Originally aired: December 19th, 1997
Runtime: 60 minutes
Director: Dwight H. Little
Writers: Erin Maher, Kay Reindl
Cast: Lance Henriksen, Megan Gallagher, Terry O’Quinn, Brittany Tiplady
For many of us Christmas is a time for celebration. We celebrate the birth of our Lord, Jesus Christ, and the teachings he brought to the world. We celebrate the gift he gave us; forgiveness for our sins. We celebrate the time we have with our loved ones and we exchange presents to show that love and appreciation of each other. For many of us, this is what Christmas means, but in the world of Chris Carter’s Millennium, things are usually a little bit darker and this 1997 festive episode is no exception as Frank Black (Lance Henriksen) tends to some ghosts from his past.
Set in Seattle, Washington, the show takes place in the years leading up to 2000 and tells of a secret society and criminal investigative consulting firm called the Millennium Group who may or may not be trying to actively bring about the End of Times. Some members of the group are not fully aware of their true agenda; among them is Frank Black, a former FBI agent who has the ability to see through the eyes of serial killers and murderers.
Having suffered a breakdown which forced him to leave the FBI, he now works in the capacity of a consultant for the group but his involvement with them creates a strain on his personal life, especially with his wife, Catherine (Megan Gallagher) and his daughter, Jordan (Brittany Tiplady), who seems to have inherited his insights and sensitivities.
At this point, Frank and Catherine are separated. It’s Christmas Eve and the episode opens with a black and white prologue and Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker Suite. Frank is a little boy and sits with his mother drawing a picture of an angel. Back in present time, he arrives home with a bag full of presents and decorations, and listens to the messages on his answering machine. There’s one from Jordan who invites him to her Christmas pageant and then there’s one from his father whom he’s been estranged from for a considerable amount of time.
Frank’s usually such a dark character that when we see him tending to his Christmas tree or arguing with staff at a toy store who are dressed in elves outfits, there’s a comedic element to it. Yet there’s still something very troubling in Midnight of the Century. Catherine shows Frank a picture Jordan has drawn of an angel and says that she drew it with her grandmother. Frank doesn’t seem worried, but then Catherine says “Not my mother, Frank. Yours.” Christmas is usually a difficult time of year for Frank, it’s when his mother passed away when he was a little boy and he now learns his daughter is communicating with his mother from beyond.
Worried about what the child’s gifts might lead her to experience later on in life and what his own visions might mean, he discusses it with Millennium Group member Lara (Kristen Cloke) who has the ability to see angels.
While Frank tries to connect these visions to what Jordan’s experiencing, he also realises it’s time to visit his father, Henry (Darren McGavin). Millennium, for the three seasons it ran for, was always much darker than The X-Files. For starters, its characters were troubled, conflicted and much more vulnerable. Evil seemed to be everywhere, sometimes it was hard to tell in which corner, but when it presented itself, it left an impression that didn’t fade easily with a night’s sleep. Midnight Of The Century doesn’t so much invite us to a story with evil at its core but instead places upon us the importance of making peace and being able to recognise signs before us.
There’s a sense of quiet urgency in its message too, especially when senior member of the group, Peter Watts (Terry O’Quinn), bestows this piece of dialogue:
This is really what this beautiful and very tragic Christmas episode comes down to. Time. We never know how much of it there is.
The founder of Static Mass Emporium and one of its Editors in Chief is a composer and music producer with a philosophy degree. Static Mass is where he lives his passion for film and writing about it. A fan of film classics, documentaries and World Cinema, Patrick prefers films with an impeccable way of storytelling that reflect on the human condition.
You can find his music on Soundcloud .