There have been some good episodes in this season of Millennium, there’s no denying it. Even with episodes as good as ‘Skull and Bones‘ and ‘Omerta‘, it’s hard not to feel at times that there’s really no reason for this season to exist; and that the series really reached its true ending with the cataclysmic events of the season two finale.
The first bona fide classic of the season, ‘Borrowed Time’ is exemplary. It’s the first punch-the-air brilliant episode that we’ve had in a while and one that doesn’t try to hide away from the events of last season with a case of the week or trying to pretend that it’s The X-Files.
Chip Johannessen’s teleplay, like so much of his work, isn’t afraid to embrace the aspects of Millennium that aren’t all about crime and serial killing, but does so in a way that doesn’t make one think: “Wait a minute, is this The X-Files?”
With Michael Duggan now an “executive consultant,” Johannessen is pretty much running this show and for his first teleplay out of the gate as sole showrunner he does something Millennium should have done when it began its third season: embrace the events of its second year with little fear.
‘Borrowed Time’ is, without a doubt, a grandiose showcase for both the production values of the series and the actors, with everything – and I do mean everything – about this episode feeling as if Millennium is alive in a way that it hasn’t been since it unleashed its Patti Smith-backed hallucination sequence on the audience.
Admittedly this isn’t maybe as daring or as brave as ‘The Time is Now‘, but this is Millennium with its heart beating in a manner that makes it truly feel as if this perennially underrated part of the Ten Thirteen Universe has found its feet, its voice and, more importantly, its soul again.
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Making callbacks to the ‘Pilot,’ ‘Powers, Principalities, Thrones and Dominions‘ and the season two finale, the episode links back to Jordan’s mysterious illness when we were first introduced to the Black family in the ‘Pilot’, to the mysterious angelic figure who hung around the edges of ‘Powers…’, albeit this time portrayed by a different actor. That is if we are to assume the character of Samiel (Eric Mabius) is the same as from the last time we encountered a character with that name.
At the heart of ‘Borrowed Time’ is series-best work from both Lance Henriksen and Britanny Tiplady. While The X-Files struggled with what to do with its parent/child narrative in its later seasons, Millennium has always had a brilliant grasp of its parental relationship; no doubt helped by that feeling of a legitimate connection between Frank, Catherine and Jordan.
With Catherine sadly gone, Frank and Jordan have been left to pick up the pieces. But ‘Borrowed Time’ dares to ask the question of what it might be like if Frank even lost his daughter? Thus bringing out incredibly powerful performances from both Henriksen and Tiplady as Jordan finds herself consumed by a mysterious fatal illness.
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From the scene where Frank has no choice but to place his distressed daughter into a bathtub full of cold water – a moment that will have you convinced that they placed Tiplady in an actual bathtub full of cold water (of course they didn’t, but her performance is so damn convincing) – to his eventual breakdown where the usually stoic hero begs God to save his daughter’s life and that stunning train crash that opens and closes the episode. This is a brilliant hour of television.
‘Borrowed Time’ feels as if Millennium, having kind of coasted during its weird balancing act all season, has shaken the shackles off and just decided that to hell with it, let’s do this thing, or whatever empowering term you want to use.
While there have been some good instalments this season, with the biggest success also being a Johannessen script that saw the series deal head-on with events last season, this is the first hour of Millennium this season that is truly exceptional. From the writing to the performances and direction, this is Millennium on fire in a way that it hasn’t truly been in a while. It leaves one feeling that maybe, just maybe, the return for a third season will have been worth it.