Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The X-Files - S6:E22 "Biogenesis"

[ S6:E21 "Field Trip" <<< Season 6 >>> S7:E1 "The Sixth Extinction" ]

Spoiler Warning: It's the season finale, so prepare for spoilers!

I don't recall exactly at which point I originally stopped watching the X-Files, but it's worth noting that this is the last significant mythology arc I remember seeing on this show. It's the one where fragments of some kind of UFO wash up on the Ivory Coast of West Africa - extraterrestrial artifacts inscribed with passages from the Bible and the human genome (a sort of ET Rosetta Stone), lending evidence to the "panspermia" theory of terrestrial biogenesis - that life on Earth originated from other planets. Finally, we get some context to Mulder's outrageous claim in last season's finale, The End, when he stated that Gibson Praise was the "key to the X-Files", having something to do with ancient alien astronauts, and a biological link between aliens and all life on Earth. (Had he held out on making his case to the authorities until now, he might have saved himself the trouble of being taken off the X-Files for half a season)...

The events of this episode are fairly straightforward for once, although it definitely has the feel of a classic mythology episode, with wide-sweeping revelations, and an adventurous spirit, unlike Two Fathers/One Son - which, in spite of its critical place in the development of the show's mythology, somehow (and I can't explain how) doesn't manage to be as memorable as it has every right to be. Comparisons to Gethsemane and Anasazi are not entirely out of place - Albert Hosteen even turns up, briefly (although in critical condition and dying of cancer), in order to translate the phonetic Navajo the passages on the alien fragments are coded in. Skinner is also back to being an undetermined quantity, thanks to Krycek's sabotage in S.R. 819. In the past, I'd have trusted Skinner implicitly, believing that even when he did the wrong things, he'd be doing them for the right reasons. But now, he's completely at the mercy of Krycek. The only question is whether Krycek is still working with the Smoking Man, or if he's gone rogue once again, with the folding of the Syndicate. Fowley turns up in this episode as well, and I must say that I hate the sight or sound of her, even when she's not doing anything obviously evil (and I'm not even a shipper!).

The alien fragments exhibit weird behavior - spinning around, fusing together at will. One of them shoots across the room to attack a Bible - although as much as I appreciate the sentiment, it's kind of cheesy. The fragments emit CGR - Cosmic Galactic Radiation, found only outside our Solar System - and cause Mulder to have increasingly debilitating headaches, which also imbue him with a mind-reading ability curiously similar to what Gibson Praise had. But he doesn't handle it well. By the end of the episode, he's finally had that psychotic break that's been coming for all these years, forcing Scully to the forefront of the action. I don't know if this was a complete coincidence or not, but with the hindsight knowledge that Mulder would eventually (and sooner rather than later, now) pass the reins of the show over to Scully, it helps get us used to the shifted focus on Scully (for better or worse), particularly in these big mytharc episodes where Mulder's always been the one taking point. And with Skinner compromised, and Fowley lurking around, there's a real feeling of having no one to turn to.

In the cliffhanger, Scully visits the Ivory Coast herself, to find not just some more of those alien fragments, but a whole freaking UFO. (Perhaps I'm hoping in vain, but maybe this will finally be the thing that turns Scully into a believer). I have to admit, the episode does a great job of maintaining the viewer's interest in the series, even at this late stage, and even after the semi-finality of the mythology in Two Fathers/One Son. I look forward to seeing how this arc is resolved!

To be continued...

Memorable quotes:

Scully: From space, it seems an abstraction - a magician's trick on a darkened stage. And from this distance, one might never imagine that it is alive. It first appeared in the sea almost four billion years ago, in the form of single-celled life. ... But for all our knowledge, what no one can say for certain, is what or who ignited that original spark. Is there a plan, a purpose or a reason to our existence? Will we pass, as those before us, into oblivion - into the sixth extinction that scientists warn is already in progress? Or will the mystery be revealed - through a sign, a symbol, a revelation?

(To be perfectly honest, the monologues in this episode are as bloated as they've ever been on this show. Nevertheless, I still find them intriguing).

Scully: Look, after all you've done, after all you've uncovered - a conspiracy of men doing human experiments, men who are all now dead, you exposed their secrets... I mean, you've won. What more could you possibly hope to do or to find?
Mulder: My sister.

(Yup, that about sums it up. Don't hold your breath on seeing Samantha in this episode, though - but I'm glad the writers are on the same page with us, at least. On the other hand, Scully is still sticking to the human experiments explanation, in spite of what the rest of us open-minded viewers have seen and learned. I guess it's typical, after all, that she considers the matter closed; as far as I know, the aliens are still planning to colonize - even without the Syndicate acting as middle men).

Scully: A passage from the Bible on an artifact that you're saying is extraterrestrial. And, uh...how did the aliens get it?
Dr. Sandoz: They gave it to us. The text came from them.

(I know this is supposed to be shocking - aliens wrote the Bible! But, unfortunately, more than anything else, that thought just makes me seriously question their literacy. I thought they were supposed to be a highly advanced species!)

Mulder: Scully, that artifact is extraterrestrial.
Scully: Mulder, it can't be.
Mulder: D'ya know what that would mean?
Scully: No, it would mean nothing, Mulder.
Mulder: No, it would mean that our progenitors were alien. That our genesis was alien. That we're here because of them. That they put us here.
Scully: Mulder, that is science-fiction, it doesn't hold a drop of water!
Mulder: You're wrong, it holds everything. Don't you see - all the mysteries of science, everything we can't understand or won't explain, every human behaviorism, cosmology, psychology, everything in the X-Files - it all owes to them, it's from them!

Scully: It began with an act of supreme violence - a big bang expanding ever outward, cosmos born of matter and gas, matter and gas ten billion years ago. Whose idea was this? Who had the audacity for such invention? And the reason? Were we part of that plan ten billion years ago? Are we born only to die? To be fruitful and multiply and replenish the Earth before giving way to our generations? If there is a beginning, must there be an end? We burn like fires in our time only to be extinguished. To surrender to the elements' eternal reclaim. Matter and gas...will this all end one day? Life no longer passing to life, the Earth left barren like the stars above, like the cosmos. Will the hand that lit the flame let it burn down, let it burn out? Could we, too, become extinct? Or if this fire of life living inside us is meant to go on, who decides? Who tends the flames? Can he reignite the spark even as it grows cold and weak?

No comments:

Post a Comment