Blood Relatives (Millennium)
|Episode no.||Season 1
|Directed by||Jim Charleston|
|Written by||Chip Johannessen|
|Original air date||December 6, 1996|
"'Blood Relatives" is the seventh episode of the first season of the American crime-thriller television series Millennium. It premiered on the Fox network on December 6, 1996. The episode was written by Chip Johannessen, and directed by Jim Charleston. "Blood Relatives" featured guest appearances by John Fleck, Sean Six and Lynda Boyd.
Forensic profiler Frank Black (Lance Henriksen), a member of the private investigative organisation Millennium Group, is asked to investigate a killer who targets mourners after visiting the funerals of strangers.
"Blood Relatives" saw the series' first writing credit for Johannessen, who would contribute another twelve episodes across three seasons. The episode; which opens with a quotation from the Christian Gospel of Luke; went on to receive positive reviews from critics.
At a funeral in Seattle, James Dickerson (Sean Six), approaches the mourning family. He introduces himself as "Ray Bell" and pretends to have known the deceased at university. He embraces the dead man's mother lingeringly, and leaves. Later that night, the mother is visiting her son's grave, and is pulled into an open grave as she passes it. Her body is found the next day, although the rest of her family have been told they cannot see it. Speaking to clinical social worker Catherine Black (Megan Gallagher), Seattle police officer Bob Bletcher (Bill Smitrovich) reveals that the victim had been graphically mutilated during the murder.
Catherine Black's husband, offender profiler Frank Black (Lance Henriksen), is asked to consult on the case as a member of the Millennium Group, a private investigative organisation. Black senses that the killer feels rage towards someone—not the victim—and is taking it out on strangers. Speaking to the family, Black finds that the victim's dead son has had a sports team badge taken from his body; he also realizes that the strange "Ray Bell" must be the killer.
Back at his halfway house Dickerson is wearing the missing badge, as the house's trustee Connor scolds him for breaking curfew—and threatens not to cover up for him any more. After Connor leaves, James finds an obituary in the newspaper and circles it. Elsewhere, Black finds the name "Ray Bell" in the same newspaper as the victim's son's obituary, and deduces that the killer may have been frequenting funerals before, probably taking souvenirs like the badge. He believes that the victim is his first, but that killing will become easier for him.
Dickerson visits another funeral, and befriends a mourner, Tina, by pretending to have been a childhood friend of the deceased. They visit a nearby lake to reminisce, but she feels something is wrong. Dickerson apologises and leaves; however, Tina is soon attacked from behind. Her body is found with the words "stop looking" carved into her stomach, and Black believes there may be a message somewhere on the first victim's body. He asks fellow Group member Peter Watts (Terry O'Quinn) to look for it; Watts is also able to find fingerprints on Tina's hair clip that identify Dickerson—a paroled convict. They track him down to the halfway home, although Connor secretly helps him to escape to a nearby scrapyard. In Dickerson's room, a hidden cache of souvenirs is found, along with a journal and a stack of letters marked "return to sender".
Catherine Black identifies Dickerson as an archetypal "lost child", raised in poor foster care and neglected. He visits funerals to connect with society, leaving her to wonder what has pushed him to murder. Meanwhile, Dickerson remains in hiding at the scrapyard, while Connor brings him food. Frank Black has noticed that the "S" carved in Tina's stomach matches that seen in the logo for Skorpion Salvage, the scrapyard Dickerson is hiding in. When he and the police arrive to find Dickerson, Connor is able to escape while the yard's dogs attack Dickerson.
Catherine Black has found Dickerson's biological mother, a Mrs. Dechant (Lynda Boyd). Having given Dickerson up for adoption as a teenager, she is now a suburban housewife. Dickerson had tried several years previously to reconnect with her, though she wanted nothing to do with him. Catherine asks her for help, and she begrudgingly agrees to see her son. She recoils when he hugs her, blaming the government for making him what he is. Rejected, Dickerson confesses to the murders. Connor is able to see all of this, his connection to it not yet uncovered. Frank Black is unconvinced that everything has been wrapped up, and realizes that Connor is involved—he wants Dickerson to himself. "Stop looking" was his message to Dickerson, to stop looking for affection anywhere else.
Mrs. Dechant returns home, and is about to take a bath when she is attacked by Connor. Black has followed her, and interrupts the attack; he and Connor struggle, with Black almost being strangled until he is able to hold Connor under the bathwater until he stops fighting. Connor is arrested and charged, while the now-cleared Dickerson resumes circling obituaries in the newspaper.
"Blood Relatives" is the first of two episodes of Millennium to be directed by James Charleston, who would return later in the first season to helm "Wide Open". The episode also marks the first writing credit in the series for Chip Johannessen, who would go on to write an additional twelve episodes across all three seasons, including the series' final episode "Goodbye to All That". After Millennium's cancellation, Johannessen would also contribute an episode to its sister show The X-Files, 1999's "Orison".
"Blood Relatives" featured the second of three appearances by Brian Markinson as Seattle police detective Teeple; Markinson had previously played the character in "The Judge", and would reprise the role in "Sacrament". Guest star Deanna Milligan, who portrayed the second victim Tina, would also appear in the third season episode "The Sound of Snow" in an unrelated role. Bob Morrisey, who played the first victim's husband, also appeared in the third season, playing a sheriff in "Omertà".
The episode opens with a quotation from the Gospel of Luke, the third and longest of the four canonical Gospels of the Christian New Testament. Biblical verses were also used at the beginning of other episodes in the series, including the Book of Job in "Wide Open" and "Dead Letters"; the Book of Jeremiah in "Weeds"; and the Book of Exodus in "Kingdom Come".
"Blood Relatives" was first broadcast on the Fox Network on December 6, 1996; and earned a Nielsen rating of 7.5, meaning that roughly 7.5 percent of all television-equipped households were tuned in to the episode. The episode was watched by approximately 7.3 million households.[nb 1]
"Blood Relatives" received positive reviews from critics. Robert Shearman and Lars Pearson, in their book Wanting to Believe: A Critical Guide to The X-Files, Millennium & The Lone Gunmen, rated the episode five stars out of five, comparing it favourably to "Irresistible", a second season episode of The X-Files. Shearman and Pearson lauded Johannessen's "subtle writing", especially in the handling of the James Dickerson character; they felt the episode was "a study of a sociopath" which "humanises" its villain. Writing for The A.V. Club, Zack Handlen rated the episode a B, finding that its depiction of the character of James Dickerson added "some shades of gray" to the series' usual "black and white morality". Handlen also felt that while the scene in which a woman is killed by a lake shore was "shocking without being exploitative", and was carried out in such a manner that "we don't feel as though she's targeted because she's a woman"; however, the climactic scene in which Dickerson's mother is attacked while stripping for a bath was seen as "a reminder of the show's inability to separate its lofty goals from its willingness to take the cheapest shots". Bill Gibron, writing for DVD Talk, rated "Blood Relatives" 5 out of 5, describing it as being "as shocking as it is sentimental". Gibron compared the episode to "Best Boys", an episode of the English series Cracker, and praised its "atmospheric, moody tone".
- Each ratings point represented 970,000 households during the 1996–1997 television season.
- Millennium: The Complete First Season (Media notes). David Nutter, et al. Fox. 1996–1997.
- Millennium: The Complete Second Season (Media notes). Thomas J. Wright, et al. Fox. 1997–1998.
- Millennium: The Complete Third Season (Media notes). Thomas J. Wright, et al. Fox. 1998–1999.
- Rob Bowman (director); Chip Johannessen (writer) (December 12, 1999). "Orison". The X-Files. Season 7. Episode 7. Fox.
- Randall Zisk (director); Ted Mann (writer) (November 15, 1998). "The Judge". Millennium. Season 1. Episode 4. Fox.
- Michael W. Watkins (director); Frank Spotnitz (writer) (February 21, 1997). "Sacrament". Millennium. Season 1. Episode 15. Fox.
- Paul Shapiro (director); Patrick Harbinson (writer) (February 5, 1999). "The Sound of Snow". Millennium. Season 3. Episode 12. Fox.
- Paul Shapiro (director); Michael R. Perry (writer) (December 18, 1998). "Omertà". Millennium. Season 3. Episode 9. Fox.
- Genge, p. 136
- Genge, p. 137
- Genge, p. 133
- Genge, pp. 137–138
- Genge, p. 135
- Shearman and Pearson, p. 109
- Genge, p. xviii
- Meisler, p. 298
- Shearman and Pearson, pp. 109–110
- Handlen, Zack (November 6, 2010). ""Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man"/"Blood Relatives" | The X-Files/Millennium | TV Club". The A.V. Club. Retrieved March 2, 2012.
- Gibron, Bill (July 20, 2004). "Millennium: Season 1: DVD Talk Review of the DVD Video". DVD Talk. Retrieved March 2, 2012.
- Genge, N. E. (1997). Millennium: The Unofficial Companion. Century. ISBN 0-7126-7833-6.
- Meisler, Andy (1998). I Want to Believe: The Official Guide to the X-Files Volume 3. Harper Prism. ISBN 0-06-105386-4.
- Shearman, Robert; Pearson, Lars (2009). Wanting to Believe: A Critical Guide to The X-Files, Millennium & The Lone Gunmen. Mad Norwegian Press. ISBN 0-9759446-9-X.