Frank Black quits the Millennium Group while Peter Watts and Lara Means search for an ancient artifact that has almost caused a civil war between divided factions of the group. (Part 1 of 2)
In Damascus, Syria, a group of men using sophisticated radar locate and unearth a piece of petrified wood — the remains of the cross of the crucifixion — near a mosque. Their secret mission is interrupted when two assassins step from the shadows and open fire. One of the team members, a man named LeFur, clutches the wood to his chest, as if invincible. Suddenly, the assassins' guns inexplicably jam. LeFur opens fire, killing his attackers. Later, LeFur's pager explodes as he attempts to transport the wood through airport customs. A chaos erupts, a man named Helmut Gunsche uses an electronic device to disable the airport surveillance system, allowing him to make off with the wood undetected. Gunsche then phones an associate in Paraguay, a man named Axmann, and informs him his mission was a success. On Axmann's sleeve is a cuff link, on which is engraved an ancient Germanic rune.
Meanwhile, back in the United States, Catherine meets with Clear Knight, the Vice President of Personnel Relations at Aerotech International. Clear offers Catherine a position as psychological counselor, explaining that many of the company's employees are new to Seattle and experience problems adjusting to the area. Catherine accepts the job.
Watts meets fellow Millennium Group members at an isolated warehouse. The men discuss the theft of the cross, and how it threatens to split the Group into two parts. One is known as the Owls, who believe that if a theological event does not occur in 672 days, a secular Millennium will result — leaving them in control. The other is known as the Roosters, which includes Watts and, theoretically, everyone at the meeting. The Owls stole the cross to weaken the Rooster's faith — and make themselves invincible.
Lara experiences another vision of an angel. While researching the psychological effects of hallucinations, she is approached by Mr. Johnston (who attended the meeting with Watts and the other Roosters). Identifying himself as an Owl, Johnston believes that a secular prophecy that will change the Earth. He urges Lara to work with the Owls.
When Frank arrives home with Jordan, he finds Watts inside. Watts justifies the intrusion by explaining that Frank's modem line has been tapped. The two become embroiled in a heated argument. At the conclusion of the discussion, Frank tells Watts he wants nothing more to do with the Group.
Later, Watts tells Lara about Robert LeFur and his effort to transport the cross into the United States. According to legend, the cross makes its possessor invincible, and was even sought after by the Nazis during World War II. Lara tells Watts that she believes the Owls are not responsible for its disappearance, as the theft would only lead to a civil war within the Millennium Group.
As Catherine exits Aerotech one evening, she discovers that her automobile will not start. She telephones Frank for assistance, but he cannot determine the source of the problem. Clear Knight, who also wears the Germanic rune cuff link, approaches the car and, in an overly friendly manner, invites Frank, Catherine and Jordan to her home for dinner.
As Mr. Johnston drives along a deserted section of roadway, he is passed by another car driven by Helmut Gunsche. A few moments later, Johnston's automobile dies (the result of the electronic device used by Gunsche earlier). Johnston steers the automobile onto the side of the road. Shortly thereafter, he is knocked to the ground by Gunsche, who also wears the Germanic rune cuff links. Gunsche forces a tube into Johnston's mouth — and the other end is placed inside the car's gas tank. After Johnston loses consciousness, Gunsche places a board of wood — exactly the dimensions of the crucifixion cross — inside Johnston's trunk, as if hiding it. He then sets the car, and Johnston ablaze.
Watts, Lara and Group pathologists examine Johnston's burned remains. The examination is interrupted by Owl group members, who insist they be allowed to observe. Preliminary reports reveal that the wood planted inside Johnston's trunk cannot be accurately dated due to the fire. While examining Johnston's partially charred notebook, Watts discovers an entry about Johnston contacting Lara Means. Watts immediately bans a stunned Lara from the Group.
Using his computer, Frank identifies a watercolor hanging in Clear Knight's office as one having once belonged to Adolph Hitler. His work is interrupted when he notices two men surveilling his house from a car. As Frank approaches the men, gun in hand, the driver identifies himself as a Group member by giving the password. Unbeknownst to Frank, the passenger readies his handgun.
TO BE CONTINUED
- Glen Morgan explains that the plot for this dramatic two-part episode grew naturally out of James Wong's work on "The Hand of St. Sebastian," one of his favorites from the second season. Morgan has commented, "It's nice to be so influenced by something your partner did. I wanted to break the split we saw in that episode into a secular one. How can you make people believe that the end of the world is in sight? I tried to look to a scientific possibility. In the two-parter at the end of the season, I tried to tie those together with a plague. I started reading about germ warfare and thought, 'Here are scientific events occurring in our world, and they're predicted theologically.'"
- The mysterious and sinister company that has employed Catherine Black in this episode, Aerotech, shares its name with a mysterious and sinister corporation from Glen Morgan and James Wong's science fiction drama series Space: Above & Beyond.
- Clear Knight, the devious Aerotech executive who seems particularly preoccupied with the Black family, is portrayed by Kimberly Patton. Patton is just one of various pseudonyms utilized by actress Kim McKamy. The actress, under the pseudonym Ashlyn Gere, has had an illustrious career as an adult video star and was the winner of the adult film industry's FOXE 1991 Fan Favorite, 1992 Vixen of the Year, and 1993 Best Female Performer awards. In mainstream media, she has worked extensively with Morgan and Wong and appeared in nearly every one of their television and film productions.
- This episode earned the crew of Millennium's sound department a technical Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Sound Editing for a Series.
- In this episode Peter Watts asks, "Can you imagine the effect conclusive evidence of doomsday would have on a world in which millions actually believe they've been abducted and experimented on by aliens with the knowledge and cooperation of government officials? A country that obsessed for decades on Elvis sightings? Roswell?" These comments were clearly written by Morgan and Wong as playful jibes at the mythology and themes of Chris Carter's The X-Files.
- Title: Each of the episodes in this two-part story is named for one of the two opposing personality types associated with apocalyptic fears. The owl is often used as a symbol to represent those who do not believe in an impending apocalypse, the type of cautious or wary individual who fears the fervor and unrest potentially created by doomsayers. Within the Millennium Group, Owls are those who believe in a distant, secular end to the world rather than an impending religious Armageddon. As the Millennium Group Owl in this episode explains, "The owl knows it is still late at night, the foxes are about, the master sleeps. This is who we are."
- Soundtrack: "Horse With No Name" by America
- Awards: Emmy Award - Mark K. Crookston, Maciek Malish, Gabrielle Reeves, Ken Gladden, Debby Ruby-Winsberg, Donna Beltz, Michael Kimball, Susan Welsh, Jarmil Maupin, Jeff Charbonneau, Michael Salvetta, and Gary Murello, Outstanding Sound Editing for a Series (Nominee)
- Lara's computer display reads: "Welcome Lara. There are 665 days remaining."
Cast and Characters
- Malcolm Stewart (Gordon Johnston) previously played Dr. William Glass in The X-Files episode "Pilot", Commander Carver in "3", Agent Bonnecaze in "Avatar", Dr. Sacks in "Tunguska" and "Terma" and Vic in the Millennium episode "Loin Like a Hunting Flame".
- John Juliani (Mr. Plunkett) previously played Dr. Harrison Lloyd in the Millennium episode and Agent Eugene Chandler in The X-Files episode "Sanguinarium".
- Mark Holden (Amadou) previously played Agent Clark "The Thin White Line"in The X-Files episode "Unrequited".
- Barry W. Levy (Driver) previously played Navy Doctor in The X-Files episode "Apocrypha" and Dr. Vitagliano in "Gethsemane" and "Redux".
- Kristen Cloke as Lara Means
- Kimberley Patton as Clear Knight
- R.G. Armstrong as Old Man
- Malcolm Stewart as Gordon Johnston
- Bob Dawson as Helmut Gunsche
- Michael Tiernan as Millennium Group Driver
- Brian Downey as Mr. Dean
- Judith Maxie as Finley
- John Juliani as Mr. Plunkett
- Mark Holden as Amadou
- Bruno Verdoni as Robert Le Fur
- Gardiner Millar as Mr. Otto