What We All Missed in X-Files Spinoff ‘Millennium’ (1996-1999)
By: Jay Dyer
Millennium is one of the two X-files spin offs, and while it actually ran for 2 seasons, it’s less known than the Lone Gunmen. When we originally meet FBI consultant Frank Black, Mulder and Scully are seeking Frank’s insights on a killer who is part of a schismatic faction of the enigmatic “Millennium Club,” an end times secret society that wields some unknown power. When Mulder and Scully encounter Frank, he’s under psychiatric watch at a mental ward, undergoing evaluation for the restoration of visitation rights with his daughter. Given this was around the turn of the millennium when the episode and spin off aired, it made sense to capitalize on the exaggerated hype of the time. In fact, I remember even packing a sleeping bag and a Bible in anticipation of the chaos that would ensue following the “Y2K” computer failure.
Although I have no evidence, Y2K was probably some kind of psyop, but for TV viewers Fox was heavy with conspiracy content. Conspiracy plots were common in X Files, The Simpsons, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Lone Gunmen, Millennium and more. If you aren’t familiar, Millennium breathes the spirit of X-Files, but also departs in significant ways, with less of an emphasis on the supernatural, no alien plots and rarely any monsters of the week.
This is odd, since we know from a few instances such as the Morley cigarettes shown burning in at least one Millennium scene, to the more obvious interactions of Mulder and Scully with Frank that the shows occupy the same universe. Regardless, Millennium charts its own course, with numerous episodes functioning as borderline experimental, uniquely stylized and even satirical – by season two. Season 1 of Millennium is very different from season 2, as the show’s extremely dark, serial killer focused storyline went in a totally different direction. In this way it’s a very different style of show than X-Files. Season 3 continues the spirit of season 2, with an unexpected resolution of the mystery of Frank Vs. the Illumiante Confirm (aka, the Millennium Club).
This should come as no surprise since the Lone Gunman’s Langley has stated in the past the CIA consulted and changed various scripts for the X-Files, and it’s safe to assume the “Illuminati” based Millennium would be the same. Having just finished the series, it’s certainly a prime specimen for the type of analysis we do here. Even three seasons of a show are too much for an episode by episode analysis, so I will hit the highlights, patterns and motifs relevant for our “conspiratorial” purposes. Initially, season 1 takes us down the path of typical cop Vs. serial killer cat and mouse fodder, with the cookie cutter “taunts” and “clues” that become tedious.
In the midst of these episodes we find some serious occultic ideas and even vague Crowley references, as Frank begins to piece together spiritual patterns among the serial killers he tracks down. As you can imagine, Frank, like a sour boomer version of Agent Dale Cooper, has “visions” and insights that show him the serial killer’s mind. Is your mind blown yet? A detective that sees into the mind of the serial killer!? This overdone notion is actually lampooned in one of the series’ later installments (actually one of the best episodes) where Frank investigates a B movie actor playing him in a late night skinemax version of Frank’s life.
The series’ narrative progresses from Frank’s rabbit hole of patterns among serial killers to something far more global and conspiratorial in nature: an enigmatic secret society (that actually uses literal Masonic oaths) Frank begins to suspect has connections, not only to the FBI, but to his own life and traumatic past. Frank’s closest ally, Peter Watts (played by Lost’s Terry O’Quinn) eventually reveals to Frank he is a prospective candidate for the Millennium Club. Cast as a secret society with the good of all humanity as its motives, Frank remains skeptical. Eventually Frank determines the group to be too secretive, too deceptive and too cult like.
The group’s logo is the ouroboros, which hearkens back to Plato’s Timaeus and signifies their full control of world events, their self-appointed status as “shepherds of mankind,” and the initiators of the coming end of days “millennium.” As you can imagine, it is made up of elite members of the corporate, intelligence and high society movers and shakers from around the world, with its own factions of “roosters” (who believe in an actual religious apocalypse) and “owls,” who think the coming millennium will be one of secular utopia controlled by science. One could see an analogue to real world secret societies and cults, including the owls corresponding to the actual “Illuminati” or modern day proponents of scientism versus those who prefer more gnostic and Luciferian concepts based on hermeticism (various “magical” orders and societies).
By season 2 the wackiness and satire ensues, with conspiratorial plots on a global scale involving the Middle East and the True Cross, where we see a mad race for magical relics and a dialectical manipulation of two sects of the Millennium Club by a third, international corporate structure centered around secret Nazis. This third faction is eventually defeated, but the gnostic attitude of Millennium comes to the fore as they see themselves as the “true” gnostic “Christians.” The secret knowledge they possess is hidden under layers of religious rites and even what appears to be blood rituals and a woodland rite where latin magical words are read and the empathic angel seeing Lara is brought into full membership. Lara soon goes insane, in one of the series’ most innovative and abstract episodes where we (assume) Lara was dosed with a potent hallucinogen (which the finale reveals was not the case!).
We are never told whether the roosters or owls end up dominating in the club, but we gradually suspect, with Frank, the Club is not altruistic. We are told the end of the old world is nigh, and a new millennium will ensue – a new world order, something perhaps akin to a “great reset”? It’s certainly odd that the end of season 2 includes the release of a bio weapon by the Club that claims Frank’s wife, while Frank and their empathic daughter Jordan are able to take the miracle vackseen. This is, again, a curious series of events given where we are 20 years later in 2020. The symbology of the series is really a miss mash of Mary as the gnostic goddess, the Vesica Piscis, and recurring eye and snake symbolism. I think we are to conclude the Millennium Club is akin to FBI and CIA connected individuals (eyes and owls) with a penchant for esotericism, hermeticism and higher, black lodge branches of Freemasonry.
Perhaps the darkest aspect of the series is not the serial killers or their typical fetishes, but the final season’s big reveal that the Club has been operating on chosen individuals’ brains to “maximize their full potential” and continue the growth of their brain: in other words, they have achieved hyper intelligence. This operation, however, can have disastrous side effects resulting in many of the “chosen” children going insane and becoming psychopaths. In other words the Millennium Club has been creating and studying serial killers, and starting this process with children. Now we are in Dace McGowan territory with apt comparisons at this point to the Phoenix Program or Programmed to Kill.
Perhaps Carter was aware of the Phoenix Program – we know MK Ultra and the various programs associated with the mastering of the psyche were certainly in his radar given the many references in the X-Files. Although only three seasons, Millennium gave us a creative take on the typical: the grisly detective with a mystical side and a dark secret, who ends up fleeing the madness and going into hiding while cult devotee and fanatical believer Watts loses everything. In the end, we see the power apocalypticism has for cults, intelligence agencies and those who seek to abuse and control others – end times cults are very effective.
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