Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The X-Files - S2:E1 "Little Green Men"

[ S1:E24 "The Erlenmeyer Flask" <<< Season 2 >>> S2:E2 "The Host" ]

I don't know to what extent this is fueled by nostalgia, and associating this episode with the rest of the season, but it's remarkable how this show feels much more complex and mature from the instant we dive into the second season. Season 2 opens with a somber voice-over by David Duchovny, juxtapositioning the shutting down of the X-Files with a description of a similarly doomed SETI project - an Arecibo telescope scanning for replies to the message sent out into space on the Voyager probes in the 1970s. But, like Mulder, even without bureaucratic support, the telescope is still listening. And it's just received a message! Providing some key intel, we finally get to meet, in person, Mulder's benefactor in the Senate, whom he's mentioned and proffered a few favors from before.

But first, we find a disillusioned Mulder assigned to electronic surveillance (and removed from his basement office), and a detached Scully teaching the finer points of performing autopsies. The importance of Mulder's sister's childhood abduction is re-introduced (for those who might have forgotten) in the form of a dramatic flashback to that tragic night. But for the first time, Mulder experiences (or at least demonstrates) some doubt over whether his sister was ever really abducted at all (in one of many suspicions in this episode that foreshadows the great end-of-fourth season revelation I keep referencing). Assistant Director Skinner and the Smoking Man (in his first direct interaction with Mulder!) both make a reappearance, and Skinner, while still an unknown quantity, engages in his first act of defiance toward the Smoking Man.

The jungles of Puerto Rico (if this is still Vancouver, they do an amazing job of suiting the landscape to different terrains), and the dusty Arecibo control room, all lend the episode a memorable atmosphere. I like that they really play up the horror aspect of the alien encounters. After learning that the government has possession of alien technology, and even biological tissue, you could start thinking that they're not so scary, after all. But a live one, in the wild, with its own agenda... This is no tamed animal. And it demonstrates that whatever the government knows, whatever they're involved with, they aren't the ones ultimately calling the shots. The episode ends on a hopeful note, yet without too quickly tying up all the loose ends. It's a very strong season premiere.

Memorable quotes:

Scully: What this man imagined, his dreams, who he loved, saw, heard, remembered, what he feared - somehow it's all locked in this small mass of tissue and fluid.
Student: Are you okay, Agent Scully? You kind of sounded...a little spooky.

Mulder: No! Jorge, don't touch that red button. Noho on the rojo.

Mulder: Again, Scully, nothing but evidence. And again, no evidence at all.

Mulder: The printouts of received transmission indicate contact with another lifeform, and yet I cannot see them. Even if I could see them, would they really be there? How do I know this isn't some classified military satellite - these transmissions are from the Voyager for God's sake! Could extraterrestrials really have intercepted them? Or is this just some elaborate joke played on those who want to believe?

Scully: Evidence is worthless if you're dead.

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