"Owls"

#MLM-214

Written by Glen Morgan & James Wong

Directed by Thomas J. Wright

Edited by George R. Potter

Aired March 6, 1998

Summary: Covert operations and assassinations surround the search for a piece of the cross of the crucifixion that sparks infighting among the Millennium Group’s two opposing factions: the Owls and the Roosters.

 

  Season Two on DVD

 

  Full Transcript Available

 

Synopsis:  In Damascus, Syria, a group of men using sophisticated radar locate and unearth a piece of petrified wood — the remains of the cross of the crucifixion — near a mosque. Their secret mission is interrupted when two assassins step from the shadows and open fire. One of the team members, a man named LeFur, clutches the wood to his chest, as if invincible. Suddenly, the assassins' guns inexplicably jam. LeFur opens fire, killing his attackers. Later, LeFur's pager explodes as he attempts to transport the wood through airport customs. A chaos erupts, a man named Helmut Gunsche uses an electronic device to disable the airport surveillance system, allowing him to make off with the wood undetected. Gunsche then phones an associate in Paraguay, a man named Axmann, and informs him his mission was a success. On Axmann's sleeve is a cuff link, on which is engraved an ancient Germanic rune. 

Meanwhile, back in the United States, Catherine meets with Clear Knight, the Vice President of Personnel Relations at Aerotech International. Clear offers Catherine a position as psychological counselor, explaining that many of the company's employees are new to Seattle and experience problems adjusting to the area. Catherine accepts the job. 

Watts meets fellow Millennium Group members at an isolated warehouse. The men discuss the theft of the cross, and how it threatens to split the Group into two parts. One is known as the Owls, who believe that if a theological event does not occur in 672 days, a secular Millennium will result — leaving them in control. The other is known as the Roosters, which includes Watts and, theoretically, everyone at the meeting. The Owls stole the cross to weaken the Rooster's faith — and make themselves invincible. 

Lara experiences another vision of an angel. While researching the psychological effects of hallucinations, she is approached by Mr. Johnston (who attended the meeting with Watts and the other Roosters). Identifying himself as an Owl, Johnston believes that a secular prophecy that will change the Earth. He urges Lara to work with the Owls. 

When Frank arrives home with Jordan, he finds Watts inside. Watts justifies the intrusion by explaining that Frank's modem line has been tapped. The two become embroiled in a heated argument. At the conclusion of the discussion, Frank tells Watts he wants nothing more to do with the Group. 

Later, Watts tells Lara about Robert LeFur and his effort to transport the cross into the United States. According to legend, the cross makes its possessor invincible, and was even sought after by the Nazis during World War II. Lara tells Watts that she believes the Owls are not responsible for its disappearance, as the theft would only lead to a civil war within the Millennium Group. 

As Catherine exits Aerotech one evening, she discovers that her automobile will not start. She telephones Frank for assistance, but he cannot determine the source of the problem. Clear Knight, who also wears the Germanic rune cuff link, approaches the car and, in an overly friendly manner, invites Frank, Catherine and Jordan to her home for dinner. 

As Mr. Johnston drives along a deserted section of roadway, he is passed by another car driven by Helmut Gunsche. A few moments later, Johnston's automobile dies (the result of the electronic device used by Gunsche earlier). Johnston steers the automobile onto the side of the road. Shortly thereafter, he is knocked to the ground by Gunsche, who also wears the Germanic rune cuff links. Gunsche forces a tube into Johnston's mouth — and the other end is placed inside the car's gas tank. After Johnston loses consciousness, Gunsche places a board of wood — exactly the dimensions of the crucifixion cross — inside Johnston's trunk, as if hiding it. He then sets the car, and Johnston ablaze. 

Watts, Lara and Group pathologists examine Johnston's burned remains. The examination is interrupted by Owl group members, who insist they be allowed to observe. Preliminary reports reveal that the wood planted inside Johnston's trunk cannot be accurately dated due to the fire. While examining Johnston's partially charred notebook, Watts discovers an entry about Johnston contacting Lara Means. Watts immediately bans a stunned Lara from the Group. 

Using his computer, Frank identifies a watercolor hanging in Clear Knight's office as one having once belonged to Adolph Hitler. His work is interrupted when he notices two men surveilling his house from a car. As Frank approaches the men, gun in hand, the driver identifies himself as a Group member by giving the password. Unbeknownst to Frank, the passenger readies his handgun. 

TO BE CONTINUED

Photographs:

- Peter logs into a Group computer

- Peter shares information with Lara Means

- Peter and Lara attend an autopsy

- Peter examines an anomalous x-ray

- Gunsche looks upon Axmann's collection

- The computer logo of the Owls faction

 

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Media Review:  "In spite of Carter’s absence from season two’s writing roster, his viewpoint and vision are always apparent, and it clashes with Morgan and Wong’s reinvention of the Millennium Group from a criminal consulting firm to an ancient, protective sect who guide the world through the turbulent times leading up to the year 2000. Morgan and Wong’s mystical mumbo-jumbo (engrossing and engaging in the moment) is at odds with Carter’s present-tense form of storytelling — his narrative metier is a more sober and earthbound exploration of the working classes and the repetitious, but essential, grunt labor that defines their existence. Put simply, Carter’s characters are in love with their jobs, often at the expense of any and all traditional societal attachments." —Keith Uhlich, Slant Magazine

 

"This is a dense, deceptive set of shows, pitting character against character, philosophies against dogma and the secular vs. the scientific to create a kind of civil war amongst the members of the Group. Naturally, this conflict is not fought on battlefields or in some nameless no man’s land. No, it is waged in private, in secret enclaves and private moments. This lends both shows a tremendous amount of intrigue and complexity. It is very easy to get lost in this divergence between the Owls (who know it’s still ‘night’) and the Roosters (who crow, sometimes too soon, about the impending ‘dawn’). If you merely remember that the Group is trying to stave off the end of the world, and that each side believes they have the tools to do that very thing, then this 90 minute mindfuck plays out very well." —Bill Gibron, DVD Talk

 

Trivia:  Glen Morgan explains that the plot for this dramatic two-part episode grew naturally out of James Wong's work on "The Hand of St. Sebastian," one of his favorites from the second season. Morgan has commented, "It's nice to be so influenced by something your partner did. I wanted to break the split we saw in that episode into a secular one. How can you make people believe that the end of the world is in sight? I tried to look to a scientific possibility. In the two-parter at the end of the season, I tried to tie those together with a plague. I started reading about germ warfare and thought, 'Here are scientific events occurring in our world, and they're predicted theologically.'"

 

The mysterious and sinister company that has employed Catherine Black in this episode, Aerotech, shares its name with a mysterious and sinister corporation from Glen Morgan and James Wong's science fiction drama series Space: Above & Beyond.

 

Clear Knight, the devious Aerotech executive who seems particularly preoccupied with the Black family, is portrayed by Kimberly Patton. Patton is just one of various pseudonyms utilized by actress Kim McKamy. The actress, under the pseudonym Ashlyn Gere, has had an illustrious career as an adult video star and was the winner of the adult film industry's FOXE 1991 Fan Favorite, 1992 Vixen of the Year, and 1993 Best Female Performer awards. In mainstream media, she has worked extensively with Morgan and Wong and appeared in nearly every one of their television and film productions.

 

This episode earned the crew of Millennium's sound department a technical Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Sound Editing for a Series.

 

In this episode Peter Watts asks, "Can you imagine the effect conclusive evidence of doomsday would have on a world in which millions actually believe they've been abducted and experimented on by aliens with the knowledge and cooperation of government officials? A country that obsessed for decades on Elvis sightings? Roswell?" These comments were clearly written by Morgan and Wong as playful jibes at the mythology and themes of Chris Carter's The X-Files.

 

Death Toll:  9

 

Title:  Each of the episodes in this two-part story is named for one of the two opposing personality types associated with apocalyptic fears. The owl is often used as a symbol to represent those who do not believe in an impending apocalypse, the type of cautious or wary individual who fears the fervor and unrest potentially created by doomsayers. Within the Millennium Group, Owls are those who believe in a distant, secular end to the world rather than an impending religious Armageddon. As the Millennium Group Owl in this episode explains, "The owl knows it is still late at night, the foxes are about, the master sleeps. This is who we are."

 

Soundtrack:

"Horse With No Name" by America

 

Awards:  Emmy Award - Mark K. Crookston, Maciek  Malish, Gabrielle Reeves, Ken Gladden, Debby Ruby-Winsberg, Donna Beltz, Michael Kimball, Susan Welsh, Jarmil Maupin, Jeff Charbonneau, Michael Salvetta, and Gary Murello, Outstanding Sound Editing for a Series (Nominee)

 

Starring:

Lance Henriksen as Frank Black

Megan Gallagher as Catherine Black

Brittany Tiplady as Jordan Black

Terry O'Quinn as Peter Watts

 

Guest Starring:

Kristen Cloke as Lara Means
Kim Patton as Clear Knight
R.G. Armstrong as the Old Man
Malcolm Stewart as Mr. Johnston
Bob Dawson as Helmet Gunsche
Michael Tiernan as the Group Driver
Brian Downey as Mr. Dean
Judith Maxie as Finley
John Juliani as Mr. Plunkett
Mark Holden as Francois Amadou
Bruno Verdoni as Robert LeFur
Gardiner Millar as Mr. Otto
Nino Caratozzolo as the Sentry

 

Production Credits:

Production #5C14

Music by Mark Snow
Production Designer Mark Freeborn
Director of Photography Robert McLachlan
Associate Producer Jon-Michael Preece
Consulting Producer Chip Johannessen
Consulting Producers Darin Morgan
Co-Producer Robert Moresco
Co-Producer Paul Rabwin
Producer Thomas J. Wright
Co-Executive Producer Ken Horton
Co-Executive Producer John Peter Kousakis

Executive Producer Glen Morgan

Executive Producer James Wong

Executive Producer Chris Carter

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