Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The X-Files - S4:E1 "Herrenvolk"

[ S3:E24 "Talitha Cumi" <<< Season 4 >>> S4:E2 "Home" ]

Spoiler Warning: The following review of this season premiere/mythology episode, which resolves the cliffhanger from last season's finale, will contain major spoilers.

Well, Talitha Cumi/Herrenvolk joins Piper Maru/Apocrypha as a mythology two-parter in which the second part is significantly better than the first part. Still, it's not as strong an opening to the season as The Blessing Way/Paper Clip was. But it advances the mythology forward considerably, which is good. In the opener, we get our first introduction to bees, which will feature in the first movie (which is coming up in just two more seasons' worth of episodes). The opening theme once again features a title card to replace "The Truth Is Out There" - which hasn't happened since last season's 731. This time, it's the Alien Bounty Hunter's words that get emblazoned on the screen - Everything Dies.

After the opening theme, we return to last season's cliffhanger, which breaks out into a chase through a factory at night. The sequence here really feels like the opening of a movie. When Mulder finally gets Jeremiah Smith to safety - temporarily, seeing as that Alien Bounty Hunter is about as relentless as the Terminator - he must once again choose between the truth and his loved ones. To the audience's delight, this time it's the truth which must surface (albeit, only little bits and pieces of it). Instead, then, of taking the miracle healer to his mother - where the Smoking Man is surely waiting for them - Mulder follows him out to a farmland in Canada where pollen is being grown and cultivated by drones - childhood clones of Mulder's sister and some other boy.

Meanwhile, the Alien Bounty Hunter is hot on their heels. I know you could go on about the writers making up excuses for why the villains don't simply kill our heroes (they've been addressing that issue at least since E.B.E.), but I really like how the Alien Bounty Hunter is not, in fact, a mindless killing machine, and is actually smart enough to keep the people who get in his way alive (occasionally), to the extent that they may be able to help him (if against their will) locate his target(s). Scully gets back to Washington, and learns, with a little reluctant help from X, that the Jeremiah Smith clones had been working on the Smallpox Eradication Program, which she deduces is being used by the government to catalog the American public. But towards what end?

Unfortunately, this is the episode in which the Smoking Man and his cohorts (we see the Elder again in this episode) manage to smoke out Mulder's informant, and X is finally executed. R.I.P. Although it does seem that this had been a long time coming, after his relative inactivity over the last season's worth of episodes. Still, I liked X. Deep Throat was a good character, but I think X was even more fun to watch, because he was so hardcore. I wish we had had a chance to get to know him a little better, but that's all water under the bridge now. Whereas Deep Throat's dying breath was to warn Scully to trust no one, X leads Mulder instead to a woman by the name of Marita Covarrubias (doesn't that name just roll off the tongue?) - a young Laurie Holden, whom fans of The Walking Dead might recognize as the actress who plays Andrea. We can only hope that in the throes of death, X was willing to reveal more than he could ever afford to when he still had his own life to protect.

The final scene in this episode reveals much, while still leaving many questions. For one thing, it makes it exceedingly clear that the Alien Bounty Hunter (is he really an alien, though? And how come when Mulder stabbed him with the retractable ice pick, in the back of the neck, it didn't kill him? Did he just miss the right spot?) is indeed working with the Smoking Man on "the project". He was only tracking down this episode's clone because it was a traitor to the project, whereas in Colony we were made to believe that he objected to the clones on principle (I guess those ones were just involved in unsponsored activities?). We also learn that the Alien Bounty Hunter does indeed possess the miracle healing powers we saw Jeremiah Smith use in the last episode. But why is Mulder so important to the project? And will he ever find his real sister?

Well, the mythology is really advancing now. It seems as though everything we've gotten up to this point - particularly the whole axis power scientists arc we were treated to in the first half of the third season (granted, that's probably my favorite mythology arc in the whole show) - was more or less stalling for the real revelations we're getting now (some of which were only hinted at in Paper Clip). I'm looking forward to seeing where season four takes us, both in terms of the mythology, as well as the continued evolution of the monster-of-the-week episodes. Although, knowing how it ends, it looks like there'll eventually be more stalling (although, again, it's another one of my all-time favorite mythology developments - I think maybe I enjoy the conspiracy more than the actual alien stuff). In any case, it'll be a fun journey, I'm sure!

Memorable quotes:

Mulder: "The larger plan" - you mean colonization.
Jeremiah Smith: Hegemony, Mr. Mulder. A new origin of species.

Elder: Were you aware you were being photographed?
Smoking Man: By whom?
Elder: I believe that can be determined by a simple planting of information, to see where that information flows.

X: Don't unlock doors you're not prepared to go through, Agent Scully.

Skinner: So what you're saying, Agent Scully, is we're being cataloged, tagged, and inventoried? By who?
Scully: I don't know. But it would have to be a government agency.

Skinner: Do you realize what you're promoting in there? You're rounding these people up in the middle of the work day, to imply that there's some--
Scully: I am a scientist, sir. What I'm promoting in there is reductive evidence. It's the reason I believe I was assigned to the X-Files in the first place, is it not? To put Agent Mulder's work to the test of science?

(Even when you've got the evidence, they still don't believe you...)

Alien Bounty Hunter: He shows you pieces. He tells you nothing of the whole.

(So very true. You could say the same thing about Chris Carter ;-p).

Mulder: I've seen too many things not to believe.
Scully: I've seen things, too. But there are answers to be found now. We have hope that there's a place to start. That's what I believe.
Mulder: You put such faith in your science, Scully, but...the things I've seen, science provides no place to start.
Scully: Nothing happens in contradiction to nature - only in contradiction to what we know of it. And that's a place to start. That's where the hope is.

(Have to say I'm on Scully's side on this one).

Marita Covarrubias: Not everything dies, Mr. Mulder.

Smoking Man: The fiercest enemy is the man who has nothing left to lose. And you know how important Agent Mulder is to the equation.

(The Smoking Man is an excellent liar, but you can tell in these scenes that he actually cares about Mrs. Mulder. He's nervously twirling a cigarette in his fingers instead of smoking it smugly, like usual).

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