In the previous edition of What the Killer Sees, school shooting spree killer Brant Carmody came under the psychological spotlight. Whilst his death seemed initially to be the suicide of a guilt-ridden killer, soon the sinister motives and misguided beliefs of those close to him revealed a yet more disturbing truth. In this instalment we delve back into the same gripping episode–as scripted by upcoming interviewees Chris Carter and Frank Spotnitz–in order to profile none other than the teenager’s father…
Episode: “TEOTWAWKI” (16 October 1998)
Writers: Chris Carter & Frank Spotnitz
Director: Thomas J. Wright
Quote: “Is that what it takes to save the world? Killing your own flesh and blood? Saving the strong and letting the weak die?” –Frank Black
Profile: Few of Millennium’s antagonists quite fulfil the “End is Nigh” billboard-wearing, underground bunker-dwelling profile like Chris Carmody and his associates. It is a character we all know well enough: those fearing the end of days to such a deep extent that they would secretly hoard tinned food, weaponry, generators and the like to ensure that they and their loved ones survive the inevitable apocalypse to come. But what is the psychological profile of such a person?
Certainly Carmody cannot be equated with a full-scale cultist such as Ricardo Clement, but nevertheless his actions are founded within an unshakeable certainty in his beliefs. These beliefs are not based upon some religious faith in the End Times, however, but rather are cemented in a seemingly much more tangible threat that failures in technology on the turn of the millennium will trigger society’s collapse. What lies behind such an obsessional fear of the anarchy that would rise in its wake? An isolationist viewpoint and an inherent lack of trust in others for certain. But maybe there is something yet more fundamentally human that lies beneath such fears. Fear of the apocalypse can be seen to mirror the fear of our own mortality, with even the more outlandish doomsday scenarios standing as reminders of our own inescapable death. All things must die, everyone and everything is ultimately destined to be lost to us. It seems more than feasible that fears over “The End Of The World As We Know It” are a dramatic projection of those thoughts regarding our own mortality onto the world we live in. Carmody’s is a mind broken, lost to such thoughts.
The depth of Carmody’s convictions are surely most apparent in his willingness to murder his own son, seemingly in a misguided attempt to protect the rest of his family. On his capture, he openly states this as his over-riding motive in the knowledge that the shooting spree that Brant undertook at his school was motivated by his inability to deal with the looming threat of such a chaotic world. It seems Carmody is likely being truthful in this regard.
A variety of psychological states are known to cause parents to commit filicide. These range from mood disorders through to delusional thoughts and disorganised behavioural patterns. Superficially, Carmody appears to be much more calculated and conscious in the actions he takes, however given his underlying beliefs as outlined here we cannot rule out such thought patterns leading to the resolve that it is the right thing to do under the circumstances to take the life of his son. As Frank Black narrates in the closing scene of this episode, Carmody is an example of “the radical few, who obey no disciplines. Unencumbered by conscience, they prepare ruthlessly, pursuing their own preservation. If they survive, the rest of us perish.”
Investigation: Having intuited that Brant Carmody was unlikely to have taken his own life, Frank Black leads the investigation down a new avenue of inquiry: to find his killer. A study of Brant’s computer identifies a threatening e-mail from someone identified only as “Skylark”, an alias that the FBI track back to Carlton King, the son of Gary King, one of Chris Carmody’s associates.
Ultimately this finding leads Emma Hollis and Frank Black to discover the group’s secret compound. After a tense stand-off, Gary King surrenders and Chris Carmody is taken into custody at his home, his family destroyed rather than protected by his actions.