Trigger Warning: The following includes references to suicide.
In the mid-1990s, X files Creator Chris Carter reached new heights in his career. X files was at the height of its popularity, and the 1998 feature film was just around the corner. The only way for Carter to go was to ride, and so he developed a new series for Fox about a former FBI profiler named Frank Black (played to perfection by Lance Henriksen) who had a supernatural ability to see into the hearts and minds of criminals. The series, called Millennium, ran for three seasons, each unique from the last. For many, the second season was Millennium at its peak, and it’s here that the series’ iconic Halloween episode “The Curse of Frank Black,” which many consider the show’s best, became a reality.
In a season full of retrospective and deeply personal episodes that delve into Frank Black’s psyche, “The Curse of Frank Black” is the absolute best. It not only chronicles Frank’s ongoing struggle with personal obsession and responsibility, but it also serves as a very character-driven Halloween story that takes the holiday to new heights. Halloween specials tend to go one of two directions, either they are cute “trick-or-treat” themed stories that are all about the Americanized version of the holiday (sometimes with a paranormal twist) , or they’re bloody horror shows that delve deeper into supernatural spectacles meant to scare both the main cast and the audience. Unlike most TV Halloween episodes, “The Curse of Frank Black” touches on both of these tropes without exactly matching one or the other, making it a must-have Halloween classic.
However Millennium is known for its dark affairs surrounding serial killers and gruesome murders, there’s surprisingly none of that here – and maybe it’s part of the “trick-or-treat” gag. Nevertheless, there is a deep mystery to be solved, but it is more psychological in nature than anything else, slowly bleeding into the spiritual. As Frank carves his own pumpkin (in a sly reference to Lance Henriksen’s horror feature pumpkin head) and takes his daughter Jordan (Brittany Tiplady) trick-or-treating, we get a glimpse of a traditional Halloween party, or, at least as traditional as for someone like Frank Black, before the veil is lifted and the battle for the soul of Frank does not begin…
Frank Black is haunted by ghosts
The first season of Millennium was quite traumatic for Frank and his family, and the start of the second didn’t go much better. His longtime friend and ally, Lt. Bob Bletcher (Bill Smitrovich) was brutally murdered in the Black family’s old yellow house, and Frank’s wife, Catherine (Megan Gallagher) had been kidnapped, forcing Frank to use lethal force. Needless to say, Frank struggled which resulted in the death of his best friend, the separation of his wife and daughter, and the loss of the yellow house he worked so hard to turn into a home. It’s the ghosts that haunt him on this Halloween night, but they’re not the only ones.
The episode’s sparing use of music and dialogue lends itself well to this introspective look at Frank Black’s personal hell. Unable to find salvation in the evening spent with his daughter or in his favorite Bobby Darin tunes, Frank can’t quite escape his own childhood memories of Halloween, namely his meeting the neighborhood outcast, Mr. Crocell, played masterfully by Dean Winters. In Frank’s youth, Crocell had chattered about ghosts and the afterlife, hoping that the spirits of the dead (namely his World War II pals) might return to warn us of what was next. At least he wondered about it for years before killing himself. Although Frank is not suicidal, recent events, including the impending apocalypse prophesied by his employer, the Millennium Group, have forced him to ponder some of the same questions. And, Halloween is as enjoyable a time as any.
Accidentally returning to the old yellow house, Frank encounters a group of teenagers who have gathered in his old, unfinished basement, telling spooky ghost stories about the mythical Frank Black. Just as the teenagers of Frank’s youth told tales of Crocell, he is now the subject of neighborhood folklore and fascination. As a man of somewhat off-putting demeanor (he can’t even convince the locals to cheat or treat in his home), it’s no wonder that Frank, given his job and the horrors that have happened in his former home, is said to be the center of ghost stories and campfire legends. Even though Frank isn’t a ghost, he’s starting to feel like an apparition of himself.
At the end of the episode, Crocell appears to Frank in his attic. Recognizing his deep desire to leave behind his job, his mission, Crocell tries to convince Frank to give up the fight. “Sit down and do nothing,“Crocell pleads,”Anyone can do it. Hell, most people do.“After all his efforts to push back the darkness, after all that Frank Black defended for and against, this choice, to leave everything behind, seems obvious to us, but for Frank, it is the exit, the return to normality , which he was expecting. This ghost, a bit like Jacob Marley in Charles Dickens‘ A Christmas Carol, appears on the surface to want what’s best for him, but in truth, Crocell is not a free agent with selfless intent. He’s a devil in disguise…
‘The Curse of Frank Black’ warns us against ignoring our demons
Before Frank confronts the kids hanging around his old yellow house, one of the teenage ringleaders (Two Turtons) makes a comment about the Devil. He says: “It is believed that the devil uses the souls of the dead to reach people, to drive them mad.” If anything, “The Curse of Frank Black” makes it clear that there’s a spiritual antagonist behind Frank’s moral anguish, one who isn’t exactly named and only appears on screen momentarily. Yes, Frank Black has his demons, and they are much more literal than he would like to believe. Although this demon does not speak to Frank like the succubus Lucy Butler (Sarah Jane Redmond) done through MillenniumThe three-season timeline of, and he also doesn’t have the personality of the four demons seen in the Season 2 episode “Somehow Satan Got Behind Me,” his presence that night seems entirely intentional, s rooted in the divisive history of October 31st.
The origins of our modern notion of Halloween are both pagan and Christian. Samhain was a Celtic festival meant to usher in the post-harvest season which involved offerings of food and drink and the occasional sacrifice of animals. It was the time of year when the Celts believed the veil between the natural and the supernatural was thinnest, and so they believed they could welcome fairy spirits into our world. All Hallows’ Eve, on the other hand, was a Christian holiday (the first part which continued and ended with All Saints’ Day and All Saints’ Day) intended to commemorate dearly departed saints from Church history. while declaring victory over the demoniac of Christ. enemies. “The Curse of Frank Black” clearly pays homage to both stories and uses these themes to build a simple yet profound narrative.
Just like writers Glen Morgan and James Wang were no strangers to writing demon-fueled stories about X files, they additionally excel here in creating an unspoken conflict between Frank and this demonic creature. Frank never dresses up for Halloween, he never wears a mask. He does not participate in the celebration of the spiritual awakening of Samhain, nor does he disguise himself to mock or triumph over the Devil and his angels. In fact, Frank never addresses his literal demon, even as the creature stalks him around the city and shows him a quick flash of Bob Bletcher’s hanging corpse. In his anger, when Frank leaves his old home, he throws eggs at the window, leaving a strange splatter on the glass that looks like a laughing demon, mocking Frank’s pain. And that’s not to mention the appearance of the laughing Satan that torments Frank on his television screen.
As the teenage ghost storyteller said, the devil uses our ghosts to torment us. In Frank’s case, that means Mr. Crocell, who literally tells Frank that the Devil will eventually win, that “there’s no way he’ll lose.” According to Crocell, only by accepting this deal, by giving up the fight, will Frank and his family escape the horrors to come. The Devil sees Frank as a threat, but rather than show him the same horrors he sees every week, he shines a spotlight on Frank’s greatest failure: his inability to protect his family and keep them together.
Frank Black Washes the Devil and Resurrects His Soul
But there is hope for Frank in all of this. Although Fox Mulder said in X files episode “Die Hand Die Verletzt” (also written by Morgan and Wong) that “even the devil can quote scripture to suit his needs” may not be what’s going on here. Throughout the episode, Frank’s observation of the biblical passage Acts 26:8, which seems to pop up everywhere he turns, is seen as the devil’s own torment, prompting the question, “Why should you find it unbelievable? that God raises the dead?” With Crocell returning in the episode’s climax, hoping to scare Frank away from his mission to prevent the Apocalypse, it looks like we have our answer. But Devil Tricks may not be the reason Frank sees this piece of scripture everywhere.
While Frank is mired in minor inconveniences and crippling doubts, Acts 26:8 may just be the hope Frank needs to keep going. The passage itself is taken from the New Testament Book of Acts, with the 26th chapter following the apostle Paul as he gives his testimony to King Agrippa, sharing his conversion story. His own passage from darkness to light. It is in this context that Paul poses the rhetorical question of Acts 26:8, implying that God not only raised Jesus Christ from the dead, but raised Paul himself from a spiritual death to a new life. As Paul brags about his newfound freedom, a forever changed man, we can’t help but wonder if this verse is God’s grace to Frank Black, hoping that he too will find newfound freedom in his righteous cause. .
Rather than succumb to the apathetic temptations of evil, Frank instead chooses to shake off the weight of darkness and step back into the brightness of his yellow house to wash away the devil. It should be noted that “The Curse of Frank Black”, a Halloween episode, ends with daylight. Although darkness can cover the night, especially on Halloween, the thinness between material and immaterial lasts only a few hours, much like Frank’s darkest doubts. The resurrection of the body is perhaps the most impressive, but it is the resurrection of the soul that matters most. If you’re looking for a gripping episode of TV to watch this Halloween, look no further than the Millennium classic “The Curse of Frank Black”. It will not disappoint you.
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Millennium’s The Curse of Frank Black Is A Halloween Classic You Can’t Miss – GameSpot
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