Friday, September 4, 2015

The X-Files - S3:E16 "Apocrypha"

[ S3:E15 "Piper Maru" <<< Season 3 >>> S3:E17 "Pusher" ]

Spoiler Warning: This episode concludes the two-parter started last week. Being a mythology episode, this review will contain major mythology-related spoilers.

Apocrypha answers a lot of questions raised in Piper Maru (I'd say this is expected, but on The X-Files, you're grateful for every answer the creators decide to give you), as well as brings a little bit of closure to some of the elements held over from the last two sets of mythology episodes. Of course, other questions still remain unanswered, but that is to be expected. The involvement of the Smoking Man and the rest of the Syndicate makes a big difference here, as this episode is a lot more exciting than the last one (Krycek's surprise appearance aside). And, Scully's discovery that the man who shot Skinner is the same man who shot her sister, her ensuing pursuit of this man, and her ultimate struggle to weigh the consequences of murdering him in cold blood (or not), is all thrillingly dramatic. In these two episodes, Scully finally gets a chance to mourn her sister.

Now to piece together the mythology elements in this episode. Krycek leads Mulder back to the States where he claims to have left the digital tape in a secure location. They're intercepted by some of the Smoking Man's men, but Krycek fries them with his newfound powers (courtesy of the Black Oil). Of course, this informs the Smoking Man that the Black Oil - which he's known about at least since the original failed salvage mission fifty years ago - is on the loose. By this point, the Syndicate has become very curious as to how their secrets are being leaked, given that the Smoking Man (their "associate in Washington") has assured them that the tape was recovered and destroyed.

With the help of the Lone Gunmen, Mulder attempts to retrieve the tape, but finds it missing - Krycek has gotten to it first! We get to see the Smoking Man at home again, like in One Breath, watching his black and white war movies on TV - but dammit! If ever there was any good in Krycek, it was his betrayal of the Smoking Man. But here, possessed by the Black Oil, he returns the tape in exchange for the Black Oil's true objective: the salvaged UFO that was picked up in Nisei, and subsequently moved to an abandoned missile silo in North Dakota. (Krycek won't know it until he returns to his senses, but he'll be getting the bum end of this bargain).

Thanks to his sleuthing abilities, Mulder is able to arrange a clandestine meeting with the Well-Manicured Man. What follows is a fantastic exchange in which Mulder actually has some information the Well-Manicured Man doesn't know! Of course, we know by now that the Smoking Man has been keeping his associates in the dark. I wonder what the repercussions will be, now that his incompetence is exposed beyond a doubt. Contrary to our impression of the Smoking Man as an infallible agent of the conspiracy (well, at least until the merchandise trilogy), his interactions with the Syndicate have been fumbling at best. Although, maybe this is evidence of the effect that Mulder's work is having in cracking the conspiracy, little by little. I'd like to think so.

In any case, Mulder deduces that the Black Oil is some kind of sentient organism using diesel oil as a transfer medium. He also learns that rather than a plane carrying an atomic bomb, what was shot down in the sea during WWII was one of the "foo fighters" - UFOs that allegedly accompanied the planes carrying the bomb. The UFO was salvaged in Nisei (I wonder how they managed that, given that the original salvage mission, like the French one, failed due to contact with the Black Oil), but the Black Oil was still trapped down there, until the French salvage crew brought it up in the last episode. Now it's just trying to get back to its ship.

Again, comparisons can be made to End Game, in which the Alien Bounty Hunter, having finished its round of assassinations, was just trying to get back to its ship to go home. I'm not sure if the Black Oil is actually an alien intelligence itself, or just a tool or weapon trying to return to its holster, as the UFO apparently did not leave the silo at the end of the episode (at least not on-screen). It's terrible, but it shows what kind of a character Krycek is, that I have to smile when the episode ends with him essentially being buried alive, trapped in that underground missile silo, after the Black Oil is finished with him. Don't doubt that we'll see him again sometime, though. Somehow.

Memorable quotes:

Smoking Man: You can trust all of us.

(Yeah, right).

Smoking Man: Have the bodies destroyed.
Doctor: But, but, sir, these men aren't dead yet!

Skinner: Listen to me, anger is a luxury that you cannot afford right now. If you're angry, you're gonna make a mistake - and these people will take advantage of that. You've seen how they operate.
Scully: I'll be okay.

Scully: Is anybody not looking for Krycek?
Mulder: No, but I think the $64,000 question is: what is this thing looking for? Now that it's in Krycek, what does it want?

Conspirator: Why not bring it to Nevada, like the others?
Smoking Man: Leaks in security and a heightened public interest have made the base in Nevada unviable.

(Great reference to Area 51!)

Scully: What's it gonna take?
Agent Caleca: At this point? Other than a sign from God?
Scully: I've seen stranger things, believe me.
Agent Pendrell: I believe she has.

Well-Manicured Man: I trust we're alone?
Mulder: We're all alone in New York City, sir.

Well-Manicured Man: The truth is, no one knows what killed that crew.
Mulder: I know.
Well-Manicured Man: Do you now?
Mulder: You give me Krycek, and I'll tell you.
Well-Manicured Man: Mr. Mulder. I've given you so much this evening. You've offered me next to nothing in return.
Mulder: You haven't told me anything I didn't already know.

(I love the way the Well-Manicured Man talks. He's so cocky and arrogant, and not a little derisive, but it fits his character perfectly. And for a man involved in an elaborate conspiracy, he's very straightforward, not evasive like others in his line of business. Not that everything he says is necessarily true, but he makes it feel like he's giving you answers, rather than keeping them from you).

Scully: You know, I thought...when we found him - this man that killed Melissa - that when we brought him to justice, I would feel some kind of closure. But the truth is no court. No punishment is ever enough.

Scully: I think the dead are speaking to us, Mulder - demanding justice. Maybe that man was right. Maybe we bury the dead alive.

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