Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Thomas Wright Week at Back to Frank Black

Back to Frank Black, the stellar organization devoted to the return of Chris Carter's Millennium and the profiler Frank Black (Lance Henriksen) is currently hosting a week of posts dedicated to Thomas J. Wright, who directed a whopping 26 episodes of the 1996-1999 series.

In my opinion, Wright is an especially skilled director in terms of visuals, an aspect that many TV directors give short shrift.  He's also had an incredible career, directing installments for such genre series as Otherworld (1985), Beauty and the Beast (1987-1990), The X-Files (1993-2002), Nowhere Man (1995-1996) and Smallville (2001 - 2011).  In the early seventies, Wright also painted many of the famous  and macabre art works decorating Rod Serling's Night Gallery.

In honor of Thomas Wright week, I've written a review of "Powers, Principalities, Thrones and Dominions," an important and challenging episode in Millennium's canon, and focused on Wright's visualizations of the intriguing material.  You can read the full post, "Out of Chaos comes Awareness" at Back to Frank Black, here.

Here are the introductory passages:

"What comes after someone survives a terrible and terrifying event? What truths or new perspectives follow in the wake of pure, blood-pumping terror?

These are the pertinent questions raised and answered (at least obliquely) by “Powers, Principalities, Thrones and Dominions,” the Millennium first season segment that directly follows “Lamentation,” the unforgettable introduction of Sarah Jane Redmond’s villain, Lucy Butler. The battlefield or thematic terrain of the episode is well-enunciated in the week’s opening quotation from Charles Manson, which reads: “Paranoia is just a kind of awareness, and awareness is just a form of love.”

In other words, “Powers, Principalities, Thrones and Dominions” concerns awareness in general, and specifically Frank’s dawning awareness of a Cosmic Order outside the ken of mankind. This awareness comes to him only after an extended and painful period of self-doubt and grief.

But ironically, awareness would also not be possible without that self-same period of self-doubt and grief.

Penned by Ted Mann and Howard Rosenthal, and superbly directed by Thomas J. Wright, “Powers, Principalities, Thrones and Dominions” thus finds the series’ lead protagonist, Frank Black at his lowest and most world-weary ebb and then – surprisingly -- opens his eyes to an unseen world; the world of angels, demons and cosmic hierarchies.

The title of the episode itself indicates the nature of those cosmic schemes or hierarchies. According to some Biblical scholars, “Thrones” are living symbols of God’s justice and authority, “Dominions” are beings who regulate the lower angels, “Powers” are the bearers of conscience and keepers of history and “Principalities” are the educators and guardians of the realm of Earth.

Or contrarily, “Thrones,” “Dominions,” “Powers” and “Principalities” may be the categories of evil Minions existing on Earth; the twelve principalities of Satan, for instance (death, anti-christ, covetousness, witchcraft, idolatry, sedition, hypocrisy, disobedience, rejection, hypocrisy, etc.).

Similarly, in Ephesians 6:12 the apostle Paul wrote: “For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” This was the author’s manner of suggesting that anti-God, malevolent forces existed in places of state, in places of Empire, in places of government...


  1. Really, I am one of the great fan of him. In my schooling as well is in my college days, I watched this episode without a miss. Those days are really my sweet memories!

  2. HI Hazarika. Thomas Wright is a pretty fantastic director, and Lance Henriksen -- as usual -- is dynamite in this episode of Millennium.

    Thanks for the comment.