Second Sight: "The Wild and the Innocent"

“The Wild and the Innocent” (10 January 1997)

Writer: Jorge Zamacona
Director: Thomas J. Wright
Editor: Stephen Mark

Quote: “An inordinate amount of violence and suffering has occurred in this house. [Maddie Haskel] might know something that could help us.” --Frank Black

In a previous installment of Second Sight, our bi-weekly examination of Frank Black’s visionary talents, we considered that location might be key to understanding the nature of those visions witnessed in “Kingdom Come.” By the mid-point of the show’s first season, the dedicated Millennium fan knows the familiar triggers for the profiler’s gore-laden reveries. We brace ourselves for an onslaught of nightmarish imagery when we see Frank button up his coat as he steps onto a crime scene.

As the man who channeled the character’s sensitivities, Lance Henriksen is certainly aware of the link between site and sense. The actor has quite vocally challenged any oversimplification of this complex relationship, however, defying those who would misconstrue the visual devices of Millennium. When the camera offers us a close-up of a piece of shattered glass, triggering one of the hero’s blood-drenched hallucinations, it should not suggest to us that there is some negative psychic energy imbued within the glass itself. The shattered glass is just a piece of the puzzle, and Frank Black is gifted enough to see the larger picture at a glance. “I always felt Frank Black had morphed into a person who put abstract loose ends together in his head in a way that other people couldn’t,” Henriksen once explained in a Back to Frank Black interview. “He could take threads of an idea and they would suddenly appear to him, almost as a linear story. In other words, walking into a room he would see pieces of a puzzle, like a great chess player, and he would string them together.”

Nevertheless, we cannot ignore the fact that location and physical objects play an integral role in the coalescing and unraveling of such threads. In “The Wild and the Innocent,” Frank Black lingers in the house of Killean and Maddie Haskel long after the local police have moved on to their crime lab, spending his time poring over the personal items that fill their home. It is the possessions he finds there--mirrors and jewelry boxes, blankets and toy dolls, photo albums and high school yearbooks--that introduce him to the troubled young woman at the center of this heartbreaking story. These objects speak to him, telling the linear story of the young girl’s traumatic life and prompting a series of those powerful and evocative visions we’ve all come to expect. The formula for detective stories should draw our attention to the evidence that we all leave behind as we live our lives, in public or in private. It is a theme brought vividly to the surface each and every time one of our hero’s visions is triggered by an artifact or a crucial piece of evidence. There is significance and meaning imbued in the items we touch, the residue of our lives, even if they are merely individual pieces of a much larger mosaic. In those lonely scenes in which Frank tours the Haskel homestead by flashlight, as Bobby and Maddie take to the open road in a desperate bid to track down Angel, “The Wild and the Innocent” somberly reminds us of the traces of ourselves that we leave behind as we live out our everyday lives.

Connections: The visions of “The Wild and the Innocent” are used to reveal a character’s backstory, an effect similar to that used to illustrate Galen Calloway’s past in “Kingdom Come” and the history of sexual abuse in “The Well-Worn Lock.”

Trances in Total: 3 (0:12)

Gore Score: 7/10