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Guest Jim McLean

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Guest Jim McLean

I was just interested watching Walkabout again (as I plow through MM in order again) and how its brought me to question some of the notions of season one.

We all know season two is a different beast, but I was curious where Carter intended to take the show so far as the Group is concerned. As I recall, Paper Cuts starts to question the Group somewhat, so I wondered whether the Group was always going to become an antagonist, even if not quite the mythological cult monster it transpired under Morgan and Wong.

Reason I say this is because in Walkabout - when watched retrospectively - there is an undercurrent to the Group. How much of Peter's concern is entirely his own? How much is there a question of Frank's actions in regards to his relationship with the Group? The fact he's hiding things? Misleading the Group. In some ways, Walkabout feels quite season two. Add on top the re-focus on the Gift (which despite what the features on Season One's DVD suggest, it doesn't seem in anyway that season one is implying a an innate instinct for Frank. Not from the mid way point).

I never considered this on the first watch, but after seeing all that's happened post season one, I wondered whether this point is merely tainted retrospect or whether the Group was always going to have an antagonist roll. I'm sure some of you MM resource banks can fill me in with some titbits on this question!

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Hmmm... I didn't think about it that way. I'm going to watch it again and I'll get back to you on it.

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I am growing

And I am growing anxious

And I am growing weary

And I am growing closer

And I am growing up

And I am growing impatient

And I am growing leery

And I am growing wise

And I am growing less

And less

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Guest No Touching

Well, in respect to "the gift," you're absolutely right. I never bought the argument that it was Morgan & Wong who turned it from an uncanny instinct into a metaphysical sixth sense. That clearly began in season one, as soon as Jordan showed signs of developing it. Walkabout kind of confirmed that, despite Frank explaining it away as not being a physic ability in the earlier episodes, it was definitely within that realm.

As far as the Group, that's interesting. A few months ago when I first watched through the entire series unspoiled and unknowledgable about the behind the scenes turmoil, I definitely thought there were some "off" things about the Group in season one that made their shift in season two more believable. Even as far back as the Pilot, when Watts just sits outside of Frank's house waiting for him to come home, it comes across that there's something off-kilter about these people. Whether Carter was intentionally going somewhere with these little tidbits or if Morgan & Wong saw them and decided to spin something out of them, we may never know.

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Hi chaps,

This is a superb little topic and one I apologise for overlooking upon its creation. Here's hoping the current level of interest in it will encourage others to share their 'internal point of view' :)

Firstly I am shoulder to shoulder with Kara that a repeat of Walkabout is needed before I can comment fairly on some of the finer points raised but the following did occur to me at the time of reading.

Intent aside there were a few non-sequiturs that guaranteed that a metaphysical spin would be added to Frank's ability independent of the narrative. I can only comment as a British consumer of the franchise but here in Blighty this show was 'sold', quite understandably, on the success of the X-Files and regardless of who was responsible it was labeled, interchangeably, as the sister show or even spin-off of Carter's most successful creation. Another element to consider was that all the salient coverage of the project from conception to birth was covered in the likes of SFX, Cult Times and so forth: genre publications that do not turn their attention to orthodox crime series' but cover shows with science fiction or paranormal overtones. Profiler, which at the time was so similar to Millennium that issues of plagiarism were raised, did not feature in any of the aforementioned publications despite an almost identical narrative.

Whether the intention was there or not the publicity surrounding the show ensured that a certain audience would be there to receive it and an audience whose appetite had been whetted by the assumption that there would be a metaphysical slant to the show. In the absence of any overt display of the preternormal, viewers latched onto those ambiguous aspects of the narrative such as The Group and The Gift and believed them to be evidence of the supernatural components they had, rightly or wrongly, anticipated. Whilst much less so in the instance of The Group, Frank's 'Internal Point of View' caused a faction of viewers to conclude his facility was otherworldly during the initial showing of the first Season. Again I note that I am not stating the show supported such an assertion merely reminding that viewers at the time did indeed see evidence for this whether it was to be had or not.

At least this has determined what I will be watching after Wire In The Blood this evening :)

Eth

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Guest Jim McLean

Whether the intention was there or not the publicity surrounding the show ensured that a certain audience would be theore to receive it and an audience whose appetite had been whetted by the assumption that there would be a metaphysical slant to the show. In the absence of any overt display of the preternormal, viewers latched onto those ambiguous aspects of the narrative such as The Group and The Gift and believed them to be evidence of the supernatural components they had, rightly or wrongly, anticipated. Whilst much less so in the instance of The Group, Frank's 'Internal Point of View' caused a faction of viewers to conclude his facility was otherworldly during the initial showing of the first Season. Again I note that I am not stating the show supported such an assertion merely reminding that viewers at the time did indeed see evidence for this whether it was to be had or not.]

Respectfully, I'm not sure I entirely agree with the idea that anticipation wrought misconceptions of metaphysical. I would say as far back as Gehenna and The Judge, that metaphysical plays a serious role in Millennium. Understated, but in no way inconsistent with the later half of the season.

If it wasn't for this, I would wonder whether the was an internal shift in the production, maybe for the very reasons you suggest; to cater for the desire/expectations of X-Files fans or to distance itself from The Profiler.

Certainly there is no comparison between the blatant imagery in the Lucy Butler arc in season one compared to the understated questions in Gehenna, but given Gehenna and The Judge, the former being the first post pilot and The Judge a close follower set up the questions the show itself answers later, I can't help feeling that Carter's commentary that MM was originally about a good profiler looking to stop malcontent actions induced by the frenzy of the Millennium slightly revisionist. I think the theological question was always to be there - though perhaps out of need to cater to the Carter audience. I think its of preference its downplayed in the retrospective commentary of season one, maybe a choice that wasn't welcome, but accepted.

I don't think Sanctuary or Walkabout are really episodes "read" into, both of which tie in neatly with the Pilot and Jordan's pains (though devil's advocate could suggest the choice to make Jordan's powers relevant to the Pilot from the details later on could have been a retcon). Walkabout works no other way than to suggest Jordan and Frank's gift is more than the directorial depiction of a profiler getting in the mind of a monster. Even The Thin White Line suggests Frank's ability is innate and not learned - having a keen "sense" 20 years back early in his FBI days.

Personally, I'd have been happy with it being a talent, so I have no interest in reading something into it that isn't there, but narratively many of the later season one tales make little sense as merely perceptional imagery - they affect the plot too clearly. Certainly Jordan feeling the pain of her aunt without knowing she had been abducted. They are too interwoven into the tales to be perceptional.

Thankfully, given how X-Files season two became this works in the shows favour, laying the ground for the big changes - and I don't blame Mr Carter at all if my conclusions are accurate and wanting to revise the nuances of the shows conception in his retelling to something more pure, untainted by overt X-Files elements.

With no proof I don't know. But so far as the gift and the more spiritual elements, it is interesting that the idea of Frank's world being a simple profilers world with some perceptional tags doesn't pan in the final product. It could be "good luck" that the questions in Gehenna and The Judge inform the more blatant "unearthly evil" arc of the latter parts of the season, personally, I suspect it was intentionally - but I'd love to see proof confirming or suggesting otherwise.

What could make sense is that the more subtle mythology (given the nature of the millennium's apocalyptic signature, it was bound to have some), had to become more overt to match the demographic interest - that would make sense; that Frank's gift was simply innate instinct that began to see a side of Evil with the Millennium he never considered existed, only in the need to tap its bigger, more supernatural audience, these elements were made more overt, much to the creator's distaste. That, I could buy.

But whatever the reasons, I don't believe the retrospective analysis on the DVD that it was really season two which moved Mythology and fantasy into an original season of serial killers and mythic symbolism.

But as for the Group, well I'm open to suggestions - whether the nature of the Group was intended to be threatening or not in season one maybe just a retrospective pick up from its direction in season two.

Tough to say.

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Hi Laredo :)

I'm absolutely with you as it happens and believe we are both singing from the same hymn sheet albeit you singing much more clearer and myself emitting a not too distinct murmur. The point I was trying to make, badly, was not that MM was divorced of metaphysical motifs and discourses but that it lacked the overt, showy paranormal slant that the X-Files did so well. My assertion is that due to the portrayal of the series in the media prior to airing many people assumed the show was a similar, albeit, darker mutation of its sister show and expected something much closer to say Kolchak than Profiler. Because they bought an audience almost exclusive from genre pools some of the finer and more conceptual aspects of the series were viewed with over eagerness and whilst I agree there is evidence of Frank's facility displaying elements that do not internalise well if the anti-psychic argument is to be believed, my feeling is that the gift was accepted by some viewers to be a psychic process right from the Pilot, long before the facility deserved being considered in this way. My comments regarding this misconception were intended to discuss Frank's Gift and I wasn't commenting on the overall thematic of the first season or the metaphysics the show incorporated.

Best wishes,

Eth

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Guest Jim McLean

I understand - my apologies if I seemed overtly critical. But yes, I think that is a valid question; was the marketing an overt factor in the final product? Did expectations sculpt a more standardized format even in season one than perhaps the show would have preferred on its own momentum?

It is interesting as to quite how blatant the mythology comes in the latter part of season one, surprisingly so, though I've always been glad that the "gift" has never been compartmentalized as "psychic". I think Walkabout is the closest in season one to really discussing it, making the visuals a very literal vision of Frank's workings.

It is interesting how on my first full season run last year how I was surprised the gift was so underplayed. In fairness, I recall coming to the conclusion - around Well Worn Lock or so - that my memories of Frank's gift being unearthly was wrong, and was surprised to discover the tangent with Jordan placing a different emphasis.

It does seem for all intents and purposes that it is insight early in the season, though I did find occasionally the gift being played as intuition seemed a little too convenient or specific in its revelations. But then, maybe the journey of season one (with maybe market or demographic pressures changing the emphasis) is seeing how Frank's "normal" world, how he has compartmentalized his gift into intuition, bears into something bigger when he is forced to confront Jordan's potential (Walkabout), and from there the world opens up in a very different light.

Again, we're playing TV pluralism with this. Without a lasso of truth or some candid production workers its hard to find the answer. With no disrespect to Mr Carter, even his own word may not be enough - I've met many artists (including myself) willing to "reinvent history" - sometimes subconsciously. So really, I'm not sure we have an absolute answer.

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  • 3 months later...

Walkabout is definitely one of the best Millennium ep's. We do see discord with the Group in the this episode as well as "foreshadowing" of future family problems, but I don't know for sure if you could count either of these as a direct jump into what transpires in Season 2. The group and family discord is due to Frank "going frelance" and disappearing, not imo based on mechanations of the MG which cause so many problems next season.

What Walkabout does do, however, is bring the paranormal more into the fore just in time for Lamentation and the remainder of Season 1. Supernatural questions were voiced from the beginning on the show, but the first part of Season 1 kept these questions more in the background. Actually, from Sacrament forward the evil becomes more otherworldly and Frank and Jordan's gift becomes less talent and more at the very least instinct.

I took a different read of Chris Carter's commentary on the Season 1 DVD's. I think he was stating his original conception of the character was of extreme talent not psychic ability, but as the season went on and his regular availability over the writing and production process began to diminish, other writers in Season 1 "assumed" the visual shorthand that appeared in the Pilot represented an otherwordly gift and once that cat was out of the bag there was no going back. There's no arguing that by the time of Sacrament it's definitely not just profile talent, but an inheritable instinctual and somewhat psychic gift.

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  • 5 years later...

great discussion going on in here (and yes i know i am a few years late to the party).. i have to say that the notion that Frank's gift in no way was psychic was always kind of baffling to me, right from the first episode. the best example is when they are down at the coroners and instead of zipping down the bag and showing Frank what happened he already knows exactly how it went down.. that to me defines his gift as being a psychic one... I think the gift is usually used in a very interesting way in the show, especially in the way that it invites the forces of darkness to hone in on Frank ("it knows you, it FEEDS of your passion Frank") but i must say that there are times when it feels like the writers used it as an easy way to jump past any logical connection that had to be made.. luckily most of the times it works for me.

as Eth was talking about I also remember very strongly when they launched MillenniuM back in 1996, at the height of X-Files popularity and selling it strongly on that point. at the time I believed "Pilot" drew the largest numbers of viewers of a new series ever (confirmation?), but the larger part of those did not tune in the next week. i remember watching the pilot when it first aired together with my older brother and father and finding it very scary but also very strange. i was only about 12 years old then, and while X-Files worked great for young and old, i believe that you can't really appreciate the themes of MillenniuM to the fullest until you're a bit older. it had this stark, depressing and haunting quality which kind of affected me and i can actually still remember it quite vividly (which i can't say about many other shows i watched at that age). neither me or my brother tuned in the next week (i believe that my parents decided it was too scary of a show due to the graphic image and general vibe), but both he and I picked up the show later - in our 20s and absolutely fell in love with it.

however, if "Pilot" and "Gehenna" were switched so that "Gehenna" had drawn those huge viewing numbers, i wonder if more would have stuck around for more episodes as i think that might have appealed more to the X-Files fans

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