Friday, October 23, 2015

The X-Files - S5:E15 "Travelers"

[ S5:E14 "The Red and the Black" <<< Season 5 >>> S5:E16 "Mind's Eye" ]

And, we keep on chugging along! This is another period episode, like Unusual Suspects, which takes us back to 1990 (and even further). Scully is, once again, nowhere to be seen, and Mulder has only a few scenes (in which he touches his hair way too much). He's a profiler, working with the behavioral sciences unit in the FBI, and this may be his first run-in with an X-File. A man who had been killing people by somehow extracting their insides without tearing the skin mentions the name "Mulder" with his dying breath. Mulder consults the retired FBI agent - a man named Arthur Dales - who worked on the killer's case during the McCarthy era. The rest of the episode details the young Agent Dales' encounter with the killer, who turns out to have been the subject of top secret government experiments.

We learn about the genesis of the X-Files - when a resourceful secretary starts filing unsolved cases under 'X' where there's plenty of room. We get to see Mulder's father working for the government when he was young (Dean Aylesworth does a great job of imitating Peter Donat's mannerisms, as seen in episodes like Colony/End Game, and Anasazi), as a reluctant agent of the conspiracy. We also get to witness a great example of bureaucrats using the Red Scare as an excuse to unscrupulously wield power over innocents. And we get to see a really creepy spider-crab thing that lives inside of people's bodies, only coming out to feed. It's a pretty clever and unique twist on a freak-of-the-week episode, with some minor mythology connections, but as a period episode, I don't think it's as good as, say, Unusual Suspects, or Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man.

Memorable quotes:

Arthur Dales: Do you know what a...X-File is?
Mulder: It's, uh...yeah, it's an unsolved case.
Arthur Dales: No, it's a case that's been designated unsolved.

Edward Skur: I'm a family man, for God sake!
Agent Michel: Well, you should have thought of that before you decided to betray your country, red.

Agent Dales: I don't interest myself in politics, Mr. Cohn.
Mr. Cohn: Everything is political, Agent Dales.

Agent Dales: X-File?
Secretary: Yes, unsolved cases. I file them under 'X'.
Agent Dales: Why don't you file them under 'U', for "unsolved"?
Secretary: That's what I did until I ran out of room. Plenty of room in the 'X's.

Agent Dales: It's called xenotransplantation. It's, uh...the grafting of another species into the human body. It's a procedure that Nazi doctors experimented with during the war.

Director: If we are to defeat the enemy, we must use their tools. We must go further. We must do those things which even our enemies would be ashamed to do. It is only through strength that we can make our enemies fear us, and thereby ensure our own survival.

Mulder: I can't believe my father threw in with these men. He let them dictate his conscience.
Arthur Dales: Aw, don't fool yourself. None of us are free to choose. I was ruined for my insubordination. You keep digging through the X-Files, and they'll bury you, too.

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