Second Sight: “Loin Like a Hunting Flame”


“Loin Like a Hunting Flame” (31 January 1997)

Writer: Ted Mann
Director: David Nutter
Editor: Chris Willingham, A.C.E.

Quote: “[The victims represent] a window into sexuality, the way he wants it to be. Perfect, uninhibited, guiltless. His actions will follow the development of his fantasies.” –Frank Black


Overview: I’ll admit, the approach of Second Sight is sometimes rather restrictive. My intention has always been to treat this ongoing examination of Millennium’s visions with a scientific rationale bordering on the forensic. After all, the nature of Frank Black’s visions remains one of the show’s most enduring mysteries and, as any good Millennium Group analyst would suggest, such intractable enigmas can only be properly challenged with a methodical modus operandi. It’s episodes like this, however, that leave me second guessing that rigid rationale. By design, Second Sight restricts its focus to those visions we can attribute to Frank Black himself. Our tally of trances below, for instance, counts only the flashes of insight experienced by our hero during a given episode, excluding any other drug-induced delusions, premonitory nightmares, or psychotic hallucinations that might be witnessed by other characters. (An exception to the rule is made only in the case of Jordan Black, as in episodes such as “Dead Letters.”) Undeniably, however, dreams and visions are an inherent, integral part of the storytelling seen on Millennium. In “Loin Like a Hunting Flame,” it is the rich visual fantasies of serial killer Art Nesbitt–played with chilling detachment by guest star Hrothgar Mathews–that allow us fascinating insight into the state of his psychology. There is far more to Millennium’s ambitious attempt to convey multiple modes of perception than first meets the eye and, truly, it is far more than can be comprehensively covered in a blog column such as this.

While we’re on the subject of this column’s format, let us take a moment to retrospectively consider some mounting statistics. It should be noted that the visions of “Loin Like a Hunting Flame” serve to challenge a lasting misconception concerning Millennium’s visual style. I’ve granted the episode a “gore score” of one out of ten. As a pharmacist with homicidal intent, Art Nesbitt kills cleanly and this episode eschews the anticipated blood and guts in favor of depicting his sexual fantasies with vivid images of beauty and sensuality–though, admittedly, the cinematic technique for these visions remains the same and the sequences are no less disturbing than usual. Remarkably, out of the first twelve episodes of the series, at least three other episodes have earned the same score: “Dead Letters,” “522666,” and “The Well-Worn Lock.” (A fourth, “Kingdom Come,” remained bloodless but earned an additional point on our scale for the sheer brutality of its slayings.) In other words, one third of the episodes in the first half of the first season of Millennium convey their cinematic horror without slinging a single drop of blood at the screen. Among both uninitiated and longtime viewers, I think, Millennium is often remembered as a television series that relied on gore to tell its terrifying stories. This is, after all, a series that earned a near-permanent parental advisory warning from its network. We remember Frank Black as a criminal profiler who was cursed by his gift because his thoughts were forever saturated with blood. These statistics serve as a measurable reminder that the horrors of this series were far more nuanced. As Chris Carter has said, the filmic frights in a series like Millennium show little of the gory details we anticipate but they leave a lasting–and sometimes rather messy–impression on our fertile imaginations.

Trances in Total: 3 (0:16)

Gore Score: 1/10

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