It’s really hard to know where to start with ‘The Sound of Snow’, but thankfully only for the best of reasons, as there is so much to love here: the haunting teaser sequence; the mysterious nature of the story; the filling in the blanks of what happened between ‘The Time is Now’ and ‘The Innocents‘; and of course the return of Megan Gallagher.
Since ‘Borrowed Time‘, there has been a genuine feeling that Millennium has truly found itself again. That episode, ‘Collateral Damage’ and now ‘The Sound of Snow’ have seen the series deal head-on with issues that it had previously felt as if it was doing its best to avoid. Now we finally get flashbacks that deal with the release of the Marburg virus at the end of season two, not to mention another welcome appearance from Detective Giebelhouse (the wonderful Stephen James Lang), as well as Frank confronting his grief and guilt over the loss of Catherine head on.
The loss of Catherine has been one of the things that the season hasn’t been afraid embrace, with Frank and Jordan having to deal with their loss in sad and poignant ways, particularly in the season premiere, and the Christmas episode ‘Omerta‘.
The central storyline that brings these threads together in Patrick Harbinson’s wonderful teleplay sees citizens in the Seattle area receiving tapes containing white noise that induces hallucinations that causes them to deal with a tragic or dark event in their past.
The teaser sequence of the episode is one of the greatest things ever produced in any of the Ten Thirteen-verse series. Like the train crash in ‘Borrowed Time’ two weeks ago, the image of a car finding itself driving onto a road that turns to ice and its driver walking on to it carefully, complete with cracking sound effect that will make you jump no matter how many times you watch the episode, along with the silent snowfall, is beautiful and terrifying all at the same time.
From there the episode turns into a gorgeously put together opaque mystery, and while the nature of the tapes and who has made them do form an important part of the narrative, the answers to those questions are never what the episode wants to focus on; this is a tale about Frank and Catherine and love and loss.
Millennium has always been a series with a high body count, part of the nature of a show that deals with violent crime and serial murderers every other week, and while Frank has lost those closest to him before (Bletcher in season one, his father in season two), the death of Catherine was an incredibly tough one given how important she was to him.
The episode features a return visit to the Yellow House, now under new ownership and painted a darker grey colour which comes as a massive visual jolt. This may be the third season, but it reminds the audience of how much has changed for Frank and Jordan in such a short space of time. Flashbacks to the Pilot remind the audience of happier times and are also a clear reminder that time stands still for nobody.
Patrick Harbinson’s teleplay never offers easy answers to some of its central mysteries, but it’s blatantly clear that this is Millennium offering a more heartfelt journey for the audience and its central character. Like ‘Powers, Principalities, Thrones and Dominions‘ in season one, this is a tale of loss and grief, but even more explicitly so. There is a level of poignancy and sadness here that cannot help but get to you. The words and actions on display here are magnificent, Paul Shapiro’s direction is beautiful and making fantastic work of the visuals that are offered, and then there is Lance Henriksen and Megan Gallagher.
Their bittersweet reunion in the episode’s final moments is as beautiful as anything Millennium has ever offered and both performers are achingly heartbreaking in their reunion. For a series that brought to American network television some of the most terrifying imagery of the late ’90s, like its sibling series it knows how to balance that out with moments of pure poetry and beauty, and ‘The Sound of Snow’ is a case in point.
Frank Black, cradled in Catherine’s arms in one of those gorgeous Vancouver forests substituting for Seattle in only the way that these series knew how, saying his final goodbye as Catherine reminds him that he was with her in her final moments (and that flashback as he begs her not to leave is the point that always leaves me misty-eyed) is quite possibly one of the greatest scenes ever to grace the series.
We get a Frank and Emma conversation that tries to makes sense of everything that happened, but in the end, it doesn’t really matter. Frank was reunited with Catherine and that is the most important thing. It would be a great enough ending on its own, but then it gives us a final image that may be the most beautiful and haunting image that Millennium has ever given us. This is the best episode of the season for sure.