So this is it! Sunday! The final day of Lara Means Week! A thank you to Alison Nastasi, MR Sellars, Joselyn Roja, DiRT, Steve Katzenmoyer, James Wong, myself (of course), Troy Foreman and of course, Kristen Cloke. Thanks to all the people who have supported this week - including those of you in Twitter and Facebook land.
We'll be announcing the winners of this week's competition for the signed season 2 box-set and the signed photo tomorrow.
We'll leave you with the feature of the week, the exclusive interview with Lara Means herself, Kristen Cloke.
If you can't see the above player, or the player refuses to play ball (as can happen on IE browsers), you can download the MP3 here, or sign-up and download from ITunes - search for "Millennium Group Sessions".
Comments (8) | 5:28 PM
Saturday arrives, and what better way to enjoy a Saturday than with a chatty, energised and thought provoking video-blog on Lara Means? Really, what better way?
Well sit back with your coffee/green tea/ethenol/water and listen to the wise words of our BacktoFrankBlack regular voice n' mask, DiRT.
Tomorrow we have the last day in our Lara Means week with a feature length interview with Lara Means herself: Kristen Cloke. Stay tuned.
Comments (2) | 3:02 AM
Friday brings us more music - this time an original piece of music dedicated to youknowwho. I warn you, this is a catchy psychedelic slice of aural homage that you're bound to be humming for days to come. This is the work of Steve Katzenmoyer, and I hope you'll find time to leave thanks for his original and exclusive offering to the week in the usual manner. Enjoy! Press "play" or download directly (MP3)!
To finish off the working week, we must throw out a thank you to the UK Horror Channel for supporting us this week - those in the UK, be reminded that Millennium runs on the channel at 20.00 weekdays. Please support them as they support Millennium - and spread the word! www.horrorchannel.co.uk - go visit!
Finally, one more offering to finish off Friday - another wallpaper - 1280x1024 (and for those who spotted by noobish mistake on the previous wallpaper, congrats - I've since corrected the error!). This one, Frank and Laura working side by side in one of the lighter exchanges they had in the show!
More tomorrow! (images again are thanks to Chrisnu)
Comments (5) | 4:47 PM
Today we do something a little different. When we approach writers to do work for our special weeks, we want their take on a given subject - to me, that is interesting that asking writers to simply gush in some "mean"ingless (punnn!) and dishonest dedication. Our next article is by paranormal/horror writer (The Rowan Gant Investigations) MR Sellars. We approached him to do an article about Lara Means this week and to our surprise - and excitement if I was honest - it is quite the opposite of Alison Nastasi's article on Tuesday.
We hope you enjoy Murv's introspection into Lara Means and that it proves a talking point for yourselves - feel free to leave your comments, ideas or even counter-arguments in the blog comments. I - and I imagine Murv also - would be fascinated to see what you think of his points of view.
So without further ado, over to MR Sellars. Be warned, this is a candid opinion piece - we hope it makes you think even if you don't necessarily agree with his analysis on Lara Means.
So, Here’s My Thing: One Author’s Profile of Lara Means
Lara Means. I absolutely hated her.
I know that sounds harsh, especially when you consider that the character was supposedly from Saint Louis, and I have lived in Saint Louis since the nineteen-cough-cough-sixties. Obviously, I should have been a cheerleader for a “home town girl” making good with the Millennium Group. But alas, I wasn’t at all. Again, harsh, but bear with me for a moment and maybe I can explain.
I suppose it’s entirely possible that I was viewing her with the jaundiced eye of an author. In fact, I’d say it’s not just possible, it was an almost certainty. Unfortunately, I’ve discovered over the years that my profession has sometimes ruined other literature and entertainment for me because I can tend to be far too analytical about it. It seems that anytime I sit down to watch something, I will seize on a moment, plot, scene, character, what-have-you, and then turn it over and over in my hands, inspecting it closely and subsequently dismantling it in order to see exactly what makes it tick, and moreover, how I would have done it were I the one doing the writing.
Case in point, Lara Means.
I immediately saw a direction she could go that wouldn’t make me particularly happy.
When first we meet Lara in the episode Monster, she is being introduced close on the heels of Frank’s separation from Catherine. Now, anyone who listens to the MGS podcast knows – and using the vernacular of today’s “Twilight Reading Tweens” – I’m a dues paying, card carrying, dyed-in-the-wool member of “Team Catherine.” At the risk of sounding overly “romantic” about the situation, the initial view I saw – as a writer – regarding Lara was that she could very easily pose a threat to Frank and Catherine’s relationship, which as we were all well aware was already on unstable ground in the first place.
I mean, let’s face it – Lara is pretty, knowledgeable, and is a forensic psychiatrist. Catherine is pretty, knowledgeable, and is a therapist. See the parallels? Then, we take an estranged Frank and place him far away from home with her. While there are personality differences that keep her from being a mirror image of his wife, she is still a seriously intense reflection of Catherine on many levels. In literary parlance – or any other for that matter – this is a setup. Also, for what it’s worth – and I personally think quite a bit – Lara is in a position to understand Frank and his situation far better than Catherine has been able to accomplish to date, no matter how hard she has tried. In fact, we later find this out from Frank’s own lips in The Fourth Horseman and The Time Is Now. In the event you don’t recall these references, Frank phones Lara for personal advice in the former, and then in the latter, literally states aloud that she is the only one who has ever understood him and his situation.
Granted, they started off on the wrong foot, having been purposely pitted against one another in a test designed by the Group, but that’s yet another literary device. Initial conflict will often give rise to romance, or even simply sexual tension. Not that sexual tension is ever really simple, mind you.
Now, I have to admit something: As season two progressed, and the friendship between Frank and Lara grew, I became less worried that they were going to introduce a new love interest for our intrepid, roving, freelance criminal profiler. Instead, I started seeing Lara as a female construct of Frank at an earlier point in his life. By that I mean the part of Frank we had only been told about, but had never seen. As in, the period of time pre-Millennium Group when he was coming into his gift, yet fearing it all the same. If you recall, in the Pilot, Frank tells Bletcher that the Millennium Group had, “helped him understand the nature of his facility.” Lara obviously did not yet understand her own, which as it turns out is colorfully illustrated in the episode Anamnesis.
Speaking of Anamnesis, this episode is one of my favorites, largely due to Catherine Black being featured prominently. However, by the same token, had the concept of Frank and Lara as an item been in the cards for those scripts, this would have presented confrontational tension between the wife and mistress. Of course, this was a non-existent thread within the episode. In fact, it was made perfectly clear that Catherine saw only the Group as “the other woman” – as she stated to Peter Watts in Monster – and while it was apparent that she held some amount of disdain for Lara Means, it was not jealousy. And, by the end, one could easily see that Catherine felt, in many ways, the same compassion for Lara she felt for Frank.
But, I digress…
Because of the development through the season, my hatred for Lara waned. I grew to like her – grudgingly – and at times, feel sorry for her just as Catherine did. And, later, as the season drew to a close, I was faced with a mix of emotions regarding her character, ranging from feelings of betrayal, to pure empathy.
In writing this particular article I once again must make an admission – my perception of Lara still wavers to this day. I say this because when I agreed to pen this analysis, one of the first things I did was park myself in my favorite rocking chair, complete with the season two DVD’s in hand, and then proceed to watch The Beginning And The End PT2, simply because it sets the tone for the season itself. That simple fact made it a moral imperative to view it first in order that I go into this project with the proper frame of mind. After that, in rapid succession, I watched every episode that featured Lara Means, reluctantly skipping those in between.
This is why my perception of the character sits on a fence. When you compress that much Lara into such a confined space, you end up seeing a fairly detailed sketch of the relationship between Frank and her, and it develops right before your eyes with nothing to distract your attention. And this brings me to the original question that was posed regarding Lara Means and this article itself.
Where would I like to have seen the character go if she’d continued into season 3?
And there, my friends, we have a bit of a quandary. Given my personal style and story preference, had I been writing the series I would have done exactly the same thing with Lara that was already done. However, if I had for some odd reason brought her into season three, I suspect it would have been in the form of a ghost. Not a white sheet wearing, ethereal, Casper clone, mind you, but a psychological ghost that haunted Frank as much as his memories of Catherine did – until, of course, he achieved closure in The Sound Of Snow.
But then… You knew there would be a “but”, right?
The “but” in this case is that in the broader analysis, I can see where Lara could have been an added obsession for Frank. He was already tightly focused on bringing down the Millennium Group, and by the same token I can imagine that he would still be seeking to rescue those he saw as friends. While his relationship with Peter Watts was no longer truly viable, his desire to rescue Lara could easily have become just as consuming as his primary obsession. And, in the hands of some writers, a deeper relationship between the two may well have formed. That’s not where I would have taken it as an author, but it is definitely a viable avenue for a dramatic work.
Of course, all of this rambling on my part simply begs a different question: Do I still hate Lara Means?
So, here’s my thing…
Besides being an avid fan of all things Millennium, M. R. Sellars is an active member of the HWA (Horror Writers Association) and author of the best selling paranormal thrillers subtitled The Rowan Gant Investigations. The series currently stands at 1 novelette and 9 novels, with the 10th to be released July 2010. He can be found at www.mrsellars.com as well as popular social networking venues on the world wide web.
Article images: Chris Nu's Millennium
Comments (16) | 5:54 AM
Joselyn Roja's is one of the leading vidders in the X-Files fandoms and closely associated to our dear sexy friends at X-FilesNews.com. She's done some awesome vids for X-Files (please check them out here), and we're delighted she's found time to do one for us on this week's subject - you've guessed it - Lara Means. We've had some good videos on this site before, but I think you will agree that this is probably one of the best that we've had. A special thanks to Joselyn for creating such a fantastic tribute to a fantastic character!
Also, Wednesday marks the day of our Lara Means competition! First prize will be a special signed season two box set of Millennium. The runner-up will get a signed Millennium photo.
The tag? There isn't one - no question, just send us your name and address to email@example.com, headed "Lara Means Week Competition" and we'll print those names out, throw them into a hat or similar receptacle and see who Troy pulls out! Couldn't be simpler!
Comments (17) | 6:29 PM
For Tuesday, we have Horror writer Alison Nastasi contributing her own unique perspective of the character of Lara Means. And a quick reminder to leave a message in the comments if your time allows. Kristen Cloke will be reading, I know that for a fact - quite possibly Glen Morgan and James Wong too, so if you want to leave a thanks to those guys or have a comment, this is the place to offer it - they're watching! Over to you Alison!
Lara Means: Powers and Principalities
By Alison Nastasi
She quotes 2001: A Space Odyssey, wears Ramones t-shirts, believes in poetic leaps and has charmed us with her favorite phrase, “Here’s my thing … ” Lara Means remains one of my favorite characters on Chris Carter’s Millennium, and yet as much as I feel I know her, she’s almost similar to the visions that plague her – an ephemeral being, a messenger, a foil to the prophecy of things to come who is as fleeting as the horses that ride through her mind. As she helps to guide Frank – and in turn Jordan – her role becomes quite clear (the Latin origin of her name even means “protection”), but there seems to be so much more to her that remains tantalizingly out of reach. Lara is the Alpha and the Omega – she embodies the rational and spiritual coexisting, though much more vehemently than Frank’s abilities. She sees angels and is haunted by their presence, yet she relies on them for clarity and once they abandon her she is lost.
Where Frank can see events unfolding, Lara simply feels them. The horrible sensation she experiences as a child, when her father’s business associate visits her home, marks her first encounter with the intense light that portends tragic events. From there, the visions increase and Lara’s gift becomes her guide through the investigations we watch she and Frank uncover – each one as much of a key to discovering the true intentions of the Millennium Group as they are to discovering themselves. The interplay between these characters is both elemental and monumental. While Frank sees the group providing them with cases, Lara describes them as tests or lessons. Some of these slight differences in their characters assure Lara of her own place in the series, something beyond merely serving as a mirror for Frank – though many things indicate she is more of a soulmate to him than even his own wife. This is something he professes to her in the end of season two during a raw and emotional admission: “Lara, you’re the only one … not my wife and not my family … who ever understood. Only you … ” While many have misunderstood Lara and Frank’s connection as romantic – most evident in Siren when Catherine and Lara meet for the first time and it feels as though Catherine is catching Frank “in the act” – their relationship truly is based in mutual understanding and emotional symbiosis.
The most fascinating thing about the Frank/Catherine/Lara trinity is the idea that the two closest women in Frank’s life are martyred. Lara’s martyrdom is achieved by giving the vaccination that could save her own life to Frank’s family. Catherine’s comes through the act of sacrificing herself so that her daughter can live when she offers the lone vaccination to Jordan. In many ways Lara resembles a Joan of Arc figure. Both share divine guidance and struggle against seemingly insurmountable forces.
"Anamnesis," however, provides an opportunity to see Lara’s character in a way more directly translated from the episode’s title. The term anamnesis comes from the Greek word for recollection or remembrance. In reference to Platonic philosophy it is defined as remembering things from a supposed previous existence. In terms of Christianity, it refers to the part of the Eucharist in which the Passion, Resurrection and Ascension of Christ are remembered. This is an interesting play on the connections between Lara and Mary Magdalene (and the Gnostic Ennoia), as well as Lara and Catherine’s characters, as they relate to the contradictions in the Gnostic texts, in particular, Thunder Perfect Mind. In the episode Lara and Catherine work together to investigate a case involving five girls who claim to have visions of the Virgin Mary. The two women couldn’t be more opposite in terms of belief and approach; Lara finds explanations for these events through the Gnostic gospels, but Catherine has a more real-world viewpoint and chalks the girls’ behavior up to teenage pranks. While events unfold, the friction between the temporal and spiritual characteristics of the women become intertwined and both leave the investigation with more questions than answers. Ben Fisher, who acts as Clare’s guardian and teacher, accuses Lara of being jealous because she lacked someone in her life who could help her understand her power. While this may be true, Lara subconsciously attempts to overcome this by taking on the same role for Frank and also Catherine. Catherine’s opinion isn’t completely swayed by the end of the episode, but she does begin to question some of her steadfast beliefs once she gets the proof she asks for (the file Lara gives her in the end of the episode). Once Fisher dies, Lara explains to Catherine that there had to be a sacrifice to set certain events in motion. These sacrifices are mirrored once again in the way that the two women eventually forgo the vaccinations that would save their lives (though we can only assume what happens to Lara).
An obvious influence on "Anamnesis" is Holy Blood, Holy Grail and The Messianic Legacy by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln (this was pre-Da Vinci Code). In the book, the authors talk about the bloodline of Christ and Mary Magdalene, which they believe has survived to the present day and is protected by a secret society known as the Priory of Zion (similar to the group Ben Fisher belongs to – The Family). But a more compelling interpretation opens up when considering the final voiceover in the episode.
In the narration, Ben and Clare cite Simon Magus’ account of the First Thought, also known as the First Power or the female aspect of divinity, which the Gnostics hold in very high regard. Magus was the founder of the Gnostic sect known as the Simonians, and was often believed to be a demon disguised as a man. Different sects of Gnosticism define these ideas with slight variations (also, this is a huge subject), but I will try to provide you with this vast oversimplification. In the beginning there was a light, which desired experience of itself and split apart to create the Father, the masculine principle, and a feminine principle Magus refers to as Ennoia – the divine mind/feminine Wisdom equal to the Father. She was considered the mother of all the angels (aeons or emanations), but they rebelled against her out of jealousy and banished her to the mortal world – confining her to a female body. She was essentially reincarnated over the years, each life shaming her more than the previous. Magus saw himself as the redemptive masculine principle (the Father) and rescued her from deterioration and degradation. He found Ennoia in the form of a slave and prostitute named Helen – though some believe she was neither. Together, they became the World Soul and the World Mind. Throughout history, several figures were considered to embody this emanated pair: Faust and Helen of Troy, Dulcinea and Don Quixote de la Mancha, and so on.
Clare cites Magus’ words at the end of "Anamnesis," which describe these events: “She suffered every indignity from them and she could not return to the father. In a human body she came to be confined. And thus, from age to age, she passed from body to body…into one female body after the other. Thus, she became the lost sheep.” The references to Clare and Mary Magdalene seem fairly obvious, but it doesn’t seem like a stretch to make these connections to Lara Means as well. The suffering Lara experiences, combined with her being “cast out” at one point by the Millennium Group, and similarly by her Angel are relevant comparisons to Ennoia. Also, Lara’s relationship with Frank seems to embody the divine principles – Lara being more emotional and the one who feels (the World Soul) and Frank being the one who sees and knows (the World Mind). During a conversation with Catherine in Anamnesis, Lara tells her not to leave Frank alone because the visions they share are so isolating. Based on this Gnostic interpretation of Lara’s character, could that be because she knows salvation cannot occur through the masculine principle alone?
It should be obvious that Lara Means isn’t just some peripheral character in the continuing story of Frank Black, but is instead a vital component of not only the ongoing narrative of Millennium, but also a major part of the show’s subtext. On a lesser series, it would be all too easy to dismiss the ideas that Lara Means was potentially a modern reincarnation of Ennoia, because television shows rarely reach that level of depth. However, if we learned anything during three seasons of Carter’s darkly brilliant show, it was that the writers on Millennium were very well versed on some incredibly arcane topics and adept at creating things for the audience to ponder long after the episode had ended. Lara Means stands as one of their greatest creations – a woman who wasn’t merely a foil to the show’s focal character, but someone much more profound. We may never truly know everything that Lara Means was or represented, and even if we did, I imagine it would wind up being like the rest of the show – where answers are found but simultaneously reveal further questions. Like Alex Ventoux writes in his diary in "Luminary," “God doesn't move us by telling us the facts. He moves us by pains and contradictions. He's given me a lack of understanding: not answers, but questions … ” Sometimes these are dark lessons, but this is who we – and Lara Means – are.
Alison Nastasi writes for a variety of Horror journals including Cinematical, Horror Squad & Sci-Fi Squad.
Article images: Chris Nu's Millennium
Comments (12) | 4:10 PM
And welcome to Lara Means Week! A week subtlety dedicated to the wonder that is - and if you've not guessed it's back to the box with you - Lara Means.
So what have we in store for you this week? I suggest you listen to the voice of Lara Means herself and let her tell you - click the play button below!
So what do we have to start off the week?
Well we thought we'd start off with something very special. The question as to what happened to Lara Means is one that has echoed through fandom for more than a decade. Speaking on that very subject, we offer you the comments of Millennium season 2 writer and producer, James Wong. Press click to hear James' comments on Lara exclusively at BacktoFrankBlack.
Click the play button below!
Plus, to start the week out, we have some media for you. A wallpaper for you to proudly adorn your PC or Mac all week with, and a postcard for you to print out and send to FOX!
Comments (4) | 5:00 AM