“Sacrament” (21 February 1997)
Writer: Frank Spotnitz
Director: Michael Watkins
Editor: Chris Willingham, A.C.E.
Quote: “Been sitting here trying to prepare myself for whatever happens... That’s the Black family: try to anticipate the future so you don’t have to dwell on the past.” --Thomas Black
Overview: Since viewers were first introduced to Frank Black in Millennium’s pilot episode, his disturbing visions have become progressively more complex with each passing installment, each harrowing murder investigation. With cryptic connections mounting as the series neared the climax of its first season, it seemed that the mythology building up around the profiler’s visionary talents would soon take us well beyond mere investigative insights. In “Sacrament,” Frank Spotnitz begins to pull at loose threads left dangling from “Pilot” and “Dead Letters,” not to unravel the unfinished tapestry of Millennium but so that he may tie these threads neatly together in preparation for the epic dramas to come.
“Sacrament” stands as a milestone in that it is the first episode to openly suggest that there is an extraordinary inheritance possessed by Jordan Black. This is revealed subtly yet irrefutably in a pair of scenes that would put any concerned parent on alert. With tears in her eyes and anguish in her voice, Jordan expresses concern over the abuse being inflicted on her aunt, in spite of the fact that the child is undoubtedly being shielded from the horrors traumatizing her family. At the moment Helen Black is kidnapped, Jordan bears witness to the brutal abduction, seeing the events remotely from the sanctity of the vacant church. (The only alternative reading to this scene is the even more dramatic suggestion that Jordan is observing traumas to come, prophetically anticipating the terrible fate that awaits her Aunt Helen.) The unavoidable implication is that Jordan is witnessing great violence with her mind’s eye--in precisely the same fashion as her father.
With its emphasis on family, “Sacrament” is able to quietly reinforce the great bond between this loving father and his beloved child, a connection that has resonated with viewers since Lance Henriksen and Brittany Tiplady first shared the screen. Indeed, our sense of their relationship is only strengthened by the presence of Thomas Black, a shaken and confused man who simply cannot relate to his stoic older brother. The episode’s memorable final shot--in which Frank takes Jordan aside, separate from the rest of the family, and the two walk away hand-in-hand--is so symbolic, so evocative that it would be echoed throughout the rest of the series. This lasting image leaves us with an affecting impression of the bond that connects Frank Black to his exceptional daughter, the sort of bond that can exist only between two kindred souls who share the same gift, the same curse. Theirs is the relationship that will prove to be the very core of Millennium’s unfolding mythology.
Connections: Following her ordeal at the church, Jordan Black is afflicted by a mysterious fever, the very same symptom for which she was hospitalized in “Pilot.” Jordan’s gift for prophetic visions was first hinted at, somewhat obliquely, in a nightmare seen in “Dead Letters.”
Trances in Total: 6 (0:14)
Gore Score: 10/10
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