There’s a large part of ‘Forcing the End’ that cannot help but be perceived as problematic, given that it involves the kidnapping of a pregnant woman by a Jewish cult. The episode never plays as anti-Semitic thankfully. The kidnappers are not evil because they’re Jewish, they’re evil people who just happen to be Jewish, but the visual and the use of character cannot help but give one pause for thought.
The first script of the series from Marjorie David, who will go on to co-write the series finale in a few weeks, ‘Forcing the End’ as a title plays a part in the episode, but it also feels as if Millennium the series knows that the end is possibly up and it’s now starting to put into play elements that will take the series to its now definite end point.
The kidnapping of Jeanie Bronstein (Juliet Landau, Drusilla to Spike meaning that we’ve had both the Sid and Nancy of Buffy the Vampire Slayer show up on Millennium in as many weeks), is in itself more than enough for the series to bring the audience a dark suspense thriller, made even more subtly terrifying by the appearance of the late, great character actor Andreas Katsulas (Babylon 5, The Fugitive) as the leader of the kidnappers.
‘Forcing the End’ is an episode that sometimes invites some negative reviews, and reading those reviews might make one think that once again the third season has slipped somewhat. There’s no mistaking that the third season of the series is its weakest, only because of having to follow in the shadow of that monumental second year, which in itself has some episodes that didn’t work but which usually got away with those weaknesses due to it being a brazenly experimental year of television.
I like ‘Forcing the End’ a lot more than most, and while I’m not blind to its faults (there’s a level of convolution here that the episode could have cleared up more in the editing) it edges ahead due to the level of femininity on display here: a female writer focusing on the series’ female lead.
Klea Scott has continued to be the third season’s not so secret weapon, even when the series was going through that bad patch in the first half or so of the season, it was more than well worth watching for her performance as the increasingly experienced Hollis. Back in ‘Skull and Bones‘ we got the sense that Hollis was going to be caught between Frank and Peter somewhat morally and ethically, and now the series is finally starting to play that card, as Peter provides information that helps Emma find Jeanie and her newborn in the episode’s final stretch, leaving Emma confused as to what it means to have and use that sort of information to do good even when it’s coming from a dubious source.
The moment that brings the episode to an end when Emma expresses her concerns to Frank is one of the best moments of the episode and of the season so far. Frank can only look at her with compassion after he himself has been there. It’s a brilliant notion to play with it as the season, and sadly the series, starts to build towards its eventual true ending this time (albeit an ending mandated by the Fox Network’s clear indifference to the series).
Even more brilliantly, with its exploration of Emma, as well as pregnancy-themed horror, the latter of which never feels as exploitative as it might on any other genre series, and opting to filter its story through Emma as opposed to Frank, it gives the episode a femininity that is sometimes rare for Millennium and which is brilliantly welcome. With only a handful of episodes left, it makes one regretful that we’re not going to get more Marjorie David scripts from the series.
Despite the negativity from other Ten Thirteen fans and scholars, I actually rather like this one for the things it gets right as opposed to what it gets wrong.