TV discussion

Millennium 3×17 – ‘Darwin’s Eye’ – TV Rewind

Following last episode’s enjoyable intense and bizarre slice of metaphysical horror, Millennium returns to a more straight forward crime story, or at least that is what it seems like at first glance. Patrick Harbinson’s teleplay goes into some more complex and unpredictable places as its forty-five minute run time continues, and honestly, it’s hard to know whether or not it’s one hundred per cent successful in what it tries to do.

There are many things here to like, not least another great performance from Klea Scott as Millennium introduces her father, James (John Beasley) – an aspect of the series that will come into play in a big way as it heads towards its finale – not to mention a blisteringly great guest performance from Tracy Middendorf.

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Things start off very well as the episode begins with Middendorf’s character, Cassie Doyle, escaping from a psychiatric hospital and taking a hostage, a Sheriff’s deputy called Joe (Peter Simmons). With a violent past behind her that she claims isn’t true, one that involves the murder of her parents of which she was convicted, it appears as if Millennium is going to take us on a journey where it will be revealed that Cassie is innocent.

Millennium, however, never does these things simply and as its forty-five minute run time continues, it throws in a layer of complexities that make us believe that Cassie is not innocent at all until it heads into its final shocker of an ending.

Harbinson, a fine writer who has crafted one brilliant classic in the shape of ‘The Sound of Snow‘ as well as co-writing the enjoyable season one tale ‘Broken World‘, attempts to go for broke a little too much in trying to make this fit in with the season three aesthetic, or at least where Millennium is going now as it heads towards its finale, of being complex and opaque with its storytelling.

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Last week Johannesson and co-writer Jordan Hawley made it work brilliantly with ‘Saturn Dreaming of Mercury‘, whereby even if things were left unsaid one could still walk away from the episode and its brazenly dark and foreboding tone, but ‘Darwin’s Eye’ really should have just stuck the course with its “is she innocent or not?” story instead of trying to link it back to more complex ideas.

The inclusion of Emma’s father is a welcome one, but even the final scene here tries to insinuate a link to the episode’s main plotline without it ever feeling like it should be heading in that direction.

What does work and what takes us to the end credits in an enjoyable manner are Scott and Middendorf’s work here, and even though Harbinson’s teleplay is one that doesn’t work as successfully as it should, you have to admire its devotion to following the story right through to a dark and somewhat nihilistic conclusion.

The episode’s main storyline features Cassie and Joe falling in love, but the tragedy is never too far away, and the image of Cassie holding Joe’s severed head, having just killed him, carries a charge, a lot of which is down to Middendorf’s commitment to her performance as Cassie.

You’ll walk away remembering her performance more than the plot that takes her and the audience there.

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