Monday, October 26, 2015

The X-Files - S5:E18 "The Pine Bluff Variant"

[ S5:E17 "All Souls" <<< Season 5 >>> S5:E19 "Folie a Deux" ]

The spiritual successor to F. Emasculata, The Pine Bluff Variant is a hard-boiled conspiracy thriller in which everyone is double-crossing everyone else and (for once in this series this is actually true) you don't know who you can trust. The CIA coordinates an operation with the FBI to take down a terrorist militia (recalling shades of Unrequited) bent on unleashing a lethal bio weapon - a gruesome flesh-eating disease - on the unsuspecting public. But Mulder is apparently helping them to evade capture. Has he become so disillusioned with the U.S. government that he'd resort to aiding and abetting terrorists? Or has he been compromised, like he was in Kitsunegari? Is it a deep cover operation? Unfortunately, the tension is mitigated considerably by the fact that you know Mulder's not really going to be killed in this episode, but it's still very thrilling to watch. A couple of familiar faces show up - Daniel von Bargen (who played Kruger on Seinfeld) as one of the terrorist leaders, and Sam Anderson (who was quite memorable as the evil lawyer Holland Manners on Buffy's spin-off series Angel) as one of the top government operatives. Apart from the medical engineering, and a bank heist where the robbers wear Halloween masks, this is one of those rare episodes that doesn't really have a sci-fi/fantasy component - but government conspiracy abounds. It may not feel like a traditional X-Files episode, but it's a very good hour of television.

Memorable quotes:

August Bremer: I'd like some popcorn, please.
Usherette: Do you want large, extra large, or jumbo large?
August Bremer: Could I get some fresh popcorn, please? The sign says, "fresh popcorn".
Usherette: This is fresh popcorn...
August Bremer: No, fresh fresh - hot.

Mulder: I believe in your ideals, and your goals. The only reason I tolerate your methods is because the government's is worse.
Jacob Steven Haley: Wow, what a ringing endorsement.

Jacob Steven Haley: A war is going on, Agent Mulder. Either you're on the right side, or the wrong.

Skinner: What happened to your hand?
Mulder: Terrorist lie detector.
Leamus: Well, did you pass?
Mulder: Well, I must have - I'm still here.

August Bremer: You're a believer?
Mulder: I have my beliefs.
August Bremer: You willing to die for them?
Mulder: I'd prefer it didn't come to that.

Leamus: What do you hope to accomplish, Agent Mulder, as a whistle-blower? To mobilize a civil rights action? To bring down the federal government? To do the very work that that group you were a part of is so bent on doing? What do you want? Laws against those men, or laws protecting them?
Mulder: I want people to know the truth.
Leamus: Well, sometimes our job is to protect those people from knowing it.

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