The Time Is Now (Millennium)
|"The Time Is Now"|
|Directed by||Thomas J. Wright|
|Original air date||May 15, 1998|
"'The Time Is Now" is the twenty-third episode of the second season of the American crime-thriller television series Millennium. It premiered on the Fox network on May 15, 1998. The episode was written by Glen Morgan and James Wong, and directed by Thomas J. Wright. "The Time Is Now" featured guest appearances by Kristen Cloke and Glenn Morshower.
In this episode, Millennium Group profiler Frank Black (Lance Henriksen) confronts the onset of an apocalyptic viral outbreak, dealing with the duplicity of the Group's foreknowledge of, and preparation for, such an event.
The episode's script went through several variations, taking shape after series creator Chris Carter suggested killing off the character of Catherine Black (Megan Gallagher). The episode has earned positive responses from critics, and was seen by approximately 4.8 million households during its initial broadcast.
Continuing from "The Fourth Horseman", several Millennium Group members in biohazard suits clear out a house full of bodies, victims of a viral outbreak; outside, dozens of bird corpses litter the ground.
Group member Frank Black (Lance Henriksen) returns home with his wife Catherine (Megan Gallagher) and daughter Jordan (Brittany Tiplady). Black realizes that the family home holds painful memories and decides to find somewhere else to settle; the post that day contains a deed from his late father, who had left him a cabin in the woods. Later, Blacks meets with Richard Gilbert (Glenn Morshower), who is trying to convince Black to join his corporate security firm. Black reaffirms his commitment to the Group, however, Gilbert warns that their lives may be threatened by the Group's activities. The next day, Black learns that Gilbert died in a car accident; he believes the vehicle may have been tampered with.
Later, fellow Group member Peter Watts (Terry O'Quinn) tells Black that he has uncovered computer files from the Group, indicating that a virus discovered by bio-weapons scientists in the Soviet Union has been living dormant in bird species since the end of the Cold War, and may now be making a resurgence in the United States. Watts reveals that a vaccine has been developed by the Group, but only in sufficient quantities for its members; Watts and Black have already been inoculated without having realized at the time. Black tells Watts to locate Lara Means (Kristen Cloke), another Group member, as he hopes to keep them safe in the cabin until the crisis resolves.
Watts arrives at Means' home, but is confronted by other Group members and assaulted. Means is inside, experiencing a prolonged hallucination. She considers suicide, instead writing something and sealing it in an envelope. Black finds her home, accompanied by paramedics who take her away. She gives Black the envelope—containing a phial of vaccine—and he thanks her, unable to discover what happened to Watts.
Black takes his family to the woodland cabin, where he and Catherine decide that the dose of vaccine should be given to Jordan. Black and Catherine discuss how they would handle infection; Catherine asks to be euthanized, Black states he would wander off to die alone. That night, Catherine wakes up, experiencing symptoms of the disease. She quietly leaves the cabin and walks into the forest. The next morning, Black wakes up, and finding blood on Catherine's pillow, realizes she has gone. He cradles his daughter as the screen flashes images of the collapse of society, interspersed with video noise.
"The Time Is Now" was written by frequent collaborators Glen Morgan and James Wong. The duo would pen a total of fifteen episodes throughout the series' run. The pair had also taken the roles of co-executive producers for the season. "The Time Is Now" was directed by Thomas J. Wright, who helmed a total of twenty-six episodes across all three seasons. Wright would also go on to direct "Millennium", the series' crossover episode with its sister show The X-Files.
The episode's script went through several different versions before a final plot was decided upon, as Morgan and Wong believed the series would not be renewed for a third season and wished to write a suitable ending. The decision to kill off the character of Catherine Black was based on a suggestion by Chris Carter, the series' creator. Morgan and Wong discussed the idea with actress Megan Gallagher, who felt that it was an interesting decision to have Catherine give her life after seeing Frank Black sacrifice so much for their family throughout the previous episodes. The idea of depicting an apocalyptic scenario as being the result of a virus came from Morgan's research into possible end-of-the-world scenarios, and was influenced by the outbreak of bovine spongiform encephalopathy in the United Kingdom.
Broadcast and reception
"The Time Is Now" was first broadcast on the Fox network on May 15, 1998. The episode earned a Nielsen rating of 4.9 during its original broadcast, meaning that 4.9 percent of households in the United States viewed the episode. This represented approximately 4.8 million households, and left the episode the seventy-second most-viewed broadcast that week.[nb 1]
"The Time Is Now" received positive reviews from critics. The A.V. Club's Todd VanDerWerff rated the episode—along with the preceding episode "The Fourth Horseman—an "A". VanDerWerff felt that it "may be one of the four or five best cinematic depictions of the end of the world ever filmed", praising the uncommon approach of depicting the world ending, rather than just showing the aftermath. Bill Gibron, writing for DVD Talk, rated the episode 5 out of 5. Gibron felt that the two-part episodes were "a one-two punch that many dramatic series would die for", finding the conclusion to have been effectively hinted at throughout the season. Robert Shearman and Lars Pearson, in their book Wanting to Believe: A Critical Guide to The X-Files, Millennium & The Lone Gunmen, rated "The Time Is Now" five stars out of five. Shearman felt that the episode would have been "the best end to the show imaginable", had the series not produced a third season. He considered the episode's writing and conclusion to have been a brave decision, potentially alienating its viewers but producing "a thrilling and unforgettable piece of television"; he also considered the season as a whole to be less consistent but more daring than the first season.
- Each ratings point represented 980,000 households during the 1997–98 television season.
- Millennium: The Complete First Season (booklet). David Nutter, et al. Fox.
- Millennium: The Complete Second Season (booklet). Thomas J. Wright, et al. Fox.
- Soloman, Harvey (September 18, 1997). "Fall Watch; 'Millennium' takes new turn". The Boston Herald. Retrieved October 21, 2012. (subscription required)
- Millennium: The Complete Third Season (booklet). Thomas J. Wright, et al. Fox.
- Thomas J. Wright (director); Vince Gilligan & Frank Spotnitz (writers) (November 28, 1999). "Millennium". The X-Files. Season 7. Episode 4. Fox.
- Vitaris, Paula (October 1998). "TV's Best Kept Secret Improves in Its Sophomore Season". Cinefantastique. 30 (7 & 8): 125.
- Shearman & Pearson 2009, p. 162.
- "Prime-rime Nielsen ratings". Associated Press. May 19, 1998. Retrieved October 20, 2012.
- VanDerWerff, Todd (August 27, 2011). ""The Fourth Horseman"/"The Time Is Now" | The X-Files/Millennium | TV Club". The A.V. Club. The Onion. Retrieved October 20, 2012.
- Gibron, Bill (January 3, 2005). "Millennium: Season 2: DVD Talk Review of the DVD Video". DVD Talk. Internet Brands. Retrieved October 20, 2012.
- Shearman & Pearson 2009, pp. 162–163.
- Shearman & Pearson 2009, p. 163.
- Shearman, Robert; Pearson, Lars (2009). Wanting to Believe: A Critical Guide to The X-Files, Millennium & The Lone Gunmen. Mad Norwegian Press. ISBN 097594469X.