"The Time is Now"

#MLM-223

Written by Glen Morgan & James Wong

Directed by Thomas J. Wright

Edited by James Coblentz

Aired May 15, 1998

Summary: The spread of a deadly virus and the mysterious undertakings of the Millennium Group precipitate a crisis of apocalyptic proportions that will forever change the Black family.

 

  Season Two on DVD

 

  Full Transcript Available

 

Synopsis:  Jordan, Frank and Catherine bury the dead parakeet, prompting more questions from Jordan regarding God and the hereafter. Later, a Millennium team clad in biohazard suits sweeps into the Davis home, where earlier an entire family was wiped out by the mysterious virus. Outside the house, in the backyard, are a dozen dead birds of various species. 

Catherine, Frank and Jordan return to the yellow house. Frank realizes that, with all of the unhappiness associated with the structure, such as the deaths of Bletcher and the Old Man, it is time to find a new home. A short time later, Frank receives paperwork in the mail, indicating his father left him a cabin in a remote wooded area. Frank tells Catherine about Watts' prediction that there would be an earthquake. Although he distrusts the Group's power and control, Frank cannot walk away until he knows what the future entails. 

Richard Gilbert meets Frank in a parking lot. When Frank reveals he has decided to stay with the Group, Richard warns against it, as even now, they are being spied upon by Group members. Gilbert drives off in his car, and shortly thereafter, Mr. Lott steps from the shadows. He reveals that the Group is uninterested in any single individual life, but feels its responsibility lies with the whole of mankind. 

The next morning, Frank discovers that Richard lost control of his automobile as he drove away from their meeting. Frank examines the automobile, searching for evidence that it was tampered with. Watts informs him that the Group is not at fault, its attention focused on something far more important. He reveals that he broke into the Group's database, and has learned that the mysterious virus was discovered by the Soviets years earlier in the jungles of Africa. It was then genetically enhanced, creating a biological weapon of astonishing toxicity. When the Soviet Union fell, the virus was inadvertently exposed to the environment, and carried aloft by birds. In 1986, a Wisconsin farmer and his entire flock of hens died from exposure, but like the Spanish flu of 1918, it mysteriously went away. The boy who died by the lake the previous week had somehow contracted the disease. Watts believes the Group developed a vaccine to the virus back in 1986, but produced only enough to inoculate its own members (both Frank and Watts received the vaccine during their quarantine period). Frank instructs Watts to find Lara Means and meet him back at his house, as he knows of a location where they can live until the crisis passes. 

When Watts arrives at the cottage where Lara is staying, Blaylock and another Group member intercept him. During the ensuing struggle, a gunshot rings out. Frank receives a phone call, and listens to the sound of the struggle, followed by the sound of a car pulling away in the distance. With help from Giebelhouse, Frank traces the call to the cottage. 

Lara experiences powerful visions of the apocalypse. For a moment, she considers taking her own life. Instead, she writes something on an envelope. Frank breaks down the door and races inside. In a nearly psychotic state, Lara raises her gun and opens fire, narrowly missing Frank. Paramedics rush inside and help restrain Lara. As she is wheeled away, Frank takes the envelope, which contains a syringe filled with a vaccine to the virus. 

Frank telephones Catherine and instructs her to begin gathering provisions. He then drives to the psychiatric hospital, where he speaks with Lara. He asks her about Watts' fate, but she can only stare back with lifeless eyes. Frank thanks Lara for the vaccine, then drives his family to the remote cabin. 

Frank tells Catherine that during the years of the Black Plague, people gathered their families and retreated to the mountains, allowing them to survive the outbreak. Later, as Jordan sleeps, Catherine listens to a news broadcast, which details the symptoms of the virus. Catherine asks Frank to kill her if she should become infected. Frank counters it would be impossible for him to do so, arguing that if he got sick, he would go off into the woods to die. He then produces the syringe containing the vaccine. He explains that he has already been inoculated, and the syringe contains enough vaccine for one person. Catherine immediately insists that Jordan be given the shot.

Later that night, Catherine wakes experiencing symptoms of the virus. She quietly walks out of the cabin and heads towards the woods. Finding blood on Catherine's pillow, Frank watches the darkened forest. The next morning, Frank's hair has gone completely gray. As he holds his daughter in his arms, he experiences internal blasts of static, interspersed with apocalyptic distress calls in many languages. And it is in the cabin that Frank and Jordan remain alone and uncertain.

 

Photographs:

- An insane Lara Means fires at Frank

- Frank struggles to control the frantic Lara

- Frank and Peter investigate the accident

- Peter describes Gilbert's fatal accident

- Frank holds Jordan as they face an end

- Jordan finds Frank devastated

- Jordan is amused by her father's hair

 

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Media Review:  "For me, Lara Means earned her role in television history during 'The Time Is Now,' the season's final episode, in one of the most daring and unconventional sequences of the past decade; it is easily the equivalent of anything David Lynch did with Twin Peaks, and it runs for nearly nine minutes. If you've seen it you know what I'm talking about, and if you haven't it makes this season two set a mandatory rental, if nothing else. The emotional impact of Patti Smith's 'Horses' will take on an entirely new meaning afterwards." —Rich Rosell, Digitally Obsessed

 

"This is a dense presentation, 90 minutes of mythology, murder, misunderstandings, death, disease and disgusting, depressing imagery. The ‘bleed out’ cases are especially gruesome, giving these episodes a weight and new sense of urgency. Also aiding in the atmosphere of dread are Terry O’Quinn, making Peter Watts the most sympathetic and suspect that he’s been all season, and Kristen Cloke, who gets a tour-de-force mental montage set to the Patti Smith song 'Horses,' is just amazing. This is what Millennium did best, not only in individual swatches but overall. These shows pay off in ways we have wondered about all series long, bringing in elements cast off from other shows and involving ancillary issues we thought unimportant at the time. With the stunning finale and the ambiguous nature of its symbolism, it is hard to see where the series would go in season three. Fans would argue that the creators had the same feeling." —Bill Gibron, DVD Talk

 

Trivia:  The episodes of the two-part second season finale — "The Fourth Horseman" and "The Time is Now" — were written by executive producers Glen Morgan and James Wong at a time when Millennium's future on the Fox network was undecided. The dramatic events seen here were intended as a suitable series finale as well as a satisfying end to the season in the event that the show was to be cancelled.

 

Uncertain whether or not Millennium would return in the fall, Morgan and Wong discussed a variety of possible endings with series creator Chris Carter. Carter's suggestion, that Catherine Black be killed during the climax, took the two by surprise. After considering the choice, however, Morgan came to realize how meaningful the death might be for the series. The writers discussed the decision with actress Megan Gallagher, who agreed. Morgan explains, "I told her the neat part will be that after Frank Black has done so much sacrificing for his family, ultimately it will be Catherine who makes the ultimate sacrifice. She liked that. So, that had a big part in the decision to kill Catherine."

 

Glen Morgan explains that the shelter the Black family unites within during the conclusion to this episode ultimately becomes Frank Black's symbolic yellow house. "I didn't feel right leaving Frank without his yellow house. I think in life you sometimes search for a yellow house, but for Frank it actually was that cabin."

 

Included in this episode is another subtle sight gag designed to excite those constantly looking for means of connecting Chris Carter's two conspiracy-driven television series. While infiltrating the Millennium Group storage area, Peter Watts discovers the stub of a Morley cigarette on the basement floor. On The X-Files, Morley is the brand of choice for the villainous Cigarette Smoking Man.

 

This episode offers us a glimpse of the volumes that fill Frank Black's bookshelf. Among those books that can be seen are J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye, John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath, and the complete works of William Shakespeare.

 

Guest star Daryl Shuttleworth appears in this episode as Brian Dixon, an associate of Frank Black's and a prominent member of the Trust. The character is named for Brian A. Dixon, the webmaster of this website.

 

Kristen Cloke appears in this episode as Lara Means for the last time. Her character's final bow is among the most dramatic the show would ever feature, however, taking the form of a bizarre, stylized music video set to the music of Patti Smith's "Horses." The song, written about heroin use, was a favorite of Glen Morgan's during college. Morgan once explained that the lengthy sequence was challenging to create but experimentally worthwhile for a television drama. "Editing was really difficult. Doing this was rather naive on my part. Music videos probably have a budget close to what one of our entire episodes costs, and we had only three days to put it together. I don't think we competed very well with the kind of imagery you see on MTV but I felt that this hasn't been done on a primetime, network drama. I'm glad we did it but it was really, really hard."

 

Periodic spurts of television static are seen throughout this episode. Although there is a symbolic meaning that can be assigned to the static, the effect is the result of frustrations experienced by the show's producers. Glen and Darin Morgan once discussed the Fox network's disinterest in promoting Millennium. The producers felt much of the deserved advertising time that should have been allotted to the show was being transferred to Fox Sports, used to promote the fall season's football games. Darin suggested that, as a means of striking back at Fox, Morgan and Wong should arrange to show uninterrupted static during Millennium episodes, precisely as much static as standard advertising time that had been taken from the series. While "The Time is Now" does not feature a long, continuous block of uninterrupted static designed to compensate for the exact amount of lost advertising time, the scattered spurts of static remain and represent the staff's frustration with Fox as well as Frank's sensory overload.

 

The final image of the episode, depicting a catatonic Frank Black with shocking white hair, is stunning. Such whitening during times of extreme stress has been recorded both in historical annals and noteworthy literary sources. An excerpt from Oxford University Press' The Pigment System explains, "For centuries the mysterious sudden appearance of white hair as a response to fear or grief has fascinated the literary, medical, and anthropological worlds. Many reports have been over dramatized, but it certainly occurs." Famous cases of hair whitening include Duke of Bayern Louis II, scholar Guareno of Verona, Henry of Navarre, and Sir Thomas More. Biblically, it is noted that when Moses first spoke to God he was physically transformed by the experience; Moses' hair was made pure white and his face was given a newfound glow.

 

Death Toll:  2+

 

Title:  This episode's title presents a variation on one of Millennium's second season taglines, "The Time is Near." That phrase is taken from the opening chapter of the Book of Revelation, prophesizing the end of the world and final judgment. The cataclysmic events at the close of this pivotal episode seemed, at the time this episode aired, to indicate that the end had indeed arrived.

 

Soundtrack:  

"Horses" by Patti Smith

"In the Year 2525" by Zager and Evans

 

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

Glenn Morshower as Richard Gilbert
Stephen Macht as Mr. Lott
Daryl Shuttleworth as Brian Dixon

Hiro Kanagawa as Team Member Lewis

Barry W. Levy as Blaylock

David Longworth as Duffy Deaver

David Palffy as Dr. Sorenson

Ian Robison as the Computer Monitor
 

Production Credits:

Production #5C23

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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