"The Sound of Snow"

#MLM-312

Written by Patrick Harbinson

Directed by Paul Shapiro

Edited by Peter B. Ellis

Aired February 5, 1999

Summary: Mysterious audio tapes containing white noise trigger deadly hallucinations in the Seattle area, where Frank Black's investigation induces visions of the deceased Catherine.

 

  Season Three on DVD

 

Synopsis:  As Carol Wheatley drives her car along a mountain road in Washington State, she inserts an unmarked audio cassette into the tape-player. At first, all that Carol hears is a gentle hiss. But the white noise gradually grows louder. As Carol looks up from the player, she sees snow flakes falling in the headlights. When the flakes strike the windshield, they make an impossibly loud sound. The car skids to a halt, and the flakes continue their descent, cracking the windshield. Carol jumps out of the car, only to find herself standing on ice. Beneath the surface is the face of a drowning boy, his eyes bulging in desperation. Carol climbs back into the car and throws the engine in reverse. The car backs out onto the roadway, where it is smashed by an eighteen-wheel truck.

At Quantico, Frank finds an internal envelope containing an audio cassette mixed in with his other mail. He slips the cassette into a boom box and hears the same white noise. Suddenly, he experiences an internal vision: a face under the ice. Frank looks at the internal envelope, and sees that the last name written on it (above his own), is a "Victor Chyren." A check with the operator reveals no such person working at the FBI. Frank then notes the name written above Chyren: Doug Scaife. Scaife, who never heard of Chryen, tells Frank that Giebelhouse sent him the tape for analysis. Nothing could be found on the cassette, except for white noise. Frank listens to the tape and experiences a vision of Catherine standing on the porch of the yellow house. He notices a wave pattern that Scaife identifies as pink noise. Frank concludes that someone intentionally made the tape.

Frank travels to Washington, where he and Giebelhouse review the accident scene. He then interviews the victim's mother, Mrs. Wheatley. Frank correctly deduces that, at some time, there had been an accident, one in which a boy fell through the ice and drowned. Deeply shocked, Mrs. Wheatley confirms this is so. Her daughter had always blamed herself for the accident. Afterward, Frank tells Geibelhouse that the tape is somehow responsible for Carol's death. He also believes there are more tapes in existence. Meanwhile, a designer named Jerry Origo receives a cassette tape in the mail. He places the tape in his player and listens. A hiss fills the room. Suddenly, flames rip through his penthouse apartment.

Geibelhouse and Frank learn that Origo jumped through a window and fell to his death. They travel to his penthouse, where there is no sign of fire. Geibelhouse finds the cassette tape and the envelope it arrived in, on which is a hand-written address. The envelope bears a Seattle postmark, one Geibelhouse hopes to trace. Frank believes that Origo jumped through the window because he thought he was on fire. He also suspects that someone in Origo's life died in a blaze. It turns out that Origo once worked as a building supervisor on a housing project in New Orleans. A blaze erupted, and because smoke alarm batteries were never installed, seven people died. Origo was investigated but never charged. Frank concludes that when people listen to the mysterious tapes, they hear the things they fear most and suffer massive hallucinations. With that, Frank hands the cassette to Geibelhouse and walks off. He drives to the yellow house, where he experiences another vision of Catherine. When Frank snaps out of his vision, he realizes that the house is now white, and is occupied by a successful contractor named Jeff King. King tells Frank he still gets his mail. He hands him some letters amongst which is an envelope containing a cassette.

As Frank drives, he listens to the cassette tape. He experiences flashbacks in which Watts tells him about the virus, the vaccine, and how only enough exists to inoculate Group members. He makes his way to the remote cabin where he had brought Catherine and Jordan in hopes of escaping the outbreak. Meanwhile, Emma and Geibelhouse pinpoint the source of the mysterious cassettes: a tape duplicating studio. There they speak with Alice Severin, who identifies the handwriting on the envelope as her own. During the ensuing interrogation, Alice speaks of a ferryman. Moments later, Giebelhouse discovers a notebook containing hundreds of addresses.

Inside the cabin, Frank experiences more flashbacks, reliving the night that Catherine began hemorrhaging from the virus. Frank follows Catherine into the woods, stumbling through the mud. He loses his footing and tumbles, hitting his head on a rock. Meanwhile, Emma and Geibelhouse make their way to the cabin, where they discover the envelope inside Frank's car. Emma correctly deduces that Frank has gone off to find his wife.

Frank opens his eyes and sees Catherine kneeling above him. He laments not having joined the Group, for if he had done so, she would still be alive. Riddled with guilt, Frank believes he let his wife die by letting her walk off into the woods alone. But Catherine reminds him that they were together when she died.

Emma and Geibelhouse find Frank, unconscious but alive. Frank recovers from his ordeal. Later, at Quantico, Emma performs some research. She discovers that the ferryman Alice mentioned is from classical mythology and his name is Charon (like "Chyren"). She finds a reference in Nostradamus which Frank links to the Millennium Group. Alice, he believes, is not part of the Group, but does possess a power. He believes the Group sent him the tape. Though he is unsure of their intention, he is certain of one thing: they gave him back Catherine.

 

Photographs:

- A ghostly Catherine holds her husband

- Catherine succumbs to the Marburg virus

- Frank lies in the woods of Washington

- Frank clings to the body of his dead wife

 

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Media Review:  "'The Sound of Snow,' a midpoint episode that plays as a kind of emotional series finale, takes Frank Black to a surrealist brink wherein he reckons with and overcomes a variety of lingering interior demons. From there Millennium transmogrifies again into a tragic celebration of the individual, with each character facing crises and challenges that send them off on separate paths and climax in death, loneliness, or—as Henriksen suggests—intimacy." —Keith Uhlich, Slant Magazine

 

"This installment is another opaque, hard-to-interpret installment, but one that proves highly-rewarding... This is a pivotal episode of Millennium because it represents the point in season three wherein Frank can purge his feelings of guilt, and finally put the past behind him. It's a haunting, deeply-affecting hour, and my personal favorite from the third year." —John Kenneth Muir, Reflections on Film and Television

 

Trivia:  "The Sound of Snow" is a landmark episode in that it features final bows from many prominent participants in the Millennium mythology and offers closure for both viewers and the show's characters regarding many lingering plot threads. Former Millennium star Megan Gallagher appears in "The Sound of Snow" as Catherine Black for the final time. The character had not been seen since her death in "The Time is Now" and her spiritual encounter with Frank allows him a poignant opportunity to express his grief at the loss.

 

The episode also includes Stephen James Lang's final appearance as Detective Bob Giebelhouse. The Seattle-based character was seen regularly throughout the show's three year run and came to become one of the most affectionately remembered members of Millennium's supporting cast.

 

This is the last time that viewers see Frank Black's once-yellow house at 1910 Ezekiel Drive in Seattle. The house, which had been one of the driving symbols of the show's mythology during the first two seasons, is seen here appropriated and transformed by a new owner. The actual home used to film Millennium is located on the corner of Fourth Street and Fourth Avenue in New Westminster, British Columbia.

 

The flashback sequences seen in "The Sound of Snow" offered Millennium viewers, at last, some sense of closure regarding the apocalyptic conclusion to the show's second season. Giebelhouse's commentary regarding the media exaggeration of the Marburg Virus and the ensuing aftermath provides some much needed exposition concerning the events that took place between "The Time is Now" and "The Innocents."

 

While Detective Giebelhouse was taking a final bow, new supporting characters were being introduced to the show. This episode features actor Trevor White's first appearance as FBI technical analyst Doug Scaife, a supporting character who would appear throughout the latter half of the third season. White previously had a minor role in the second season episode "Midnight of the Century."

 

Guest star Jessica Tuck, seen here as the mysterious Alice Severin, has been seen frequently in television guest roles, appearing in such shows as Picket Fences, Seinfeld, Murder One, NYPD Blue, The Visitor, and ER.

 

Death Toll:  2

 

Title:  This episode's teaser sequence presents viewers with an eerie experience of the silent sound of falling snow, introducing a story concerned with the effects of white noise, audio snow or static. The episode's title also acts, undoubtedly, as a nod to Millennium musician Mark Snow.

 

Soundtrack: "The Dark End of the Street" by James Carr

 

Starring:

Lance Henriksen as Frank Black

Megan Gallagher as Catherine Black

Brittany Tiplady as Jordan Black

Stephen James Lang as Detective Giebelhouse

Klea Scott as Emma Hollis

Stephen E. Miller as Andy McClaren

 

Guest Starring:

Jessica Tuck as Alice Severin

Deanna Milligan as Carol Wheatley

Christina Jastrzembska as Mrs. Wheately 

Mark McConchie as Home Owner

Ryan Robbins as Jed

Trevor White as Doug Scaife
 

Production Credits:

Production #6C12

Music by Mark Snow
Production Designer Mark Freeborn
Director of Photography Robert McLachlan
Associate Producer Jon-Michael Preece
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 Chip Johannessen

Executive Producer Chris Carter

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