TV discussion

Millennium 2×19 – ‘Anamnesis’ – TV Rewind

Is the one Frank Black free episode of Millennium worth the price of entry?

“Anamnesis” is an episode of Millennium that gets some pretty mixed reviews from critics it has to be said, so let me begin this review by saying I pretty much disagree with all of them because I really, really like this one.

It’s not one hundred percent successful, it’s easy to admit that, but the intentions here are downright fantastic and the decision to make this a Frank Black-free episode (the only episode of the series to go without its leading actor) is a genius one.

Lance Henriksen may still appear on the credits as always, but there is a near all female touch to “Anamnesis” that is wonderful and very refreshing. Say hello to Millennium starring Megan Gallagher and Kristen Cloke, and written by Kay Reindl and Erin Maher. It is a very good series also if it were to actually exist, but we’re just going to have to make do with it for this week only.

Opening with a brilliant teaser set to “Dancing Barefoot” by Patti Smith (and just wait until you see how they use her music in the finale), “Anamnesis” feels very different from its opening moments, even all the while dealing with deeply complex religious themes throughout its running time.

Femininity is the key concern here and it’s deeply refreshing to see Millennium deal with the female gender as it pertains to the second season’s key concerns over religion and prophecy. Like “The Hand of St.Sebastian” and the two-parter “Owls” and “Roosters”, it’s easy to feel as if The Da Vinci Code writer Dan Brown was paying very close attention to this season given how some of the themes, in particular from this episode, wound up as major plot points in his best seller.

Sometimes it’s easy to overlook just how masculine a series Millennium can be. It’s not a typical male series by any stretch of the imagination, Frank Black fits into the sensitive hero type that Chris Carter also gave us with Fox Mulder, but many of its episodes do feature Frank Black and Peter Watts, two males, solving mysteries in a high number of its episodes.

We’ve had sporadic appearances from CCH Pounder for sure, until they effectively trashed her character, but with Morgan and Wong there has also been the inclusion of Lara Means (Kristen Cloke) to bring a female eye to some of the cases, but “Anamnesis” goes even further than some of those earlier episodes because we’re being given a wonderful script courtesy of Reindl and Maher that puts femininity front and centre in the way the series has seldom ever done.

It’s brilliantly well done for the majority of the time. Its eventual story twists linking its main guest character to Mary Magdalene and her role within The Bible and relationship to Jesus are maybe not executed as brilliantly in the final stretch as the remainder of the episode, but the work here is so good and well-intentioned, not to mention deeply brave for a series running on an American television network, that it’s really not worth complaining about when everything else works as beautifully here as it does.

Better yet, the central pairing of Catherine with Lara for this episode works wonders. Given that it sometimes does feel as if the series has never quite known what to do with Catherine at times, to see Megan Gallagher run into this episode as effectively its star is wonderful, and for the episode to put two female characters front and centre for the entire running time, along with a key female guest character in Clare (Genele Tempelton), “Anamensis” genuinely feels very different, unique and wonderful.

Best of all, with Catherine and Lara falling into the realm of a believer/skeptic relationship, there is more than a taste of The X-Files running throughout the entire forty-five minutes. Frequently when Millennium tips its hat to its sibling series it is a problem, but amazingly it just adds to the brilliance of this episode.

It actually makes one wish that Erin Maher and Kay Reindl had actually been given a chance to write an episode for Mulder and Scully, because on the basis of this, and the great work they have given to Megan Gallagher and Kristen Cloke, it might have been wonderful. As it is, we have a great showcase for two of Millennium’s best actresses right here, and it would have been wonderful to have seen more.

Are you a fan of Millennium? Let us know what you think of this episode.

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