Monday, September 21, 2015

Myth Tracker (The X-Files, Season 1)

Introduction: Now that I'm into the fourth season of The X-Files, and the mythology is beginning - just beginning - to get fairly complex, I've started to go back in my mind (and, well, the series) and summarize the important findings and events of the mythology episodes of previous seasons, to try and keep everything straight. I'm trying to keep a level head in the hopes of piecing together all the important bits of the mythology during my re-watch. I understand that sometimes contradictory information may be given, not always intentionally, and keeping a coherent storyline going through many years of programming can be tricky, not least of all due to the complicated nature of conspiracies, and the fact that so few characters on this show are entirely trustworthy.

Now, there are fanatics out there who have collated exhaustive reports of the information provided throughout the series in each and every mythology episode, and for that, they deserve admiration. (In my younger days, with enough time at my disposal, I could see myself doing the same thing). But all I feel it is necessary for me to do now is cover the broad strokes, so that the major pieces of the puzzle can be (hopefully) fit together. Any need for more detailed accounts may always be satisfied by simply watching the episodes in question, or else consulting other, more exhaustive reports, as mentioned above. (Edit: in hindsight, I ended up going into much more detail than I had originally intended. Oh well. By all means, feel free to stick to the summaries and takeaways if you don't have a mind to read the whole thing).

Spoiler Warning! Needless to say, the rest of this report will contain major mythology-based spoilers, as each account will essentially spoil many of the best surprises that the best episodes in the series have to offer. This first report will only concern itself with the first season, however, and for the time being, I don't intend to "fore-spoil" anything - that is, include revelations from episodes past the one(s) being accounted for at any given time. Nevertheless, I strongly advise you not to read further unless you have watched each of the following episodes in season 1.

Myth Tracker - Season 1

S1:E1 "Pilot"

-Scully is assigned to the X-Files
-Mulder recounts the story of his sister's abduction
-Mulder & Scully investigate a series of alleged alien abductions
-All evidence of the paranormal is either inconclusive, circumstantial, or destroyed
-An implant is taken by the Smoking Man and stored (with others) in the Pentagon

The long version: Scully is assigned to debunk the X-Files, under supervision of the Smoking Man. Mulder & Scully investigate a series of alleged alien abductions in coastal Oregon. They encounter bright lights and missing time. Abductees have two marks on their lower back. The surrounding tissue contains what appears to be an unidentified synthetic protein. An exhumed body appears to be extraterrestrial, or possibly simian. Mulder suspects a genetic mutation due to alien testing. Scully suspects a hoax. The body also contains a nasal implant composed of an unidentifiable material. Mulder recounts the story of his sister's abduction to Scully. All their case evidence is destroyed in a fire. The detective has a plausible alibi for engaging in a cover-up - he's trying to protect his son who is responsible for the murdered abductees. His son claims to be following orders from the aliens, communicated through his implant, who are now on clean-up duty after their tests have failed. If not for the circumstantial evidence, this would appear to simply be a case of homicidal insanity. Nevertheless, the government (who may or may not be responsible for the abductions) conspicuously buries the case, and the implant - the only surviving evidence - is taken by the Smoking Man and stored in a secure evidence room in the Pentagon.

Takeaway: The government is covering up evidence of extraterrestrial contact.

S1:E2 "Deep Throat"

-Mulder is contacted by a government informant, Deep Throat
-Mulder & Scully investigate a military cover-up involving experimental aircraft
-Mulder & Scully witness UFOs flying over an Air Force base
-Mulder sees one of these UFOs up close, but has his memory erased
-Deep Throat confirms the existence of extraterrestrial life on Earth

The long version: Mulder & Scully investigate what appears to be a military cover-up involving experimental aircraft at an Air Force base in Idaho - which is not coincidentally a UFO hotspot - after a rogue pilot is apprehended, and then disappears. When his wife calls in the FBI, the pilot mysteriously reappears, but with strange lapses in his memory. Mulder is confronted by a government informant - whom he will come to know as Deep Throat - who warns him of the dangers of pursuing this case, which he proceeds to ignore. Mulder & Scully witness UFOs performing seemingly impossible aerial feats over the Air Force base. Scully thinks they're classified spy planes. Mulder thinks they've been built using technology recovered from the Roswell crash. Mulder sees one of these UFOs up close, but has his memory erased. In an uncorroborated claim, Deep Throat confirms the existence of extraterrestrial life on Earth.

Takeaway: The U.S. military has built aircraft using recovered UFO technology.

S1:E4 "Conduit"

-Mulder & Scully investigate a missing persons case attributed to alien abduction
-Evidence is suggestive, but ultimately inconclusive, of paranormal activity
-Mulder remembers, via hypnosis, his sister Samantha's abduction

The long version: A girl goes missing in Lake Okobogee, Iowa - a UFO hotspot - leaving behind a brother and a mother who once experienced a UFO sighting of her own when she was a child. Mulder takes a personal interest in the case. Scully gets a look at the X-File on Mulder's sister, Samantha. Scully suspects that the girl was kidnapped, or ran away, but Mulder finds evidence of a UFO encounter - the blistered roof of a camper, singed tree tops, and sand on the beach heated into glass. Scully suggests an electrical storm. The girl's brother is somehow able to receive binary signals through the TV, containing fragments of scientific data and artistic media, including a classified satellite transmission. The girl is eventually returned, experiencing symptoms of prolonged weightlessness, but her testimony is suppressed by her overprotective mother. Scully reviews an audio recording of Mulder's hypnotic regression therapy detailing his sister's abduction.

Takeaway: Mulder's search for the truth is driven by the loss of his sister.

S1:E10 "Fallen Angel"

-Mulder investigates a crashed UFO
-The military send in a clean-up crew, hunt for the pilot
-The pilot appears to be invisible, can kill with a 'radiation flare'
-Max Fenig, a suspected serial abductee, vanishes with the pilot
-The media is given an innocuous cover story
-Deep Throat wields his influence to keep the X-Files open

The long version: Deep Throat gives Mulder a head's up when a UFO crash lands in Wisconsin. He investigates the site and is apprehended by an Air Force crash retrieval unit. His pictures of the crash are destroyed. In custody, he meets Max Fenig, a member of NICAP (the National Investigative Committee of Aerial Phenomenon), which has been following Mulder's career ever since he began work on the X-Files. Max has suffered from epileptic seizures since childhood, and is used to waking up in strange places, not knowing how he got there. He has a strange scar behind his ear that Mulder connects to two known cases of alleged abductees. Mulder thinks Max is a serial abductee. Scully thinks he's a delusional schizophrenic, judging from the anti-psychotic medications he's taking.

Cover stories for the UFO crash, which requires evacuation of the local area, run the gamut from a meteor (though it was shown on the radar to move like no meteor), a train wreck involving toxic chemicals (although there are no train tracks near the site), and the classified story: a downed Libyan jet with a nuclear warhead. The reclamations team is on a hunt for the pilot, armed with live rounds. The pilot is occasionally viewed in first person via a POV cam that is suspiciously low to the ground. In other shots, it appears to be using a cloaking device that renders it invisible. It has the ability to attack people with a bright flash of light, causing 5th and 6th degree burns over 90% of the victims' bodies. The doctor who treats these patients is threatened into silence. Mulder believes it's the result of intense ionizing radiation, a feature of close encounter mortalities backed up by a stack of X-Files.

The suspected alien pilot tracks Max down in his trailer (at which point his ear begins to bleed), and either possesses him, or otherwise accompanies him as he seems mindlessly drawn to a dockside warehouse. A couple of soldiers get fried when they confront him. There, a much larger craft (off screen) is poised to abduct Max and recover the pilot. Mulder witnesses Max vanishing in a beam of light. X-rays taken while he was institutionalized indicate that an object had been lodged in his cerebellum. Official, unconfirmed reports state that Max was found two hours later in a cargo container. Section Chief McGrath of the FBI attempts to have the X-Files shut down, but Deep Throat wields his influence to keep the project afloat.

Takeaway: The military is trained to recover crashed UFOs; some people are repeatedly abducted by aliens throughout their lives.

S1:E17 "E.B.E."

-A UFO is shot down, and its wreckage/occupants are transported across the U.S.
-Mulder & Scully chase the cargo, believing it to contain a living E.B.E.
-Unprecedented levels of UFO activity follow the cargo's journey
-The Lone Gunmen are introduced
-The government gets to the cargo before Mulder can
-Deep Throat describes an international conspiracy to exterminate E.B.E.s
-Deep Throat reveals that he is helping Mulder in order to assuage his guilt
-Deep Throat also admits to lying and fabricating evidence

The long version: A UFO is shot down over Iraq. The wreckage (weighing in at about 2000 pounds), and any occupants (hereafter referred to collectively as the "cargo"), are recovered by the army, and escorted in the back of a truck across the United States. Unprecedented levels of UFO activity follow the truck across the country. In Tennessee, the truck driver fires on one such UFO, which he alternately describes as "cigar-shaped and black", and "round, like a saucer" with "green and orange lights". He appears to have a cough, fever, and rash, which Scully suspects is the result of Gulf War syndrome (except he wasn't in the Gulf War), but Mulder thinks may be due to exposure to the exhaust or fuel of a secret military aircraft or weapon (although he's been treated in the hospital for it three times in the last year). The truck driver is released shortly after Mulder & Scully begin questioning him, before they are able to examine the truck. Scully later finds out he was using a fake name, and was really a black beret who had recently been stationed in northern Iraq. Mulder and Scully are both targeted for surveillance after this incident.

Mulder consults an extreme government watchdog group which publishes a magazine called The Lone Gunman. He also contacts Deep Throat, who gives him a transcript of the Iraqi transmission. Deep Throat later visits Mulder in his apartment, and gives him a photo of UFO activity. From it, Mulder deduces the alleged location of the cargo, believing the truck to have been a decoy. However, Scully presses Mulder to examine the photo, and they determine that it is a fake. After confronting Deep Throat - who admits to lying and fabricating the UFO photo - and shaking off their pursuers, Mulder & Scully track the truck to Washington state, where another close encounter occurs. The truck driver goes missing, along with the contents of the truck, leaving behind a suspiciously small, empty stretcher. However, examining the evidence, Mulder determines this encounter to be inauthentic (unlike the last time). Scully deduces that it was a hoax perpetrated to throw Mulder off the trail, by leading him to believe the alien had been rescued by its peers.

By following the UFO activity, Mulder & Scully locate the cargo's true final destination - a nearby power plant. The Lone Gunmen hack them some IDs, and they infiltrate the facility. But they are too late. The E.B.E. is nowhere to be seen. Deep Throat claims that it is dead. He describes a secret, international conference convened after Roswell, during the Cold War, in which all nations agreed to exterminate any E.B.E.s upon recovery. He reveals that he is one of three people who have exterminated an E.B.E. - while he was with the CIA in Vietnam - and that the memory haunts him to this day. He explains that he is aiding Mulder's quest to uncover the truth in order to assuage his guilt. But his trustworthiness is now in question. All of the evidence in this episode is highly suggestive, but ultimately inconclusive of anything truly extraterrestrial.

Takeaway: If Deep Throat is to be believed, there is an international conspiracy to exterminate E.B.E.s upon recovery, and at least three such E.B.E.s have been so exterminated.

S1:E21 "Tooms"

Note: this is not an actual mythology episode, and only contains minor mythology content.

-Skinner is introduced, under the auspices of the Smoking Man
-Scully is subjected to bureaucratic pressure regarding Mulder's unorthodox methods

Takeaway: Mulder & Scully are getting too close to the truth.

S1:E24 "The Erlenmeyer Flask"

-Mulder finds evidence of secret government testing to create human-alien hybrids
-Scully identifies a virus that can only be extraterrestrial in origin
-Hybrids have toxic, green blood, and can breathe underwater
-ET gene therapy can cure terminal illnesses, including cancer
-Scully handles an E.B.E. in government custody
-Deep Throat is assassinated after saving Mulder's life
-All evidence is confiscated or destroyed
-The X-Files are shut down
-Smoking Man stores the E.B.E. in the Pentagon, with others like it

The long version: Deep Throat tips Mulder off to a news report about a fugitive who evaded capture by diving into a harbor after being shot, following a high speed car chase in Maryland. Mulder identifies the fugitive's car as belonging to a Dr. Berube, but when questioned, the doctor is uncooperative. That night, he is visited by an assassin searching for the fugitive, who kills the doctor (framing it as a suicide) and trashes the lab. During their investigation, Mulder finds an Erlenmeyer flask labeled "purity control", and has Scully take the contents for analysis. Results indicate that Dr. Berube was cloning a bacteria containing a virus - to be injected into living tissues as a form of gene therapy - but the DNA sequence contains an extra nucleotide pair that is not found anywhere in nature. It can only be extraterrestrial in origin.

Mulder searches Dr. Berube's home and finds a phone number which he traces to a storage facility. There, he finds a series of tanks containing living human beings submerged in solution. He is chased away by suspicious men, and when he comes back the next morning with Scully, the storage room is empty. Deep Throat provides an explanation. Dr. Berube was conducting human experiments with extraterrestrial viruses. The tissue had been available since 1947 (from a half a dozen better salvage operations than Roswell), but only recently has technology enabled a successful DNA transplant. Six volunteers suffering from terminal illnesses underwent ET gene therapy and were cured. One of them was the fugitive - Dr. Secare. These human-alien hybrids possess inhuman strength, and the ability to breathe underwater. Also, their green blood is toxic to humans.

Interested only in the technology, the government is determined not to have a hybrid wandering the streets, creating a liability. The microbiologist that identified the extraterrestrial virus for Scully is killed in a car accident, and Dr. Secare is assassinated before Mulder can get to him. Mulder is captured in the process. All the evidence having been destroyed, Deep Throat offers Scully an opportunity to infiltrate a high containment facility in order to steal the original alien tissue - what appears to be a cryogenically frozen alien fetus. She does so, and Deep Throat exchanges it for Mulder's life, but is shot and killed in the process. Without his protection, the order comes down from the top to shut down the X-Files. The recovered alien fetus is stored (along with others like it) by the Smoking Man in the same Pentagon storage room we saw in the pilot episode.

Takeaway: The government has succeeded in creating human-alien hybrids using tissues from an E.B.E. ET gene therapy can cure terminal illnesses, but with considerable side effects.

Note: While neither related to the government conspiracy nor extraterrestrial life, S1:E13 "Beyond The Sea" contains material pertinent to the development of Scully's character - namely, the first major emotional hurdle she must overcome. As such, I consider it part of Scully's personal mythology, that will later intersect with the main mythology of the show.

Stay tuned for Season 2!

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