Friday, October 2, 2015

The X-Files - S4:E19 "Synchrony"

[ S4:E18 "Max" <<< Season 4 >>> S4:E20 "Small Potatoes" ]

See, this is the great thing about The X-Files. An old man runs down the street at night to catch two bickering scientists, and tells them that he's come a long way to warn one of them that he's going to die exactly at 11:46, when he walks in front of a bus. A cop happens by, and he apprehends the old man for harassing the scientists. In any other situation, the old man would be written off as a lunatic. But, because this is The X-Files, everything he says comes true. Eerie. (By the way, this is exactly the reason Mulder's not a kook, despite how he sounds to most rational people - it's like he's the only one who realizes he's not in the real world, but the world of The X-Files, where weird stuff can - and does! - happen. Although, it's pretty funny when Mulder's brilliant powers of deduction make it sound like he knows the history of a future timeline he hasn't experienced).

You can be sure that it's no coincidence that the scientists in question are working on a breakthrough in cryobiology. For an episode with fantastic science (particularly in the realm of experimental physics), I really like that they brought up Scully's background in physics (which was mentioned in the pilot episode). And though nobody is going to be writing up a thesis on time travel based on the details in this episode (although...), as science fiction, I thought the script presented a pretty clever and unique approach to the problem. (Also, one that allows for some really cool special effects). As far as experimental physics episodes go, I think I liked this one even better than Soft Light, which dealt with dark matter. It's not anything too flashy, or pretentious; it's just a good, classic "monster"-of-the-week episode of The X-Files.

(Excuse me while I go off on a semi-spoilery tangent about trying to change history). There's just one critical flaw in planning to go back in time and prevent time travel from being invented by the killing the person who invented it. As much as we put brilliant minds up on a pedestal - and certainly, they belong there - human ingenuity works in such a way that if one person doesn't invent something, somebody else will figure it out sooner or later. Without Einstein, for example, it may have taken longer for us to wrap our minds around certain concepts he helped to pioneer, but I firmly believe that it would have only been a matter of time before some clever mind (or, more likely, minds) figured it out. Even Isaac Newton's invention of calculus was famously developed independently by a mathematician named Leibniz. Human science and technology is a cumulative effort - some would even say an inevitable march of progress (provided we don't destroy ourselves at some point along the way).

Memorable quotes:

Scully: That's his alibi? That some old man came and warned him that his colleague was gonna die?
Mulder: Well, he goes on to tell a pretty convincing narrative, and they give a rather detailed description of the old man.
Scully: What was he wearing, a long black robe and carrying a scythe?

Lisa: He swore to me he would never confess it to a soul.
Scully: If he'd lie for you, what makes you think he wouldn't lie to you?

Mulder: "Although common sense may rule out the possibility of time travel, the laws of quantum physics certainly do not" - in case you forgot, that's from your graduate thesis. You were a lot more open-minded when you were a youngster.
Scully: I know what I wrote, Mulder. I also know that the laws of physics would permit the theoretical possibility of time travel, but the limits of human endurance would prevent such a trip from ever happening.

Jason: It's better that we never were.

Mulder: I know what I saw, Scully, and I know what I believe happened.
Scully: Even if it can never be proven?
Mulder: Never - never is a very long time, Scully, you said that yourself. "Although multi-dimensionalities suggest infinite outcomes in an infinite number of universes, each universe can produce only one outcome."
Scully: I was twenty-three when I wrote that.
Mulder: Yeah, but I take that to mean that you were suggesting that the future can't be altered.

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