Thursday, October 1, 2015

The X-Files - S4:E18 "Max"

[ S4:E17 "Tempus Fugit" <<< Season 4 >>> S4:E19 "Synchrony" ]

Spoiler Warning: This episode picks up from the last one, so expect spoilers.

Max picks up from the exciting cliffhanger at the end of last episode - just after Mulder found a drowned alien pilot (!) among the submerged wreckage of the UFO. The military capture him before he can get a hold of any proof, however; although he does pick up some radiation burns for his troubles. Meanwhile, the assassin who shot Agent Pendrell gets away. According to Skinner - who arrives on the scene - the military are pulling rank and denying safe haven for Sgt. Frisch. They're probably the ones who sent the assassin (in place of a Federal Marshall). The cover story is that the control tower gave bad coordinates to the fighter pilot who then collided with Flight 549.

To Max's credit (who we unfortunately don't find out faked his death in the last episode - sadly, he really is dead), he had ultimately made the decision to document the existence of extraterrestrial life and intelligence, and the conspiracy to cover up the government's involvement. We find out that his "sister" wasn't really his sister, but a fellow mental patient - although this revelation, ostensibly designed to discredit her and Max's stories, doesn't really change anything, if, as most dedicated X-Philes would, you still believe they were really alien abductees (and indeed, the evidence points to that conclusion). She was an aeronautical systems engineer who stole something critical (and radioactive) from her employer. (Mulder thinks it's an alien energy source - cold fusion, maybe - but never gets a good look at it). It was split into three parts, for safe keeping.

Max's part was taken back when Flight 549 was intercepted by a UFO. If not for the fighter jet that shot the UFO down, he might have survived (although, there was also that assassin on board). As it was, the plane was suspended in some kind of "tractor beam" when the fighter jet shot the UFO down, releasing the plane and causing it to drop straight to the ground. The part that Max's not-sister had was surely taken when she was abducted and dropped off at the crash site in the last episode (she has the same radiation burns that Max had to prove it). Not only do we get to see (in a harrowing scene) what happened during those nine missing minutes before Flight 549 went down, but we're treated to a near-repeat when Mulder, after tracking down the third and last of Max's parts, gets on a plane with it. There's a great scene where he has a nice little chat with the assassin (the same man that shot Pendrell) that followed him on board.

As expected, the plane experiences an "encounter", and the assassin - who takes the part from Mulder - gets abducted. Luckily, the plane lands safely with Mulder on board. We do not, unfortunately, get to learn much about Max's abduction experiences in this episode, or what connection they may have had with "the alien agenda" as pertains the cloned hybrids and whatnot. There's no further development of Scully's condition as the result of her abduction, either. It stays pretty well-contained around the initial plane crash and its aftermath, and the brave attempt (albeit failed) that Max made - and died for - in order to expose the conspiracy (not unlike what Mulder has been trying to do all this time). But, in spite of that, and in line with what I said in my review of the last episode, I consider these two episodes to be a refreshing detour from the direction the mythology has taken of late, and a welcome throwback to the first season's mythology.

Memorable quotes:

Scully: Mulder, what are these people dying for? Is it for the truth, or for the lies?
Mulder: It's gotta be for the truth. If we owe them anything, it's to make sure of that.

Scully: I think you were actually kindred spirits in some deep, strange way.
Mulder: What do you mean?
Scully: Men with Spartan lives, simple in their creature comforts if only to allow for the complexity of their passions.

Max Fenig: All I ever wanted in life was to be left alone. Don't we all? So, just my luck that I'd eventually become an alien abductee. Now I'm never alone. Any minute, when I'm least expecting it... And the worst part is, no one believes you. Almost no one.

Max Fenig: When every day's just another day you're gonna get kidnapped by a bunch of little grey dudes from outer space, what's a few CIA spooks to worry about?

Mulder: Do you know where she is?
Scully: In a mental institution.
Mulder: I'd go with you, but I'm...I'm afraid they'd lock me up.
Scully: Me, too.

Assassin: A man, if he's any man at all, knows he must be ready to sacrifice himself to that which is greater than he.
Mulder: I'm sure all the other passengers on this plane would appreciate dying for your noble philosophy.
Assassin: Look out your window, Agent Mulder. You see the lights? Now, imagine, if one of those lights flickered off, you'd hardly notice, would you? A dozen, two dozen lights extinguished - is it worth sacrificing the future, the lives of millions, to keep a few lights on?

Scully: I actually was thinking about this gift that you gave me for my birthday. You never got to tell me why you gave it to me, or what it means. But I think I know. I think that you appreciate that there are extraordinary men and women, and extraordinary moments when history leaps forward on the backs of these individuals. That what can be imagined can be achieved. That you must dare to dream, but that there's no substitute for perseverance and hard work - and teamwork, because no one gets there alone. And that while we commemorate the greatness of these events and the individuals who achieve them, we cannot forget the sacrifice of those who make these achievements and leaps possible.
Mulder: I just thought it was a pretty cool keychain.

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