As part of the process of doing my X-Files watchthrough, I’d been intending to also incorporate a look at Millennium, the darker and edgier show that Chris Carter had been commissioned by Fox to make and which went out alongside the fourth, fifth, and sixth seasons of The X-Files until its cancellation meant that it had to settle for a crossover episode in X-Files season 7 as its series finale. Having snagged Lance Henriksen to play the lead role, Chris Carter was primed to offer up a grimdark vision of Seattle through an aesthetic style heavily influenced by Se7en and morbidly apocalyptic themes.
Carter kicks things off with Pilot, and decides to confront us from the get-go with an almost comically tawdry strip club where the mysterious Frenchman (Paul Dillon) watches performers cavort in their underwear (but not showing any nipple because this isn’t that much of an adult show) to Rob Zombie and Nine Inch Nails tracks. As the Frenchman enjoys a private show, he hallucinates showers of blood and walls of fire around the performer and mumbles apocalyptic poetry.
What this has to do with, well, anything is not immediately apparent; after the opening titles we’re introduced to a much more sunny, domestic scene, as Frank Black (Lance Henriksen), his wife Catherine (Megan Gallagher), and their adorable little daughter Jordan (Brittany Tiplady) settle in to their brand new home in Seattle, with Frank having stepped down from his job at the FBI. Before he was at the FBI, though, Frank was a local cop in Seattle, and when he sees a news story about a brutal and apparently sexually-motivated murder – that of the stripper we see giving the private dance at the start – he feels an urgent need to stop in with his old colleagues at the homicide division, now led by Frank’s buddy Bob Bletcher (Bill Smitrovich)
After Frank discusses the case with them – and exhibits an uncanny, possibly-paranormal ability to visualise the circumstances of a crime from the killer’s perspective (in a sort of rudimentary, much less artistically interesting version of Will Graham’s visualisations in the Hannibal TV series), Frank mentions his new job: he’s taken up a post at the Millennium Group, a private investigation firm of retired law enforcement personnel, and this sort of case happens to be their forte.
As the slayings continue, Peter Watts (Terry O’Quinn), who’s been assigned by the Millennium Group to act as a sort of mentor to Frank as he finds his footing within the organisation, takes his own look at the case and concurs with Frank’s assessment of the situation – encouraging Frank to continue and promising he’ll have the Group’s full backing on this case. But how does Frank know what he knows, and if the Group is merely a perfectly ordinary private investigation outfit – albeit one with a high calibre of employee – why do they seem to show up like furtive little visitors in the night, rather than having a conventional office?