"The Well-Worn Lock"


Written by Chris Carter

Directed by Ralph Hemecker

Edited by Steve Mark

Aired December 20, 1996

Summary:  Catherine Black desperately tries to help a woman who was sexually abused by her father, Joe Bangs, when the man threatens to do the same to her little girl.  The struggle for justice proves to be a difficult one, however, as the community reputation and political connections of Bangs remain intact despite Catherine's efforts.


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Quote: "The cruelest lies are often told in silence." —Robert Louis Stevenson


Synopsis:  In a nice middle class residence in Madison Park, Washington, the Bangs family — Connie, 32, Sara 9, mom Clea and dad Joe — are watching TV. After Clea goes upstairs to bed, an underlying tension and terror come to the surface. Joe, who has sexually abused Connie since she was nine years old, now threatens to do the same to Sara. Connie orders Sara to lock herself in Connie's room. Downstairs, Connie fights off her father and runs away.

Later that night, Connie is found walking down the middle of the street in a dazed stupor. Catherine is assigned to her case. With Sara in danger, Connie is finally ready to admit her father abused her. But after 23 years of silence, she is afraid no one will believe her. 

The assistant D.A., Rhonda Preshutski, thinks they don't have a case. Since Child Protective Services can't take Sara away from her father until Connie's psychiatric evaluation, Catherine and Bletcher go to the Bangs' house to check on the girl. 

Bangs furiously orders them off his property, as Clea watches dispassionately. Bangs has some political influences, and is able to put pressure on the D.A.'s office, angering Rhonda. Her hostility towards Catherine is evident, until Connie's evaluation reveals Sara isn't her sister: she's Connie's daughter by Joe. 

Frank awakens Catherine in her office. She has slept there overnight, trying to get a legal angle to remove Sara from the house. Connie is now staying at her sister Ruthie's house, who tells Catherine that Joe abused her too until she had a mental breakdown and was hospitalized. Catherine is uneasy when she finds out Connie has been with Clea. Connie, fearful and unstable after years of abuse, may be easily persuaded to stop the fight against her father. 

Bangs is unable to use his influence in City Hall, and Bletcher tells Catherine her pursuit of the case against Bangs is endangering her job. Catherine, knowing she's doing what's right, refuses to give up. Frank agrees with her. Catherine's fears are confirmed when Bangs kidnaps Sara. 

Frank realizes Bangs' need for control would dictate that he choose a place he knows: the cabin in the woods where the family vacationed. Frank leads a caravan of police to the area, where they chase after Joe as he speeds away in his van. Catherine blocks the road with her Jeep, and the van broadsides her. Bangs is arrested; Catherine and Sara are unhurt. 

A Grand Jury is convened. Catherine is afraid Connie won't be able to stand up to the cross examination. Once on the stand, Connie appears too afraid to testify. But with Catherine's support, Connie is finally able to reveal the horrible story of years of emotional and sexual abuse. 

Time has passed. Connie is slowly recovering. Catherine brings her the "well-worn lock" taken from her bedroom door. She takes the lock, which was used to keep people from interrupting her father when he crept into her room at night, and hurls it off a dam into a river.



- Tears run down the face of Sara Bangs

- Joe Bangs holds young Sara indoors

- A concerned Catherine Black

- Child abuser Joe Bangs

- Connie Bangs, victim of years of abuse

- The panicked and confused Connie Bangs


Abyss Rating:  (4/5)


Media Review:  "No supernatural entities, no serial killers and no overblown drama here: what we get is possibly the most harrowing recreation of sexual abuse ever committed to videotape.  In a horrible way, 'The Well-Worn Lock' perfectly shows the difference between naturalistic TV and realistic TV: the former shows things the way they are, the latter shows them the way they really are.  Millennium is so realistic it tears away the last vestiges of the lies we try to tell ourselves about the way the world works." —Andy Lane, Dreamwatch


Trivia:  "The Well-Worn Lock" is the third Millennium episode to be written by series creator Chris Carter, one of only seven episodes he would pen throughout the show's history.


"The Well-Worn Lock" also holds the distinction of being one of only two Millennium episodes that can be said to focus on Catherine Black rather than her husband.  Fans point to this story as evidence indicative of the fact that the character's potential on the series was otherwise unrealized.


Death Toll:  0


Title:  The titular well-worn lock is seen throughout the episode, installed on the inside of a bedroom door by child abuser Joe Bangs.  For Sara and Connie Bangs, the well-worn lock serves as a symbol of the secretive, seemingly indestructible wall that kept their molestations hidden from the outside world and left them with no hope of escape.  It is only appropriate, then, that the two are able to cathartically dispose of the lock at the episode's end.



Lance Henriksen as Frank Black

Megan Gallagher as Catherine Black

Brittany Tiplady as Jordan Black

Bill Smitrovich as Lt. Bob Bletcher

Guest Starring:

Paul Dooley as Joe Bangs
Michelle Joyner as Connie Bangs
Christine Dunford as A.D.A. Rhonda Preshutski
Lenore Zann as Ruthie Bangs
Sheila Moore as Clea Bangs
J. Douglas Stewart as Larry Bangs
Shaina Tianne Unger as Sara Bangs
Campbell Lane as Joe Bang's Attorney
Jim Fletcher as Bailiff
Steve Oatway as the Judge


Production Credits:

Production #4C07

Music by Mark Snow
Production Designer Sheila Haley
Director of Photography Robert McLachlan
Associate Producer Jon-Michael Preece
Consulting Producer Ted Mann
Consulting Producer James Wong

Consulting Producer Glen Morgan
Co-Producer Ken Dennis
Co-Producer Chip Johannessen
Co-Producer Frank Spotnitz
Co-Executive Producer Jorge Zamacona
Co-Executive Producer Ken Horton
Co-Executive Producer John Peter Kousakis

Executive Producer Chris Carter