Friday, September 18, 2015

The X-Files - S4:E3 "Teliko"

[ S4:E2 "Home" <<< Season 4 >>> S4:E4 "Unruhe" ]

In this episode, an immigrant who may or may not be a predatory spirit of the air from a West African folktale - or, alternatively, a melanin vampire - starts killing young, black men in Philadelphia, causing radical de-pigmentation of the victims' bodies. (Mulder sums it up perfectly when he says, "there's a Michael Jackson joke in here somewhere, but I can't quite find it"). Scully is brought on to the case by an agent of the CDC, who believes the cause of death may be the result of a disease. This could be considered one of The X-Files' many "ethnic" episodes (it's unnerving how little some of the subtle racial tensions have aged in the last twenty years), but it's also a more straightforward and familiar approach to the subject of mutants than Home was. It's a fairly traditional monster-of-the-week episode, but it's well-written for all that, and has some good bits of conversation, even if the main theme - "deceive, inveigle, obfuscate" - is over-stated (even to the questionable point of being emblazoned in the opening theme in place of The Truth Is Out There - the first time, if I'm not mistaken, that a non-mythology episode did this).

Spoiler warning: the next paragraph contains mythology-related spoilers regarding recent developments concerning Mulder's informant.

Mulder's encounter with Marita Covarrubias in this episode reinforces my thoughts about her. Since X led Mulder to her after his death, it would be tempting to consider her Mulder's new informant. But though I certainly remembered Covarrubias' character, I don't recall having the impression that she was ever X's replacement (or that X ever actually had a replacement). And here, it seems as though Mulder is trying to force her to take on that role, which she is reluctant to do. Also, though she may have connections in the government (and possibly of a more international bent, given her employment by the United Nations), she has, presumably, no inside connection with the conspirators Mulder is working against. Thus, if anything, she comes off more like Mulder's friend in Congress (if she's a friend at all), than a successor to X and Deep Throat's legacy. But time will tell. At any rate, it would be too repetitive (and would undermine the emotional impact of X's loss) if another face just showed up to replace what was so recently lost.

Memorable quotes:

Mulder: Hey, I heard you were down here slicing and dicing. Who's the lucky stiff?

Mulder: Scully, has it occurred to you that this might just be a little PR exercise?
Scully: I'm sorry?
Mulder: To divert attention from the fact that young black men are dying, and nobody seems to be able to bring in a suspect. The perception being that nobody cares.
Scully: Mulder, not everything is a labyrinth of dark conspiracy, and not everybody is plotting to deceive, inveigle, and obfuscate.

Mulder: Does that tell you anything about anything?
Scully: No, but...

Scully: It says here that the cause of death was undetermined.
Mulder: Yeah - undetermined, Scully, but not necessarily unknown.

Scully: It has to be here, Mulder; there has to be some evidence of a virus or bacterium.
Mulder: Scully, I think if you looked up from the microscope for a minute, you'd see that what's really missing is a motive.
Scully: The motive of any pathogen is to reproduce itself. And my job as a doctor is to find out if and how it is being transmitted.
Mulder: If this is a health crisis.
Scully: Death is a health crisis.

Scully: Sometimes you have to start at the end to find the beginning.

Mulder: I wanna know why he ran.
Marcus Duff: Sir, if you had ever been beaten by the police, or had your home burned to the ground for no other reason than being born, then maybe you would understand why he ran. And why you would run, too.

Ambassador: Even if I tell you what I know, you would never believe it.
Mulder: You'd be surprised at what I believe, sir.

Scully: So you're basing this theory on a folktale?
Mulder: It's just another way of describing the same truth, right? I mean all new truths begin as heresies and end as superstitions. We fear the unknown, so we reduce it to the terms that are most familiar to us - whether that's a folktale, or a disease, or...conspiracy.

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