“Weeds” (24 January 1997)
Writer: Frank Spotnitz
Director: Michael Pattinson
Editor: George Richard Potter
Quote: “He sees his victim as ugly, decayed. The mutilation suggests that he wants us to see the boy the same way. He’s trying to tell us something... That he won’t stop killing until he makes us understand whatever it is he’s trying to communicate.” --Frank Black
Overview: In the presentation of its startling visions, “Weeds” faithfully follows the televisual template laid out in Millennium’s unforgettable pilot. Indeed, “Weeds” and “Pilot” are connected in many ways. This often gruesome whodunit allows us to experience both the nightmarish hallucinations of an obsessive killer as well as the investigative insights of our heroic criminal profiler. The episode’s killer, Edward Petey, has much in common with the Frenchman, not least the fact that he doesn’t see the world like everybody else. (How does he see it? “Differently.”) As a result, both “Weeds” and “Pilot” stand out as episodes of Millennium that, rather uncharacteristically, rely heavily on special effects make-up in the realization of their visions--special effects make-up encompassing more than the usual blood spatters and gore, make-up that alters the very physiology of the victims on display. As the episode’s title implies, Petey’s unique perception of Vista Verde Estates shows us a world dominated by decay, its residents wan and aged. Men and women of all ages, parents and children alike, are transformed into withered husks before our very eyes. The artists at Lindala Make-Up Effects had their work cut out for them with this installment.
Interestingly, the effect of such transformations, as in the pilot, almost subliminally suggests that there is something preternatural about the visions flashing before us on the television screen. That whisper of a paranormal sensibility originally suggested to the audience by the prior work of Chris Carter and Frank Spotnitz seems, somewhat unfairly, to be enhanced by the use of obvious visual effects. When we see children transformed into the elderly in a flash of white light we know we are witnessing something wholly unnatural. It is difficult to shake the insinuation that what we are seeing is not simply some over-imaginative flourish born of a diseased mind but something far outside the realm of the natural. Our impression of Frank Black’s talents is affected by association. Once again, we are inspired to pose questions about the nature of his gift. Indeed, that seemingly miraculous facet of the profiler’s abilities hinted at in the early days of Millennium would soon be explored in dramatic fashion in another installment scripted by Frank Spotnitz.
Connections: The visions of “Weeds,” featuring extensive prosthetic work and old-age make-up, evoke the imagery of “Pilot,” featuring make-up depicting mutilated faces. For the Millennium viewer, it is difficult not to see Edward Petey’s distorted perception of the Comstock residence--that of a red house under roiling black clouds--as a stark negative of the imagery typically associated with the Black residence.
Trances in Total: 3 (0:11)
Gore Score: 7/10
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