If you've never watched the TV series Millennium, now might be a good time to start. Unlike a lot of the other shows of the time, it not only hasn't aged, it's starting to look very, very relevant today.
I'd especially recommend the third and final season of the series, in which the writers took some very, very deep dives into the darkest corners of the conspiracy samizdat underground.
And now, storylines that a few years ago might have seen as Nineties-centric seem very current again. Unfortunately.
The episodes isn't currently on any of the streaming services, but aren't too hard to find on some of the grayer corners of the Internet. I discussed the Millennium Season Three opening two-parter "The Innocents"/"Exegesis" with Kurt North on The Time is Now podcast. I think you'll appreciate these chats whether or not you've seen the episodes. But I really think you should. Especially now, with what we're all facing in the immediate future.
Here's a good primer for neophytes: this is an excerpt from a series I did on Millennium ten years back, focusing on the third series and the two episodes in particular.
In Season 3, Millennium was passed to new showrunners Michael Duggan and Chip Johannessen, with major input from co-execs Ken Horton and Jon-Peter Kousakis (Horton would later replace Duggan in the high echelon). Carter consulted on the reboot, pitched in on some early rewriting and co-wrote three episodes with Spotnitz, but his energies were clearly focused on The X-Files.
With his wife Catherine dead, Frank Black was brought to Washington to consult for the FBI and was given a partner (Emma Hollis, played by Klea Scott), a liaison (Barry Baldwin, played by Peter Outerbridge) and a new supervisor, (AD Andy McClaren, played by longtime Ten Thirteen company player Stephen Miller, who also appears in the second X-Files film). Frank’s daughter Jordan (Brittany Tiplady) was kept onboard, and Catherine’s parents were introduced to act as her babysitters when Frank was called away.
The third season of Millennium would be just as controversial as the first two, with fans as divided over the show's direction as ever before. But where Season One drew upon post-modern psychological horror for its mythology and Season Two drew upon Masonic legends and Illuminati lore, Season Three would dig deep into the parapolitical underground for its conspiracy arc, putting the Group at the center of a whole host of real-life scandals and crimes ripped from the hyperbolic headlines of Covert Action Quarterly and Conspiracy Digest, as well as topics discussed on late night radio programs centered on conspiracy and parapolitics such as Expert Witness and For the Record.
At the same time some of its standalones offered up an elegiac kind of magical realism (‘Omerta’, ‘Borrowed Time’) and several new entries were made in the Legion mytharc (primarily Carter and Spotnitz’s ‘Antipas’ and ‘Seven and One’, but also the Lucy-in-disguise thriller ‘Saturn Dreaming of Mercury’), Season Three's primary mytharc explored topics that the mainstream news media dared not touch on anything but a superficial basis.
The X-Files might have gotten all the attention for conspiracy mongering, but In many ways, Season Three of Millennium was drawing upon the 70s conspiracy movies that inspired Chris Carter in the first place, but did so in the context of a show already filled with religious and apocalyptic ferment. The resulting mix would be combustible....
Throughout the season, Millennium would delve into government drug dealing, mind control and bio-warfare experimentation, remote viewing, the 'disappearing' of dissenters, religious radicalism, elite survivalism and much more in a startlingly sober, subtle and mature fashion. Maybe too sober and subtle for the Friday night at 9 crowd, but perhaps all the more remarkable for trying.
First off, the viral apocalypse had to be dealt with. Assuming the series had been canceled, the Wongs deliberately broke the Ten Thirteen mandate of “it’s only as scary as it’s real” plausibility-- meaning nothing could happen on a large scale that wouldn’t make the headlines in the real world. So a lot of fans were understandably infuriated when Season Three opener ‘The Innocents’ (and its sequel ‘Exegesis’) whisked it all under the carpet as an isolated outbreak in the Northwest.
The ”Grillflame” remote viewing program at the “Stanton Research Institute” was based on a real-life program of the same name that was a very hot topic indeed at the time in the conspiracy underground (we looked at it here a few years back). From the article “CIA-Initiated Remote Viewing At Stanford Research Institute” by H. E. Puthoff, Ph.D., we read the following:
In July 1995 the CIA declassified, and approved for release, documents revealing its sponsorship in the 1970s of a program at Stanford Research Institute in Menlo Park, CA, to determine whether such phenomena as remote viewing ‘might have any utility for intelligence collection.’ Thus began disclosure to the public of a two-decade-plus involvement of the intelligence community in the investigation of so-called parapsychological or psi phenomena.
The words ‘threat assessment’ were often used to describe the program's purpose...much of the remote-viewing activity was carried out under conditions where ground-truth reality was a priori known or could be determined, such as the description of U.S. facilities and technological developments, the timing of rocket test firings and underground nuclear tests, and the location of individuals and mobile units.
Non-locality is a description of the space-time we live in which under certain conditions twin particles and twin people have much more connectivity that you would think they have. The Buddhists say the separation is an illusion. There are many bodies and one consciousness would be the metaphysical interpretation. In quantum mechanics we say the emission of two photons or two elementary particles from a common source are entangled even though they travel away from one other at the speed of light. If you grab one of them, the other one shows the effect of that.
Einstein’s special relativity said that things traveling away from each other at the speed of light are disconnected and there’s no way to communicate between them so the idea that non-local connections permit such a connection between the elementary particles contradicts special relativity. General relatively pertains to gravity and has nothing to do with this. Special relativity pertains to the connection between things traveling at the speed of light and the nature of space-time. This has now been well demonstrated. David Baum, one of the pioneers in modern quantum mechanics, called this quantum interconnectedness. Henry Stapp, who is chair of the physics department at UC-Berkley, said that non-locality may be the most important discovery in all of science because it shows that we misperceive the world we live in.
Targ also believes that RV is a skill that anyone could learn, under the proper conditions:
The teaching of remote viewing is principally giving people permission to do it. Society says it’s nonsense, there is no such thing. What the remote viewing teacher has to do is use his conviction to convince a person to suspend their disbelief, quiet their mind, and describe their mental impressions of whatever the remote viewing teacher is offering as a hidden target. People quickly learn to separate out their mental noise -- the memory, imagination and analysis -- from the information that’s surprising and unfamiliar looking in order to do remote viewing.
Given that one of the main tasks remote viewers were given was to locate missile sites, it’s interesting to note that ‘Exegesis’ ends with a shootout in an abandoned missile silo in Virginia. There, the target of the group-- an elderly woman who was the most prodigious of the fictional Grillflame remote viewers-- reveals the Group want to kill her because she has seen that they want to bring about the Apocalypse. This would be a thruline with the retooled mytharc.
Remote viewing had a strange connection to apocalypticism in the Ten Thirteen Universe. In The X-Files episode ‘The Sixth Extinction’, Pentagon operative Michael Kritschgau is called in as exposure to an alien virus is causing Mulder to lapse into a psychotic state when triggered by radiation embedded in an alien artifact. Kritschgau was enlisted by Skinner to help, which he does by injecting Mulder with an anti-seizure drug he claims was used to medicate CIA remote viewers.
All of this takes place while Mulder's blood was being used to create a vaccine against a virus intended to kill off most of humankind, yet another sub rosa connection between the mythologies of The X-Files and Millennium. In many ways, the ‘Sixth Extinction’ three-parter can be twinned with ‘The Innocents’/’Exegesis’, in which a family of remote viewers are the only thing standing in the way of the radicalized Millennium Group.
Obviously, the issues raised in the Millennium two-parter seemed to get under Chris Carter’s skin.
And because OF COURSE IT DOES, this all rides on my other great hobby-horse...
BATTLE OF THE BLUE-EYED SUPER PSYCHICS
And in Millennium's third-season (fall 1998) opener "The Innocents," you hear that trademark bass drumbeat lifted straight from the intro to the Cocteau Twins' "When Mama Was Moth" and focus on a big blue eye. The big blue eye belongs to a woman who was the star psychic of the CIA's remote viewing program.
She has a number of daughters, some of whom have piercing blue eyes (contacts, unfortunately).
The Millennium Group, reinvented in the third season as the prime movers behind a whole host of nefarious activities Carter and his writers were pulling straight off the alt.conspiracy newsgroup or from underground books like Secret Societies and Psychological Warfare, want the woman and her daughters dead because they can see that the group is planning a nuclear war to bring about the Apocalypse.
Another daughter survives a bomb that levels her house but loses her daughter.
The blue-eyed psychic who downs the jetliner is called "Lillie Thom."
Lillie has the obvious connection to Lily, an early Cocteau Twins symbol (first seen on the Lullabies sleeve), but is in fact yet another diminutive of "Elizabeth."
Do you see why I am insane yet?
"The Sixth Extinction" also features actor John Finn...
...currently co-starring with Samantha Morton on The Walking Dead.
"The Sixth Extinction" storyline was revisited in the ninth season for the two-parter "Provenance/Providence."
Guest-starring Neal McDonough, who also co-starred in...