Frank Black (Lance Henriksen) brings his skills and gifts to the internet in an episode that gives us a serial-killer-of-the-week story as opposed to the mythology arc that has been introduced more strongly this season.
The Mikado was written by Micheal R. Perry and debuted on 6 February, 1998 and sees a website broadcasting live images of a murder. Frank, working with Peter (Terry O’Quinn) and the Millennium Group’s tech expert, Brian (Allan Zynk) attempt to track the killer through the site, using dial-up, webcams, and some techno-babble hacking.
Frank, who rarely handles a weapon, has his gun with him in this episode, as he believes that this killer, who has an affection for the operetta, The Mikado, is a serial killer Frank was hunting twelve years earlier with the FBI. Simply known as Avatar (using the actual Zodiac Killer as the character’s inspiration), this killer remained uncaught, and Frank believes he i using the media to express his ‘art’ and taunt the police, hiding clues in his transmissions.
It almost feels like a bottle show, as Frank, Peter and Brian spend most of their time in the Group’s tech centre until the final act of the episode, as Frank’s gift doesn’t work quite so well through phone lines, though he’s still a helluva profiler – before he heads out into the field, they’d already whittled the suspect list down, as well as geographic locations.
Watching it at the time must have seemed almost revolutionary with the way the internet is used, such as it is (the opening sequence is laugh out loud silly, considering the proliferation of porn on the internet), whereas today, despite the basis of the story, the tech side doesn’t work as well anymore.
And in a rare instance, Frank doesn’t catch the killer, leaving the door open for his return, perhaps in a different medium to share his kills.
Glen Morgan and James Wong deliver The Pest House, which was first broadcast on 27 February, 1998. A series of murders draws Frank and Peter to a mental institution, referred to locally, as The Pest House, as the inmates become the prime suspects when bodies, recreating urban legends, begin to pile up.
The guest cast includes Melinda McGraw as the head of the hospital, and Micheal Massee as Purdue, who may be more than he seems. There are also some other recognisable actors including Brendan Fehr, and Louis Ferreira.
Frank is troubled that the crimes that have happened suggest more than one killer, and while none of the inmates could have committed the murders, all the murders seem to be copycats of their work (and familiar urban legends).
Purdue seems to be the first choice, but he reveals that he’s afraid of one of the hospital’s employees, Edward (Ferreira), who may be more than he seems to be. Purdue says he’s the devil, and there is discussion in group sessions that he has taken their dreams. How does he do what he does? And who will stop him?
The episode starts interestingly enough, and has some cool ideas, but the payoff doesn’t quite deliver the punch the viewer wants, especially with what we’ve been given by the show in the past. Still…
The darkness draws us on, because this is who we are, and Frank’s work isn’t done yet…