Monday, November 2, 2015

The X-Files - S6:E2 "Drive"

[ S6:E1 "The Beginning" <<< Season 6 >>> S6:E3 "Triangle" ]

I was surprised the first few times, but by now I've noticed that it seems to be a pattern for The X-Files to front-load their seasons with notable episodes. Breaking Bad fans will not fail to note that this episode marks what I presume to be the birth of the creative partnership between writer Vince Gilligan and actor Bryan Cranston. It opens rather unusually, with news footage of a car chase that sets the stage for the episode. Coupled with the desert highway landscapes - the majority of the episode takes place in Nevada, and ends on the Pacific coast - this really feels like a different show than the one that was filmed in Vancouver. It's still The X-Files, though. The unlucky victims in this episode seem to have come down with a rather deadly case of tinnitus, and the only thing that soothes it is driving real fast. It's like Vince Gilligan thought to himself, "what if in Speed, the bomb wasn't on the vehicle, but inside someone's head?"

What's more, Scully harbors a suspicion that it may be communicable, like a disease. Outbreak scenarios are always rife with potential for a good thrill 'n' chill. One spooky scene where Scully examines ground zero, trying to put together a profile on the pathogen, just screams Michael Crichton's The Andromeda Strain. And there's also a feeling of F. Emasculata, with Scully hanging back to study the disease, while Mulder's out on the front lines dealing with it. Dangerous or not, you can't deny it's more exciting than the domestic terrorism detail Mulder and Scully have been assigned to. When Mulder sees the news footage on TV, you can tell that, like in Detour, he wants nothing more than to be working that case, instead of the mundane job he's been tasked with. It really goes to show that, whatever their feelings about Mulder's crazy "theories" are, they're totally wasting his talents by keeping him from the work he's passionate about.

On that note, we get a better introduction to Mulder and Scully's new Assistant Director, Kersh (James Pickens, Jr.) here, whom we only saw briefly in the last episode. There was a time when Skinner could (more or less convincingly) play the bad guy - even as recently as season 4, although by then you already had confidence that even if Skinner did bad things, he'd be doing them for the right reasons. So, with the Smoking Man either retired or doting on his presumed heir for the past year, there'd been a hole in the form of a direct, bureaucratic obstacle opening up which Kersh fills nicely. And whereas Skinner wears his emotions on his sleeve - delivering all his lines through gritted teeth, even as he has his agents' best interests at heart - Kersh has this unsettling way of speaking. It's a sort of quiet disdain, like when the principal calls you into his office, but instead of yelling at you, he chastises you in a calm, controlled voice. Like, rather than being upset by your misbehavior, he's almost pleased, because he relishes the opportunity to punish you.

Memorable quotes:

Crump: Drive.

Mulder: You stop moving, you die? I think I saw this movie.

Mulder: We'll figure this out.
Crump: Better figure quick. We're runnin' outta west.

Kersh: Don't misunderstand me, Agent. I don't care if you and your partner saved a school bus full of doe-eyed urchins on their way to Sunday bible camp. You no longer investigate X-Files - you are done. And the sooner you and Mulder come to recognize that, the better for both of you.

No comments:

Post a Comment