- For other pilot episodes, see Pilot
Renowned FBI profiler Frank Black retires to Seattle with his family and becomes a member of the Millennium Group, a secretive team of men who were once law enforcement officers. Using his incredible profiling skills, Black helps in an effort to catch a vicious murderer who believes he is fulfilling apocalyptic prophecies.
FEBRUARY 2, 1996
A man wearing a baseball cap enters the Ruby Tip club in rainy Seattle, in 1996. Inside, he secretly watches an off-duty stripper leave the premises. Another woman, Tuesday, enters the club, ready to begin work. She later makes smalltalk with another stripper, Calamity, in the dancers' changing room, while Calamity tries to make a phone call. Calamity tells Tuesday that a weird French guy, who they both know, is back. Wearing only underwear, Tuesday later seductively dances, in a room with other strippers, as the Frenchman - the man wearing the baseball cap - watches her from behind one of many windows. After Calamity has ended her shift, she reluctantly gives a private dance to the Frenchman during which he mumbles obscure phrases and sees visions of her, surrounded by blood and fire.
Shortly after, Frank meets his cheerful new neighbor, Jack Meredith, outside the house. Frank mentions that his family have been in Washington, D.C. for the past ten years, although he and his wife are originally from Seattle. After Jack leaves, Frank looks at a newspaper delivered to the house and notices an article about Calamity's murder, headlined "Mother Found Murdered in Home".
SEATTLE PUBLIC SAFETY BUILDING
Frank visits the office of a friendly former workmate, Lieutenant Bob Bletcher, who introduces Frank to three detectives in the room, including Bob Geibelhouse. Bletcher refers to Frank as having become "a big star at the FBI" and Geibelhouse is vaguely familiar with him, as the capturer of cannibalistic killer Leon Cole Piggett.
After drawing Bletcher out of the room, Frank asks him about the recent murder, learning that the victim was a stripper and that her daughter is now in protective custody, never having witnessed the murder. Bletcher is surprised that Frank seems to be looking for work and admits that he has heard Frank's ten-year stint on sexual homicide cases pushed him into an early retirement.
At Frank's request, Bletcher takes him to the morgue. There, they talk with Pathologist Curt Massey, who is about to reveal the corpse when Frank stops him. Frank sees vivid visions of the murder and voices a great deal of information about the incident, including that the killer severed Calamity's head. Bletcher still has to specifically tell Frank that two head hairs from a black male were lifted from the corpse. Nevertheless, both Bletcher and Massey are impressed and perplexed that Frank has managed to divine so much information, but Frank simply walks away.
Bletcher catches up to him in a stairwell, where Frank warns that the killer will strike again and suggests involving an experienced consulting group that he is working with.
Frank visits the Ruby Tip club and enters a booth to speak to Tuesday. He experiences difficulty with interviewing her, however, such as her initially mistaking him for being a client. After seeing a brief vision of Calamity amid blood and flames, Frank begins to exit the booth but turns back to Tuesday when she starts to tell him about the Frenchman, including the fact that he holds up French poetry to the window and paid Calamity for a private dance. Tuesday also shows Frank a camera in his booth.
At night, the Frenchman drives under a bridge and later walks through a nearby park; both locations are gay cruising areas. In the park, the Frenchman begins to see the passerby as having stitches over their facial orifices and he starts to hyperventilate. He returns to his car in a panic. Another man hails the vehicle, without speaking, and the Frenchman allows the man to enter before slowly starting to drive away. Under a low bridge later that night, the Frenchman drags his passenger - who is now lifeless and bloody - out of the vehicle and into the cars' trunk.
The next morning, Frank and his daughter happily discuss breeds of dog, as Jordan reads about them in a newspaper. Frank and his wife, Catherine, indirectly tease one another, in their discussion with Jordan, before Frank answers a call from Bletcher, who requests Frank's assistance with a recently-discovered corpse.
Once Frank enters a woodland crime scene, Bletcher tells him about the body, describing it as badly-charred. Defying Geibelhouse's expectations, Frank passes up an offer to view the body. He nevertheless sees visions of the victim being burned alive. He claims the latest victim was set alight by their wanted killer and leads the investigation to a nearby river, where the group find a closed makeshift coffin, marked with the word "peste". Frank accurately predicts, before the coffin is opened, that it is empty.
As they later drive through the pouring rain, Bletcher tells Frank that an associate of Frank's, Peter Watts, visited the morgue earlier that day, although Frank himself has not yet spoken to Watts. Apparently, Watts told some of Bletcher's detectives that he is part of something called the Millennium Group. Frank confirms Bletcher's suspicion that the Group is the consulting organization he is working with, adding that the Group includes former law enforcement officers and some retired FBI agents. Frank also confesses that he has joined the current investigation because he wants to protect his family and, before Bletcher leaves, Frank jokes that he is simply a lucky-guesser.
That night, Frank arrives outside his new home. Peter Watts announces his presence, introducing himself. As they talk, Catherine momentarily checks on Frank, who assures her that he won't be long. Watts reveals that he alone found an otherwise missed needle puncture on the incinerated body and notifies Frank that the Group has confidence in him.
In the yellow house soon thereafter, Catherine wordily warns Frank of being secretive. She says that he can't keep the dangers of the real world from the lives of both her and their young daughter. Frank asks his wife to make believe that he can do just that, however.
Later that night, he creeps downstairs, to an office area. Repeatedly watching video footage of the Frenchman at the Ruby Tip club, Frank works on deciphering the killer's words. He notices that Calamity had a tiny needle puncture mark and discovers that the word "peste" is not only on the empty coffin but is also on the underside of the bridge that the Frenchman visited earlier.
Frank visits both the area below the bridge, and the park. Like the Frenchman did earlier, he sees visions of passerby, in the park, with stitches on their faces. He also notices the Frenchman making a return visit to the park and a chase ensues, leading through the park and onto the bridge, where both men dodge traffic. Although Frank loses track of the killer, a driver tells him that the Frenchman jumped off the bridge. Frank does not see the killer in the water below, as the Frenchman is clinging to a pipe on the bridge's underside.
At the Seattle Public Safety Building, Frank presents his findings to a roomful of investigators, including Bletcher and his fellow detectives. Frank explains that the murderer is obsessed with apocalyptic prophecies, as demonstrated by the obscure phrases the Frenchman said in the strip club as well as the killer's use of the word "peste" (which, in French, means "plague"). Frank also says that the Frenchman sees himself as righteous but is maddened by twisted sexual guilt, angry at women and very confused. As the other investigators are convinced that the actual killer is a black man, they doubt Frank's interpretation of the case. Bletcher sides with his associated personnel and refuses to accept Frank's account as fact so Frank leaves the room, heading home to his family.
Just as Frank starts to drive out of the building's basement parking lot in the rain, Bletcher steps in front of Frank's red Cherokee car and orders Frank to reveal how he is so sure of the killer's identity. Frank finally admits that he can see what the killer sees. He describes this ability as both his gift and his curse, as well as the reason he retired. Bletcher urges Frank to leave law enforcement again but Frank answers that he already tried to. He avoids telling Bletcher what brought him back, instead proceeding to depart.
Frank arrives at the yellow house to find its front door ajar and the building abandoned. Urgently seeking his wife and daughter, Frank heads outside in the rain. There, Jack Meredith races up to him and relays news that Jordan has suffered a seizure.
Frank meets Catherine in the hospital where Jordan has been taken and Catherine details Jordan's condition for Frank, as they walk to their daughter's ward. Jordan is asleep and has symptoms, including a high fever, that the medical staff suspect are due to an extreme flu reaction.
Later that night, Frank and Catherine are sleeping in the same ward as their daughter when a night nurse enters and takes some blood from Jordan. Frank wakes up and stares at the nurse's activities. After Catherine subsequently awakens and asks him what is wrong, Frank announces his realization that the Frenchman is taking blood from his victims and has more bodies buried alive. Catherine approvingly tells him to go, so he hurries away.
The team of investigators are searching the riverside in the dark and cold when Bletcher notifies Frank that he is about to call the search off, planning to return in daylight. Worrying that the victims could be dead by then, Frank wades across the river, reluctantly followed by Bletcher. On the other side, Bletcher finds another coffin, from which he and Frank free a terribly-pained man bearing stitches on his mouth and eyes - which have been sewn together - as well as his wrists. Responding to Bletcher shouting for urgent assistance, his team hurry to cross the river, as Bletcher withdraws more evidence from the coffin - a plastic bag containing Calamity's severed head. Frank warns that there may be other victims, so the searchers begin to hunt the surrounding area.
Later in Bletcher's office, Geibelhouse lets Frank know, as Bletcher is having a phone conversation, that two other empty coffins were found. Bletcher informs Frank and Geibelhouse that the man with stitches just gave a description of his attacker that matches the Frenchman and reported that the wrongdoer was taking blood, confirming Frank's conclusions. After Geibelhouse leaves to disperse these details, Frank comments that the Frenchman is passing judgment on his victims, probably by testing their blood. Bletcher and Frank talk in confidence, both men remarking on the shocking nature of the recent case and the crimes they have both investigated. Finally admitting the issue that influenced him to retire, Frank recounts that - a year after capturing an elusive killer named Ed Cuffle, who had sent many Polaroids of his victims to the police - he himself received an anonymous letter containing various Polaroids of Catherine, causing him to become intensely afraid. He describes Jordan as a miracle; both her parents were not meant to have been able to conceive. Frank also reveals that the Millennium Group helped him beat his fear, by helping him understand the nature of his ability, and that they are concerned with preparing for an apocalyptic event.
After Bletcher exits, Frank takes a phone call for the lieutenant, intending to note down a message. He learns startling news, however - that the killer's blood samples not only have been found in a downtown lab but were also sent from the same institute, dispatched intra-office. In search of Bletcher, Frank hurries through the building and ends up in the morgue, where he comes across the Frenchman. Recognizing Frank, the killer shouts apocalyptic rantings, all the while trying to attack Frank with a knife. Bletcher shows up and shoots the murderer, saving Frank's life in the process. The Frenchman's final words are a cautioning that such an apocalyptic event cannot be stopped.
Frank brings a puppy home for his daughter while Catherine is preparing to attend an interview. Both Catherine and Jordan separately fawn over the puppy. Frank discovers an anonymous letter in the family's mail but keeps it secret from his wife, who passes him on her way out. He privately opens the letter to find it contains Polaroids of Catherine and Jordan in Seattle.
- Unlike the pilot episodes of both The X-Files and The Lone Gunmen, this episode includes a fully complete opening credits sequence. The same sequence, designed by Ramsey McDaniel, would be used throughout Season 1 of Millennium but would later be changed for Season 2 and replaced again, for the third season.
- Such was Chris Carter's standing with the Fox network at the time of this episode's creation that Fox invested a great deal of trust in him and he skirted the normal pilot procedure of the network regularly interfering in the creative process; Carter was given the power to essentially conceive the pilot exactly as he wanted to do it, with hardly any input from the network.
Story & Script
- In formulating the plot of this episode, Chris Carter spoke with director David Nutter about what the story would be and what ideas he had about the project. During a subsequent holiday, Carter went away and wrote the episode's script. He handed the script (upon his return) to Nutter, who was impressed by both the script in general and how much it included the story ideas that Carter had spoken about. Nutter began to mentally visualize the script as he read it, which he - as a director - also saw as a good sign.
- Much secrecy surrounded the script of this episode, as those who were involved in its creation didn't want it to be leaked. Besides David Nutter, another person who Chris Carter entrusted to read the script while he was writing it was Frank Spotnitz, who was not formally working on Millennium during the making of the pilot but was slightly involved in the production while also working on The X-Files with Carter. Even years later, Spotnitz thought the episode was "still one of the finest things Chris has written."
- The Ruby Tip peepshow club was influenced by a Seattle institution called the Lusty Lady, situated on Main Street in Seattle.
- The idea of the Frenchman was very much influenced by prophecies of Nostradamus.
- The name "Jack Meredith" was actually the name of an extremely helpful and caring neighbor of Chris Carter's, who lived across the street from Carter while he was growing up.
- "Geibelhouse" was another name that Carter took from his childhood; the Geibelhouse family had been the cousins of Steve Uroff, a very good friend of Carter's.
- Carter took the name "Bob Bletcher" from a Santa Barbara attorney who had done some legal work for him but was a big, masculine man with a very outgoing personality. Carter liked Bletcher very much and also liked his name, which stuck with the character.
- Carter intended for the Bletcher character to be someone who, in this episode, starts by struggling to understand Frank's unique perception of the world but ultimately, to a certain extent, comes to Frank's point of view.
- The character of Peter Watts was conceived out of Chris Carter's desire to create a character who had a very dry, matter-of-fact and articulate way of communicating with Frank.
- The idea of Frank's basement office was that he would have somewhere in the yellow house to regularly go where he could keep his grim work away from his family.
- The scenes of the Frenchman wandering through the park were inspired by a period of about five years when Chris Carter was living on the fifteenth floor of an apartment building in Vancouver and could see, from his window, people moving in the bushes of a certain nearby area where men congregated.
- Chris Carter thought there was too much dialogue in the original, scripted version of the scenes where Frank enters Jordan's hospital ward and later awakens there to realize that the Frenchman is taking blood.
- In the scene where Frank and Bletcher find the Coffin Man, Frank subsequently holds the victim, adding an extra degree of emotion to the scene. This action was not in the script, however.
- Although it is not explicitly established in the episode whether - in the final scene - Frank knows that the letter contains Polaroids before he opens it, Chris Carter has stated that the intention was that Frank does know.
- Before actor Lance Henriksen was cast as Frank Black, Chris Carter wrote the character of Frank, in this episode, with Lance in mind for the role.
- The screenplay of this episode was later adapted by authoress Elizabeth Hand and titled "The Frenchman."
Cast and Characters
- At one point, Chris Carter slipped a note under the door of an hotel room where Lance Henriksen was staying. The note, which Carter left due to the fact that Henriksen had never previously acted in television, politely asked the actor if he could read this episode's script and consider appearing in it.
- Lance Henriksen's agent sent him the script of this episode, with an instruction to read it but without divulging any further information about it, such as the fact that it was for a television pilot. As he read the script, Henriksen found it to be very powerful and also thought the main character was really exciting, because he considered Frank Black to be a new kind of character. The actor, after reading the script, became enormously excited due to having formed the mistaken opinion that the script was for a movie. Once it was revealed to him that the script was for a television series, he initially doubted the possibility, skeptical that anyone could create a series based on the script, but the actor then began to become more involved in the project. During a subsequent lunch that he had with Chris Carter and David Nutter, the group discussed such things as their admiration of the script.
- Due to the secrecy surrounding the script, actress Megan Gallagher was sent a very secretive, numbered script, the night before she was scheduled to first meet Chris Carter and David Nutter. Gallagher read the script, which amazed her, and then quickly met with Carter and Nutter on the following day.
- Randy Stone, who had done the original casting of The X-Files, helped cast the starring roles of this episode, including Lance Henriksen and Megan Gallagher.
- For the roles of the law enforcement officers, the crew searched for men who looked like real adults instead of actors who were beautiful or celebrities from soaps.
- Although Bill Smitrovich and Lance Henriksen had never met one another before this episode, Chris Carter found that - due to the fact they were both very powerful personalities - there was a somewhat competitive streak to their interactions both on-screen and off. Carter found that this competitiveness created a tension between them that worked.
- Chris Carter was very pleased with Paul Dillon's performance in this episode as the Frenchman but believed the actor had probably been underused.
- Carter later joked that the puppy that appears near the end of this episode was "one of my best casting moments."
- Stephen E. Miller (Detective Roger Kamm) previously played John Truitt in The X-Files episode "Pilot", Tactical Commander in "Duane Barry" and Wayne Morgan in "Piper Maru".
- Don MacKay (Jack Meredith) previously played Warden Joseph Cash in The X-Files episode "Beyond the Sea", Charlie in "The Host" and Judge in "Pusher".
- Michael Puttonen (Pathologist Curt Massey) previously played Motel Manager in The X-Files episode "Deep Throat", Dr. Pilsson in "Sleepless" and Conductor in "731".
- Vancouver was very important to the look of both this episode and the series of Millennium in general. However, filming conditions in Vancouver were generally very cold.
- The building that was used for the yellow house in this episode was a family home in Shaunessy - an idyllic neighborhood of Vancouver that had restrictions on filming, and neighborhood organizations who didn't want the crew to be there. The crew nevertheless spent a lot of time doing a major overhaul on the house, to make it look exactly how Chris Carter wanted it to look, including re-shingling the house and repainting it a particular color of yellow. The building was used as the yellow house only in this episode, however, as the crew found - when it came time to start production on the series of Millennium - that they were no longer able to film there; the family who owned the building had decided that they didn't want to do a television series in their house. The property was a very expensive set for the Millennium crew to lose and the biggest beneficiary was probably the family that lived there, as they were basically left with a remodeled house. The rest of the series used a house that was different from the residence used for the pilot (the series house being more diminutive and in a different neighborhood from its original counterpart) but looked similar to the original property. Ironically, the replacement house - which first appears in "Gehenna", the first regular episode of Millennium following this episode - had previously appeared in "Deep Throat", the first regular episode of The X-Files following its own pilot.
- The interior of the Seattle Public Safety Building was all done on stage.
- A shot of the Frenchman picking up a gay man before driving away was filmed under the Lion's Gate Bridge in Vancouver. The same bridge was used as the bridge, in the story, where the Frenchman drags the lifeless body of the gay man out of a car and into its trunk; in this scene, both a road running along the top of the Lion's Gate Bridge as well as the bridge's underside can be seen.
- Vancouver's Burrard Bridge was used as the location for the chase sequence involving Frank and the Frenchman. This bridge was located near the apartment building where Chris Carter had lived for about five years.
- The riverside scene that starts the fourth act of this episode was filmed at the Greater Vancouver Reclamation District (otherwise known as the GVRD), a particularly cold area that is very often used for filming of scenes requiring forestland and wilderness.
- Much lighting and production design was involved in creating this episode, to make many of the environments look dark and forbidding. These elements of the production were thought through and talked about in depth, as the look of the pilot would potentially set a visual tone for a subsequent series. This was also the case with many other aspects of the production, including the cars, wardrobe, hair and makeup used in the episode.
- When Diane Widas was designing the costumes for this episode, Chris Carter was very specific about what Lance Henriksen should wear. Carter intended the actor's range of clothing to be extremely simple and basic but was disappointed that subsequent episodes didn't stick with that idea for Frank's range of clothing.
Contributions of Crew
- According to Chris Carter, director David Nutter added, in many ways, to the project of creating this episode and there were elements that he saw visually that were able to be changed, to make the script more concise. Nutter also made some interesting choices in deciding upon the camera angles, keeping the camera wider - in certain instances - than was often the case with The X-Files.
- In coming up with the design of the Ruby Tip club, David Nutter visited the Lusty Lady peepshow club to see how it worked. He collaborated with Gary Wissner - who production designed this episode only - and Chris Carter, to create a virtually exact recreation of the Seattle club.
- David Nutter also had ideas about the scenes that feature Frank in Jordan's hospital ward. Since Chris Carter felt the scripted version of the scenes included too much dialogue, Nutter talked with Carter about them and made suggestions (particularly about the scene where Frank awakens to realize the Frenchman is taking blood) about playing with feeling and silence - simply letting the scene play, rather than talking about it.
- It was David Nutter who suggested Frank holding the Coffin Man, after the victim is found, even though that action was not scripted.
- Brent O'Connor worked as a member of this episode's crew but did not subsequently work on the series of Millennium, although he did work on The X-Files: I Want to Believe, twelve years later. As producer of this episode, O'Connor - having been involved in many features in Vancouver - was able to gather an impressive crew for the project.
- The cinematography of this episode alone was handled by Director of Photography Peter Wunstorf, who had a very clear idea of how he wanted the episode to look. Wunstorf had the idea of filming several scenes - such as when the Frenchman is lifting the gay man from out of a car and into its trunk - with tungsten film and correcting for it in post-production. This method proved to be a very smart, creative way to create the very dark mood that was wanted in those scenes. Wunstorf also used saturated colors in some scenes, such as the one wherein Catherine advises Frank that he won't be able to keep the darkness of his work from the lives of his wife and daughter.
- The film Se7en was a big inspiration on both this episode and the conception of the Millennium series in general. Production designer Gary Wissner had worked as an art director on Se7en. Although the film's crew had been given much more time and money than the crew of this episode, Wissner was able to take many lessons he had learned while working on the movie and apply them on a lower, television budget for this project.
- This episode was produced under the working title 2000, as Chris Carter was unsure whether he would be given the rights to call the series Millennium, although he very much wanted to use that title.
- Typical for a pilot episode, the crew was provided with more time, more money and more opportunity to work artistically on this episode than if it had been an episode of the television series. This episode was filmed over the course of a month and Lance Henriksen therefore immensely enjoyed the luxury of having so much time. Regarding the length of time made available to the production, he exaggeratedly recalls that filming this pilot was "like shooting a movie." At one point, he asked Chris Carter whether every episode of the series would be provided with such a lengthy production period. However, Carter told the actor that every episode would be filmed in eight days. Henriksen was at first puzzled by this news, as the script for each subsequent episode of the series would have the same page-count as there was in the script of this pilot episode.
- The scene of this episode wherein Bletcher notifies Frank of Watts' visit while Frank drives himself and Bletcher through the rain was filmed in the wintertime. Despite the harsh Vancouver atmosphere during the production period, there were days when the crew had to create rain outside, such as for this scene, and they used rain machines to do so. The irony of having to create the rain while in Vancouver during the wintertime was not lost on Chris Carter.
- Some scenes - including the first shot of this episode, showing the Frenchman entering the Ruby Tip club - were filmed in early Spring, to take advantage of Vancouver being at its grayest and bleakest at that time of year.
- The scene in which the team of investigators search the riverside for victims buried alive was filmed on an especially cold night; the location that was used, the GVRD, was particularly cold at the time of year when the scene was filmed. That the scene required cast members to enter the river was an extra degree of difficulty. Filming conditions were not only cold but also time-consuming and tiring, causing unhappiness amongst the production personnel.
- The filming of the chase scene involving the Frenchman and Frank Black was very much inspired by a chase scene in Se7en. Chris Carter, who thought the scene in the movie was "very well shot", wanted the scene in this episode to be similarly filmed in as much a point-of-view style as was possible, keeping the camera moving and kinetic.
- According to Chris Carter, the scene wherein Frank lectures a roomful of investigators about his conclusions of the killer's psychology was filmed on an evening and was "actually shot fairly early on." However, David Nutter remembers the scene as having been filmed on "maybe the final day of the pilot."
- For the scene, Chris Carter gave Lance Henriksen one instruction, which was never to use his hands but to keep them at his sides and out of his pockets. The importance that Carter placed on Henriksen not using his hands in the scene was both because Carter thought of Frank Black as someone who had no salesmanship in his personality and because Carter believed that a person who used their hands in such a talkative situation was less able or unable to communicate in language, with his voice or with his person.
- As Carter had once told David Nutter that - when people talk with their hands - they are selling something, Nutter took Carter's advice very seriously and also wanted Henriksen not to use his hands. Shortly after the actor turned up for work in preparation for doing the briefing scene but started performing it while using his hands, David Nutter slowed Henriksen down and instructed him to start the scene again but, this time, to say the dialogue as calmly as he could. Lance Henriksen - who was used to having worked with the use of his hands, as it was one of a number of habits that he had fallen into, in playing some of his other movie roles - initially wanted to use his hands in the scene and feared that following Nutter's direction of playing the scene calmly would essentially be to put only his face and voice on film, to the exclusion of himself. Nutter advised him that the entire performance would be entirely the actor's self, however.
- Henriksen found that avoiding his acting habits was one of the hardest things for him to do but, despite the toughness of the briefing scene and the fact that he was nervous, he fought through it, trusting Nutter's direction. The actor immediately found a much deeper understanding of the Frank Black character - realizing that Frank was not a hard-sell guy and would simply move on if someone didn't agree with what he said.
- Creating the sequence in which the Frenchman watches Calamity dance amid fire and blood involved much deliberation in regard to deciding the proper way to do the scene. The crew had to figure out such aspects as how real to make the blood and how much of the sequence should be an imagining.
- The shot of the Frenchman picking up a gay man before driving off was filmed on an extremely cold and crystal-clear night.
- The scene in which Terry O'Quinn makes his first appearance as Peter Watts, in this episode, was entirely filmed in one night. During that time, Chris Carter talked to him and thanked the actor for doing the job. O'Quinn approached Carter, shook his hand and thanked him, saying, "I love the words." Carter was not only pleased by this sentiment but also noted that it correlated with how the character of Watts had originally been conceived.
- The chase scene on the Burrard Bridge was very complicated to achieve. This was because the scene required an abnormal amount of logistical forethought - such as having the bridge shut down and turning everyone en masse whenever the director wanted to film in a new direction, since there was nowhere to hide all the crew and their equipment. This scene was actually filmed twice, because Chris Carter felt that, in the first version, the Frenchman was not hanging from the bridge in a believable manner and looked too much like he was hanging (as actor Paul Dillon actually was) from a harness underneath the bridge. Filming the scene again was expensive and Fox was consequently opposed to re-shooting the scene, but Chris Carter thought that doing so was worth it - not only because he thought the original version was unconvincing but also because he felt the crew was doing great work elsewhere in the episode. Ultimately, Fox also approved of the second version.
- While this episode was in production, Chris Carter had to apply bruises to an arm of one of the actors playing a victim and also be called into the make-up trailer to comment on a bruise.
- As part of his unofficial involvement in the making of this pilot, Frank Spotnitz watched the dailies of the episode as they were coming in. He noted they were slated 2000, as Chris Carter thought he might have to call the series that, if he couldn't obtain the rights to use the title Millennium. The dailies impressed Spotnitz, who thought - even from the start - that they were "quite good."
Music & Sound
- Chris Carter - having been accustomed to The X-Files almost always using scored music - found that songs seemed more fitting, in both this episode and Millennium in general, than in The X-Files.
- The theme music for Millennium was, like the accompanying opening credits, created for this pilot and was first used in the episode.
- Chris Carter was amazed that no looping or dubbing was required for the scene in which Frank Black and Bob Bletcher talk in the stairwell of the Seattle Public Safety Building, due to the fact that filming in stairwells is usually - due to noise bouncing around in them - very difficult.
Editing & Reception
- Chris Carter spent many days working on crafting a cut of this episode with editor Stephen Mark and director David Nutter. Stephen Mark was responsible for cutting together the sequence in which the Frenchman sees visions of Calamity dancing amid blood and fire.
- Although Frank Spotnitz had been permitted to watch the dailies, Chris Carter didn't allow him to watch a cut of the episode until quite late in the editing process. When Spotnitz was finally shown a cut of the episode, he was instantly impressed and thought the episode was "one of the best things [Carter] had done, up to that point."
- The pilot was also shown to a woman from Fox's Standards and Practices Department, who at first okayed the episode, feeling that there was nothing exorbitant and/or gratuitous about it. She had nightmares that night, however, and called Chris Carter the next morning, instructing him to cut some of the episode to make it less aggressive. Carter held her to task, however, telling her not to penalize the crew for making an episode that was so emotionally-affecting. Ultimately, there were not really any changes that Fox insisted on being made to the pilot.
- Fox held a big premiere event for the pilot, screening it in numerous theaters. Frank Spotnitz managed to see the episode at a screening in Westwood, after which there was a big party. He thought both that the episode "played beautifully" on the big screen and that it had the rare quality of being "genuinely scary."
- Megan Gallagher - who had suffered terribly bad dreams in her childhood and had consequently had to be very careful about what she watched - did not initially appreciate many "deeply disturbing, chilling" elements of this episode, such as the image of the Coffin Man being found and the idea of someone photographing her loved ones (personalizing the final scene of Frank receiving Polaroids of Catherine and Jordan Black). Gallagher appreciated those scary elements only after she saw the pilot at one of its screenings, to which she took about ten other people. After viewing the episode, Gallagher admitted to her friends that she was really glad they were going out afterwards, as she felt a need to shake off the scary chills the pilot had left in her imagination.
- This episode attracted over 17 million viewers when it premièred in 1996, making it - at the time of its first airing - the highest-rating network première in television history.
- For his work on this episode, Director of Photography Peter Wunsturf was nominated for an ASC Award for Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography in Movies of the Week/Pilots.
- In the scene where Frank is revealing his psychoanalysis of the killer to the other investigators, he says the Frenchman is "prophesizing." What he really should have said is that the Frenchman is "prophesying." The mistake was in the script but the actor of the Frenchman, Paul Dillon - who was on the set during filming of this scene, for reasons unknown to Chris Carter - noticed the mistake and let Carter know about the error. By then, it was too late to change the word, however.
- Bill Smitrovich as Lieutenant Bob Bletcher
- Terry O'Quinn as Peter Watts
- Paul Dillon as the Frenchman
- Brittany Tiplady as Jordan Black
- Stephen E. Miller as Detective Roger Kamm
- Stephen James Lang as Detective Bob Geibelhouse
- Kate Luyben as Tuesday
- April Telek as Calamity
- Jim Thorburn as Coffin Man
- Kimm Wakefield as Young Woman
- John Destry as Driver on Bridge
- Liza Huget as Nurse
- Jim Filippone as Chopper Pilot
- Fawnia Mondey as Ruby Tip Stripper