"The Curse of Frank Black"

#MLM-207

Written by Glen Morgan & James Wong

Directed by Ralph Hemecker

Edited by Chris Willingham, A.C.E.

Aired October 31, 1997

Summary:  Frank Black faces an eerie night full of unsettling coincidences when he takes Jordan to the streets of Seattle for some Halloween Trick-or-Treating.  Are the mounting coincidences the result of simple chance, or is someone — or something — trying to provide Frank with a powerful message?

 

Quote:  "Do you ever find yourself talking with the dead? Since Willie's death, I catch myself every day, involuntarily talking with him as if he were with me." —Abraham Lincoln (upon the death of his son)

 

Synopsis:  On Halloween night, Frank puts the finishing touches on a hand carved Jack- O'-Lantern and lights the candle inside. Suddenly, the candle extinguishes. Frank checks his watch, and realizing he is scheduled to take his daughter trick or treating, makes his way to the front doorway. As he peers across the street, he sees a devil-figure, the "Gehenna devil," staring back at him. A few moments later, the figure is gone. As Frank drives off to pick up his daughter, the candle inside the pumpkin inexplicably reignites. 

Later that night, Frank accompanies his daughter, who is dressed as Marge Simpson, through the neighborhood. Jordan senses evil inside one of the homes and decides to pass by. She tells her father there "are ghosts in that house." Frank dismisses the notion, but a few moments later, he relives a moment from his childhood. In flashback, five-year-old Frank Black and three of his childhood buddies approach a creepy old house on Halloween. On a dare from his friends, Frank knocks on the front door of the old home. A man named Mr. Crocell answers the door and invites the young boy inside. Crocell explains the meaning of Halloween, and how, on this night, the spirits of the dead return to visit the living. A veteran of World War II who lost many a friend in battle, Crocell asks the young Frank if such a thing is possible. Frank responds that there are no such things as ghosts. Crocell nods, slipping further into depression. 

Later that night, while driving home, Frank's Jeep stalls out on a darkened street. Though Frank doesn't notice, the vehicle's odometer, as well as his watch, all contain the numbers "2-6-8" (numbers which turn up again and again throughout the episode). Frank makes his way to a nearby neighborhood — only to come upon the abandoned Yellow House as it is being egged by two teenage boys. Frank chases the pair away and makes his way inside. There he experiences memories of happier times, of Catherine and Jordan. Frank makes his way to the basement, following indiscernible whispers. As he listens from the shadows, a teenage boy tours the basement with a group of friends. He describes how Bletcher met his grisly fate, and how his ghost has roamed the house, "waiting for the curse of Frank Black to be lifted." Frank lets his presence be known, and the terrified teenagers run off into the night. Afterward, Frank recalls his friends' reactions when Crocell--the victim of a suicide — was discovered by authorities. As Frank leaves the house, he scoops up a Bible, only to momentarily glimpse the book title. Outside, he notices the teenagers' egg carton on the sidewalk. He picks up the surviving egg and tosses it at his old house. When Frank returns home, he is surprised by the sight of the lit candle inside the Jack-'O-Lantern. He then pursues the mail, mainly of the junk variety. Though Frank doesn't realize it, the envelopes all contain the accentuated letters, "A-C-T." Then, as he watches television, the numbers "2-6-8" again appear in various combinations. Frank realizes Crocell's address was "268." He also remembers seeing the Bible at the Yellow House, and the book's title: "ACTs of the Apostles." He searches through his Bible until he reaches Chapter 26, Verse 8. There he finds the sentence, "Why should it be thought incredible by you that God raises the dead?" 

Frank hears movement in the attic of his house. He climbs upward, flashlight in hand, seeking out the source of the noise. There he encounters Mr. Crocell, who warns he has been sent to Earth because Frank has become him. He tells Frank to give up the Millennium Group, return to his wife and daughter, and live out the rest of a normal, happy life. After Crocell vanishes, Frank climbs into his Jeep, a bucket and cleaners in hand. He drives to the Yellow House and washes away the yolk stain from the window he defaced earlier. He freezes momentarily at the sight of the "Gehenna" devil, as seen through the window, inside the house. But Frank continues to clean the window —  refusing to become Mr. Crocell.

Photographs:

- A frightening illumination Frank's face

- Frank enjoys Halloween pumpkin carving

- Frank in the yellow house's basement

- Frank takes Jordan trick-or-treating

- A young Frank trick-or-treats with friends

- The disturbed Mr. Crocell

- Frank finally gets the message

 

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Abyss Rating:  (5/5)

 

Media Review:  "Some of the season's strongest story-telling... A surreal, ghostly journey from uncertainty to renewed determination, played out on the silent, wind-blown streets of Frank's neighborhood on Halloween night." —Paula Vitaris, Cinefantastique

 

Trivia:  This episode was influenced primarily by Kwaidan, a haunting 1964 film by Japanese director Masaki Kobayashi. The film contains four vignettes concerning spirits and ghosts and is generally commended for its visual impact, the way in which the film's composition resembles a painting, rather than the pacing of its plots.

 

This episode was written primarily by Glen Morgan. James Wong, meanwhile, focused his attention on the script for "19:19."  Morgan has said that his script for "The Curse of Frank Black" lacked dialogue as a means of spotlighting Lance Henriksen's visual impact and his more subtle acting strengths. "I didn't want to do any more dialogue. Lance is so great with looks." 

 

This episode's events reflect the development of other Millennium characters while, simultaneously, offering viewers a glimpse at the potential fallibility of the show's very human hero. Morgan explains, "Frank's journey is similar to Lara's. That's where Frank could go, where he could quit and find a place for himself. He is at the brink. He goes back to his yellow house and throws eggs at it, like kids do at Halloween. He was on the brink of becoming Mr. Crocell. But he's got to go back and clean up the mess, otherwise he would just be giving up. What I liked is that it did seem like a slip-up in his quest."

 

When Frank Black is distracted by a big-screen projection television while trick-or-treating he gets a brief glimpse of the opening credits to Glen Morgan and James Wong's The Notorious 7, a television pilot that was rejected by the Fox network before the duo signed on to supervise Millennium.

 

This episodes contains the most blatant of all of Glen Morgan and James Wong's trademark sight gags referencing their work on Space: Above and Beyond. The costumed man that Frank faces on the street is dressed as a Chig, the alien villains of the sci-fi drama series.

 

At home, Frank is tormented from his own television screen by a chillingly bizarre depiction of a laughing devil. He's seeing clips of Fιtiche (The Mascot), a short 1933 film by Polish director Wladyslaw Starewicz, famed for his pioneering work with cartoons and stop-motion animation.

 

Guest star Dean Winters, who appears here as the ghostly Mr. Crocell, has had regular roles on such shows as Oz and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and has guest starred on Homicide: Life on the Street, NYPD Blue, New York Undercover, and others. This would not be his only Millennium appearance; Winters would guest star again in the third season episode "Matryoshka."

 

Death Toll:  1

 

Title:  After considering the tragic events of his life, and after hearing of those events cast as a Halloween horror story by the teens in his basement, it is clear why Frank Black might begin to consider himself a cursed man.

 

Soundtrack:

"Little Demon" by Screamin' Jay Hawkins

"Memories are Made of This" by Dean Martin

 

Starring:

Lance Henriksen as Frank Black

Brittany Tiplady as Jordan Black

 

Guest Starring:
Dean Winters as Mr. Crocell

Kett Turton as the Ghost Storyteller

A.J. Adamson as 5-Year-Old Frank

Shaun Toplass as 14-Year-Old Frank

Lachlan Murdoch as the Hobo

 

Production Credits:

Production #5C07

Music by Mark Snow
Production Designer Mark Freeborn
Director of Photography Robert McLachlan
Associate Producer Jon-Michael Preece
Consulting Producer Chip Johannessen
Consulting Producers Darin Morgan
Co-Producer Robert Moresco
Co-Producer Paul Rabwin
Producer Thomas J. Wright
Co-Executive Producer Ken Horton
Co-Executive Producer John Peter Kousakis

Executive Producer Glen Morgan

Executive Producer James Wong

Executive Producer Chris Carter

 

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