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Synopsis of Millennium episode "Dead Letters"

Presented below is the original published synopsis of Dead Letters, from Chris Carter's Millennium TV series. It was originally published on the original Fox Millennium website.

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Dead Letters



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Written by Glen Morgan & James Wong
Directed by Thomas J. Wright
Edited by Chris Willingham, A.C.E.

Awakened by a nightmare, Jordan runs to the man who will protect her always: her father. Moments later, Frank is called to the horrific scene of a real-life nightmare, when a woman's dismembered body is discovered in a Portland, Oregon animal shelter. Despite the lack of physical evidence, Frank is certain that the killer has left a hidden message - and that he will kill again.

Penseyres asks Frank to team up with Jim Horn, a Portland detective they're considering as a member of the Group. Competent, experienced, and dedicated, Jim would seem a perfect choice. But a recent marital separation has left him edgy and distracted, and he openly doubts Frank's insights about the killer. Frank is aware of Jim's talents, but also sees the fine emotional line he's balancing on.

The killer disposes of his next victim in the UPS Dead Letter Office. Frank discovers a message painstakingly etched on a human hair: the words "Hair Today...Gone Tomorrow." Now he's beginning to understand the killer's psyche. The murders are the killer's bloody way of making his mark on a world that he feels has reduced him to nothing.

Jim's stress escalates under the pressure. He can't keep the violence outside anymore. Every case is personal. Every victim could be someone he loves, and every killer is a monster. Frank understands; he's been there. But he fears that Jim's loss of control may compromise their investigation.

The killer strikes again, this time a nurse. However in addition to leaving behind another message that reads "Nothing ventured, nothing gained," the killer also leaves behind the lens from his glasses which were broken at the scene. Knowing that the killer is mocking them with the latest message, Frank takes advantage of the killer's arrogance. They release to the press that the killer is of lower intelligence, having mis-spelled ventured "ventered" in his latest message. They anticipate this will provoke the killer into making a bold appearance at the memorial service for the latest victim.

The closer they get to the killer, the closer Jim gets to the edge. When the trap is sprung, Jim savagely attacks an innocent man mistaken for the killer. While the man they nabbed wasn't the killer, they find evidence the killer did make an appearance - a cross with the word "ventured" etched on it is found at the memorial.

After scanning surveillance tapes of those present at the memorial, pictures of suspects fitting the profile are distributed throughout the neighboring area and to optometrists nearby. This results in two leads: the killer's car--a battered orange van he uses as a mobile slaughterhouse-- is identified, and an optician clearly recognizes one of the suspects as a customer. Frank and Jim question the optician, a woman named Janice. Realizing the killer has chosen her as the next victim, Frank lays another trap - using her as bait.

With the pressure building, Jim becomes more unsettled. He sees the van and the killer everywhere. As they're waiting for the killer to take the bait, Jim admits to himself and Frank he can't function. Frank tells him to go home. Jim takes off - only to stage a flat tire in an alley that is the killer's only path to the trap they have set. The killer arrives as expected.

Jim snaps, and the cops arrive just in time to keep Jim from beating the killer to death. Jim's actions nearly cost them the entire case against the killer by rendering the van and its contents inadmissable. Fortunately there is enough evidence of the murders in the killer's home to prosecute. In the aftermath, a subdued Jim asks Frank how he can stay sane amid such dreadful violence. When Frank cradles Jordan in his arms, the answer is obvious.