Sunday, December 20, 2015

The X-Files - S8:E15 "Deadalive"

[ S8:E14 "This is Not Happening" <<< Season 8 >>> S8:E16 "Three Words" ]

Spoiler Warning: Another mythology episode. More spoilers. Big ones.

Deadalive (more like Dead? Alive!) begins with Mulder's funeral. Perhaps I'm missing out by not watching these episodes as they aired, and thus not knowing how everything would end. Not that I know the details, but just the all-important part where Mulder comes out of it alive and well is enough. So the more they play the "Mulder is really dead" card - which his actual, honest-to-god funeral would seem to serve - the more insincere it feels, and the less emotionally invested I am, because I'm just not buying it (although Gillian Anderson does her damnedest to try to make it real for us, even if Scully's emotions verge at times on the soap operatic). And, the cheaper it makes Mulder's inevitable resurrection feel, because it's like we're being strung along, and we know it. (Buffy the Vampire Slayer did a much more effective resurrection plotline, giving a character a whole season to deal with the aftereffects of returning from the world of the dead). Not that Mulder's life hasn't successfully been put in jeopardy on this show in the past - even when the viewers knew for certain that he would come out of it intact. But I guess then the drama never hinged so much on the "what if", but more on the "how" and the "why" of it (which in this episode fails to captivate).

Right from the start, this episode jumps ahead three months from the last episode. That's really pushing the resurrection angle. How would you like to wake up from death to find your body already three months decayed? This is just one of those things where it's the sooner done, the better. Anyway, Billy Miles (the boy who was introduced in the pilot, and abducted along with Mulder in Requiem - stretching the whole Oregon plotline even further, after I'd already erroneously claimed - but believed at the time! - that it didn't intersect with the show's main mythology in any significant way) is found by some fishermen in North Carolina. Ostensibly long dead, he is actually in some creepy state of being "deadalive", in which his body continues to decompose, but he breathes, and occasionally is even conscious. (Doesn't sound like fun). So, Skinner decides to exhume Mulder's body and, sure enough, he's in a similar state. But this isn't going to be a simple matter of, "oh, he was dead, but now he's alive again" (except that it is, in the end).

As the advance scout for the effects of this "disease", Billy Miles demonstrates the true nature of his condition following a gross shower scene in which he basically rinses off his decaying flesh, and emerges a fresh and new person. Except, as Scully finds out, he is literally a new person, now extolling the virtues of the alien menace (with shades of Cassandra's positive - but misguided - message in Patient X). Apparently, the gestation method demonstrated in the movie, Fight The Future, has now been swapped out for some kind of disturbing amalgam of Night of the Living Dead and Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Go figure. That's where Krycek comes in (in his first appearance since Doggett's introduction on the show), once again wielding the nano-powers of life and death over A.D. Skinner (for a reminder, consult S.R. 819). He claims to have the vaccine (is it the same one from before?) to heal Mulder, thus preventing him from becoming an alien pod. But in return for saving Mulder's life, he orders Skinner to make sure Scully's baby doesn't come to term.

Which makes you wonder, does Krycek know something about Scully's baby? Or is he just doing this to watch them all squirm? I could see it going either way. Regardless, he appears to have them all in checkmate, and even Doggett's dogged determination isn't enough to resolve the situation, except that it seems to find a way to conveniently resolve itself. While Krycek maniacally smashes the vaccine against the floor of the parking garage (giving him another great opportunity to be the detestable weasel we all love to hate), Skinner takes Mulder off of life support, ostensibly to kill him so that he doesn't have to sabotage Scully's baby, only to find that the life support was incubating the virus. Taken off of it, and following an antiviral course prescribed by Scully (but presumably not including Krycek's wasted vaccine), Mulder magically recovers by a largely unsatisfying and all-too-convenient form of deus ex why-the-hell-not?

Whatever. I'm kind of beyond caring at this point. The end game, I guess, is getting Mulder back on his feet, and I'm curious to see what the show is going to do with him now. Finding Mulder definitely closes one arc of the mythology (leaving room for the next). Kersh has some nice scenes in this episode, inappropriately (but not unexpectedly) gloating over the news of Mulder's demise. He offers Doggett an opportunity for a transfer to a more respectable division - but to his enduring credit, Doggett hesitates. And by the time Mulder recovers, Kersh is ready to damn Doggett to the fate of the X-Files. But with Mulder back on the scene, you almost feel sad for him (which is again credit to what this show has managed to do with his character, against the odds), because now he's gonna be a third wheel (well, at least until Scully - who is beginning to show - goes on maternity leave, I guess). Only time will tell.

Memorable quotes:

Scully: I think the real tragedy is that, for all of his pain and searching, the truth that he worked so hard to find was never truly revealed to him. I can't truly believe that I'm really standing here.

(Neither can we. Because you're not, really. Not truly. Just give it to the end of the episode and things will turn around).

Scully: Get out while you can, Agent Doggett. Or you may never get out at all.

(Is that a prophecy?)

Kersh: It serves a man to have useful information, John. One never knows when he might find himself having to survive on his wits alone.

Kersh: I'm throwing you a rope. Don't go and hang yourself with it now.

Scully: The truth may hurt, but it's all that matters.

Scully: Do you you have any idea what you've been through?
Mulder: I know what I see in your face.

(As we all do. Each and every line and lopsided grimace and furrowed brow and teary-eyed rivulet of it).

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