"Darwin's Eye"


Written by Patrick Harbinson

Directed by Ken Fink

Edited by Peter B. Ellis

Aired April 16, 1999

Summary: Frank Black and Emma Hollis are perplexed by inconsistencies relating to an escaped mental patient with a violent past who has taken an apparently compliant hostage.


  Season Three on DVD


Synopsis:  As alarms blare, twenty-two year old Cassie Doyle escapes from a mental institution and makes her way to a nearby road. She stops a passing police car and tells Deputy Joe McNulty that someone is trying to kill her. The deputy begins to suspect otherwise, but before he can react, Cassie grabs the gun from his holster and points it at his head. Meanwhile, an African-American man places several items — including a headless chess piece and several paper palms — inside a wooden box and mails it to Emma.

Agent Baldwin is assigned to investigate the brutal murder of a nursing orderly who worked in the mental hospital where Cassie was interned. It is believed that the missing Cassie is responsible for the orderly’s death, as she was convicted of murdering her parents in 1992. The orderly was decapitated after he was killed, as was Cassie’s father. In both cases, the heads could not be located. Baldwin and Frank observe Cassie’s room at the hospital. The walls and ceiling are covered with writing. A short time later, Baldwin discovers the head stuffed above white ceiling tile in the men’s bathroom.

Though McClaren had instructed her to take some time off, Emma returns to the Bureau. She joins Frank in the conference room, where they review police video of Mr. and Mrs. Doyle’s murder.

Meanwhile, Cassie forces Joe to drive away from the hospital. She convinces the deputy that she had nothing to do with her parents’ murder. She also convinces him that the FBI is out to kill her. Joe stops his police cruiser when he encounters an FBI roadblock. To prove her innocence, Cassie hands him his gun. Joe exits his car, then approaches the FBI agents. When he returns, he instructs Cass to keep her head down. He passes through the road block and drives off.

Baldwin reviews the facts in the case for a handful of FBI agents. Using a slide projector, he shows the group a montage of the ceiling and walls of Cass’s room, which reveals some crossed palms. He then advances to a slide of the nursing orderly, Roger Cheveley, who once served in the Army. Emma notices the same crossed palms on Chevely’s uniform (which is part of a military insignia).

When word of Joe’s disappearance spreads, Frank tells Emma that the deputy is now siding with Cass. When Emma returns home, she examines one of the five wooden boxes kept in a drawer. Inside the box are the paper flowers and headless king. She notices a notch in one of the flowers, and as she unfolds them, discovers images of different parts of a human face. When the pieces are assembled, it forms a photograph of Emma’s sister, Melissa. Emma drives to her father’s apartment. She finds James Edward Hollis on the living room floor, surrounded by wooden boxes, chess pieces and bits of paper.

James is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Emma tells the physician that her sister Melissa was murdered in the family home when she was ten-years-old. Her father then folded a photograph of Melissa’s face into flowers. The physician doesn’t quite know how to respond to this piece of information. But he does tell Emma to allow her father to rest.

The relationship between Joe and Cass grows, and Joe rents a hotel room. Dressed only in a shirt, Cass slides atop Joe. She tells him to close his eyes. As they begin having sex, she tells him to open his eyes.

The headlights from a passing car throw the shadow of crossed palms on the ceiling. Meanwhile, Frank finds Emma inside Cass’s room at the mental hospital. Emma turns on an old desk lamp and sweeps the beam across the writings on the wall. It becomes apparent that the words all combine into a drawing of Cass’s face. Frank asks Emma to perform more research on the dead orderly, Roger Cheveley. Struck by an idea, Frank then pays a visit to the morgue. He asks a doctor to determine if the orderly had sex just before he died. The doctor opens the autopsy report and confirms Frank’s suspicions.

Emma telephones Frank with news about the dead orderly. Military police had investigated a report regarding Cheveley’s involvement in an alleged rape in Saudi Arabia. But Cheveley left the Army shortly after the incident transpired and charges were never filed. Frank concludes that Cheveley had raped Cass. He also believes that Cass was raped by her father. By cutting off the heads of both attackers, Cass blinded them. The only remaining clue to the location of Cass’s father’s head are the crossed palms. Emma discovers a Palm Court Motel only a few miles from the Doyle’s old house.

Frank locates the motel room where Cass and Joe are staying. Cass grabs Joe’s gun and, fearful of the FBI, refuses to surrender. Frank asks Cass if she allowed Joe to see her. She confirms that she did. But she also insists she would never hurt him. Cass then makes her way to the bathroom, where she caresses Joe’s severed head. A SWAT team storms the room, and Cass is taken into custody. As before, she claims she is innocent. Shortly thereafter, Baldwin recovers the head of Cass’s father.

Later, Emma receives a phone call from the owner of a corner grocery store. She finds her father at a photocopy machine, making copies of photographs featuring wild palms being destroyed by a nuclear blast.



- Joe McNulty discovers Cassie Doyle

- A glimpse at Cassie's mad scrawlings

- Emma examines an origami palm tree

- Barry offers his thoughts on the case

- Joe and Cass bond with one another

- Emma discovers a mosaic of her sister

- James Hollis, Emma's ailing father

- The origin of the palms is revealed

- Cassie holds the severed head of her lover


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Trivia:  "Darwin's Eye" introduced viewers to James Edward Hollis, Emma Hollis' ailing father, as portrayed by actor John Beasley. Emma's father would prove to become an integral character in Millennium's increasingly complex mythology during the close of its final season despite appearing in only three episodes.


Death Toll:  2


Title:  Charles Darwin wrote in The Origin of Species, "To suppose that the eye... could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree. When it was first said that the sun stood still and the world turned round, the common sense of mankind declared the doctrine false; but the old saying of Vox populi, vox Dei, as every philosopher knows, cannot be trusted in science. Reason tells me, that if numerous gradations from a simple and imperfect eye to one complex and perfect can be shown to exist, each grade being useful to its possessor... that a perfect and complex eye could be formed by natural selection, though insuperable by our imagination, should not be considered as subversive of the theory." Darwin, although unable to fathom how the eye came to be through natural selection, admitted the steps in its evolution surely existed. He believed the absurdity of the eye was illusionary. It seems appropriate that Cass Doyle should seize upon the quote considering her own proclamations, symbols and concepts, conceits which seem absurd to Frank and Emma until the steps involved in their construction are revealed.


Soundtrack: "Trimm Trabb" by Blur



Lance Henriksen as Frank Black

Klea Scott as Emma Hollis

Peter Outerbridge as Barry Baldwin


Guest Starring:

Tracy Middendorf as Cass Doyle

Peter Simmons as Joe Doherty

Alfred E. Humphreys as Sheriff Randall

John Beasley as James Edward Hollis

Lesley Ewen as Dr. Hilary Heath

Kevin McNulty as Dr. Arnett

Alex Zahara as Dane

Kurt Evans as the Clerk

Production Credits:

Production #6C18

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