Sadly, Chris Carter’s second born television baby Millennium didn’t last until the Millennium it was named after. In what I can only assume was a result of steadily dropping ratings, Millennium was canceled in the Spring of 1999, just in time to prevent hero Frank Black from stopping the coming apocalypse.
Back in the day, and up until the recent present, I was not a Millennium watcher. (I’m sorry, Chris.) It was one of those shows I intended to tune into eventually, but I never got around to it and then boom, it was gone. I told myself that this time, before I watched this episode I would complete the series so as to have a better sense of what’s really going on here. Well, I haven’t completed it yet, though I’m currently watching the final season, but my eyes have been opened to two things about The X-Files’ first crossover episode:
- Frank Black is pretty cool.
- You really don’t need to have seen five minutes of Millennium to get it.
I’m sure Carter must’ve been hard-pressed to both conclude Millennium in a way that stayed true to what that show was about and would please its loyal, disappointed fans and yet keep The X-Files’ aesthetic, focusing on giving an audience mostly comprised of people looking for The X-Files and not Millennium what they wanted.
It would be nearly impossible to tie up three years’ worth of Millennium in one hour of television solely dedicated to that purpose, let alone if that hour were shared with another series that had its own long history of story, character and aesthetic. That’s why I think it’s wise that Chris Carter didn’t even attempt it.
Oh, sure. He gives us an update on what’s happening in Frank Black’s life, where he’s at personally and professionally, etc. We learn a little bit more of what’s happened to the Millennium Group in the series’ absence. But what we really get in “Millennium” is an emotional coda rather than a resolution. It doesn’t conclude the plot of Millennium, but I think it allows fans to say goodbye knowing that Frank Black is going to be okay.
The only thing I have trouble with is that it’s hard to take the images that we’re seeing, independently compelling though they are, and mentally tie them to a worldwide apocalypse. Zombies in the basement are such a small-scale problem when compared to Armageddon.
Also, this episode is a perfect example of how Season 7 is, understandably, more self-conscious than any season before it. The show has been around for a long time at this point and while ratings may be falling, it’s still aware of its own status as a cultural phenomenon. When Frank, Mulder, and Scully stand together as a threesome perfectly framed by the camera, it’s with an awareness that two fictional worlds with a cult-like following are colliding. And when Mulder punctuates he and Scully’s hard earned first kiss with a, “The world didn’t end,” it’s with the knowledge that the audience at home is saying the same thing.
Alright. Now that we’ve gotten all that out of the way, let’s move on to what we’re all really here for, shall we? After seven long, very long, years of unresolved frustration… more so on the part of fans than Mulder and Scully themselves… The Kiss.
Oh, how do I even start? It was chaste but not dead, sweet but not sugary, self-conscious but still self-deprecating, too friendly to be lustful but too lingering to be friendly, open without spilling secrets, meaningful without digging too deep, loaded yet casual, joyful yet not manic. In short, it was so much all that it needed to be that Chris Carter is lucky I didn’t hunt down his place of residence and kiss him myself.
I won’t confess how many times I’ve watched this scene and out myself as a closet sentimentalist. Suffice it to say that Mulder and Scully bring out the inner girl buried somewhere underneath layers of Teenage Ninja Turtles and Mortal Kombat, and this is coming from the child who never cried at Bambi.
I just can’t with these two. The flailing. The flailing!
I said in the review for “The Sixth Extinction II: Amor Fati” (7×4) that Mulder and Scully essentially said their vows at the end of the episode, that the only formal barrier left between them was the physical one and it was only a matter of time before that one dropped as well. If you weren’t sure then that they had an “understanding,” please pay close attention to the way this kiss goes down.
Mulder doesn’t look at Scully as if he’s just realizing how he feels about her, nor does he kiss her as if he’s declaring his feelings. I love (love) the way he looks at her and mischievously contemplates the kiss as if to say, “Why not?” Why not indeed, Mulder? Now is as good a time as any. What’s holding you back any longer? The conspiracy is dead. Diana is dead. Y2K never lived. Go on and kiss the girl.
And please notice that on Scully’s part, after Mulder kisses her, her face doesn’t say, “Mulder! Does this mean you have feelings for me? I never knew!” No, no, no, no, no. Her face says, “That was nice. What brought that on?” There’s only mild surprise at Mulder’s spontaneity. There’s no shock, no emotional breakthrough. They already know.
What I love about the fact that it’s taken so long for Mulder and Scully to get their romantic act together is that there’s almost no conscious choice involved. By the time it happens, it has already happened. It passed the point of possibility and crossed the Rubicon into inevitability some time ago while neither of them was paying attention. They don’t need a declaration, or fanfare, or even a hallway the walls of which must be painted with some sort of aphrodisiac it causes so much romantic yearning. At this point, they just are, and I can’t express in words how much I love that. You’d just have to count the flails.
I’ve tried to ask myself, “What would I think of this episode if there were no kiss in it?” Let me tell you, that question is harder to answer than it sounds. “Millennium” feels right, it looks right, it tastes right. And I’m especially glad that zombies finally took their rightful place in The X-Files’ repertoire. But I also must confess that while I’ve seen this episode multiple times over the years, I still failed to remember the general plot apart from the fact that it involved people coming back from the dead. Even without a kiss tacked onto the end it’s a solid episode, but in what may turn out to be my official lamentation for Season 7, it’s lost that lovin’ feelin’. Take the kiss away and I have no real reason to set my trigger finger to “Rewind.” “Hungry” (7×1) is good without being great and I’m afraid “Millennium” hasn’t broken that pattern.
But that’s okay. I don’t watch it for the actual episode anyway.
It’s interesting to note, this is the first of four episodes this season that deals with overtly religious themes. That’s right, I said “four.” On average there’s about one per season, if that, and while I doubt there was any conscious decision in the writers’ room to work things out this way, that fact struck me as I was watching this time.
I can’t help but think Chris Carter must’ve really enjoyed teaming up his three heroes, especially Mulder and Frank Black who, as Scully points out, share some similarities in character. It never happened, but I wouldn’t have been surprised if Frank Black had made another guest appearance in later years. Despite the differences in tone and theme between The X-Files and Millennium, he was a good fit on the show.
Frank Black still has his famous red Jeep. Three cheers for continuity.
I heard you throw in that Millennium music, Mark Snow!
Confession time – I make no secret about my love for this kiss, but a part of me still twinges in disappointment every time. Why? Well, it has nothing to do with unfulfilled expectations. No, it’s that there’s a moment after the kiss where Scully looks just a little too bored and I find myself wondering if Chris Carter wasn’t trying to drive home the point that the Mulder and Scully thing was never a big deal after all. And that makes me a little sad because it is a big deal. In the realm of television history and in the world of teenage girlhood it is a very big deal, my dears.
Am I the only one who finds John 11:25 being repeated over and over again incredibly relaxing?
Scully: Mulder, you been spreading rumors?
Mulder: Why? You hear any good ones lately?
Scully: The year 2000 is just their artificial deadline and, besides, 2001 is actually the start of the new millennium.
Mulder: Nobody likes a math geek, Scully.
Mulder: The world didn’t end.
Scully: No, it didn’t.
Mulder: Happy New Year, Scully.
Scully: Happy New Year, Mulder.
Mike Johnson: I am the resurrection and the life. He that believeth in Me, though he were dead…
Frank Black: …yet shall he live. Whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die.