Directed by Winrich Kolbe
Do not under any circumstances watch Lamentation alone. You have been warned. If you do so...well, all I'll do is tell you I told you so, but you'll still have my sympathies. Chris Carter's fourth script for his second series is another wonderful showcase for his writing abilities and whilst his X Files work was starting to become more convoluted with very stylised dialogue, his Millennium work had a simplicity and directness to it that in hindsight is very refreshing. That isn't to say that the Pilot, Gehenna, The Well Worn Lock and Lamentation are easy pieces of entertainment, because they aren't, but they rely on their ability to engage with straight, realistic dialogue, great drama and their disturbing atmosphere. His last episode of Millennium dealt with the most heinous and distressing of crimes, Lamentation sees Carter put the grisly horror hat back on and then push his second creation to limits that television rarely sees. The only thing I can really compare Lamentation to is David Lynch and Mark Frost's Twin Peaks.
Like Twin Peaks, Lamentation delivers a bogey man,or in this case a woman, much like Bob from Lynch's series, that seems to have been purpose built to haunt our nightmares and dreams. Best of all, Lamentation introduces us to a Hannibal Lecter type character in the shape of Doctor Ephram Fabricant, the purest form of evil that Frank has ever had incarcerated and then proceeds to introduce a character to the series that trumps him. Best of all, this is a tipping point for the series, a watershed. There have been loose fantasy themes running through the series all season, Lamentation not only pushes the series a little further in that direction, but then trumps any other genre series that was trying to compete with The X Files at the time by making it even more disturbing and troubling than anything else on the air at the time. The only man whose work was capable of competing with The X Files on network television at that time was a series from its own creator and he goes and does something that makes his original series look like a kids show.
In many ways this is what I think Millennium has been building to all season and truthfully I'm actually surprised that Carter didn't save this until the finale because it has all the hallmarks of a season finale. A lead character is killed, the themes and emotional arc of the Black family come to a crushing crescendo, the violence that Frank has been trying to protect his family from not only make their presence felt, they invade the Yellow House in one of the most terrifying sequences of home invasion ever portrayed on television and then tops that notion by making the invader a character who is completely outside the zone of any other depiction of evil to have come from the show.
The episode even has a key scene which mirrors a similar one from the Pilot where Frank and Catherine have a heart to heart in the bedroom in which they confront the idea that Catherine and Jordan can't make believe away the darkness in the world, no matter how hard Frank may want them to. It's arrived, with a deadly force, not only inside the yellow house, but it's claimed the life of Bob Bletcher in doing so. It's such a shock to see Bob go down in this way, we never see the murder, only the build up, Lucy Butler at the top of the stairs, approaching him as she comes down, morphing into something demonic and satanic (the Devil itself?). It is right up there with Deep Throat's murder in The Erlenmeyer Flask for shock and impact.
This is a mirror reflection from The X Files back on to Millennium. In The X Files the Cigarette Smoking Man and his smoking habit was a metaphor for the devil, Millennium presents a character who is to become its recurring arch villain for Frank and suggests that she may in fact be the Devil. Sarah Jane Redmond is outstanding as Lucy Butler, there is a sense of a femme fatale about her from her first scene, albeit one accompanied by a slight naivety that stops her from being an obvious threat right away. This gives way to a darker and even more perverse character as the episode continues. The revelations about her dead child, her cocky and confidant manner to Frank and Peter as they try to arrest her and then just when you think she is a mere side kick to this week's guest villain, Fabricant (played by regular Ten Thirteen player Alex Diakun), they show her to be the most heinous villain on the series, from removing Fabricant's kidney without anaesthetic, to killing Bob and then gloating directly to Frank on how she has gotten away with it.
Lamentation is an amazing piece of television, truly one of Millennium's greatest ever episodes and best of all, like much of Chip Johannessen's work, it's an episode that opens up Millennium's story telling palette yet again. This time the episode has allowed fantasy into Millennium and yet this brand of fantasy is as chilling and as frightening as any episode about serial killers. Characters like Raymond Dees or John Allworth almost seem innocent and bland compared to Lucy Butler and when a character as likable as Bob is killed off in such a violent way as this, it gives the impression that all bets are off.
Be afraid. Be very, very afraid.