Contributor: The Polaroid Stalker
Synopsis: Catherine is asked to investigate the claims of five local girls that they witnessed a vision of the Virgin Mary. Meanwhile, Lara Means arrives on behalf of the Group to ascertain whether these visions are true... and learns that the visions may actually be those of Mary Magdalene.
The Stalker's Review: Out of the three "MillenniuM" episodes that Erin Maher and Kay Reindl scripted for Season Two, I found that "Anamnesis" was the most confusing, yet also the most heartfelt. And while I thought "Midnight of the Century" was my favorite out of the three, "Anamnesis" is a close second.
First things first. This episode is the only one of its kind for one major reason -- there is no Frank Black to be seen! *Audible gasp*! How could this possibly be? Well, this episode is such a classic, that I ended up not even thinking about what Frank would do in this situation.
The opening sequence was strange. First of all, we hear "Dancing Barefoot" by Patti Smith. I never really cared much for that song, but I added it to my personal "MillenniuM" soundtrack because it seemed to represent the teaser so well.
There's one thing that ties all of Maher and Reindl's episodes together: the strength of female characters. Maybe that's why Frank wasn't in this episode: they have better successes when they focus on Catherine or Lara or some other female lead.
Catherine Black, who has been distrustful of the Group, acts like the Scully side of any investigation, trying to look at the logical explanations. When Lara Means makes her intentions towards Clare McKenna, one of the girls who claims to see Mary Magdalene, Catherine is immediately inclined to suggest that Clare's "problems" are nothing more than a manifestation of a confused, lonely teenage girl.
But Lara acts more like the certain male FBI agent working down in the basement in this episode. She said back in "Midnight of the Century" that she first had her visions in adolescence, and she's grown more troubled since. It's clear that she wants to protect Clare, like she offered to help Jordan in the previous Maher and Reindl script.
What made a chill go down my spine was when Lara confides in Catherine that her visions are pushing her over the edge, and that, eventually, this will happen to Frank. And after seeing what happened to Lara in "The Time is Now," I flashed back to "Anamnesis," and shivered when I thought of Frank's fate.
I read on the Millennium Internet Episode Review Compendium that Maher and Reindl tend to borrow some characteristics of other writers. And I think they borrowed from Chip Johannessen on this one. The supernatural phenomena typical of Chip's scripts pop up now and then here, such as the Black Virgin statuette suddenly growing too heavy for Catherine to lift, and later tears of blood dripping from its eyes.
Despite its complexity, "Anamnesis" worked, keeping me guessing and engrossed. I enjoyed the introduction of "The Family" as yet another ancient faction of believers -- what exciting new ground "MillenniuM" breaks. It would be all too easy, creatively, to lapse into more familiar historical rifts between, say, Catholics and the Orthodox, but it never lingers long over its traditional Christian roots -- it constantly springs new ideas and historical references on us.
And, hey! Maher and Reindl even managed to tie in the Polaroid Stalker! ("I am the beginning and I am the end..."). Nice job of tying together numerous crucial mythology elements from the season.
When I watched this episode, and first saw Ben Fisher, my friend Sherman, who came over to watch it at my house, said, "Hey! Jim Gilroy!" And, indeed, it was -- John Pyper-Ferguson, back again for a new role (rather like the many roles he's had on "X-Files...")
There is a lot of material here, and "Anamnesis" may require more than one viewing to take it all in, but it's worth it. Weighty, complex, and thought-provoking, it also manages to get to some of the series' core issues while appropriately upping the pre-millennial tension as the second season draws to a close.
My rating: Five weeping Black Virgin statuettes out of five.
Next in line: "A Room With No View," "Somehow, Satan Got Behind Me," "The Fourth Horseman," and "The Time is Now." Stay tuned...
-- The Polaroid Stalker