Saturday, February 09, 2008

1013: Millennium and the Song of Salome

Still from "Skull and Bones"

Now that Ten Thirteen Productions is back up and running, making its grand re-entrance on the day before one of the more overtly Masonic Academy Awards ceremonies in recent history, I wanted to finish some long-brewing posts on the ostensible use of Masonic and Templar themes in Ten Thirteen programs. 

Though The X-Files was far better known, the other major Ten Thirteen show, Millennium, was just as subversive and just as jam-packed with conspiracy theories, sacred symbolism and apocalyptic imagery. 

Probably more so since it wasn't tied to the paranormal/UFO theme. In its second and third seasons especially, Millennium went off into the absolute deep end of the conspiracy research underground and touched upon nearly every theme then circulating on USENET at one point or another.

(Warning: This post contains spoilers)

The show took its title from the fictional Millennium Group, which began as a consulting group made up of ex-FBI agents and was based on the real-life Academy Group. Interestingly enough, the Academy Group uses a red dragon in its logo, associated with the 13th Chapter of Revelations, William Blake and the Hannibal Lecter stories.

 As the show evolved, the conceit became that supernatural beings were manifesting themselves in the physical plane, ushering in the oncoming Apocalypse. In response, the Millennium Group went from being a consulting agency to a Masonic secret society made up of two warring factions (remember that the FBI was created by 33rd degree Freemason J. Edgar Hoover). 

The Owls believed that Apocalypse was coming but not imminent and the more militant Roosters believed it was at hand. The lead character in Millennium was Frank Black, played by Lance Henriksen.

 His handler within the Millennium Group was Peter Watts, played by "Mr. Ten-Thirteen" Terry O' Quinn, so named because he played a major role in every Ten Thirteen production aside from The Lone Gunmen.

Peter Watts played a crucial role in the explicit use of Masonic/Templar Baptist imagery in Millennium, when he was initiated into the inner circle of the Group in a riverside ceremony. His loyalties were never made clear and he was later revealed to be at odds with the more extremist faction of the Group, who became dominant in the third season of the show.

But Baptist iconography was hard-wired into the show from its very beginning. The search for the sexually-conflicted serial killer "the Frenchman" led to this iconic image of the police searching for the Frenchman's maimed and tortured victims in a river basin. One can't help but be reminded of the Templars' nemesis, the French king Philip The Fair.

Here, police lieutenant Bob Bletcher undergoes his own icy baptism, as he enters the apocalyptic worldview of Frank Black...

...which soon bears fruit when he discovered the severed head of one of the Frenchman's victims. Again, Templar parallels are tantalizing- the religious fanatic Frenchman murders women because he is unable to desire them and gay men because he feels guilt for his attraction to them. 

Remember that one of the charges brought against the Templars was sodomy. This severed head reminds us both of the Baptist and the legendary Baphomet.

That iconic image of flashlights searching in the dark (which is kind of phallic, come to think of it) was revisited in the episode "Darwin's Eye," which was the 17th episode of the 3rd season

Here guards are searching for an escaped mental patient whose father was a military intelligence spook.

The episode is filled with enigmatic voiceovers and symbolism. The episode's villain Cassie Doyle is obsessed with the image of crossed palm trees. Remember that the palm is a symbol of Christ, and some researchers believe that "Salome the Disciple" was the same Salome who demanded the Baptist's head from her stepfather Herod.

If you watch the show with the sound off the parade of sacred symbolism is striking, even more so since little of it is ever explained. Here the eye of a murdered girl is folded into an origami flower.

Here the severed head of a rapist falls from the ceiling in a men's room as a faucet drips.

Here Cassie Doyle stands by a river with a cop named Joe whom she kidnaps and then seduces. Part of her seduction is regaling her prisoner with conspiracy theories about men in suits we are meant to believe are the Rooster faction of the Millennium Group.

Here we see the never-explained decapitated bishop from a chess set, which came in the same box as the origami. The box is sent to Emma Hollis by her father, who is suffering from dementia. At the end of the episode he is seen making dozens of photocopies of a photo of a nuclear test. In it palm trees are being incincerated.

Here Joe cryptically tells Cassie that a dim-witted hotel clerk thinks she is "Madonna. "Again, in light of the Salome themes at work here this reference is maddeningly enigmatic. In this context, Madonna could mean the mother of Jesus or the Kabbalah-obsessed singer, who in a 2002 portrait by Scottish painter was depicted as Salome, lying naked in a bed next to the severed head of the Baptist

Nice synchromystic touch, there.

Which of course brings us to the climax of "Darwin's Eye," where Cassie speaks to the severed head of her captive/lover, whom she kills after they have sex. Cassie is then recaptured and re-institutionalized. 

 One thing I've noticed with what I call ritual drama in general and Baptist-themed drama in particular is the reversal theme- the undoing of an unhappy historical outcome. Joseph was the name of Jesus' stepfather and his wealthy patron Joseph of Arimathea. 

 For all I know, this story was never have been intended to be about the Baptist, but having a "Joe" suffer the fate of the Baptist might be desirable to a tradition that might be disposed to believe that the patrons of the Jesus Movement had John killed to remove the threat he posed to their cause.