Written by Erin Maher and Kay Reindl
Directed by Rodman Flender
After regaining its footing with Monster, Millennium season two loses it again somewhat with A Single Blade of Grass. I don't really know how to describe this one because it's an extremely confused episode, neither season one style crime procedural, nor X Files-esque supernatural/conspiracy drama. It does have one element in common with The X Files though. It brings in Native American beliefs.
The X Files had a mixed track record when dealing with Native Americans. On the one hand it led to Shapes, one of the show's least successful episodes and yet on the other hand, we got Anasazi at the end of the season two and The Blessing Way and Paper Clip at the start of season three which were very successful, although that might have been down to the emotionally fraught drama going on as opposed to any successful portrayal of Native American belief. It seems Millennium can't resist going down this road so we get A Single Blade of Grass. This is neither brilliant, nor terribly poor. In fact I don't quite know what to make of this hour and I can honestly say it's the first episode of Millennium that I feel rather indifferent too. I can take it or leave it.
The teaser presents a possible different type of story for the show, as a Native American ritual goes terribly wrong only for it to be revealed that the setting for this ritual is in fact the basement of a hotel and the subsequent ten minutes past the credit sequence is actually well handled, with a body discovered at an archaeology site and Frank's investigation where he figures out where the victim died. It's fast paced, mysterious and all very gripping and yet the remainder of the episode is a little...well...messy I think.
The storyline doesn't gel with Millennium, this series operates and deals with a different type of horror and fantasy compared to The X Files which can usually adopt to different beliefs and stories very well, but Millennium has always been more into an urban type of horror, fantasy, mysticism and religious horror and while an attempt to try something different like this is brave of the show, it doesn't exactly work. It appears that the show is needing to re introduce Frank's vision to the narrative and in a more mystical way, yet a tale about Native American rituals and about linking the world of reason with the world of the spiritual is probably not the best way to go about it.
Say what you want about the X Files tones of Beware of the Dog and Sense and Antisense (and believe me, I have done so), but as stories they worked and functioned well as television thrillers in their own right, but this very seldom works at all, bar the opening ten minutes, with clumsy exposition throughout and a climax that is strangely done with a tone that is borderline silly, comical and which negates the seriousness of the forty minutes that came before.
It's a nice try, I'll give it that, but this is in all honesty Millennium's least successful episode yet, it could do something really interesting with Frank's visions, but instead relates it to every Hollywood cliche about Native Americans, tribal rituals and whilst it's at it, wastes a guest performance from Floyd Red Crow Westerman who made for a wonderful presence in his X Files episodes. Very disappointing.