Friday, July 31, 2015

The X-Files - S2:E4 "Sleepless"

[ S2:E3 "Blood" <<< Season 2 >>> S2:E5 "Duane Barry" ]

Following an anonymous tip, Mulder opens an investigation into the mysterious death of a sleep disorder specialist who had been involved in wartime experiments with "sleep eradication". He ends up chasing down a traumatized war vet (Tony Todd) who is looking for retribution for the crimes committed by his squadron. To his frustration, Mulder is also assigned a new partner, which makes Scully a little jealous. This episode contains shades of A Nightmare on Elm Street, but without being too derivative.

Spoiler Warning: the rest of this review may contain spoilers related to important developments in the mythology of this show.

Season 2 is really starting off on a strong note. Sleepless is a perfect example of what I mean by the mythology being more interesting than monsters-of-the-week - even monster-of-the-week episodes are greatly improved when they include mythology elements! Contrasting this episode with the last one, it's clear how much of a difference it makes when the episode includes bureau activity (notably Skinner's involvement), and features development between recurring characters, as opposed to just diving into the case of the week without linking it much to any of the show's overarching plot elements.

This episode also features Nicholas Lea in his first appearance as the character Alex Krycek. I couldn't remember at what point in the series this character appeared, but I can tell you that when he marched over to Mulder's desk and introduced himself, I squealed like a fangirl! Krycek is such a fun character; he's the first television character I've ever described as being someone I "loved to hate". He was certainly a more effective villain on the show than the later appearance of the spindly Agent Spender. We also get our first face-to-face meeting in this episode with Mulder's new informant, the unnamed X (Steven Williams).

The final scene is also quite remarkable, not only in its startling reveal of Krycek's true loyalties (which had been in question all episode-long), but also in foreshadowing what's about to befall in the next few episodes, and preemptively demonstrating that the Smoking Man carries some (if not all) responsibility for the ordeal that Scully is about to be put through. In season 1, the Smoking Man was little more than an archetype - the shadowy authority figure standing in the background to represent a conspiratorial government. Here we're finally beginning to (slowly) get some development of the character, as he becomes a more active villain with more concrete goals, which is a lot more fun to watch.

Memorable quotes:

Krycek: I don't appreciate being ditched like someone's bad date.

X: You still don't get it, do you? Closing the X-Files, separating you and Scully, was only the beginning. The truth is still out there; it's never been more dangerous. The man we both knew paid for that information with his life - a sacrifice I'm not willing to make.

Scully: It must be nice not having someone questioning your every move, poking holes in all your theories.
Mulder (deadpan): Oh, oh yeah, it's great. I'm surprised I put up with you for so long.

Smoking Man: Every problem has a solution.

The X-Files - S2:E3 "Blood"

[ S2:E2 "The Host" <<< Season 2 >>> S2:E4 "Sleepless" ]

In this episode, Mulder heads to a small town to investigate a curious case involving locals randomly going postal, and tries to figure out why. Is it mass delusion? Or a sentient (and homicidal) computer? The answer isn't obvious, and either way, the premise is a lot more original than what we saw in season 1's Ghost in the Machine, which demonstrates that the writing on this show is evolving. Mulder seems a bit subdued in this episode, and even though Scully joins him in the field, it doesn't quite feel like they're back in the saddle again yet, but William Sanderson carries the episode with his progressively tortured portrayal of a down-on-his-luck middle-aged man tormented by his fears. We also get to see the Lone Gunmen again! None of this, however, makes the episode terribly memorable.

Memorable quotes:

Sheriff: Things like this aren't supposed to happen here.
Mulder: A 42 year old real estate agent murders four strangers with his bare hands? That's not supposed to happen anywhere.

Mulder: You know, Frohike, it's men like you that give perversion a bad name.

Mulder: Fear - it's the oldest tool of power. If you're distracted by fear of those around you, it keeps you from seeing the actions of those above.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

The X-Files - S2:E2 "The Host"

[ S2:E1 "Little Green Men" <<< Season 2 >>> S2:E3 "Blood" ]

Comparisons to season 1's first monster-of-the-week episode, Squeeze, are appropriate in this gross episode that features the series' creepiest monster yet. Mulder thinks he's being played for a fool when Skinner assigns him to investigate a body that turns up in the sewers of New Jersey, but when Scully examines the body and finds a rather large flukeworm, it slowly becomes clear that this case should have been an X-File. Is Skinner taking advantage of Mulder's expertise to solve weird cases in a hush-hush manner? I have to say that I really like the character of A.D. Skinner. Ultimately we'll see that he's an ally, but he's just the hard-nosed bureaucrat Mulder needs in his corner, to reel him in when he gets too far out there. We also get our first (appropriately shady) introduction to Mulder's soon-to-be-new informant, which tells me we're over the larval stage and getting into the heart of the series now.

Seeing Mulder's disillusion in these episodes, and him pushing Scully away, is tough, but here we get a little taste of the old banter we've come to know and love. However, we're really beginning to see the benefit of the serial format here. The first season was very episodic, with each episode almost entirely self-contained, barring some of the mythology elements, which were still pretty light. The show is still heavily episode-based (in comparison with a lot of modern dramas), but now, even the monster-of-the-week episodes feature some developments to the over-arching plot of the series. With Skinner settling into the bureau in a more regular capacity, and the conflict created by Mulder and Scully being separated and taken off the X-Files, it seems like we're actually getting somewhere even in the one-off episodes, and that makes it all the more exciting.

Memorable quotes:

Scully: This seat taken?
Mulder: No. But I should warn you, I'm experiencing violent impulses.
Scully: Well I'm armed, so I'll take my chances.

Mulder: Sometimes it just gets hard to smile through it when they ask you to bend down and grab your ankles.

X: Mr. Mulder, I think you should have a friend at the FBI.

Mulder: This isn't where you tell me some terrible story about sushi, is it?
Scully: Or maybe you'd rather hear what you can catch from a nice, rare steak.
Mulder: So, what, the murder weapon was a top sirloin?

Skinner: We all take our orders from someone, Agent Mulder.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The X-Files - S2:E1 "Little Green Men"

[ S1:E24 "The Erlenmeyer Flask" <<< Season 2 >>> S2:E2 "The Host" ]

I don't know to what extent this is fueled by nostalgia, and associating this episode with the rest of the season, but it's remarkable how this show feels much more complex and mature from the instant we dive into the second season. Season 2 opens with a somber voice-over by David Duchovny, juxtapositioning the shutting down of the X-Files with a description of a similarly doomed SETI project - an Arecibo telescope scanning for replies to the message sent out into space on the Voyager probes in the 1970s. But, like Mulder, even without bureaucratic support, the telescope is still listening. And it's just received a message! Providing some key intel, we finally get to meet, in person, Mulder's benefactor in the Senate, whom he's mentioned and proffered a few favors from before.

But first, we find a disillusioned Mulder assigned to electronic surveillance (and removed from his basement office), and a detached Scully teaching the finer points of performing autopsies. The importance of Mulder's sister's childhood abduction is re-introduced (for those who might have forgotten) in the form of a dramatic flashback to that tragic night. But for the first time, Mulder experiences (or at least demonstrates) some doubt over whether his sister was ever really abducted at all (in one of many suspicions in this episode that foreshadows the great end-of-fourth season revelation I keep referencing). Assistant Director Skinner and the Smoking Man (in his first direct interaction with Mulder!) both make a reappearance, and Skinner, while still an unknown quantity, engages in his first act of defiance toward the Smoking Man.

The jungles of Puerto Rico (if this is still Vancouver, they do an amazing job of suiting the landscape to different terrains), and the dusty Arecibo control room, all lend the episode a memorable atmosphere. I like that they really play up the horror aspect of the alien encounters. After learning that the government has possession of alien technology, and even biological tissue, you could start thinking that they're not so scary, after all. But a live one, in the wild, with its own agenda... This is no tamed animal. And it demonstrates that whatever the government knows, whatever they're involved with, they aren't the ones ultimately calling the shots. The episode ends on a hopeful note, yet without too quickly tying up all the loose ends. It's a very strong season premiere.

Memorable quotes:

Scully: What this man imagined, his dreams, who he loved, saw, heard, remembered, what he feared - somehow it's all locked in this small mass of tissue and fluid.
Student: Are you okay, Agent Scully? You kind of sounded...a little spooky.

Mulder: No! Jorge, don't touch that red button. Noho on the rojo.

Mulder: Again, Scully, nothing but evidence. And again, no evidence at all.

Mulder: The printouts of received transmission indicate contact with another lifeform, and yet I cannot see them. Even if I could see them, would they really be there? How do I know this isn't some classified military satellite - these transmissions are from the Voyager for God's sake! Could extraterrestrials really have intercepted them? Or is this just some elaborate joke played on those who want to believe?

Scully: Evidence is worthless if you're dead.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The X-Files - Season 1 (1993-4)

The X-Files >>> Season 2 ]

The first season of The X-Files revolves tightly around its two main characters (only three names appear in the credits, and the third, after David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson, is series creator Chris Carter). The only other recurring character of any significance is Deep Throat (since the Smoking Man appears only briefly in just three episodes, and other characters such as Skinner and the Lone Gunmen only appear once so far), and he plays mainly a supporting role. But this gives the show an opportunity to really develop the central partnership on which the series hinges.

There are a lot of one-off monster-of-the-week episodes, many of which are more or less forgettable, and the mythology is still pretty basic "government coverup of extraterrestrial contact" stuff, without much development of the details of who the enemy is (besides authority). But the show is still growing at this point, and this season has some memorable highlights - notably, episodes like Beyond The Sea, E.B.E., and The Erlenmeyer Flask. All told, it's a pretty strong first season - more polished than Buffy The Vampire Slayer's first season in comparison - but the show only gets better over the next few seasons (if not beyond that, too).

For your convenience, here is a list of links to my reviews of each of the episodes in the first season (names in parentheses are the episodes' writers):

S1:E1 "Pilot" (Chris Carter)
S1:E2 "Deep Throat" (Chris Carter)
S1:E3 "Squeeze" (Glen Morgan, James Wong)
S1:E4 "Conduit" (Alex Gansa, Howard Gordon)
S1:E5 "The Jersey Devil" (Chris Carter)
An Analytical Observation on The X-Files
S1:E6 "Shadows" (Glen Morgan, James Wong)
S1:E7 "Ghost in the Machine" (Alex Gansa, Howard Gordon)
S1:E8 "Ice" (Glen Morgan, James Wong)
S1:E9 "Space" (Chris Carter)
S1:E10 "Fallen Angel" (Howard Gordon, Alex Gansa)
S1:E11 "Eve" (Chris Brancato, Kenneth Biller)
S1:E12 "Fire" (Chris Carter)
S1:E13 "Beyond The Sea" (Glen Morgan, James Wong)
S1:E14 "Gender Bender" (Paul Barber, Larry Barber)
S1:E15 "Lazarus" (Alex Gansa, Howard Gordon)
S1:E16 "Young at Heart" (Scott Kaufer, Chris Carter)
S1:E17 "E.B.E." (Glen Morgan, James Wong)
S1:E18 "Miracle Man" (Chris Carter, Howard Gordon)
S1:E19 "Shapes" (Marilyn Osborn)
S1:E20 "Darkness Falls" (Chris Carter)
S1:E21 "Tooms" (Glen Morgan, James Wong)
S1:E22 "Born Again" (Howard Gordon, Alex Gansa)
S1:E23 "Roland" (Chris Ruppenthal)
S1:E24 "The Erlenmeyer Flask" (Chris Carter)

Monster-of-the-week Episode of the Season: Beyond The Sea
Mythology Episode of the Season: The Erlenmeyer Flask
Clunker of the Season: A lot of fans pan Space, but at least that was a memorable episode. Personally, I found Born Again to be utterly forgettable.

Heavy Mythology Content (These are the essential mythology episodes).
Light Mythology Content (These episodes feature light or incidental mythology-related content).
Must watch! (If you're short on time, or just want to revisit the highlights of the series, these are the best episodes the show has to offer).
Recommended. (While not being the best of the best, these are quality episodes; I recommend viewing them if you have the time).
Good for a viewing. (These are not essential episodes, but if you want to dig deeper into the series, they're worth sitting through).
Skippable. (Unless you are, like me, dedicated to absorbing the series in its entirety, these are the episodes that you can afford to skip).

A note on spoilers: my aim is not to spoil the climax of each and every episode, so I think that generally, spoilers will be kept to a minimum. On the other hand, I write these reviews mainly for the benefit of those who have already seen the show, and want to reminisce with me (and go, "oh, that's the episode with ______!"), or pick out specific episodes to rewatch. So if you're watching the show for the first time and want to be completely surprised, you'll probably want to read these reviews after you've seen the episode, and not before. Nonetheless, for those pivotal episodes where I feel the discussion requires talking about major spoilers, I will still include a warning beforehand.

A note on quotes: apparently, I'm not the only X-Phile who enjoys mining episodes for quotes, so perhaps I don't need to explain myself, but...pulling quotes from episodes allows me to highlight the great writing on this show. Plus, when I was originally obsessed with the show, and also studying computer programming in school at the time, I once made a program that was essentially a random quote generator that I filled up with quotes from the show. So it serves a nostalgic purpose for me as well: rediscovering which episodes all my favorite quotes came from.

Friday, July 24, 2015

The X-Files S1:E24 "The Erlenmeyer Flask"

[ S1:E23 "Roland" <<< Season 1 >>> S2:E1 "Little Green Men" ]

I'm gonna go ahead and put a spoiler warning on this one, because it's the season finale, and it's not going to be much fun to discuss without talking about what happens.

Spoiler Warning: the following review contains major spoilers!

This is the episode that forever gave special significance (to all us X-Philes, at least) to that otherwise obscure (unless you're a scientist) piece of laboratory equipment - the Erlenmeyer flask. And to show you what kind of a geek I am, for many years I kept the porn on my computer in a folder titled "Purity Control". The episode opens with a harrowing car chase that closes on a fugitive who apparently bleeds green blood. A vague tip from Deep Throat leads Mulder and Scully to a doctor involved in the creation of alien-human hybrids (but figuring this out won't come easy) via an extraterrestrial virus extracted from just the sort of E.B.E.s that were absent from the previous episode of that name.

Indeed, the first half of this episode plays out a lot like that one, with Deep Throat giving our agents the runaround. I've always liked the Deep Throat character, but I'm realizing this time around (perhaps colored by my knowledge of later revelations), how much - to borrow Scully's words - he yanks Mulder's chain, which is kind of annoying. I understand the need for discretion, but he seems to expect unfaltering trust from Mulder, when he surely knows (in his line of business) how hard trust is to come by; and after admitting to Mulder's face that he's lied to him! It makes me want to believe all the more the revelation that will come at the end of the fourth season. (And if I keep mentioning it, it's because it was the biggest "holy shit" moment in the series for me).

But then in the second half of the episode, shit finally gets real. For one thing, Deep Throat starts talking more, when the cleanup operation picks up its pace. Whereas in E.B.E., I could believe the whole time that Deep Throat could have just been playing Mulder, this time he seems to genuinely want Mulder to blow the case wide open. But then Mulder goes and gets himself captured, and the only way to get him back alive is for Scully to infiltrate a high containment facility (in a riveting and highly memorable scene) and steal one of those aforementioned E.B.E.s. Just the sheer fact of it being there, in government possession, and seeing it - and Scully seeing it with her own two eyes - is remarkable! Up until now, there were a lot of questions about what to believe, but after this, the truth is pretty clear. (Now the question is just how to prove it).

And then Deep Throat ends up getting killed in the process of making the exchange for Mulder's life, his last words - "Trust No One" - emblazoned in the opening credits, replacing (for the first time in the series!) the usual "The Truth Is Out There". Deep Throat's fate is sad, but satisfying in a way, because it demonstrates a) that he really was on Mulder's side, and b) that the government has some serious secrets to keep. (Although both of these things are not completely beyond doubt - as nothing is ever completely certain in The X-Files - but in that case it just means that whatever the government is hiding, it's worth killing one of their own for). And the X-Files actually gets shut down this time, as punishment for Mulder and Scully getting too close to the truth!

It's an exciting episode, although I can admit that having a pretty good idea (it has been probably about 15 years since I first watched the series) about the big revelations reduces some of its impact. But this episode is X-Files history. I got a real sense of danger from it - particularly when Mulder is being chased by the cleanup crew. In a lot of episodes, it feels like Mulder is safely one step behind the conspiracy, but here (and in other great mythology-advancing episodes to come), he sees enough to genuinely put his (and Scully's) life in danger (and The X-Files in jeopardy). Plus, we get a sense for the first time that the conspiracy is not just one agency in control of guarding the secrets, but involves counter-operations and power struggles that could, on the one hand, be dangerous to get caught up in the middle of, but on the other hand, indicate that the U.S. government doesn't have total control or immunity over the truth.

Here's what we know (or think we know) at the end of the first season:
* Aliens are visiting the Earth, and like to abduct people, but the government covers up their existence.
* Top secret military aircraft have been created using technology recovered from UFOs.
* Medical experiments have been conducted on humans using tissue samples taken from E.B.E.s, allegedly with the goal of creating alien-human hybrids.
* The government collects evidence relating to these matters and stores it in a high level facility in the Pentagon, which the Smoking Man has access to.

Memorable quotes:

Scully: You know I've always held science as sacred, I've always put my trust in the accepted facts. And what I saw last night, for the first time in my life, I don't know what to believe.
Mulder: Well, whatever it is you do believe, Scully, when you walk into that room, nothing sacred will hold.

Deep Throat: I don't know.
Mulder: I don't believe you.
Deep Throat: There are limits to my knowledge, Mr. Mulder. Inside the intelligence community there are so-called black organizations, groups within groups, conducting covert activities unknown at the highest levels of power.

Deep Throat: Roswell was a smoke screen; we've had a half a dozen better salvage operations.

Deep Throat: no one.

Mulder: I'm...not gonna give up. I can't give up. Not as long as the truth is out there.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

The X-Files - S1:E23 "Roland"

[ S1:E22 "Born Again" <<< Season 1 >>> S1:E24 "The Erlenmeyer Flask" ]

This episode starts with a bang, when a mentally-handicapped janitor at a jet propulsion laboratory unexpectedly starts killing scientists in brutal yet creative ways. Mulder and Scully arrive on the scene, first to determine who's responsible for the murders, and then to figure out just how - and why - it's happening. The explanation may appear to involve yet another case of revenge from beyond the grave, but the mechanics of it, and the scientific rather than criminal environment this time, prevent it from feeling too samey. I've mentioned the music on this show already once before, but this episode features a beautiful and haunting piano theme that plays in the background, like something from one of the more sensitive moments in a Silent Hill game.

Memorable quotes:

Scully: Okay, but how is this an X-File? Mulder, you don't think this has anything to do with UFO technology...
Mulder: There's something unexplainable here, Scully, but it's certainly not unidentifiable.

Roland: People die. They go away. And they're not supposed to come back.

Mulder: You got a brother, don't you, Scully?
Scully: Yeah, I've got an older one and a younger one.
Mulder: Well have you ever thought about calling one of them all day long and then all of a sudden the phone rings and it's one of them calling you?
Scully: Does this pitch somehow end with a way for me to lower my long distance charges?

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The X-Files - S1:E22 "Born Again"

[ S1:E21 "Tooms" <<< Season 1 >>> S1:E23 "Roland" ]

Paranormal themes return in this episode where poltergeists and telekinesis are suggested as possible explanations when an 8 year old girl apparently manages to toss a police detective through a window - without laying a finger on him. The motive, however, involves a complicated web of fraud and corruption in a New York precinct, and a little bit of revenge from beyond the grave. One inevitably makes comparisons to several episodes from earlier in the season, particularly Shadows, and Eve - which also featured a creepy little girl (or two) - with shades of Lazarus, and Young At Heart. It would be tempting to say that the show is running out of ideas this late in the season, but it's not like we haven't had multiple episodes on the subject of UFOs and alien abductions (although that is kind of the show's main theme). Still, it's not a terribly memorable episode.

Memorable quotes:

Mulder: Why is it still so hard for you to believe, even when all the evidence suggests extraordinary phenomena?
Scully: Because sometimes, looking for extreme possibilities makes you blind to the probable explanation right in front of you.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The X-Files - S1:E21 "Tooms"

[ S1:E20 "Darkness Falls" <<< Season 1 >>> S1:E22 "Born Again" ]

Not to be confused with "tombs", Tooms features the first (but not the last) time that a monster-of-the-week recurs in a followup episode (that monster is, of course, Eugene Victor Tooms from Squeeze). But that's not the only thing that makes this episode remarkable. It also features Mitch Pileggi for the first time in the role of Assistant Director Walter S. Skinner, who will become a major supporting character on the show. He is Mulder and Scully's direct higher-up in the bureau, and his association here with the Smoking Man (his own first confirmed appearance since the pilot episode, and his first audible spoken line (four whole words!)) emphasizes the questionable nature of his loyalty and trustworthiness, which will see some development throughout the series. It's almost enough to elevate Tooms to the level of a mythology episode! Surprisingly, Tooms doesn't escape how one would have expected from the conclusion to the last episode he appears in; rather, he is released on parole - in spite of (or more likely exacerbated by) Mulder's incredible testimony.

Memorable quotes:

Skinner: Agent Scully, we have reviewed your reports and frankly, we are quite displeased. Irregular procedure, untenable evidence, anonymous witnesses, inconclusive findings aggravated by vague opinion.
Scully: Sir, the very nature of the X-Files cases often precludes orthodox investigation.
Skinner: Are you suggesting the bureau adopt separate standards for you and Agent Mulder?
Scully: No, sir.
Skinner: Are you suggesting Agent Mulder obstructs you from proper procedure?
Scully: No, sir. If anything, I'm suggesting that these cases be reviewed with an open mind.
Skinner: Maybe your mind has become too open.

(This exchange is concluded with a beautifully choreographed gesture by the Smoking Man that silently plants the suggestion that the government thinks they're solving too many cases - i.e., getting too close to top government secrets).

Scully: Mulder, your testimony, you sounded so...
Mulder: I don't care how it sounded, as long as it was the truth.

Monday, July 20, 2015

The X-Files - S1:E20 "Darkness Falls"

[ S1:E19 "Shapes" <<< Season 1 >>> S1:E21 "Tooms" ]

We're in the wind-up now - that last leg of the season leading up to the finale! In this episode, Mulder and Scully head out to the atmospheric (and rainy) woods of Vancouver - er, I mean Washington state - to investigate the mysterious disappearance of an entire logging crew. Their best suspect is a group of eco-terrorists, but you and I both know that something stranger is afoot. Certainly, Mulder suspects as much. Man-eating insects, perhaps? There's some genuine suspense in this episode, with the ever-present threat of the lights going out, and the conclusion is somewhat unexpected; although the doom and gloom ending note loses some of its potency when you remember that this is a monster-of-the-week episode, and everything's bound to be fine come next week. Still, I give the writers credit for trying.

Memorable quotes:

Scully: And you suspect what...Bigfoot?

Friday, July 17, 2015

The X-Files - S1:E19 "Shapes"

[ S1:E18 "Miracle Man" <<< Season 1 >>> S1:E20 "Darkness Falls" ]

Sometimes, "monster-of-the-week" is a figurative term - miracle healers, serial killers, pyromaniacs. Surely, people can behave like monsters. But sometimes, the term can be applied more literally (although even then, the monsters are often humanoid, probably on account of the limitations of the TV budget for special effects). This time, the monster is a kind of werewolf, preying on cattle in Montana, that Mulder traces back to the very first X-File (initiated by J. Edgar Hoover himself), and even further - to legends told by members of the Lewis & Clark expedition about encounters with shapeshifting Indians possessed by evil spirits. This isn't the last time we'll see Native Americans on the show, and notable is the scene where one of them points out the Native American origins of Mulder's first name (Fox).

Memorable quotes:

Lyle Parker: I can feel it. Something not human. Out there, watching me. The air was more still, the night animals more quiet, it was like nature herself was terrified. It gave me the creeps.
Scully: The creeps?
Lyle Parker: Yeah, the creeps. Don't you ever get the creeps?

(Did I mention how much I love the writing on this show? Although credit goes to the actors as well for really selling these lines).

Thursday, July 16, 2015

The X-Files - S1:E18 "Miracle Man"

[ S1:E17 "E.B.E." <<< Season 1 >>> S1:E19 "Shapes" ]

And we're back to monsters-of-the-week! This series definitely has a rhythm, but that's probably a good thing. In this episode, Mulder and Scully head to Tennessee to investigate a miracle healer linked to a series of murders. Could his good touch have gone bad? This time it's Mulder's turn to have his vulnerabilities exploited, as he begins to see visions of his abducted sister after speaking with the gifted young preacher's son. We learn a little bit about Scully's religious upbringing (although nothing is yet made of the clash between her skepticism and her belief in God), and I think this might be the first time we see her perform a full-scale autopsy, all decked out in her surgical scrubs.

Memorable quotes:

Sheriff Daniels: 99% of the people in this world are fools, and the rest of us are in great danger of contagion.

Scully: A few thousand grasshoppers does not constitute a plague.

Scully: I was raised a Catholic, and I have a certain familiarity with the scripture, and God never lets the Devil steal the show.
Mulder: You must have really liked The Exorcist.
Scully: One of my favorite movies.

Mulder: I'm not delusional, Scully.
Scully: Mulder, don't discount the power of suggestion. A healer's greatest magic lies in the patient's willingness to believe. Imagine a miracle and you're halfway there. We learned that in med school.

Scully: What exactly are we trying to find?
Mulder: Clues.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The X-Files S1:E17 "E.B.E."

[ S1:E16 "Young at Heart" <<< Season 1 >>> S1:E18 "Miracle Man" ]

The most tantalizing aspect of the infamous Roswell crash in 1947 wasn't the implication that an alien spacecraft crash-landed in New Mexico, and that the government scooped up the wreckage and then denied that it ever happened. The most tantalizing aspect was the rumor that one or more alien pilots were recovered from the crash, and sent to a top secret government facility (now famous Area 51). Alien technology is one thing - and it would be an exciting discovery on its own - but the thought that the government actually holds presumably intelligent extraterrestrial biological entities (E.B.E.s) - whether dead or alive - somewhere here on this Earth, is tantalizing, and a little bit chilling.

The events of this episode - which I recall as being one of the standout episodes of the first season - are initiated when an Iraqi pilot shoots down a UFO, and its contents are recovered by the U.S. military. With copious help from his informant (Deep Throat probably appears as much in this episode as he has in the whole season so far), Mulder tracks the shipment as it makes its way to its final, top secret destination. This episode features a number of firsts - the first time Mulder shines a light in his window to communicate with his informant, the first explicit acknowledgement by Scully of Deep Throat's existence and questionable reliability, and the first appearance of fan favorite recurring characters The Lone Gunmen (Bruce Harwood, Dean Haglund, and Tom Braidwood)!

But the true excitement of this episode stems from the sense of danger that accompanies the investigation of something that your higher ups don't want you investigating (when you're an FBI agent, and you're the one that's being bugged, you know something's up), as well as the anticipation of what it is that's being covered up, and how close you'll be able to get to it. There is also the paranoia and confusion that stems from not knowing who to trust, or even what to believe; in the climax, we learn about Deep Throat's motivation for helping Mulder - that is, assuming he's telling the truth. This is a great example of the show's penchant for answering questions with more questions, and ostensibly giving us information, while undermining it with enough doubt to keep us (and Mulder) guessing - whether we've really learned anything at all.

(And, amazingly, the events and themes of this episode mesh perfectly with the disillusioned revelation that will come at the end of the fourth season - which itself will not be the final say).

Memorable quotes:

Mulder: These guys are like an extreme government watchdog group; they publish a magazine called 'The Lone Gunman'. Some of their information is first rate - covert actions, classified weapons - some of their ideas...are downright spooky.

Scully: Those were the most paranoid people I have ever met. I don't know how you could think that what they say is even remotely plausible.
Mulder: I think it's remotely plausible that someone might think you're hot.

Mulder: What am I onto?
Deep Throat: A dangerous path.

Scully: Mulder, you're the only one I trust.
Mulder: Then you're gonna have to trust me.

Scully: I have never met anyone so passionate and dedicated to a belief as you. It's so intense that sometimes it's blinding. But there are others who are watching you, who know what I know, and...whereas I can respect and admire your passion they will use it against you. Mulder, the truth is out there, but so are lies.

Deep Throat: You and Scully are excellent investigators, and your motives are just. However, there still exist some secrets which should remain secret; truths that people are just not ready to know.
Mulder: Who are you to decide that for me?
Deep Throat: The world's reaction to such knowledge would be far too dangerous.

Deep Throat: A lie, Mr. Mulder, is most convincingly hidden between two truths.

Deep Throat: You're awfully quiet, Mr. Mulder.
Mulder: I'm wondering which lie to believe.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The X-Files - S1:E16 "Young At Heart"

[ S1:E15 "Lazarus" <<< Season 1 >>> S1:E17 "E.B.E." ]

Mulder is haunted by the messy details of his first case with the FBI, when he was young and inexperienced, when the criminal he put away starts to fulfill his vendetta against Mulder - years after he was supposed to have died in prison. But the solution to this mystery may be less paranormal and more para-medical. Government conspiracy and human testing color this cynical story about the search for a fountain of youth.

Memorable quotes:

Agent Purdue: You know, all this talk around here about "Spooky" Mulder - I never used to pay it much mind. I figured it was just talk about how paranoid you were and all.
Mulder: And now?
Agent Purdue: Remember the day you walked into my office wet from Quantico? You pissed me off just looking at you, but then I saw how your mind worked, how you were always three jumps ahead. It was scary, Mulder. Everybody said so.

Scully: Mulder, it's science fiction.
Mulder: Well, what would you have said twenty years ago about gene splicing, DNA fingerprinting, cloning, artificial intelligence?

Scully: Mulder, I know what you did wasn't by the book.
Mulder: Tells you a lot about the book, doesn't it?

The X-Files - S1:E15 "Lazarus"

[ S1:E14 "Gender Bender" <<< Season 1 >>> S1:E16 "Young at Heart" ]

After a bank robbery stakeout goes wrong, a colleague and ex-boyfriend of Scully's experiences "psychic transference" during resuscitation, and is possessed by the male half of a pair of natural born killers. The irony is that this was an agent who specialized in getting into the heads of criminals, and now he's got one inside his. This is another one of those excellent episodes if you enjoy the humorous banter between Mulder and Scully's conflicting viewpoints on the supernatural.

Memorable quotes:

Scully: I don't discount the near death experience, because it can be explained empirically, by stimulation of the temporal lobe.
Mulder: I sense a big "but" coming.

Scully: It's not working. It's stopped. At 6:47.
Mulder: The exact time that Jack went into cardiac arrest at the hospital.
Scully: What does that mean?
Mulder: It means whatever you want it to mean.

The X-Files - S1:E14 "Gender Bender"

[ S1:E13 "Beyond The Sea" <<< Season 1 >>> S1:E15 "Lazarus" ]

A sexually preoccupied killer with the apparent ability to change sex at will starts picking off targets at a dance club, and Mulder traces the culprit back to an Amish-like religious cult in the woods of Massachusetts (which recalls for me M. Night Shyamalan's The Village, although that was released more than ten years later). After an episode like Beyond The Sea, it looks like we're in for another string of monster-of-the-week episodes. Still, every time I sit down to watch an episode that I'm not super-excited about, I'm always impressed with how absorbed I get into it. That's just how good this show is. This episode also features Nicholas Lea in a throwaway role, who will return to the series in a different (and much more important) role later on.

Memorable quotes:

Mulder: This guy's a walking aphrodisiac. He's the ultimate sex magnet.
Scully: He or she? You've got victims of both sexes. Both a man and a woman on the hotel security monitor.
Mulder: I know. That is a puzzle.
Scully: So what is our profile of the killer? Indeterminate height, weight, sex; unarmed, but extremely attractive.

Scully: I don't understand, how can they just disappear? They have no means of transportation.
Mulder: No earthly means of transportation.

Monday, July 13, 2015

The X-Files - S1:E13 "Beyond The Sea"

[ S1:E12 "Fire" <<< Season 1 >>> S1:E14 "Gender Bender" ]

This episode, in which we meet Scully's parents, can probably be considered the first of many that puts Scully through the ringer. She and Mulder investigate what appears to be a straightforward case for once - a run-of-the-mill serial killer - except that their lead informant is a death row inmate who claims to be psychic (kind of a Silence of the Lambs but with a twist). But, unusually, an up close encounter with the paranormal puts Scully in the believer's chair for once, contrasting with Mulder's rare skepticism, as he is convinced that this man - whom he was responsible for putting behind bars - is a fraud.

The psychic death row inmate is played to fantastic effect by veteran character actor Brad Dourif (who also appeared in an episode of Millenium, and cemented his reputation for playing slimy characters by portraying Wormtongue in Peter Jackson's adaptation of The Lord of the Rings) - almost to the point of taking the spotlight off of Gillian Anderson. I feel kind of bad now that I underrated the emotional impact of Scully's struggles in my recent analysis of this show, because, without any mention of alien abductions or government conspiracy, this episode manages to be as powerful as any I've seen during my rewatch yet - every bit the equal, if not surpassing, Fallen Angel.

Memorable quotes:

Mulder: Open yourself up to extreme possibilities only when it's the truth.

Mulder: Dana, after all you've seen, after all the evidence, why can't you believe?
Scully: I'm afraid. I'm afraid to believe.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Terminator Genisys (2015)

Spoiler note: If you're like me and prefer to go into a movie without knowing too much about what to expect, in the hopes of being surprised, you might want to skip this review until after you've seen it. Otherwise, read on.

If there's one thing that disappointed me about Terminator Salvation, it's that it ended too early - it didn't go far enough to show John Connor sending Kyle Reese back in time to initiate the events of the original Terminator movie - which would have been an effective ending to the series. Of course, that left some room for yet another sequel, which is precisely where Terminator Genisys picks up. Jason Clarke is a scar-faced John Connor, leading the final battle against Skynet, which culminates in a hijacking of the time displacement device, which Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) is sent through, back to 1984, to stop the Terminator that was just sent through to kill John's mother Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke) before he was born.

But just as Kyle is about to hop the timeline, something goes wrong. If the first act of Terminator Genisys looks like it's shaping up to be a badass remake of The Terminator, and a reboot of the franchise, the second act plays out like a greatest hits of the first two Terminator movies (complete with state-of-the-art special effects), and finally addresses a long-standing plothole in the series - if the T-800 couldn't do the trick, why not send the T-1000 against a young Sarah Connor, instead of waiting until John is born? And this movie does it one better - the T-1000 is sent to take out Sarah while she is just a child! But it still doesn't succeed, and, contrary to expectations, what Kyle encounters in 1984 is a very different Sarah Connor than the one we saw in the first movie.

We still get Arnold Schwarzenegger as a sympathetic, reprogrammed Terminator - with a satisfying explanation as to its aged appearance, that becomes even more poignant when our leads, minus their cybernetic bodyguard (who is forced to take the long way), hop time to face the final confrontation in 2017 against a delayed Judgment Day (borrowing a thread from Terminator 3), by putting the kibosh on Cyberdyne Systems on the eve of the unveiling of Genisys - Skynet's newest alias, and the ultimate killer app to which the human population is all too eager to hand over control of their digital devices. And, of course, they'll have an all-new state-of-the-art Terminator to deal with - the newest upgrade, with similar capabilities to the T-1000, but unprecedented integration with its human tissue (and therefore greater intelligence and infiltration capabilities) via an army of nanomachines.

If the first half of this movie builds up to something of a time crisis of conflicting timelines, the second half unfortunately falls back into formula, treading ground that we've seen before at least twice already. But it's still more thrilling than any of the previous sequels it imitates. And while those other movies took the consistent time travel logic of the first movie and mucked it up, this movie does a very respectable job of repairing the timeline, even finally hinting at the genesis of the liquid metal technology, and the creation of an alternate time machine from which all these extra time-hopping Terminators originated from. The only remaining mystery is exactly who reprogrammed that sympathetic model 101, and why. But while the ending appears to be as conclusive as that of Terminator 2 (and we all know how that worked out), the movie closes with a piece of obvious sequel bait.

I would have been satisfied to see this movie finally close the series on a high note, but of course capitalism doesn't work that way. I don't hold much hope that yet another Terminator movie can improve on what this one accomplished, but it might be possible if they're willing to take some risks, like Terminator Salvation did, and not simply follow formula. I would kill to see another Terminator like the first one, but I fear that's impossible, now that the franchise has grown beyond the first movie's relatively small scope. But if anything, it's promising that this movie got so many things right, and nixed the tendency to push too far over into self-parody, and maintain a serious - if still sometimes respectably funny - tone (primarily with the characterization of the good Terminator). This is, in my opinion, the best Terminator sequel out there. It doesn't usurp the position of the original Terminator, which is still my favorite, but I thought it was even better than Terminator 2, for what that's worth.

Terminator Marathon

In anticipation of going to see the new Terminator movie in theaters (since I'd heard good things about it from a close friend), I decided to go back and rewatch the first two Terminator movies, as well as the third and the fourth that I had never seen before. Here are my thoughts on each of the movies:

The Terminator (1984)

It's easy to write The Terminator off as a brainless Hollywood blockbuster (mainly due to the success and reputation of its sequel, which often - and unfairly in my opinion - eclipses its predecessor), but I view it as one of the pinnacle examples of a brilliant sci-fi premise executed flawlessly. A cyborg assassin (Arnold Schwarzenegger, perfectly cast in a role that facilitated his transformation from an award-winning bodybuilder to a movie star) is sent from a future ravaged by nuclear war, where (much like in the Matrix), machines have enslaved and all but exterminated mankind. The Terminator's single-minded goal is to assassinate the leader of the human resistance - before he is ever born, by targeting his mother, Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton).

And so, without any concern for propriety or maintaining a low profile, the Terminator begins its rampage through Los Angeles, like an indestructible bulldozer, recklessly killing anyone and destroying anything that gets between him and his target. Sarah Connor's only protection is a human resistance fighter sent back from the future like the Terminator - a man named Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn, who, along with Lance Henriksen who plays a small role in this movie, also appears in director James Cameron's sequel to Alien), whose journey to the past initiates one of the great mindfucks of a time paradox in cinematic history - predating Back To The Future by a year! The Terminator's relentless pursuit of his target is thrilling to watch, and builds to a terrifying climax when the killing machine's true form is revealed. I unhesitatingly rate it one of the masterpieces of the science fiction genre.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

The Terminator was a pretty neatly-wrapped narrative (as time loops tend to be), but whenever the unavoidably inconsistent logic of time travel is involved, there is always room for retconning. So Terminator 2 starts by introducing a second Terminator sent back in time, this time to target John Connor himself (Edward Furlong) before the war (dubbed "Judgment Day"), while he was still a child. Linda Hamilton returns as the boy's mother, Sarah Connor, and Arnold Schwarzenegger reprises his role as the Terminator - with a significant twist: this time, he's been programmed to protect John Connor, against an even more powerful killing machine: Robert Patrick's T-1000.

This movie is a lot more self-conscious than The Terminator was (for better or worse, depending on your perspective). Arnold's entrance is no less badass, but this time it conspicuously strives to be "cool", whereas the first one was just terrifying. And while it's a clever way to put a twist on the story, I just don't like turning the unstoppable killer from the first movie into one of the good guys. Here, you have the Terminator learning to smile and crack jokes (and minimize human casualties); and while I'm sure having one as your personal bodyguard fulfills every 13 year old boy's fantasy, the Terminator is just not as awesome when it's reduced to fulfilling the role of a pet, or a toy.

On the other side of the ring, you have this new villain who I think works out better in theory than in practice. Robert Patrick is sinister-looking enough, but he doesn't make as intimidating a villain as Mr. Olympia (Arnold) did. The idea of liquid metal is undoubtedly cool, but the effects just don't impress me as much as a cyborg with a creepy-looking robotic endoskeleton. In summary, The Terminator was a desperate struggle to survive in the face of overwhelming odds, whereas Terminator 2 is a face-off between two juggernauts - and the movie feels different as a result. Personally, I prefer the tension and the despair of the former to the action and spectacle of the latter.

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003)

With James Cameron no longer at the helm, and over a decade since the last entry, Terminator 3 is bound to feel like a departure from the previous titles in the series. Nevertheless, it picks up right where Terminator 2 left off, and utilizes a similar formula (arguably rendering it obsolete - especially considering that it's not as good - except for the fact that it retcons T2's resolution, making another sequel about the war-torn future possible). Although, like the original, T2's ending was pretty conclusive - Sarah and John Connor trashed Cyberdyne Systems' headquarters (the company that produced the AI that precipitated Judgment Day), thereby changing the future and averting the apocalypse - in T3, a young adult John Connor (Nick Stahl) is living in constant fear that fate will, sooner or later, find another way to manifest itself. And sure enough, it does.

Enter the new T-X (Kristanna Loken) - a female Terminatrix. She's a highly advanced model, taking on the best of the first two Terminators - a robotic endoskeleton underneath a layer of liquid metal - with added firepower and the ability to control other machines. This all sounds awesome, but I think it's gotten to the level of being a little ridiculous. (On that note, explosions are cool because fire, but I don't really need to see an entire city block demolished for no good reason - that's not entertainment for me). I don't want to be sexist - because women can be legitimately terrifying - but Kristanna Loken just isn't as intimidating as an award-winning bodybuilder can be. I feel like both she and Robert Patrick in T2 were trying too hard to imitate Arnold's emotionless, deadpan expressions that were so genuine in the original. It's a shame that they insisted on turning Arnold's Terminator into a sympathetic good guy - they should have just kept him as the villain.

Speaking of Arnold Schwarzenegger, he returns in this movie in a role very similar to the last. His entrance is even more humorous this time, when he enters a ladies' bar and steals the clothes off of a male stripper (I am not joking). No explanation is given as to how the Terminators make it to the past, two movies after we were told that the time travel device had been busted after Kyle Reese and the first Terminator went through. Plot consistency is tricky to begin with where time travel is involved, but the more they tack on to the story, the messier it gets. If repeated time travel is an option (via a repaired or second machine, for example), then questions arise, such as, why send the T-X (or even the T-1000) to kill an informed John Connor rather than an inexperienced Sarah Connor, as was the target the first time? And why not send a bunch of Terminators instead of just one? You can tell the series has gone from "I have a great story to tell!" to "what kind of story can we tell to keep this franchise going?"

Terminator Salvation (2009)

You could be forgiven for thinking that, twenty-five years after the first film, there wouldn't be any new ground left to tread in a Terminator movie, but you would be wrong. Apart from a few glimpses into the memories of Kyle Reese (played in this movie by Anton Yelchin), the story of the future resistance hadn't really been told. And I'm not sure that it could have been told until we'd seen the experiences (that span the second and third movies) that make up John Connor (Christian Bale, this time around)'s youth, and inform his prescient knowledge of the key to winning the war. That, and we also had to develop the special effects necessary to tell the story first.

An interesting thing about the Terminator movies, if you examine them, is that, despite it being a story involving time travel, that spans the years 1984 to 2029, each one takes place predominantly in chronological order. From before John Connor's birth, to his childhood, to the moments preceding Judgment Day, and now finally we move forward into the future to explore man's resistance against the machines. Terminator Salvation ditches the stale formula the series had latched onto, which is probably for the best. It is, therefore, an unpredictable movie, that doesn't feel like a classic Terminator - although it has lots of respect for the movies that preceded it - and it is a good movie nonetheless.

It is, however, a bleak and visually desaturated movie. But I like that it tries to do its own thing, instead of struggling to capture lightning in a bottle all over again. Arnold Schwarzenegger's absence isn't even that painful, since the Terminators have little need to disguise themselves as humans in the future - and they look as terrifying as ever here! Also, this movie provides an intriguing and far more effective example of a sympathetic rogue Terminator (portrayed by Sam Worthington) than we've ever seen before. It builds to a shockingly clever and exciting climax, that respectfully pays homage to its predecessors, with all new, updated special effects. As a total package, it's not as brilliant or flawless as the original Terminator, but I think I liked it better than the fan-favored Terminator 2.

Friday, July 10, 2015

The X-Files - S1:E12 "Fire"

[ S1:E11 "Eve" <<< Season 1 >>> S1:E13 "Beyond The Sea" ]

Scully gets jealous when an old flame of Mulder's from Oxford invites him to investigate the case of a pyrokinetic targeting members of British parliament, in a series of deaths that suggest spontaneous combustion. It's interesting to see Mulder working with someone other than Scully - someone who more readily believes his theories, and yet is a more toxic influence on him - and to see him in a position of vulnerability, as he is ultimately forced to face his childhood fear of fire. Mark Sheppard is incendiary in the role of the mad pyrokinetic.

Memorable quotes:

Arson specialist: I've seen fire bend around corners, seen it bounce like a rubber ball. Fire's got a certain genius, you know, a certain demon poetry. It's like it's got a mind of its own. But I've never seen one that can defy the laws of physics, not when you figure it out.

Mulder: Sooner or later a man's gotta face his demons.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Unbreakable (2000)

I'm not the world's biggest fan of superhero stories. I don't have anything against them - they were popular enough when I was a kid growing up. But I never got really deep into the comic book scene. To be honest, I think vigilante warriors fighting justice in spandex is a little bit goofy. But I like when superhero stories address serious issues. My favorite superhero has always been Batman, because his story is dark and gritty - he doesn't even technically have any superpowers. I also like the X-Men, because the idea of a new generation of mutants, each with distinct powers (instead of one lucky guy against a series of wacky villains), is fun to think about, plus their struggle for acceptance among the normies has socially significant corollaries in the real world, which is cool.

But, amid the current boom of superhero movies being pumped out of Hollywood, my favorites are movies like The Watchmen, and Kick-Ass, which aren't straight superhero movies, but somewhat meta, self-conscious looks at the superhero phenomenon. They examine humanity's desire for justice, and need for superheros, by cleverly exploring what it would be like if normal people took on the mantle of vigilante justice, and how that would play out. And that critical examination of human nature is more interesting to me than your average story about some dude zapped by gamma rays, who then has to juggle a social life (and romance) with saving the world from every megalomaniac-of-the-week he encounters.

Unbreakable is even more in that serious, meta-vein; it posits the question, what if the superheros in comic books were just an exaggeration of a rare phenomenon that occurs in real life? Enter middle-aged security guard David Dunn (Bruce Willis), who, after miraculously surviving a fatal train crash with no injuries, begins to realize that he may not be so average after all. Though it takes some prompting from a lifelong comic book geek named Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson), who has a rare disorder that renders his bones brittle as glass, and who has spent years looking for his mirror image on the opposite end of the spectrum - a man with super strength.

In spite of the science fiction influences, it's a very down to earth story (no spandex or flying here), and David Dunn's melancholic search for a purpose in life is something that even non-superheros can relate to. Coming in the wake of The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable is extremely clever, and sensitively filmed, proving that M. Night Shyamalan is a master director and storyteller, even if he did fall into a rut in the ensuing decade, and become too dependent on the shocking twist endings that his audience came to expect from him. But Unbreakable is as good as any of his movies, and a true cinematic masterpiece in my opinion, so if you haven't seen it, you should definitely give it a watch - whether you like superhero or comic book movies or not.

The X-Files - S1:E11 "Eve"

[ S1:E10 "Fallen Angel" <<< Season 1 >>> S1:E12 "Fire" ]

Mulder and Scully investigate a mysterious death by exsanguination, which Mulder links to reports of cattle mutilations. But when a simultaneous murder leaves an identical 8 year old girl behind, the truth - involving classified genetic experiments - is even stranger. Following in the footsteps of the Bad Seed, twins Erika and Sabrina Krievins are fantastic in this episode, proving that finding talented young actors can make or break a production that relies on characters in their childhood years. This is a fun episode.

Memorable quotes:

Scully: Mulder, why would alien beings travel light years to Earth in order to play doctor on cattle?
Mulder: For the same reason we cut up frogs, and monkeys.

Mulder: One girl was just abducted.
Scully: Kidnapped.
Mulder: Po-tay-to, Po-tah-to.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The X-Files - S1:E10 "Fallen Angel"

[ S1:E9 "Space" <<< Season 1 >>> S1:E11 "Eve" ]

Mulder receives a tip from Deep Throat when a UFO crash lands in Wisconsin, and has an unprecedented opportunity to investigate before the military finishes cleaning it up. He also bumps into a UFO chaser and conspiracy theorist by the name of Max Fenig (Scott Bellis) - a minor and short-lived supporting character that I've always liked. This episode begins to hint at a wider world of conspiracy nuts who might be on Mulder's side, and lays a lot of groundwork for one of the show's major subplots - serial abductees. It also places The X-Files project in serious jeopardy for the first but not the last time, and casts some doubt on Deep Throat's loyalties. We're only ten episodes into the series, but this may be the best one yet.

Memorable quotes:

Max Fenig: Say no more, you're a cautious man. Trust no one. Very wise. After what happened to JFK, I understand completely.

Max Fenig: I'm telling you, it's like the Roswell coverup all over again.
Mulder: What makes you so sure there's something out there?
Max Fenig: Same thing that makes you so sure?

Mulder: You really believe that story?
Scully: That story happens to be highly classified.
Mulder: A highly classified lie.

Max Fenig: You really didn't think that would fool us, did you?
Mulder: I didn't think anybody was paying attention.
Max Fenig: Somebody is always paying attention, Mr. Mulder.

Mulder: Then what can I say? How can I disprove lies that are stamped with an official seal?
Section Chief McGrath: That will be all, Mr. Mulder.
Mulder: You can deny all the things I've seen, all the things I've discovered, but not for much longer. Because too many others know what's happening out there, and no one, no government agency has jurisdiction over the truth.

Deep Throat: Always keep your friends close, Mr. McGrath. But keep your enemies closer.

Monday, July 6, 2015

The X-Files - S1:E9 "Space"

[ S1:E8 "Ice" <<< Season 1 >>> S1:E10 "Fallen Angel" ]

Mulder and Scully sit in on the launch of a space shuttle, after receiving a tip that somebody may be trying to sabotage the mission. The primary suspect is a former astronaut who is haunted by the face on Mars. The effects are a little hokey, but still fairly creepy, and though I doubt this episode makes anybody's list of top favorites (unless you're an astronaut), it still manages to reach a pretty dramatic crescendo.

Memorable quotes:

Scully: Why would somebody want to sabotage a Space Shuttle?
Mulder: Well, if you're a terrorist, there probably isn't a more potent symbol of American progress and prosperity. And if you're an opponent of big science, NASA itself represents a vast money trench that exists outside the crucible and debate of the democratic process. And of course there are those futurists who believe the Space Shuttle is a rusty old bucket that should be mothballed - a dinosaur spacecraft built in the '70s by scientists setting their sights on space in an ever declining scale.
Scully: And we thought we could rest easy with the fall of the Soviet Union.
Mulder: Not to mention certain fringe elements who accuse our government itself of space sabotage. The failure of the Hubble telescope and the Mars Observer are directly connected to a conspiracy to deny us evidence.
Scully: Evidence of what?
Mulder: Alien civilizations.
Scully: Oh, of course.

Friday, July 3, 2015

The X-Files - S1:E8 "Ice"

[ S1:E7 "Ghost in the Machine" <<< Season 1 >>> S1:E9 "Space" ]

Mulder and Scully are sent out with some scientists to investigate the mysterious demise of a research team in Alaska, who went insane after unwittingly liberating an alien parasite from a prehistoric impact crater deep under the ice. This episode is an obvious homage (I don't want to say "imitation") to John Carpenter's The Thing, complete with a pervading sense of isolation and paranoia (but minus the killer creature effects). It may only be "The Thing Lite", but considering the quality of the source material, it's pretty good for a monster-of-the-week episode (I'm not sure this alien parasite has any connection to the one we'll see later in the series). Plus, it's pretty neat if you consider it from the perspective of bringing some of the sci-fi/horror genre's greatest hits to the television screen (although that may be less of a spectacle in this day and age when we watch TV and movies all on the same screen through our streaming digital services).

Memorable quotes:

Infected Scientist: We're not who we are.

The X-Files - S1:E7 "Ghost in the Machine"

[ S1:E6 "Shadows" <<< Season 1 >>> S1:E8 "Ice" ]

It's inevitable that, in this first season, before it hits its stride, The X-Files would find itself mining pop culture for science fiction themes to explore. This episode about a sentient and vindictive computer program is reminiscent of 2001: A Space Odyssey, and, obviously, the title recalls Ghost in the Shell (although the popular film adaptation of the original manga series wasn't released until 1995).

Memorable quotes:

Scully: Brad Wilczek? We're with the FBI.
Wilczek: What took you guys so long?

Wilczek: You can divide the computer science industry into two kinds of people: neat, and scruffy. Neat people like things neat. They wear nicely pressed suits and work on surface phenomena, things they can understand - market shares, and third quarter profits.

Mulder: Could someone have hacked into the system?
Wilczek: Well, not your average phone freak, that's for sure. But there's plenty of kooks out there - data travellers, electro-wizards, techno-anarchists. Anything's possible.

Wilczek: It's a puzzle, Miss Scully, and scruffy minds like me like puzzles. We enjoy walking down unpredictable avenues of thought, turning new corners. But as a general rule, scruffy minds don't commit murder.

The X-Files - S1:E6 "Shadows"

[ S1:E5 "The Jersey Devil" <<< Season 1 >>> S1:E7 "Ghost in the Machine" ]

Mulder and Scully investigate a young woman who seems to be followed around by a murderous, psychokinetic force, in this episode that features overt, self-conscious references to both Carrie and Poltergeist. We're into the bulk of the season now, and it looks like we're in for a string of monster-of-the-week episodes.

Memorable quotes:

Scully: You lied to them.
Mulder: I would never lie. I willfully participated in a campaign of misinformation.

Mulder: What are you doing, Scully? You don't believe.
Scully: Mulder, there's no such thing as ghosts or psychokinesis. I'm sure there's an explanation. But I believe that she believes.