Second Sight: “Powers, Principalities, Thrones and Dominions”

“Powers, Principalities, Thrones and Dominions” (25 April 1997)

Writers: Ted Mann & Harold Rosenthal
Director: Thomas J. Wright
Editor: George Potter

Quote: “I felt it yesterday when we were interviewing the suspect. It’s as if he knew [Bletcher] or knew something about him. Unless I’m losing my ability… I think I’ve lost my trust in it.” –Frank Black

Overview: “Power, Principalities, Thrones and Dominions” is, in a way, my reason for writing the Second Sight column for Back to Frank Black.  If Frank Black’s visions stand as one of Millennium’s most enduring enigmas, this atypical episode represents one of the foremost keys to that great puzzle. In a mythological follow-up to “Lamentation”–the first episode absent of the show’s trademark visionary sequences–the hero’s gift is reimagined in dramatic fashion.  Given the flash forward offered to us by the unusual teaser sequence, the effect is both startling and immediate.  Chris Carter and Lance Henriksen may be justified in arguing that our heroic profiler was not a psychic but in the wake of this story it became impossible to suggest that the hero’s visionary abilities were merely intuitive, the imaginings of a particularly skilled detective.  Frank Black sees what the killer sees and, as the events seen here so dazzlingly illustrate, he sees far more than most mortal men.

“Powers, Principalities, Thrones and Dominions” blatantly suggests that Frank Black is witnessing not simply sparks of the imagination, not insightful hallucinations, but experiences and ideas that are inaccessible to others.  When the angel Sammael confronts the sinister Al Pepper in that grocery store parking lot, we are offered two distinctly different perspectives on the unfolding conflict–one earthly, the other incorporeal.  The profiler’s subsequent conversation with the angel of death allows us to come to terms with the dramatic turn of events we have witnessed.  “Lamentation” boldly asserted that there is more to the forces of good and evil than can be commonly calculated; “Powers, Principalities, Thrones and Dominions” reveals that Frank Black is able to glimpse behind the curtain of reality, so to speak, that he alone is privy to flickers of the unseen elements that bind those unearthly forces in never-ending conflict.  When I consider the enigma of the hero’s visions, my thoughts continually return me to this landmark episode.  It offers the viewer a new perspective on our undaunted investigator’s own alternate modes of perception.  Each time I sit down to type out a Second Sight column, the angel in leather and the infernal attorney flash before my own mind’s eye, bound in immortal combat.  That bright and unexpected bolt of lightning was irrefutably influential for Millennium, every bit as influential as Bob Bletcher’s terrifying encounter with Lucy Butler.  This is a strange and unforgettable installment and, as later episodes reveal, it forever changed our understanding of the hero’s gift and curse.

Connections: The haunting visage of Lucy Butler, the satanic arch-nemesis introduced to us in “Lamentation,” appears throughout the fleeting visions of this episode, most notably as an alternate guise for Alistair Pepper during Frank Black’s frantic search through the grocery store.  The darkly angelic Sammael takes his name from the angel of death in Talmudic lore, a figure regarded as both good and evil in Jewish mythology.

Trances in Total: 4 (0:16)

Gore Score: 2/10

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