Friday, October 30, 2015

The X-Files - S6:E1 "The Beginning"

[ Fight The Future <<< Season 6 >>> S6:E2 "Drive" ]

Spoiler Warning: Season premiere. Mythology episode. Expect spoilers. You know the drill.

Fight The Future pretty much ignored the events of last season's finale (to good effect) - apart from the torching of the X-Files (which Mulder is now painstakingly trying to restore) - but this season's premiere picks up the threads of both the finale and the movie (the events of which are summed up nicely during the course of another OPR panel, for those who may not have seen the movie, or don't remember it very well). This episode takes full advantage of the creature effects created for the movie (having a true monster for once arguably makes this a better monster-of-the-week than mythology episode). It ties the alien life forms from the movie to the mind-reading boy from the finale, and answers some (but not all) of the lingering questions about both. This is also the first episode of the series shot in the production's new L.A. home, and it really shows in the exteriors. The deserts of southwest U.S. are undoubtedly beautiful, in their own way, but you can't deny that it gives the show a very different - hotter, sunnier - atmosphere than the rainy woods of Vancouver. For better and worse.

The X-Files project may have been reinstated at the end of Fight The Future, but the bureaucrats are still hammering Mulder for some hard evidence of his wild allegations of alien colonization. The X-Files may be open, but Mulder and Scully are not going to be permitted to work on them - the project has been re-assigned to Agents Spender and Fowley (the latter having made a full recovery over the summer from her gunshot wound in The End), whose goals and loyalties are in serious question. Mulder and Scully, meanwhile, are being put on probation, disallowed any connection to the X-Files (we'll see how well that works out over the next few episodes, I'm sure).

The case of the week involves an employee of Roush (which you might recall having been mentioned in Redux II as being linked to the conspiracy), who accidentally infects himself while working on the alien virus. As seen in the movie, the creature gestates inside him and escapes near Phoenix, Arizona, and it's up to the Syndicate to track it down, before Mulder and Scully do (and they in turn must track it down before Spender and Fowley get to it first). They enlist the help of the boy wonder, Gibson Praise (in the midst of brain surgery - I can't decide if this is better or worse than the "brain suck" Tony Shalhoub suffered in Soft Light), who can read the alien's mind. They eventually track it to a nearby power plant, where it is hiding out.

Gibson manages to escape his captors just long enough (before being recaptured) for Mulder and Scully to perform enough tests on him to determine that he has the same DNA as the alien virus and the alien predator (whose claw they find at the scene of its birth). But so do all of mankind, allegedly - it's just that in most people it's an inactive genetic remnant. In other words, everybody is part-extraterrestrial, and the aliens may well have not only been the original inhabitants of this planet, as the Well-Manicured Man suggested in the movie, but may also have been the very progenitors of mankind (if not all life on this planet). It's a startling discovery, but it needs a little more examination, because it leaves open the question of where the hybrids fit in to all of this, if everybody is part-alien. (Not to mention the confusion about what constitutes, exactly, terrestrial and extraterrestrial biology, if alien tissues have been inside all of us all along)...

Another question raised by the movie finds its answer in this episode. One can't help wondering how these vicious predators we're seeing could possibly be related to the presumably intelligent, sophisticated race that is orchestrating the colonization plan and negotiating with the Syndicate (I'd like to eavesdrop on one of those meetings) - unless they're some kind of separate race of warrior drones or something. Of course, humanity itself provides a provocative example of instinctively violent creatures who have nevertheless cultivated civilization. But in this episode, we see that the violent predators are just a growing phase - call it alien adolescence, if you will - from which the alien sheds its skin and (like Freezer emerging into his final form) takes on the sleeker, sexier, more familiar form of the greys we've come to know (if not quite love).

Memorable quotes:

Scully: Mulder, let me remind you once again that what I saw was very little.
Mulder: Look, Scully, that excuse is not going to work this time.

Mulder: Diana, back on your feet. Guess that's the only way you could stab me in the back.

Fowley: You're not under the impression what we're looking for makes sense in any conventional way?
Mulder: No.

Scully: You're a very special boy, Gibson. You know that yourself.
Gibson: I'm a very special lab rat.

(This is one of those tough reality moments. Gibson can't possibly expect people to leave him alone, given his singular ability. Nobody could begrudge him his frustrations, but he should at least be able to respect the difference between the Smoking Man's butchering and Scully's mothering care).

Smoking Man: You can kill a man, but you can't kill what he stands for. Not unless you first break his spirit. That's a beautiful thing to see.

(It's a little concerning that Spender doesn't tell him off, but surely he must be seeing what kind of a despicable person this is).

Mulder: It'd help if you'd shut the door. It'd make it harder for them to see that I'm totally disregarding everything I was told.

Mulder: If that were true, it would mean that Gibson is in some part extraterrestrial.
Scully: It would mean that all of us are.

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