The World Didn't End.
"Millennium" Plot Summary:
In the waning days of 1999, a woman sobs at a funeral in Tallahassee, Florida. She is consoled by Mark Johnson, a man who says he worked briefly with her husband. "Hell of a Christmas, Raymond," she weeps to the casket, adding that her husband didn't even leave a suicide note.
Later, Johnson sneaks into the room with the casket and begins to undress. He recites from the Book of John, Chapter 12, Verses 25-26: "I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die." When he is completely undressed and has removed the FBI pin from the dead man's tie, Johnson activates a cell phone and presses it to the corpse's hand. "He that believeth in me, yet shall he live," he repeats. Then he closes the casket. Later, outside a cemetery in the rain, Johnson's cell phone rings. He gets a shovel and walks toward the grave.
Scully arrives at the cemetery the next morning to find Mulder in the excavated grave site, while nearby the funeral director hysterically explains to anyone who will listen that he did not put a living human being into the ground. "Merry Christmas," Mulder greets his partner, showing the handprints and other indications that during this "grave robbery," someone on the inside was trying to get out. Scully believes this is faked evidence placed by whoever exhumed the body, but the bloody evidence of some sort of ritual makes Mulder believe otherwise.
At FBI headquarters, Skinner tells a roomful of agents that Raymond Crouch was one of them until he retired in 1993. Earlier that week, he shot himself with his service revolver. No one he knew could come up with a reason he would take his own life, and there is no evidence of foul play. Mulder's take on the missing corpse is necromancy: someone stole the body to summon the dead, using arcane knowledge that relates to the magic circle drawn in blood on the ground at the scene. "Why Raymond Crouch?" wonders Scully.
Privately, Skinner tells the pair he may have an answer, and shows them a sketch of an ouruboros - a snake eating its own tail. Though Mulder recognizes it as a mystical symbol, Skinner knows that it was also the emblem of the Millennium Group - a group of FBI agents who used to consult with law enforcement officials, but who are now suspected of being a cult based on the Christian concept of the end of time. Skinner has information about three other, similar grave desecrations, all of former FBI agents who were recent suicides. Because the Millennium Group had ties to the Bureau, this information is extremely sensitive.
En route to a mental hospital in Virginia, Mulder says he believe the greatest criminal profiler ever to come out of Quantico may be able to help them. Frank Black was reputed to be passionate and singleminded. "Sounds like someone I know," says Scully. But Black is watching the Fighting Irish play the Golden Eagles, and doesn't want to talk, even though he recognizes all four of the men in the photos Mulder shows him. "I'm retired," announces the former profiler, saying he wants to put his life back together and avoid any involvement with the Millennium Group. Mulder points out that they have only two days till the start of the new millennium, the date on which that group's efforts seem to be focused, but Black snaps that it's first and eighteen for Notre Dame and he wants to watch the end of the game. Seeing on the television that it's third down, Mulder leaves in disgust.
In rural Maryland that night, Johnson tries to fix a flat tire when his truck is approached by a policeman. The deputy notes the stink and sees flies in the truck, then demands to search the vehicle. As Johnson makes a circle of salt around himself, he begins to recite "I am the resurrection, and the life." The policeman sees the corpse in the vehicle but it attacks him before he can finish yelling.
On the morning of December 31, Mulder and Scully arrive to see the circle of salt - more evidence of a necromancer at work, according to Mulder, who says salt was considered magical protection. "Against what?" Scully demands, but the two are distracted by the discovery of the deputy's body. A note has been placed between the dead man's stapled lips with the quote, "I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen."
"Revelation I:18," says a disgusted Mulder, back at the hospital with Frank Black. "Go, Fighting Irish." Black still refuses to get involved, but Mulder observes that his arcane jokes don't make sense when people are dying. "What are you afraid of?" he demands. Scully answers for Black: "Losing your daughter." She knows that Black is involved in a custody dispute with his late wife's parents, who claim Black is obsessed with the occult and therefore an unfit parent. He does not deny the charges, but says he will do absolutely anything to keep his daughter. "Nobody needs to know," promises Mulder, begging for help once more.
Finally, Black explains the Millennium Group's beliefs about the Book of Revelation and the prophesied war between Heaven and Hell. The dead agents were part of a splinter group which claimed Armageddon had to be brought about through human agency - and by the start of the new millennium. Mulder guesses correctly that the four dead men thought themselves the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and timed their suicides so they could be resurrected with the start of the next year.
The necromancer, Black guesses, will be a religious man who lives alone on a rural property with space to hide the bodies and a vehicle to transport them. The fact that the necromancer buried the deputy with the ritual words and stapled lips confirms his dedication. Black believes the killer will return to the body when he learns it has been exhumed. He probably works with death: "It comforts him." Sure enough, Johnson is a taxidermist, and hears news of the deputy's discovery on TV.
Scully protests that Y2K isn't even really the start of the new millennium - that will occur on January 1, 2001 - prompting Mulder to grin that nobody likes a math geek. They decide to split up: she will go to the county morgue to see if the necromancer shows up there, while he will search near the deputy's murder for the probable home of the necromancer, based on a list of single men who own property in the area. Mulder warns Scully not to remove the staples from the deputy's mouth when she performs the autopsy. "Humor me."
But the autopsy has already begun, and the doctor removes nearly a cupful of salt from the deputy's mouth. A phone call interrupts her. It's Scully, who leaves a message on the answering machine not to autopsy the body. But it's too late: as the doctor turns to go back to the lab, she is attacked. By the time Scully arrives, the lab is in darkness, the phone is off the hook, and the doctor lies bleeding in a hallway. Johnson and the animated corpse of the deputy stand at opposite ends of the hall. The agent fires repeatedly at the corpse, but it keeps coming at her, until her gun falls at Johnson's feet. "I am the resurrection and the life," he recites.
Later, Skinner watches the autopsy doctor wheeled out on a stretcher, then asks for Scully. He kneels by a corpse in the hallway, but it's the deputy; Scully is standing behind him, wounded but mobile. "He was dead and then he wasn't," she says of the corpse she shot. The necromancer took her gun and saved her, killing a man who was already dead. Skinner wants to know why Mulder is not answering his phone, so Scully tells her boss that her partner has gone in search of possible necromancers. Mulder is in his car, crossing names off a list as he comes to Mark Johnson's. His phone can't get a signal: "Welcome to the boondocks." Inside Johnson's trash can, the agent finds a nearly empty bag of kosher salt. Instead of taking the bag for evidence, he takes some of the salt for protection.
While Mulder studies the taxidermy and discovers the cellar door, Johnson arrives home. Down the cellar stairs, Mulder turns on his flashlight...and bodies rise! Apparently the salt does protect him, and Mulder manages to shoot one of the dead men in the head. But Johnson sees signs of struggle and locks the basement door, trapping Mulder with the living dead. Meanwhile, Scully visits Frank Black to tell him that Mulder is missing and she needs his help to find her partner. She admits that she was attacked by one of those men who liveth though they were dead, and asks Black whether he believes the Millennium group is capable of bringing about Armageddon. "Good and evil...which would prevail?" "I'm sorry," Black tells her, but after she leaves he asks for his cell phone, telling the nurse he won't be returning.
When Black arrives at Johnson's house, the man is outside listening to the sound of Mulder struggling with the corpses in the basement. "You came!" Johnson exclaims joyously, explaining that the agent trapped in the basement killed one of the group members so they need a fourth. "You were meant to be the fourth," believes Johnson, even when Black explains that he told Mulder how to find the house. After all, the man has lost his wife and his daughter "There's no justice in this world, but there will be in the next," Johnson promises, offering Black a gun with which to kill himself. The two recite the lines from the Book of John together.
However, Black has other ideas. He turns the gun on Johnson, then ties him up with duct tape. Then Black calls to Mulder, who warns him that the resurrected dead are all around him and only bullets to the head seem to work. "You're damning yourself to Hell, Frank!" cries Johnson. Meanwhile, Skinner calls Scully in her car to tell her that a man in rural Maryland tried to call Black repeatedly while he was at the mental hospital. As she races to the address, Black enters the basement, shooting one living corpse in the head before being attacked by another. Mulder shoots the second but runs out of bullets. Scully arrives just in time to shoot the final Horseman of the Apocalypse.
Black is at the hospital, watching the ball drop over Times Square on the television, when Scully arrives to say that Johnson has been placed under a suicide watch. She has also brought a visitor: Black's daughter Jordan, who leaves with her father without staying to watch the new year ushered in. Mulder comes in with his arm in a sling, standing beside Scully as the television crowd counts down the seconds to the millennium. As couples kiss on television and "Auld Lang Syne" rings out, Mulder leans toward his partner, who turns her head to him. They kiss for several seconds, smiling. Afterwards, Mulder observes, "The world didn't end." He and Scully wish each other a happy new year, and walk out with his arm around her shoulders.
Let's start at the end and work backwards. It was a very sweet kiss. Not awkward but fairly restrained even though they both looked like they were enjoying themselves. I imagine the 'Shippers will claim it was passionate and romantic while the NoRomos will say it was friendly and non-erotic, and they'll all be right. I'm betting we don't hear another word about it till February Sweeps, though I hope I'm wrong.
I was not a regular viewer of Millennium, so I can't comment on the resolution of that series, the use of the Millennium Group in this episode, nor the characterization of Frank Black. That show was often too dark and nasty for me, with a mythology I never fully understood (and wasn't sure had been fleshed out enough for anyone to grasp in its entirety). I enjoyed seeing Black here, particularly as a foil to Mulder - Scully's comparison of their levels of obsession was particularly poignant since we now know Black's devotion to his family is capable of taking him away from his life's work.
Would the same apply to Mulder? Would Mulder be better off never having a wife and children so he can't be similarly diverted? Or, since it was devotion to his sister that got Mulder involved in The X-Files, should we wish for him the happy ending achieved by Frank Black, who is now off the hook because the extremist members of the Millennium Group failed to bring about the end of the world? I'm a little surprised Mulder didn't want to see if the Millennium Group could pull it off. How much worse could an eternity in Christian Hell be than becoming fodder for an alien invasion fleet? I understood Mulder's anger at Black's unwillingness to get involved, but I was also surprised he didn't try to relate to the man, given how much they have in common. Mulder could probably learn a lot from Frank Black.
I was quite surprised Scully didn't have more to say about all this, considering the complexity of her own Christian background; she's the one I would have thought would have recognized Revelation I:18. I actually believed for a moment that the cross she wears around her neck saved her from the corpse of the deputy, especially considering the location of her injury. Does Scully still have her tattoo? I'm assuming she didn't know before about the association of the ouruboros with the Millennium Group. Shouldn't she have shivered a little? Or should we wonder if she's secretly involved with them? Her complete lack of response to that and to the religious overtones in general seemed like laziness on the part of the writers. She might have gotten a little more irked at Black once her partner's life was in danger and he still refused to help.
The corpses were quite sufficiently disgusting, hopefully enough so that no religious lunatic watching this episode will decide Chris Carter knows the secrets of the universe and try to emulate the necromancy. All these pre-Millennial panic TV shows make me nervous, not because I fear a religious or even computer-related disaster at Y2K so much as because I fear widespread panic leading to problems that could otherwise be avoided. Maybe this is why the ending felt bittersweet to me. The hour passes, the couple kiss, and the best he can come up with is, "The world didn't end?" I guess the earth didn't move for him, either.
I wonder, if all of us had nearly touched the hand of God as Mulder and Scully have done on more than one occasion, if little things like romantic love would stop having the powerful effect it exhibits on most people. Would we not worry about little things like, 'Does my partner want to kiss me?' if we had to expend most of our energy on trying to prevent alien invasions, government collaboration, and the occasional religious calamity? Or is the small consolation of love the most important thing of all, as Frank Black seems to believe?
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