The thin line Millennium would begin to walk in the opening two episodes of season three (detailed in part two of this series), and throughout the rest of season was, IMO, perfect. The Millennium Group was brought down to earth and shown to have much more modern, and arguably sinister, origins. Superficially much of the mysticism of season two was dropped, yet occult symbolism, the vast majority of it never explained, would became more prominent than ever. Supernatural elements were still present as well, but they were typically filtered through the after mentioned prism of occult symbolism.
A fine example of this would be the Chris Carter co-written "Antipas". In this one the demonic Lucy Butler makes yet another appearance, this time serving as a nanny for the a wealthy couple, the husband having aspirations in politics. In one of the most striking sequences in the entire series, their young daughter wonders off and becomes lost in a giant maze they have on their property. As the couple search for their daughter, the girl enters the center of the maze where she is confronted with a giant python that seemingly eats her whole. When the couple make it to the center of the maze, there is no snake, but their is Lucy Butler with her hands upon the daughter's shoulders.
The symbolism of just this sequence is profound. Serpents are of course loaded with symbolic meaning, but I think the choice of a python in this episode is especially significant. In Greek myth Python was a great monster slain by the god Apollo.
"Apollo, according to the 'Homeric' hymn to Pythian Apollo..., 'with his strong bow the lord, the son of Zeus, killed the bloated, great she-dragon, a fierce monster wont to do great mischief to men upon the earth, to men themselves and to their thin-shanked sheep; for she was a very bloody plague.' This Underworld deity and serpent was to be given the name of Pytho on the very spot at Delphi where the cult of Pythian Apollo was celebrated... As a pre-eminent representation of the chtonian, Pytho was equipped with the initiatory mouth which gapes to swallow the setting Sun and spit it out again at day-break. Apollo's victory over the serpent is that of reason over instinct, of consciousness over the unconsciousness."
(Dictionary of Symbols, Chevalier & Ggeerbrant, pgs. 778-779)
|Apollo vs Pytho|
In a way being consumed by the python is a symbol of initiation. The serpent is closely associated with the Earth, or the material plane. The Sun that Pytho spat out at day-break is the light of illumination. This interpretation is further strengthened by the presence of the massive maze that becomes central to the action of "Antipas."
"This artificial network exists in a natural state in the passageways leading to a number of pre-historic cave-sites; Virgil assures us that it was drawn upon the door to the Sibyl's cavern at Cumae; it was carved upon the stone floors of cathedrals; it was danced in many lands from Greece to China, and it was known to the Ancient Egyptians. The fact is -and its association with caverns bears this out -that mazes should both allow access to their centres by a sort of initiatory journey and bar it to those who are not qualified to enter. In this sense the maze is akin to the mandala, which in any case sometimes bears a labyrinthine appearance. Thus we are concerned with the representation of initiatory tests by choosing, as preliminaries to a journey to the hidden centre...
"The transformation of the self which occurs in the middle of the maze and which will be manifested in broad daylight at the end of the return journey, through darkness to light, will mark 'the victory of the spiritual over the materialistic and, at the same time, that of the eternal over the ephemeral, of reason over instinct and of knowledge over blind violence.'
(ibid, pgs. 643-644)
Naturally Frank and Hollis must pass through the maze eventually, where Hollis is confronted by the python as well as Dobermans (dogs and dog-headed deities are often depicted as guardians of holy places or knowledge in mythology) before being rescued by Frank. Interestingly this is not the first time the series associated Hollis with mazes. In the mostly lame Halloween-centric episode "...Thirteen Years Later" Hollis is shown reading a copy of Jorge Luis Borges' Labyrinths, a collection of short stories. This may also be another possible swipe at The X-Files as this book includes the story "Tlon Uqbar Orbis Tertius" which Jacques Vallee speculated may have inspired the UMMO hoax.
Regardless, the theme of initiation is prevalent throughout season three, especially in regards to Hollis. This is made blatantly obvious the Millennium Group-centric "Skull and Bones". Superficially this episode chronicles an investigation into a mass grave the FBI uncovers in Maine, and which Frank and Hollis eventually connect to the Millennium Group. The real story, however, is the recruitment of Hollis by Peter Watts that begins in this episode. This is symbolized by the image of the skull, which appears throughout the episode, especially in one striking sequence that occurs at an abandoned farm house.
"In Freemasonry, the skull symbolizes the cycle of initiation through the death of the body as the prelude to rebirth at a higher level of life and in a state in which the spirit rules. As a symbol of physical death, the skull is similar to the alchemical process of putrefaction, as the grave is to the athanor -the new man rises from the crucible in which the old man was annihilated, in order to become transformed."
(ibid, pg. 889)
Frank again encounters the All Seeing Eye in this episode as well, this one located in a parking lot where a murder was committed by the Millennium Group over a decade earlier. Again, the eye seems to by symbol of constant surveillance, as it was in "Exegesis."
The character of Mabius, first introduced in "Exegesis" as an assassin for the Group, is also given a supernatural dimension in this episode. Here he is presented as being similar to Lucy Butler, likely demonic, and unkillable.
|How Mabius' hand appears to another 'seer'|
As noted earlier, while the Millennium Group is brought down to earth in this season, the mystical and supernatural aspects surrounding the Group are ever present. But in this season they take a cold, scientific approach to the spiritual as though it was simply another weapon in their arsenal. This is especially evident in "Matryoshka", where the true origins of the Group are finally revealed. Essentially they are presented as the product of J. Edgar Hoover, who created the Group to handle projects outside the mandate of the FBI. The best and the brightest in the Bureau (and presumably other government agencies) were recruited into the Group so as to guide the course of the United States, and thus world, in the shadows.
Understandably many long time fans were greatly disappointed with this development -to the lay man, transforming an ancient cult into a covert organization of former FBI agents, military and intelligence officers, is perplexing to say the least. Add in the fact that the organization is still up to its knees in the occult and the supernatural, and you have sure fire ratings disaster. But these developments aren't without president. The CIA, for instance, became deeply involved both the occult and the supernatural during the Cold War. As historian Peter Levenda notes:
"All of these techniques -hallucinogenic drugs, hypnosis, acts of terrorism, disinformation -share an ontological purpose: to manipulate perceptions, to recreate reality. As we noted above, the German word for psychological warfare translates as 'worldview warfare': a battle of perceptions, of consensus realities... As the men of the OSS, CIA, and military intelligence developed from the armchair scholars and academics that most of them were before the war years into soldiers fighting the Cold War on fronts all over the world, they became -in a very real sense -magicians. As we will see, the CIA mind control projects themselves represented an assault on consciousness and reality that has not been seen in history since the age of the philosopher-kings and their court alchemists."And so to are the men and women of the Millennium Group -Magicians that is. For more information on magic and its curious links to intelligence, check out this prior blog.
(Sinister Forces -Book One: The Nine, pg. 144)
This is only one instance of military, or former military, members causing mayhem in the show's third season. In one of the earliest episodes, "Closure", Frank and Hollis become involved in the investigation of several spree killings committed by a heavily armed ex-military man and several friends. The episode concludes with a massive shootout between the police and the killers modeled after the North Hollywood Shootout of 1997. In this episode Hollis becomes obsessed with finding a reason behind the violence, which Frank greatly discourages: To his mind their is no reason for such acts, and trying to find one can only lead to madness.
This theme is revisited in another episode, "Darwin's Eye", one of the most heavily symbolic episodes of the entire season and series. Basically the plot revolves around a young woman, Cass, who murdered her father as a minor and has been institutionalized ever since. Then one night she escapes from the asylum after killing an orderly and takes a deputy hostage, bringing Frank and Hollis in to assist in the manhunt. Yet the episode has so many curiosities, as Hollis notes throughout -the FBI's involvement in such a case in the first place, for instance. Later, she discovers that the father of Cass was some kind of intelligence officer, likely DIA. This man raped his daughter as a minor, which led her to killing him. Through out the episode, Cass claims that some shadowy organization is after her, and is eventually able to convince the deputy she kidnaps of her claims. Later, after she murderers the man, she seems totally oblivious to the fact the she committed the crime. Finally, there's Cass' curious way of dispatching her victims: she decapitates them.
Decapitation is of course highly symbolic.
"In various primitive religions, decapitation derived from ritual and belief. Since the head was the home of the spirit, it needed to be preserved or destroyed, according to whether it belonged to a friend or to an enemy."It appears in "Darwin's Eye" not just in connection with Cass, but also in a subplot involving Hollis' father, who has seemingly contracted Alzheimer's. In his wavering mental state Emma's father sends her a bizarre package mostly comprised of paper flowers that, when unfolded, form an image of Emma's long dead sister. In the package is also a headless chess piece, a king specifically.
(Dictionary of Symbols, Chevalier & Gheerbrant, pg. 281)
This is seemingly an image taken from The Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz, a legendary Rosicrucian text. One of the key sections involves the decapitation of six royal persons:
"In came our president again, who had before gone out, and she brought with her six black taffeta scarves, with which she bound the six Royal Persons' eyes. Now when they could no longer see, six covered coffins were immediately brought in by the servants, and set down in the hall; also a low black seat was placed in the middle. Finally, there came in a very coal-black, tall man, who bore in his hand a sharp axe. Now after the old King had first been brought to the seat, his head was instantly whipped off, and wrapped in a black cloth; but the blood was received into a great golden goblet, and placed with him in this coffin that stood by; which, being covered, was set aside. Thus it went with the rest also, so that I thought it would at length have come to me too, but it did not. For as soon as the six Royal Persons were beheaded, the black man went out again; another followed after him, and beheaded him too just before the door, and brought back his head together with the axe, which were laid in a little chest."Thirty-third degree Freemason Manly P. Hall explains this symbolism thus:
"The three kings are the threefold spirit of man and their consorts the corresponding vehicles of their expressions in the lower world. The executioner is the mind, the highest part of which -symbolized by the head -is necessary to the achievement of the philosophical labor."My best guess is the headless king is yet another symbol of Hollis' initiation -Here it symbolizes the freeing of the spirit (the head) from the material realm (the body) so that she can fulfill her philosophical quest. Here it again appears in the question of why. Hollis can see the various signs that there is more to Cass -the FBI interest in her, the deep background of her father, the ritualistic nature of her killings (and its strange link to her father who just happened to get sick at the same time this case appears) -than that of the common murderer. Curiously, Frank does not share her view, again warning her against applying reason to madness. Still, Hollis can sense that things are not what they seem.
(The Secret Teachings of All Ages, pg. 537)
Frank is finally brought around in the truly chilling series finale, the two-parter comprised of "Via Dolorosa" and "Goodbye to All That", which reveals the heart of darkness at the center of the Millennium Group. Through out Millennium's run implications have emerged that there was something else behind the serial killers, spree killers, cults, and so forth, other than a society on the brink. Part of it was spiritual, as the episodes centered around Lucy Butler revealed. But another part of it was man made, as the season one finale "Paper Dove" hinted at. While tantalizing bread crumbs were dropped throughout season three, all was finally revealed in the finale. I already briefly discussed this black heart in part two of this series, but now I can get down to the real nitty-gritty.
The plot line of "Via Dolorosa" starts conventionally enough (by Millennium's standards) as another serial-killer-of-the-week episode with Frank being called into investigate the murder of a young, upper class couple. But almost immediately he comes to believe that the killings were committed by serial killer Ed Cuffle, who is hugely important in Millennium's mythology. Cuffle was the man who originally sent Frank photographs over a decade before the events of season one occurred. Frank eventually had a breakdown over it, but not before he caught and imprisoned Cuffle. As the episode opens Frank witnesses Cuffle execution in the electric chair in Florida, which makes the crime scene in Virginia that perfectly matches Cuffle's M.O. (including details that were never released to the public) quite problematic.
Early Frank becomes convinced that this new killer isn't simply a copycat -the details are to precise. Rather, the new killer is seemingly possessed by Ed Cuffle, but also fully aware that his acts are being manipulated to follow those of Cuffle. As the episode progresses, we learn that the new killer, one Lucas Wayne Barr, had virtually the same background as Cuffle -Several years of military service, an honorable discharge for psychological reasons, and no prior criminal history. This is also strikingly similar to the background of the Polaroid stalker who tormented Frank throughout season one.
|Lucas Wayne Barr|
Essentially Frank has been stalked by three separate individuals of similar appearance and background, all of them obsessed with taking pictures (or in the case of Barr, video) of Frank's loved ones. "The Beginning and the End", the season two premier in which Frank finally confronted and killed the Polaroid stalker, revealed that the Polaroid stalker was involved with the Millennium Group. In the second half to "Via Dolorosa", "Goodbye to All of That" Watts essentially reveals to Frank that a certain medical procedure the Group has developed (involving surgery on the brain) is responsible for 'transfering' Cuffle into Barr. Yet both Cuffle and Barr dispatch their victims by drilling holes in the side of their heads, a wound meant to mimic the Millennium Group's procedure. This implies that Cuffle himself had been programmed, something Barr seems to confirm in one final exchange with Frank:
"Barr: Why did they choice me?This particular brand of serial killer, let us refer to it as the 'Drill Killer', was seemingly implanted upon both Cuffle and Barr, and possibly the Polaroid stalker as well. And what's more, the 'Drill Killer' may not be the only model the Millennium Group uses. In "Paper Dove" the Polaroid stalker is shown to be working with another serial killer, Henry Dion. As I noted in the second part of this series, the Polaroid stalker comes off almost as a handler, guiding the victim selections of this particular killer (which almost includes Catherine, Frank's wife).
Frank: I don't know
Barr: No! Don't lie to me! Yes you do. I always had it in me, didn't I?
Frank: We all do...
Barr: I know everything now. To much. Why Ed Cuffle did what he did. Why he drilled holes in people's heads."
(Millennium, Season Three, "Goodbye to All of That)
|the Polaroid Stalker & Dion|
Then there are the other killers such as Cass of "Darwin's Eye" and the spree killer in "Closure" who came from the same type of military backgrounds as Cuffle and Barr. As outlandish as it may seem to the layman that military men would be 'programmed' to take on the personality of serial killers and other psychotics, such experiments have been acknowledged from time to time. Consider this piece, originally published in the Napa Sentinel in 1991:
"A U.S. Navy psychologist, who claims that the Office of Naval Intelligence had taken convicted murderers from military prisons, used behavior modification techniques on them, and then relocated them in American embassies throughout the world. Just prior to that time, the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee had censured the CIA for its global political assassination plots, including plots against Fidel Castro. The Navy psychologist was Lt. Commander Thomas Narut of the U.S. Regional Medical Center in Naples, Italy. The information was divulged at an Oslo NATO conference of 120 psychologists from the eleven nation alliance. According to Dr. Narut, the U.S. Navy was an excellent place for a researcher to find "captive personnel" whom they could could use as guinea pigs in experiments. The Navy provided all the funding necessary, according to Narut.
"Dr. Narut, in a question and answer session with reporters from many nations, revealed how the Navy was secretly programming large numbers of assassins. He said that the men he had worked with for the Navy were being prepared for commando-type operations, as well as covert operations in U.S. embassies worldwide. He described the men who went through his program as "hit men and assassins" who could kill on command.
"Careful screening of the subjects was accomplished by Navy psychologists through the military records, and those who actually received assignments where their training could be utilized, were drawn mainly from submarine crews, the paratroops, and many were convicted murderers serving military prison sentences. Several men who had been awarded medals for bravery were drafted into the program."Is it such a stretch that these individuals would also be used domestically? Certainly some of the more notorious serial killers of the past few decades have had military backgrounds, including Jeffrey Dahmer, Leonard Lake, Gary Heidnik, Albert 'the Boston Strangler' DeSalvo (who was probably a patsy, which I've discussed here), and the Son of Sam himself, David Berkowitz. Other killers were spawned from fathers with a background in the armed forces, such as Edmund Kemper, Herbert Mullins, and Robert Berdella. The 'Night Stalker', Richard Ramirez, was reportedly greatly influenced by his Vietnam veteran cousin Mike, who murdered his own wife in front of Richard (Mike also used to show Richard Polaroid pictures of the people he killed in Vietnam).
|David Berkowitz, one of many serial killers with a military background|
As far fetched the notion of programmed serial killers sounds, just consider some of the striking similarities between Dahmer and Heidnik:
"In November 1961, Gary Heidnik joined the U.S. Army and requested that he be trained as a military policeman. The Army though opted to send him to Ft. Sam Houston near San Antonio, Texas for training as a medic. When that training was completed, he was sent to an Army hospital in West Germany to work as an orderly. That did not work out too well, however, especially after the Army began experimenting on him with powerful hallucinogenic drugs, as his records would later reveal. He was sent back to a military hospital here in the States and then released early with an honorable discharge. He later became a collector.
"In January 1979, Jeffrey Dahmer joined the U.S. Army and requested that he be trained as a military policeman. The Army though opted to send him to Ft. Sam Houston near San Antonio, Texas for training as a medic. When that training was completed, he was sent to an Army hospital in West Germany to work as an orderly. That did not work out to well, however, and Jeffrey was released early with an honorable discharge. He later became a collector."
(Programmed to Kill, David McGowan, pgs. 239-240)
The prototype of these type of serial killers to McGowan is 'the collector.' A bit further down, McGowan spells out his definition of a 'collector' as such:
"Collectors generally have much in common. Their primary concern is with control, which they attempt to gain by torturing their victims into submission. Along the way, they tend to take numerous photos and shoot a number of home videos. Some of these they keep for themselves, and some they sell to others. Collectors also like to keep various body parts lying around the house and they generally keep their freezers well stocked with unmarked meat."The phenomenon of 'the collector' was seemingly spawned by the 1963 novel by John Fowles called The Collector. The plot of the novel revolves around a young man who starts off collecting butterflies and later upgrades to women, who he attempts to collect and control. Again we see the butterfly motif ever present. This may have been another reason that it was worked into season three, as I already addressed in part two of this series.
(ibid, pg. 240)
A rather striking number of serial killers with military backgrounds followed the prototype of this novel. In addition to Dahmer and Heidnik, there was also Robert Berdella and the duo of former ex-Marines, Leonard Lake and Charles Ng. Unsurprisingly, all of the serial killers that fell into Millennium's 'drill killer' circle were also collectors, be it Henry Dion, the Polaroid stalker, Ed Cuffle (all took Polaroids) or Lucas Wayne Barr (who took videotape).
In addition to the 'collector' aspect, it seems likely the prevalent military backgrounds of so many characters in Millennium season three was intentional. Emma Hollis herself is also seemingly a part of this world. In "Darwin's Eye" she stated that her father, James Hollis, was a scientist who did research for the military. In that episode James seemingly contracted Alzheimer's out of the blue, but "Via Dolorosa" and "Goodbye to All That" reveal that the Millennium Group were actually the ones that made him sick, and are dangling a cure under Hollis' nose in exchange for her becoming a Group member.
What's more, James Hollis seems to be aware of the Millennium Group and what they're doing to him and his daughter at some level. Hollis had another daughter, Melisa, who was murdered at a young age. At one point James even accuses Emma of killing Melisa, though one suspects he actually meant the Millennium Group. The Millennium Group's interest in cutting edge science, be it nuclear, biological, or genetic, was well established throughout seasons two and three. Its quite possible that they had been following Emma for years and even grooming her for her eventual role in the FBI.
Finally, there's the strange symbolism of palms associated with James Hollis. This was also first introduced in "Darwin's Eye" and was also a symbol that James Hollis shared with that episode's killer, Cass, in addition to decapitation. In both that episode and "Goodbye to All That" James is shown watching video tape of palm trees being engulfed by fire, seemingly in the wake of a bomb being set off. The symbolism behind palms is interesting.
"Palms and branches of foliage are regarded universally as symbols of victory, ascension, regeneration and immortality. This is true of the Golden Bough in the Aeneid and that used in the Eleusinian Mysteries; of the druidical mistletoe; of the willow branches in The Shepard of Hermas and of the box-springs which the French place on graves on Palm Sunday."
The palms seem to represent the regeneration of society the Millennium Group hopes to achieve. Watts spells this out for Frank in "Goodbye to All That":
"Watts: We are rushing towards an apocalypse of our own creation.Watts never actually explains what this apocalypse he speaks of entails, but later on he describes the surgical procedure used on Cuffle and Barr (and Emma's father) as something that helps the human mind to continue learning and expanding at the rate it does in infancy, essentially 'turning back on' evolution. Given this, combined with the Groups interest in genetics, one can't help but feel the apocalypse they fear is one that centers around eugenics and the 'supermen' Millennium is striving to create. We even see a blond-haired, blue eyed paramedic who murders an FBI agent early in this episode who bears a striking resemblance to the bus driver at the end of "Force Majeure", an episode concerning a batch of 'super' kids created to rebuild society after the apocalypse.
Frank: This is cult propaganda
Watts: No, fact, Frank. Maybe not the end of the physical world, but the end of a world that is worthy of human life. And that's not something that the Group invented, that's what the Group is trying to prevent."
Frank: You mean control.
Watts: No, no. I mean, attempting to preserve values that are worth preserving. We're sheppards, Frank, all of us."
(Millennium, Season Three)
|"Force Majeure" kid|
|Goodbye to All That paramedic|
And thus Millennium came to an end in one of the greatest instances of 'Revelation of Method' in recent memory. The America-on-the-brink presented in the show was not merely random chance, but the work of sinister forces, both supernatural and human. In the case of the Millennium Group, they seemed to be working together. While the 'transference' of Ed Cuffle to Lucas Barr is seemingly scientific, the opening sequence of "Via Dolorose" in which Cuffle mouths "Yes' to Barr moments before his execution seems to imply some kind of supernatural force at work as well. Further, there's the presence of the mysterious Mabius, the Millennium assassin that seems to be a being similar to Lucy Butler.
Rogue quasi-government organizations, biological weapons, genetic manipulation, terrorism, mind control, magickal workings -This is, based upon my research, is about the closest representation of the Cryptocracy that I have yet found in fiction.