"Weeds"

#MLM-109

Written by Frank Spotnitz

Directed by Michael Pattinson

Edited by George Richard Potter

Aired January 24, 1997

Summary: In a private gated community, the kidnapping and brutalization of teenage boys leads Frank Black to investigate the secret sins of their fathers.
 

  On DVD, In Print (German)

 

  Full Transcript Available

 

Quote: "But know ye for certain...Ye shall surely bring innocent blood upon yourselves and upon this city..." —Jeremiah 26:15

 

Synopsis:  An unidentified man in a van follows a teenage boy, Josh Comstock, as he rides his new motorcycle through Vista Verde Estates, a gated, upper middle-class neighborhood in Washington State. As night falls, Josh rides his bike across the dirt of an undeveloped cul-de-sac. The driver parks his van and approaches the boy, suddenly, jabbing a cattle prod into Josh's chest and sending him flying backwards into the dirt. When Mr. and Mrs. Comstock awaken the next morning, they find the corpse of another teenage boy in Josh's bed — and their son missing.

Frank offers his services to Sheriff Gerlach, who is in charge of the investigation. During their conversation, Gerlach admits that the deceased boy, Kirk Orlando, disappeared while returning home from a basketball game. Convinced he might have prevented Josh's kidnapping, Gerlach feels enormous guilt for not alerting the community about the missing boy. 

A coroner discovers blood in Orlando's mouth and stomach, and Frank realizes that the killer forced his victim to ingest human blood. Orlando's father gives police something he found inside his mailbox — a pile of confetti made from dollar bills. 
 

Black and Gerlach attend a community meeting organized by resident Edward Petey. During the meeting, an angry man from the audience, Robert Birckenbuehl, accuses the sheriff of withholding the truth. Gerlach tells the audience that the killer lives in the community. 
 

Mr. and Mrs. Comstock return home from the community meeting and find the number "331" painted in blood on their son's bed. Later, Mr. Comstock tells Black that the number refers to a hotel room number where he and another woman had an affair. Comstock realizes he must now reveal the affair to his wife. 
 

Next the Driver surprises Birckenbuehl's son, Charlie, stunning him with a cattle prod and kidnapping him from his own bedroom window. With some help from pathologist Cheryl Andrews, Black discovers the killer poisoned the goldfish in Charlie's room by adding Scotch to the aquarium — another cryptic message. 
 

Frank and Gerlach interview Adam Burke, a swim coach who instructed both missing boys. Gerlach tells Frank that Burke's young son was killed by a hit-and-run driver. Frank then receives an envelope containing an enameled paint swatch, on which is written "528," but is unable to deduce the meaning of the clue. 
 

When Mr. Comstock returns home one evening, he finds Josh, shivering but alive, sitting on the couch. Andrews discovers that Josh was also forced to ingest human blood, and later that the paint swatch and code number match enamel used on a specific type of mini-van. Black realizes the mini-van is the same vehicle driven by the hit-and-run driver who killed Burke's son. He also concludes that the murderer returned Josh unharmed only after Mr. Comstock told his wife about his affair. The first victim was murdered because his father refused to confess his sin — one involving money (hence the dollar bill-confetti). 
 

Black realizes Charlie was kidnapped because Mr. Birckenbuehl was the hit-and-run driver that killed Burke's son. Black tells Birckenbuehl he must make a public confession if he wishes to see his son released unharmed. The killer, Frank concludes, sees himself as a holy figure, and is attempting to expose hypocrisy and purify sin by making the teenagers drink his blood to cleanse them of the sins of their fathers. 
 

Though the media is informed that Birckenbuehl was arrested for manslaughter, in private, Birckenbuehl insists he is an innocent man. When the ruse fails, Frank listens carefully to an audio tape made by the killer. The killer wants Birckenbuehl to know that if you take a life then your life must be taken in return. That is why his son had not been returned. Frank recognizes sounds on the tape and realizes Charlie is being held captive in a basement beneath the high school's swimming pool. Frank rescues Charlie and takes Edward Petey, the killer, into custody. But Mr. Birckenbuehl is found dead, having hung himself in his own bedroom.

 

Photographs:

- Linda Comstock discovers her son's body

- Frank and Sheriff Gerlach host a meeting

- Bob Birckenbuehl addresses the residents

- Birckenbuehl is taken into police custody

 

Media Reviews:  "Something about 'Weeds' just isn’t right. Maybe it’s the standard befuddled local police chief, a clichéd character that seems to pop up in every other Millennium episode (Frank is basically handing them their suspect on a silver police blotter and all these law guys can do is stand around in slack-jawed disbelief). Perhaps it’s the ritualistic elements of the tortures (Why the blood drinking? Why the cattle prod?), the full facets of which are never really explained. Or it could be that we are tossed a big fat red herring (the sullen swim coach) before we really have a grip on all the dynamics of the retribution. Whatever it is, it takes Herculean efforts by the cast and crew to overcome it. 'Weeds' is one of the weaker episodes in the series, but it also had some of the greatest potential. Too bad it couldn’t completely come together." —Bill Gibron, DVD Talk

 

Trivia:  While only two Millennium novelizations were released by publisher HarperCollins in the United States — "The Frenchman" and "Gehenna" — other installments in the short-lived book series were planned and even commissioned.  A complete novelization of "Weeds" was written by science fiction author Victor Koman in 1997.  Unfortunately, sales figures prompted HarperCollins to decide against publishing further Millennium volumes.  The book only saw print in Germany and Japan.

 

Death Toll:  2

 

Title:  Edward Petey's crimes within Vista Verde Estates represent an effort to expose those members of the community he perceived to be hideously sinful.  His twisted visions, seen throughout the episode, reveal the ugliness he saw spreading all around him.  To Petey, head of the community board, his attacks were perpetrated against those human weeds festering inside the community.

 

Starring:

Lance Henriksen as Frank Black

Megan Gallagher as Catherine Black
 

Guest Starring:

Ryan Cutrona as Sheriff Paul Gerlach
Michael Tomlinson as Tom Comstock
Josh Clark as Edward Petey
Terry David Mulligan as Bob Birckenbuehl
Brian Taylor as Coach Burke

CCH Pounder as Cheryl Andrews

Don MacKay as Jack Meredith
Joy Rinaldi as Linda Comstock
Paul Batten as Priest
Andrew Johnston as County Coroner Tasini
Fred Henderson as Lawyer
Karin Konoval as Woman
Karen Kruper as Mrs. Petey
Jade Pawluk as Charlie Birckenbuehl
Betty Philips as Abby
Rick Ravanello as the Cop

 

Production Credits:

Production #4C09

Music by Mark Snow
Production Designer Sheila Haley
Director of Photography Robert McLachlan
Associate Producer Jon-Michael Preece
Consulting Producer Ted Mann
Consulting Producer James Wong

Consulting Producer Glen Morgan
Co-Producer Ken Dennis
Co-Producer Chip Johannessen
Co-Producer Frank Spotnitz
Co-Executive Producer Jorge Zamacona
Co-Executive Producer Ken Horton
Co-Executive Producer John Peter Kousakis

Executive Producer Chris Carter

 

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