Thursday, October 1, 2015

The X-Files - S4:E17 "Tempus Fugit"

[ S4:E16 "Unrequited" <<< Season 4 >>> S4:E18 "Max" ]

Spoiler Warning: We're embarking on yet another mythology two-parter, so beware of spoilers!

So, apparently, Max Fenig wasn't so much a "recurring" character as a character introduced in a first season episode that makes his return in a mythology two-parter in the fourth season. Even so, in spite of his scarcity of appearances, he's a likable and memorable character. It's been a while since we've last heard from him, but this really is the perfect time. In Memento Mori, we learned not only of the terminal implications of Scully's abduction, but also of the fate of the women's circle of abductees we met briefly in Nisei. They're all dead now, and we've discovered that they were being used as "birth mothers" for the cloned human-alien hybrids we've seen in Memento Mori, and probably the ones in Talitha Cumi/Herrenvolk, and perhaps also the ones in Colony/End Game. It makes you wonder, whatever happened to Max Fenig? And what were the aliens using him for?

This episode starts with a unique twist on an otherwise familiar setup - instead of a fighter jet shooting down a UFO like we saw in E.B.E., this time a commercial jet crashes after encountering a UFO. And since the craft that crashed is perfectly terrestrial, Mulder and Scully get to join the retrieval efforts, without having to sneak around. (As an aside, it feels like it's been a while since we've had someone make fun of Mulder for his alien abduction theories, and in this episode it's pulled off as effectively as ever). Unfortunately, they learn that Max Fenig was on that plane, and find his body among the wreckage (great set, by the way). What's more, his sister tracks them down and claims that Max was trying to deliver something - something the government was apparently willing to kill over a hundred people to bury.

Or, is that what really happened? I imagine more answers will be forthcoming in the next episode, but the exposure of a military cover-up leads Mulder to believe that there was a third aircraft, which fired on the UFO, and brought down both craft (perhaps by accident?). There was also an assassin on that plane, apparently hunting Max, who didn't look to be in very good health. Two of the NTSB agents (in the crash retrieval team) covered up the identity of the assassin's body. I'd love to hear some of the details of Max's abductions that his sister claimed he wrote to her about in a series of letters. (It's strange, since in Fallen Angel, it seemed as though Max didn't know he was an abductee. I guess he could've figured it out since then). What was Max trying to deliver? And why was his sister abducted and then dropped off at the crash site? What happened during those nine minutes of lost time? (Awesome reference to the pilot episode, by the way).

It's refreshing to get a mythology two-parter that doesn't deal with either the Black Oil or the clones for once - it feels like it's been a while since we've had that. And it's not Max Fenig's appearance alone that gives this set of episodes that down-home feeling of almost being back in season 1. Between this, and the scenes with Deep Throat in Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man, it's a welcome throwback to the first season's mythology. The episode ends in a thrilling climax involving another accidental assassination (the likes of which we haven't seen since The Blessing Way), and a spaceshipwreck (yes, a spaceshipwreck), made all the more shocking by the fact that I didn't remember the events of this episode quite as well as other mythology episodes I've come across in my rewatch thus far. Not that that final reveal isn't significant, though!

To be continued...

R.I.P. Agent Pendrell - I know, I haven't even mentioned Agent Pendrell in any of my reviews, not once since he showed up in...according to the IMDb credits, it was Nisei. This paragraph will have to make up for it. Pendrell was likable enough, maybe even a little funny. His unrequited crush on Scully was cute, although the fact that she never once reciprocated his feelings is a little bit sad (perhaps I'm a little like her, consistently ignoring him). I know that shippers and Scully fans like Pendrell, but he was never more than an insignificant side character to me. In fact, I didn't even remember him from the first time I watched this series. Still, his death in this episode is sad, even though he's a character of no consequence. He's just such a teddy bear, and you can't help feeling sorry for him. And the way it goes down - in slow motion, with all the pieces moving into place; you know exactly what's going to happen. and nothing can be done to stop it. We know the major players (Mulder, Scully, etc.) aren't going to be killed off, but in a way, it's even more tragic when innocents get caught up in the crossfire (literally, in this case) of their quest for truth...

Memorable quotes:

Mulder: I think we all share the same goal here, sir, and that's to find out what caused that plane to crash.
NTSB Agent: And if any of the capable men and women in this room find...Dr. Spock's phaser, or any green, alien goo...we'll be sure to give you all the credit.

Scully: Say we do find him; what's that gonna prove?
Mulder: I don't know. But maybe that one man's life was worth sacrificing a hundred and thirty-three others.

Scully: Mulder, why can't you just accept the facts?
Mulder: Because there are no facts, Scully. What they're telling you, what they're gonna report - they're the opposite of facts, a claim to ignorance of the facts. Claimed steadfastly, ignorance becomes as acceptable as the truth.

Motel Manager: I doubt insurance will cover it.
Mulder: Does your policy cover the acts of extraterrestrials?

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