I wasn't a devout follower of "Millennium" but I kept up with the storyline. I was mildly upset when it went off the air because I thought it always had potential. The series may have ended prematurely, but many of the loose ends were tied up in this fitting X-file crossover.
This was a fun, well-developed show that grows on you through multiple viewings. If you've got it on tape, I suggest rewatching it. There are aspects you don't catch the first time; aspects that give "Millennium" a texture that's been lacking in many recent X-files.
So here's what happens in this apocalyptic New Year's tale:
It all begins on December 21, 1999 at a funeral home in Tallahassee, Florida. Becky Crouch stands before the casket of her recently deceased husband Raymond, a well-regarded FBI agent. Friends offer their condolences and support as she wipes tears from her cheeks. The room empties save for one slender, gray-haired man. The mysterious funeral guest approaches Becky and says that he was impressed with her husband. Becky asks for this kind mystery man's name and he offers only his surname -- Johnson.
Becky doesn't pry and the so-called Mr. Johnson quietly leaves the room -- or does he? Moments later, Becky is escorted from the parlor by the owner of the funeral home. The owner flips the lights off and closes the door behind him, and that's when things start to get weird.
When the lights go down and the night gets long, Mr. Johnson gets funky. Awwww yeah. The gray-haired man peeks from behind a corner to make sure the coast is clear. Seeing that the room is empty (except for the dead guy), Johnson scuttles to the casket and lifts the heavy lid. Dead air hisses from within. With the lid propped open, Johnson looks at the decaying corpse of Raymond Crouch and begins to mumble these words: "I am the resurrection and the life. He that believeth in me though he were dead yet shall he live and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die."
This is weird stuff, but Johnson is just warming up. The freaky man continues to mumble about resurrection and life, but as he's doing it, he starts to disrobe. That's right, a middle-aged man is standing in a dark funeral parlor, stripping in front of a decomposing corpse. Shirtless, Johnson removes the corpse's jacket and shirt and then, in an act of pure wackiness, puts them on his own semi-naked frame. Now that he's clothed in a dead man's suit, Johnson produces a cellphone from his pocket. Flipping the phone on, Johnson places it in the corpse's stiff hand, taking care to position the thumb directly over the "send" button. With that done, Johnson closes the casket.
Eight days later, December 29, Johnson sits in his truck, staring at a cemetery as rain pours down. The cellphone on his dashboard begins to ring and Johnson methodically exits the truck, grabs a shovel from the back and walks into the wet cemetery.
Have the dead finally received decent cellular service or is Johnson dallying in zombie creation? We'll soon find out.
The next day, police cars and other official looking vehicles line the perimeter of the same cemetery. The sun comes out and in a seemingly unrelated event, Scully arrives. Marching past uniformed officers, Scully approaches the edge of an open grave. The camera angle cuts to the bottom of the grave, capturing Scully as she peers in. Suddenly, Mulder's oddly shaped head appears in the foreground. The agents exchange Christmas greetings (unlike last year, they didn't spend the holiday together) then promptly get down to business. Someone has dug up the grave of Raymond Crouch, but this isn't your typical grave robbery. Fingerprints from the outside of the casket and the headstone match those of Crouch, which is odd since he's dead and dead people don't typically leave fingerprints lying around. Scully believes the fingerprints are "rigged" evidence, but when Mulder spots bloody footprints tracking away from the gravesite, she's unable to include this new piece of evidence in her "rigged" theory.
At the same time, Johnson is driving in his truck along Route 121 in Georgia. Most people listen to the radio while driving, but Johnson prefers to mumble his "resurrection" mantra (this actor must have had an easy time memorizing his lines). As he says the phrase over and over, a growl emanates from the back of the truck and Johnson, looking in the rearview mirror, sees a decayed hand stretch upwards. Keep mumbling Mr. Johnson.
Later that day, Mulder and Scully meet with Skinner and a group of nameless FBI agents in Skinner's spacious office. The assembled agents are discussing Raymond Crouch's FBI file and each is sporting a Very Confused Look. Raymond Crouch had a perfect 21-year career in the FBI. He was 56, had no kids and was well liked by everyone. Indeed, everyone loved Raymond. So why would a guy with a solid life commit suicide? And why would his grave be torn up and his body removed? The agents are stumped, but Mulder, as usual, has a theory that will be proven correct in the end.
According to our friendly super agent, this is a case of necromancy. Being a diligent X-file chronicler, I looked up "necromancy" and I provide the definition for you here, free of charge:
nec-ro-man-cy , n. 1. a method of divination through invocation of the dead. 2. a plot device used by former "Millennium" writers to tie up loose ends.
Mulder supports his necromancy theory with a picture from the crime scene that shows a partial "magic circle" surrounding the open grave. This circle, which is made of goat's blood, summons the undead while protecting and focusing the power of the necromancer (convenient, eh?). Since this circle was present at the gravesite, Mulder believes this is a clear-cut necromancer investigation. The other agents shoot "spooky" looks at Mulder, but he blocks the glances with aplomb. He knows that he's always right when it comes to this kind of thing. Scully reaches into the clouds and pulls Mulder down to earth, asking why Raymond Crouch was the focus of a necromantic ritual.
Skinner finds this to be an excellent question. So excellent, he dismisses everyone from his office except Mulder and Scully. With the other agents gone, Skinner walks to his desk and grabs a super-top-secret file that contains information on the Millennium Group. Both Mulder and Scully know about the group, which, as Scully describes, was an organization of former FBI agents who offered consulting services to law enforcement. Anyone who watched "Millennium" knows the consulting wing of the organization was dissolved a long, long time ago. In its place arose a group of cult crackpots obsessed with the coming Armageddon. Mulder asks Skinner if Crouch was a Millennium member, but Skinner is unable to answer. The nefarious Fox Network dissolved the Millennium Group several months prior. As is customary, all documentation was destroyed and no trace of the Group can be found (maybe Fox erased the Anasazi tribe as well).
But who needs a paper trail when you've got a string of grave robberies? Skinner reveals that three other gravesites of FBI agents have been desecrated. Someone is up to something sinister, and it's likely the Millennium Group is involved. Skinner orders Mulder and Scully to investigate and Mulder immediately knows where to start.
I've often said that all good investigations begin at the Hartwell Psychiatric Hospital in Woodbridge, Virginia and this case is no exception. Mulder and Scully travel to the hospital to visit Frank Black, a former FBI agent and one-time consultant for the Millennium Group. Black has had a very bad year. His wife was murdered, his little girl was taken away and every two weeks or so he's forced to battle Satan. With the pressure of the world (and the coming Armageddon) pushing on his already-frail shoulders, his 30-day vacation in the psychiatric wing is certainly warranted.
Mulder and Scully find Black sitting in front of a television, watching the Notre Dame-Boston College football game. As you can imagine, he is not happy to see the dynamic duo. When they ask for information on the Millennium Group, his gravely voice travels a few octaves lower and he curtly tells them he's retired. Mulder notes that it's December 30, a mere two days from the most important date on the Millennium Group's calendar, but Black isn't phased. He tells Mulder that it's "1st and 18" and all he wants to do is watch the game in peace (that's gonna be tough with the heavy-handed "Millennium" music playing in the background). Looking at the screen, Mulder sees that it's 3rd and 10. How could any self-respecting football fan make such an egregious mistake? Black wishes the agents a Happy New Year and with that, the pair leaves the hospital.
At 11:21 p.m., a Maryland deputy traveling on a dark rural road pulls beside Johnson's disabled truck. The thick woods seem eerily familiar and if you listen carefully you can hear the cries of Heather and Mike as they desperately search for their lost friend Josh.* Disregarding the "Blair Witch" crew, the deputy approaches Johnson, who is in the final stages of changing a tire. Their conversation is cordial, but a whiff of death settles in the deputy's nostrils, and the happy talk comes to an abrupt end. Creeping around the truck, the deputy opens the back door and finds the very dead remains of Raymond Crouch. Unholstering his weapon, he rushes back and orders Johnson to raise his hands. Johnson is unable to respond to the deputy's command because he's too busy preparing for the impending zombie attack. Obviously, Johnson has studied the Zombie Attack section of the Boy Scout Handbook. The section reads:
"In the event of a zombie attack, create a circle of salt on the ground and stand in this circle. For further protection, mumble incoherently about resurrection and death. Zombies have been found to enjoy such mumbling. It's also recommended that you shoot the zombie in the head, but if you don't have a firearm, the salt circle and mumbling should suffice."*
While Johnson mumbles and stands in his protective circle, the zombie lunges for the deputy's neck. Another Boy Scout dropout bites the dust.
Early the next morning (December 31), Mulder and Scully, accompanied by a platoon of Maryland police officers, visit the same rural location. Mulder finds Johnson's salt circle. Seconds later, the corpse of the deputy is uncovered in a shallow grave. Strapping on the latex, Mulder and Scully poke at the deputy's dead face and see that the lips have been stapled shut and bite marks are strewn across the neck. Taking a note from "Silence of the Lambs," Mulder pulls a slip of paper from the deputy's mouth and reads: "I am he that liveth and was dead, and, behold, I am alive for evermore. Amen. And have the keys of hell and of death." A nearby deputy recognizes this as a passage from Revelation 1:18. One and 18, eh? Perhaps Frank Black isn't an incompetent football fan after all.
Mulder and Scully return to the Hartwell Psychiatric Hospital to appeal to Black a second time. Again, Black resists, but he offers an explanation for his reticence. The parents of his deceased wife are suing for custody of his young daughter, claiming he was obsessed with conspiracy and Armageddon. Black has checked into the hospital to save his sanity and his relationship with his little girl. Mulder pretends to be sympathetic, but he knows Black offered his 1st-and-18 bit as a clue. Mulder says that Black's help doesn't need to be public knowledge; he's not helping the FBI, he's just talking. Black relents and agrees to read the case file.
Black weaves a lovely tale of death and the apocalypse and all sorts of cheery, Care Bear things. He says that the four FBI agents removed from their graves were all members of the Millennium Group. They were official members, but together they represented a splinter faction. This radical offshoot believed the Endtime needed a catalyst; it needed the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse to rise from their graves and spur on the army of the dead. Being diligent, forward-thinking guys, the four men agreed to become the Horsemen.
Rising from the dead isn't an easy thing to do. It requires the help of someone who's handy with a shovel and fervent in his beliefs. That's where Johnson (AKA the Necromancer) comes in. Black provides a perfect profile of the Necromancer: He's a solitary man, 45-50 years old, who lives in a rural home, owns a truck or a van and finds comfort around death. Black also says that the Necromancer took care to properly prepare the body of the Maryland deputy because he believes that if the deputy is disturbed, he will rise from the dead. When the Necromancer learns that the deputy has been discovered, he'll take action to protect against a potential resurrection. This means the Necromancer will probably make an appearance at the deputy's current resting-place -- the Rice County Morgue.
Black's profile is a call to action for both Mulder and Scully, but for different reasons. Scully wants to rush to the Rice County Morgue to catch the Necromancer, but Mulder is more concerned about the Four Horsemen who, if left unchecked, will soon be spreading war, pestilence, famine and death. With divergent agendas, the agents split up, but before departing, Mulder asks Scully to make sure the staples are not removed from the deputy's mouth. With an Apocalypse looming, it's best to err on the side of caution.
Of course, as Mulder is asking Scully to protect the staples, a Rice County Medical examiner is performing an autopsy on the deputy, ripping the staples from his dead mouth. With the staples removed, the deputy's mouth opens and an ample pile of salt emerges from within. Did he forget to do the tequila shot? Has the Morton Girl turned to the dark side? As the ME scoops salt from the deputy's mouth, the phone rings and Scully leaves a message on the answering machine, requesting that the deputy's autopsy be delayed until she gets there. The ME hears the message from the examination room and walks to the reception area to play it back. As she fumbles with the machine, the dead deputy quietly sneaks up behind her. Spinning around, the ME is met by a formerly dead policeman with a strong urge to do bad things.
Shortly after this ugly incident, Scully arrives at the Rice County Morgue. Walking through the dark examination room, she senses that something is amiss and unholsters her gun. Stepping into the waiting area, she sees a trail of blood, which leads to the almost-dead Medical Examiner. Scully rushes to the ME's side, but as the ME gasps her last breath, the Necromancer appears around a nearby corner. Scully aims her weapon at the man, but the dead deputy suddenly diverts her attention. The deputy rushes toward Scully and she fires three rounds directly into his chest. Unfortunately, the deputy is a zombie and zombies are notorious for not responding to bullets to the torso. The creature continues toward Scully, knocking her gun away. The gun slides across the floor, settling at the Necromancer's feet. He calmly looks down as Scully struggles with the zombie.
Once again, Scully draws into her never-depleting bucket of extra lives and survives the zombie attack. Skinner arrives at the morgue and Scully attempts to explain what has happened. Failing to find an explanation, all she can say is that a man who was dead earlier in the day came back to life and attacked her. She owes her life to the Necromancer, who used her gun to fire a bullet into the zombie's head. This, fortunately for Scully, killed the bugger. Both Skinner and Scully want to tell Mulder about this exciting development, but Mulder isn't answering his cellphone.
And there's a reason for that. For the first time in series history, Mulder is in an area so rural, a cellular company doesnÕt service it. For most of the afternoon, he's been searching for the home of the Necromancer and when we join him, he has just arrived at the resurrector's residence. A chain link fence and a plethora of "No Trespassing" signs protect the NecromancerÕs "estate". Before scaling the fence (which you know he's going to do), Mulder rifles through the Necromancer's trash and finds a near-empty, econo-size bag of kosher salt. Mulder pockets a handful of the salt then pulls himself over the fence and into the Necromancer compound.
Mulder easily breaks into the Necromancer's home and noses around (pun intended). Using his keen detective skills, Mulder finds a reinforced door, which, of course, leads to a dark basement. Producing his ever-present flashlight, Mulder descends down the basement staircase and plants his foot on a sandy floor. As he scans the walls, hands reach from below and the Four Horsemen emerge from their underground hiding places. A zombie attacks, hurtling Mulder against the staircase. Realizing he's in a Very Bad Situation, Mulder rushes up the stairs, but standing in the doorway is the Necromancer. Before Mulder can reach salvation, the Necromancer slams and locks the door. Mulder beats on the opposite side, screaming for release. The screaming is replaced by gunfire as Mulder defends himself against the zombie onslaught.
Meanwhile, Scully returns to the psychiatric hospital to ask Frank Black if he's heard from Mulder (visiting the hospital must have been easier than calling it). She asks for his help in finding her partner but again, he refuses to get involved. Before leaving, Scully asks Black if the Millennium Group possesses the power to bring about the "Endtime," but Black stonewalls her with a wimpy "I don't know." Scully leaves in a huff. After she's gone, Black tells a nearby nurse that he'll be signing out of the hospital.
As Scully meets with Black, Mulder has temporarily pushed back the zombies in the Necromancer's basement by placing himself in a salt circle. Outside, the Necromancer is leaning against his house, sweating and looking concerned. Footsteps approach from the darkness and Frank Black walks toward the Necromancer. A look of recognition sweeps across the Necromancer's face and he joyfully thanks God that Black has arrived. He explains to Black that a "police officer" in the basement has killed one of the Horsemen by shooting him in the head, but now that Black has arrived, he can take the fallen zombie's place. The wrinkles in Black's face tighten as he walks into the Necromancer's lair.
Once inside, the Necromancer says Black has paid dearly already, and while there's no justice in this world, there's a whole bunch of justice in the next. As he says this, he removes a revolver from a nearby drawer. "The hour is near," the Necromancer says quietly. Again he launches into his resurrection mumbling routine, but Black will have none of that. Burying the loaded revolver into the Necromancer's chest, Black forces him into a nearby chair.
At the same time, Skinner calls Scully to tell her background checks on Frank Black and the four deceased FBI agents have revealed that each man received calls from the same Rice County number, the number of the Necromancer (1-800-GETUP). Scully asks for an address so she can rush to the scene and save the day.
She'd better hurry because a showdown on par with the Alamo is shaping up at the Necromancer's house. After taping the Necromancer to a chair, Black plods down the basement stairs, calling for Mulder. Mulder answers, warning Black that the three remaining zombies are hiding in the shadows. Black tosses two flares on the sandy floor, illuminating the room with foggy red light. Mulder, sitting in his protective salt circle, tells Black to aim for their heads. It's timely advice, for just as Black reaches the bottom stair, a zombie lunges and Black plugs his head with bullets. Two down, two to go.
Black finds Mulder and asks if he can get up, but as Mulder replies, another zombie lashes out. Black loses the revolver as he's smacked to the floor. The zombie and the former TV star flail about, giving Mulder time to retrieve the revolver and shoot a point-blank bullet in the zombie's noggin. It falls to the side, mortally wounded. With his comrades gone, the fourth zombie emerges from its hiding place and begins to sob uncontrollably. Heh, just kidding. He growls as only the undead can and moves toward Black and Mulder. Mulder takes aim but he's out of bullets. The zombie attacks, but shots from the stairwell thwart its final lunge. Scully, arriving in customary, nick-of-time-fashion, plants two rounds in the zombie's head. Those two bullets just saved the world. Not a bad day's work at all.
And now we come to the scene everyone will remember.
As the clock ticks toward midnight, Frank Black is sitting alone in a hospital hallway, watching Dick Clark's telecast from Times Square. That god-awful illuminated ball is poised to drop and Clark is in fine form as he recounts events from the soon-to-be-expired century (many of the events he witnessed first hand). Scully emerges from a nearby room to tell Black that the Necromancer (full name, Mike Johnson) has been placed on suicide watch. Scully also has a surprise for Black. On cue, Black's daughter, Jordan, walks through an adjacent door and flings herself into Black's arms. As the two exchange assorted pleasantries (and weep over the cancellation of their show), Mulder appears, his zombie-injured arm in a sling. Black and Jordan bid Mulder and Scully farewell. With the reunited Black family happily marching down the hall, Mulder and Scully's eyes dart to the television set to watch the last 10 seconds of the century disappear. As the ugly white ball ushers in 2000, Mulder looks at his partner. Scully turns and Mulder plants a kiss on her. She closes her eyes and the two lock lips as "Auld Lang Syne" plays on the television. Slowly pulling back, Mulder smirks, Scully smiles.
"The world didn't end," Mulder says with a gleam in his eye.
"No, it didn't," Scully replies.
The pair walks arm-in-arm to the hospital exit and the screen fades to black.
And that's it. Only the X-files could bring zombies to a New Year's party.
Editor's Note: Quotes or segments marked with one of these * contain fabricated elements. Try not to take them too seriously.
Note: This review originally appeared at Ontap.com. It's reprinted here for archival purposes.