Reviewed: Midnight of the Century
Contributor: The Polaroid Stalker
Synopsis: When Jordan claims to have communicated with Frank's mother, who died on Christmas Eve 1946, Frank is led to reconcile with his estranged father, and recall the circumstances of his mother's death.
The Stalker's Review: "It's midnight of the century... but will there be a dawn?" laments Peter Watts at his Christmas party, to Frank Black and Lara Means. This question is posed throughout the episode, making us think about it.
One of my all-time favorite episodes of "MillenniuM" is "The Curse of Frank Black." On a Halloween night, Frank realizes that he has been consumed by the pursuit of evil that he is lonely, estranged from Catherine and Jordan. It shows how dark his life is, now with the Millennium Group. And along comes "Midnight of the Century," which is the sort-of antithesis of "The Curse of Frank Black."
This episode was scripted by Erin Maher and Kay Reindl, who wrote the abysmal "A Single Blade of Grass" earlier this season. But just when I had lost faith in them, they come back--with a vengeance!
The story centers around the Black family again, for one of the few times in Season Two. It's nearing Christmas time, and Jordan produces a drawing identical to one Frank and his mother Linda drew way back in 1946, way back when he was a young boy. Brittany Tiplady, in one of her greatest performances ever, begins speaking of her dead grandmother.
We also learn some interesting facts that plunge us into a lesson of the rift in the Black family. After his mother's death on Christmas Eve, 1946, Frank and his father, Henry, grew further and further apart, to the point where they don't speak to each other anymore.
I must admit, even though I am content with the Legion storyline, I was eagerly awaiting the other arc of mythology, what I have dubbed the "angel" storyline. It began in the first season, with "Powers, Principalities, Thrones, and Dominions." Sammael, the angelic figure in that outing, appeared to Frank, explaining that Frank's life is not solely plagued by demonic adversaries, those of Legion's ilk.
This episode doesn't disappoint. It may not be Sammael, but the angelic figure in this one, Simon, bears a vague resemblance to the former, he who executed Alistair Pepper. It's similar to the way that Legion has all these different forms, so why couldn't the forces of Good take different guises when it appears to Frank?
This episode also provides some wonderful perspicacity into the other major players in the fight against Good and Evil in "MillenniuM," Lara and Peter. Watts is in a gloomy mood at his Christmas party, which is very unnerving indeed, but it's Lara whom we focus on. Her angel-heralded gift first made itself known to her in childhood at Christmas, warning her of the death of her father's business associate, and the angels surrounding her every year at this time only serve to drive home the horror of her strange intuition.
When Frank tells Lara about Jordan's manifesting gift, she pledges, "If there's anything I can do... ever..." So, she wants to help, but her gift is dreadfully pulling her apart.
Despite the heavy overtones, this episode has some wonderful moments. One of the most notable are the moments between Brian Roedecker and the Black family, as the computer tech presents Frank with an unexpected Christmas gift (copies of holiday horror film classics), then examines Jordan's new Giga Pet with childlike delight. Even though I enjoyed him in "The Beginning and the End," Allan Zinyk came into his own on this one.
But the major scene is where Frank is forced into reconciliation with his father, Henry Black (portrayed by Darren McGavin, from "The Night Stalker"). He also learns more about his mother's death, and why her husband let her die alone--because she had asked him to. Beautiful, just beautiful.
And the final scene with the fetches (the ghosts of those who die in the coming year) is one of the best since the attic scene with Frank and Mr. Crocell in "The Curse of Frank Black."
Overall, outstanding episode. Maybe not as good as "The Curse of Frank Black," but on my top ten of the best episodes of "MillenniuM."
My rating: Five falling Christmas trees out of five.
Remember, folks: Christmas comes but once a year...
-- The Stalker-man