper, and finally Mr. Crocell. Frank hasn't taken up on the offer, but Legion has sent someone whom Frank could identify with (and probably trust) to propose the offer. Obviously, Frank would just blow off Legion if he saw him, so why not send a messenger who Frank is on the same level with, who he might believe is trying to help him?
It seems to work, as Frank seems interested in the offer. After all, it is an intriguing proposition. Frank's work has always been about making the world a better place for his family, but what if, by not working, he could do the same? It would be much easier. One man alone cannot fight the darkness, but what if Legion could put him in a place where there would be no darkness to brush away? I might think about it when you put it like that.
After Crocell vanishes, Frank climbs into his Jeep, a bucket and cleaners in hand. He drives to the Yellow House, and washes away the yolk stain from the window he defaced earlier. Legion appears in the window, looking back at him, giving him one last chance to accept. Frank wipes the window clean, turning down the offer. Fantastic.
Best Scene: In my opinion, the whole final act, where Frank has the conversation with Crocell, gets a message from the Millennium Group, and cleans the egg yolk off his house, rejecting Legion's offer. That alone is better than some of the crap I've seen recently on TV.
Stalker's Rating: SIX "There's no such things as ghosts!"s out of five!
Tune in next time, friends!
-- The Polaroid Stalker<