February 24, 2018

The X-Files 7.4, Millennium: Isn’t It Necromantic?

Posted in TV tagged at 1:16 pm by Jenn

Just another normal workday for these platonic co-workers

Summary: A widow is receiving guests at a funeral visitation on December 21st, 1999, in Tallahassee. A man who introduces himself as Johnson chats with the widow, saying he worked with her husband. The funeral director reminds the widow that her husband, Raymond, is at peace now. She laments that he didn’t leave a note.

After the funeral director closes up for the night, Johnson sneaks back in and opens the casket. He recites Revelation 1:18, calling himself the resurrection and the life while he swaps clothes with Raymond. He puts a phone in the casket and closes it back up. Later, Johnson parks by a cemetery and waits until his own phone rings. When it does, he picks up a shovel and gets out of his car.

On December 30th, Scully comes to the cemetery and talks to the funeral director, who insists that the body he buried was dead, despite any rumors that might be circulating. Scully traces those rumors to Mulder, who’s already at the cemetery, checking out the empty grave. He wishes her a belated Merry Christmas before telling her they have a weird case of grave robbery: Instead of someone on the outside breaking in, someone on the inside was trying to get out.

Mulder insists he didn’t spread any rumors. He tells Scully that there are fingerprints and handprints on the coffin and headstone that match Raymond’s. The person who dug up the grave didn’t leave anything behind that could identify him. Scully thinks the grave robber rigged things to make it look like Raymond got out on his own. Mulder sees what looks like blood on the grass. Meanwhile, Johnson continues reciting Scripture as he transports Raymond to Georgia.

The agents go back to D.C. and read up on Raymond, a retired FBI agent who shot himself earlier in the month. There’s no motive for a grave robbery, and Raymond didn’t appear to have any enemies. Mulder declares that this is a case of necromancy. Basically, Raymond has been brought back from the dead because he has some sort of knowledge to impart. The blood on the grass was used to resurrect him. The necromancer may have swapped clothes with Raymond to create a bond between them.

Scully agrees that there are ritualistic elements at play here, but there’s no explanation for why Raymond is involved. Skinner shows the agents a picture of an ouroboros and asks if the circle of blood they saw in the grass looked like it. Mulder says it’s possible. Skinner thinks it could be tied to the Millennium Group, former FBI agents who served as consultants to law enforcement but were later cut off because they were rumored to have a shady agenda. They use the ouroboros as their symbol.

Mulder wonders if they’re dealing with cult that thinks the world is ending. Skinner can’t find out, though, since the Millennium Group has dissolved and can’t be contacted. There have been three other grave desecrations in the past few months. All three bodies belonged to FBI agents who killed themselves. Skinner wants Mulder and Scully to investigate, but they’ll have to be careful – the Millennium Group isn’t respected by the bureau, so they can’t raise any red flags.

Mulder decides that they need to start at Hartwell Psychiatric Hospital in Woodbridge, Virginia. There’s a profiler there who checked himself in for a month-long observation. That profiler is Frank Black, and he doesn’t appreciate Mulder and Scully interrupting the football game he’s watching. He admit that he recognizes the four dead agents, which makes sense, since Scully knows they were all part of the Millennium Group. But Black won’t offer any further assistance. He wants to put his life back together, not get involved in another case.

Knowing that January 1st, 2000, is fast approaching, and knowing that that date is significant to the group, Mulder tries to convince Black that they need his help to stop whatever’s happening. Black just wants to watch football, saying it’s 1st and 18 (which Mulder tells him is wrong). The agents leave, disappointed.

A sheriff’s deputy finds Johnson pulled over by the side of the road, seemingly fixing a flat tire. The deputy notices a horrible smell, which Johnson says must be coming from a dead deer. The deputy’s smart enough to know that something’s happening, so he checks out the back of Johnson’s truck. Johnson starts up with the Scripture again, then sprinkles something on the ground. He stands in protective circle while Zombie Raymond attacks the deputy.

It’s the morning of New Year’s Eve now, and Mulder and Scully are called to the scene of the attack. Mulder knows that the circle of salt Johnson used was intended for “heavy magic.” Scully notes that their necromancer previously used circles of blood. Mulder thinks this circle was for protection. A search teach finds the deputy buried nearby, with bite marks on his neck and more salt nearby. Inside his mouth is a piece of paper with Johnson’s favorite Scripture on it, plus something about holding the keys of death.

A cop who paid attention in Sunday School IDs the Scripture as Revelation 1:18, which Mulder connects to Black’s comment about the football game being at 1st and 18. (Except Mulder says Revelations instead of Revelation, because the writers didn’t pay attention in Sunday School.) Mulder and Scully return to Hartwell, but Black still doesn’t want to help. Scully guesses that Black is worried about losing custody of his daughter. Because of his obsession with conspiracies and the end of the world, he can’t care for his daughter, Jordan. Black admits that he let himself get too involved, and he’s willing to do anything to be okay again.

Mulder tries to convince Black that they can just be three people having a conversation, not working a case. Black gives in and tells the agents that the four dead agents believed that people need to be active in bringing about the end times. They killed themselves specifically to be resurrected and become the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. They believed that Armageddon must begin at the turn of the millennium.

Black doesn’t think the necromancer was part of the Millennium Group, but he must hold their beliefs. He must think he’s doing God’s work. He profiles the man, guessing that he lives somewhere with high fences and no-trespassing signs. He probably works at a funeral parlor. He sealed the deputy’s eyes and mouth so he won’t be able to rise from the dead. When the necromancer learns that the deputy’s body has been found, he’ll want to take action. They’ll be able to find him that way.

As the agents leave, Scully’s typically skeptical about the whole situation – after all, January 1st, 2001 is the real start of the new millennium – but she thinks Black’s profile of the necromancer is solid. She heads to the morgue, in hopes that that’s where he’ll turn up, while Mulder goes searching for the necromancer’s possible home. He tells Scully not to let anyone unstaple the deputy’s mouth.

It’s too late, as the coroner is already unsealing the man’s mouth at the morgue. It’s full of salt. As the coroner removes it, she misses a call from Scully. She leaves the room to check the message Scully left telling her not to do anything further with the deputy’s mouth. Unfortunately, the deputy has already risen from the dead to attack the coroner. When Scully arrives, the coroner is dying, the deputy is a zombie, and Johnson is hanging around. Scully shoots the deputy but doesn’t even slow him down. He knocks her gun out of her hands, and it lands at Johnson’s feet.

Sometime later, Skinner arrives at the morgue, thinking Scully has been killed. Instead, the deputy is dead (again) and Scully is fine other than some marks on her neck. Johnson – who Scully guesses is the necromancer – shot the deputy in the head, then took off. She can’t explain what happened, but it’s exactly what Mulder predicted. Unfortunately, she and Skinner haven’t been able to reach him to let him know.

This is because there’s no cell service on Johnson’s property, where Mulder has just arrived. He peeks through Johnson’s trash and finds empty bags of salt. As he climbs over a tall fence, Johnson approaches, singing a hymn to himself. Mulder looks around Johnson’s house for a while, finding zombies in the basement. Johnson arrives in time to lock them all in together. He winces as Mulder starts shooting.

Scully goes back to Hartwell to tell Black that they need his help finding Mulder. Black asks her to continue to respect his reasons for not getting involved in the case. But now Scully says she doesn’t understand his reasons. She knows people are really coming back from the dead, so does Black believe that the Millennium Group can actually bring about Armageddon? Black says he’s spent years trying to figure all this out, but it doesn’t mean he himself believes. Scully asks, if it’s all true, which would win: good or evil? Black doesn’t answer. But as Scully leaves, Frank tells a nurse that he’s checking himself out.

Waiting outside while Mulder faces off with the zombies, Johnson welcomes Black, who he expected to show up. Mulder killed one of the zombies, but Black can take his place, and they’ll still have Four Horsemen. Johnson’s pleased, as he’d always hoped that Black would be the fourth. He’s glad Black changed his mind. Black tells him that he sent Mulder over to put a stop to Johnson’s plans. Johnson reminds Black that he’s lost everything, so why not kill himself and usher in a new life?

Midnight’s approaching, and Black picks up a gun and says he’s ready to become a Horseman. But as Johnson recites Revelation 1:18, Black turns the gun on Johnson. Meanwhile, Skinner calls Scully to tell her that Black took a call at Hartwell from a location in Rice County. The four dead agents also got calls from the same location. Scully knows that’s where she’ll find the necromancer. Black ties Johnson up, then heads to the basement to find Mulder. The remaining zombies are hiding, but Black starts to draw them out and rekill them. Scully arrives in time to finish off the last one.

The agents send Johnson to a psychiatric hospital, at Black’s insistence. Mulder gets his minor injuries fixed up and says goodbye to Black, who leaves with Jordan. Mulder and Scully are together to watch the ball drop at midnight and ring in 2000 together. Despite denying in the past that he gazes at Scully, Mulder totally does exactly that, then kisses her. “The world didn’t end,” he notes. In fact, I’d say a new world is starting for the two of them.

Thoughts: This episode was a crossover with Black’s show, Millennium.

Johnson is played by one of my favorite character actors, Holmes Osborne. The nurse Black tells he’s checking out is played by Octavia Spencer.

I want to know Scully’s scientific explanation for zombies. I bet it’s great.

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