harsens_rob (harsens_rob) wrote,

X-Files Reviewed: Fallen Angel


The X-Files
Season 01, Episode 10

Fallen Angel

Writers: Howard Gordon, Alex Gansa
DIR: Larry Shaw

Blurb: The future of the X-Files project is jeopardized after Mulder secretly infiltrates the government cover-up of a UFO crash.

Scene 01: Our episode begins by our seeing a light through a heavy wood. We’re located in Wisconsin. Behind the trees, there is a small explosion and we can see a fire burning.

Our onscreen text tells us that this is Day One.

More gouts of flame burst forth as a Sheriff’s vehicle pulls up on the road outside this copse of woods. The Deputy for Townsend calls into dispatch about the fire. The deputy finds that his radio communications are being interfered with; there is much static and he can’t make out if the dispatch office is receiving his transmission.

Our deputy gets out of the vehicle, grumbling over the radio reception out on that lonely stretch of road. He goes wandering toward the fire.

Scene 02: Meanwhile, a radio antennae array is picking up the unidentified bogey which we can assume is the cause of the fire in Wisconsin. This is Cheyenne Mountain, CO and is part of our national defense “space surveillance center”. A junior officer reports to his commander that they have a signal, but senior officer doesn’t seem all that interested.

Nevertheless, he walks across the room to check out Junior’s scope, no doubt expecting a weather balloon or private airplane having taken his nervous officer by surprise.

A radar technician reports to Junior Officer and Commander that the bogey was detected first over CT, before maneuvering in an erratic way that known craft are unable to duplicate. There was an apparent impact in WI from the bogey, hitting at an estimated 800mph.

They begin to file official reports, but are countermanded by the commander. He instructs them that they’ll file reports stating they tracked a meteorite and that the apparent erratic trajectory was the result of equipment malfunction of their station. Our radar tech tries to object, but they’re ordered to comply before Commander walks away, leaving Junior Officer and Radar Tech frustrated.

Our Commander is on a cell phone to shadowy contacts. Operation Falcon is ordered immediately to intercept Fallen Angel.

Commentary: I want to comment on the music for this portion of the opening. There is a simple electronic “duh-duh-duh--duh” pattern to it, which immediately brought to my mind John Carpenter’s “The Thing” opening score. I do believe that must’ve been deliberate. It’s quite effective in ratcheting up some tension.

Scene 03: Back with our Townsend Deputy, he’s walking through the woods toward the fire.  As he makes his way toward the gouts of flame still erupting close by, a “scare chord” sounds loudly. He doesn’t hear it. Also, a POV close to the ground swoops after him.

Movements in the wood startle him and as he’s looking around, he spots the POV close to the ground and rushing him. He yells out in shocked fear, just before being hit with a bright, white strobe light effect.

He has a perception distortion as he yells in discomfort.

From the road, we see the bright flash, hear the Deputy’s yell and then all is quiet.

Mysterious Credits Be Crediting Mysteriously

Scene 04: We return outside of a motel where we hear the beginnings of a news report.

Inside the hotel room, we continue hearing that Townsend, WI is being evacuated due to a vague report about an accident releasing toxic material. The news is carefully being kept away from a quarantine zone.

Scene 05: OH! Fake Out!

We’re not in a hotel room. We’re in a large… something with echo-y walls. Deep Throat is informing Mulder about the U.S.’ electronic wall surrounding the nation to intercept hostile or unknown threats to our airspace. But Deep Throat isn’t actually there right now. This is revealed to be a flashback….

Scene 06: In Flashback Territory, Deep Throat continues to tell Mulder how the electronic fence is keeping track of all of the objects which orbit Earth that flyover the United States from satellites to comets passing by to meteors.

He tells Fox about the breach in the electronic frontier and about Operation Falcon. He tells Mulder about the retrieval team now headed for Wisconsin and informs him he’ll have about 24 hours to find out the proof they’re both looking to make public, before it’ll be like the entire event never happened.

Scene 07: This leads us back from Flashback Territory to the woods, where Mulder is making his way through the pre-dawn morning in an attempt to reach the crash site.

Through the rather lax security, he comes across a laser fence cordoning off a raised section of woodland, though there isn’t any obvious reason present to the eye to do so.

In the short distance, a man is heard shouting out instructions. Over a rise, military is working the scene.

Scene 08: Much later… like all day later, our Commander from Cheyenne Mountain is on site. He’s complaining to a Lieutenant that his team is late and is told they’d suffered a flat outside of the perimeter. Well, as we know, the military doesn’t get flat tires because they’re just that good, so Commander Henderson still isn’t pleased. Now, nightfall is much closer than expected.

The Lieutenant is also put on guard by being told that his “training mission” is actually a live fire real mission and he was apparently deliberately misled about their orders until this moment. He’s told a briefing awaits at 2200 hours to give him the actual mission parameters.

Somehow, security did not catch Mulder infiltrating and he crawls out from under the truck carrying the Lieutenant’s squad. He manages to do this bare seconds after the men hit the ground, but is somehow not seen.

He hunch crawls along the side of the truck to peer into the woods. Nobody notices.

Commentary: Yes, it’s all just as implausible as you may have imagined. This Mulder-infiltrates scene was just badly, badly handled and should’ve been glided over. There isn’t any explanation for how Fox managed to hide under the vehicle, so why bother showing him going through the encampment at all. I was having a hard enough time with his being able to make it anywhere near the quarantine area as it was…. Especially, since we know that the Cigarette Smoking Man and whoever he is working for has an intense interest in Fox’s X-Files work.

It seems to me only logical that the moment a “Fallen Angel” alert was issued, a tail would’ve been put on Mulder’s activities and his travels to WI would’ve been interfered with right off. In addition, I think it’s time to be shown that someone unknown but higher up the food chain is protecting Deep Throat because he and Mulder just aren’t the most brilliant special forces team when it comes to hiding and meeting secretly. I’m starting to have trouble with Deep Throat not having his activities blown by this point… especially after that scene a few episodes ago where he was meeting Mulder out in the open.

The implausibility of it all is starting to get to me already, when it comes to the UFO Conspiracy and we’ve barely started any of it.

Scene 09: Fox continues his stealth infiltration of the quarantine zone around the patrolling military grunts. In the distance he sees some of the woods being highlighted by klieg lights and moves in their direction.

Scene 10: Mulder makes his way up and over another wooded hill. As you’ll recall, in the 1990’s we didn’t have helicopters with powerful spotlights to patrol overhead, nor did we have night vision cameras yet… oh, wait….

Fox sees workers in hazard suits spraying down an obviously downed craft, though what you can see of it doesn’t reveal much about it. Nevertheless, Mulder is amazed.

He pulls out a camera and gets to shooting stills. Of special interest is a “fin” not hidden by the tarp that is covering the rest of the craft. Fox is so focused on what he’s shooting that he doesn’t notice the gentleman coming up behind him.

He gets cold cocked to the face with a rifle butt, his camera falling to the ground and auto shooting. The attacker, mysteriously, looks like a deer hunter instead of military.

Commentary: Future!Rob: And the really silly thing is that the auto shooting camera, which received its own close-up indicating it's catching something relevant to the plot does absolutely zero. And that guy who isn't dressed in fatigues? Never mentioned again, so... apparently he was army and just in disguise..? Which isn't relevant in any way..? Huh.

Scene 11: When Mulder comes to, Commander Henderson is looking at Mulder’s film and telling him that he’s made the worst mistake of his life. The Commander and Fox verbally spar over the “ecological quarantine” now in place with Calvin telling Fox that he has the authority to carry out his orders to maintain the secrecy of this operation in any way he sees fit. He doesn’t order Mulder immediately killed or disappeared, but instead tells the agent that he should forget what he saw, or thought that he saw, for his continued well-being.

Mulder continues to act like he’s not going to be reasonable, as is his bad habit.

Scene 12: Mulder is marched to a cage for holding. There he finds that he’s not alone. Another hippie-dippy sort UFO hunter was also rounded up breaking the quarantine. He takes Mulder for being a member of a fellow UFO-conspiracy group (and is generally annoying right off the bat).

Mr. NICAP (his conspiracy buff group) complains to Fox that he got nailed 100 yards inside the perimeter and so saw nothing and hopes Mulder can tell him what they’re hiding in the woods. He likens what is happening now to the Roswell cover up.

[Once again I’m not going to get into the conspiracy arguments for or against: You believe that the government found extraterrestrial evidence and suppressed it, or you believe it’s a bunch of hokum, or you’re trying to keep an open mind either way. It doesn’t matter to this story: In the X-Files verse, the conspiracy theorists are more often right than wrong.]

Scene 13: At day break, the warehouse used for the makeshift cells is opened. In comes Dana Scully with another “*sigh*, how much trouble are you in this time, Fox” look on her face.

She’s very clearly not amused at having to come to the middle of nowhere to retrieve her co-worker. Mulder goes to introduce Scully to Mr. NICAP, but Max isn’t there.

She’s also pissed because Fox Mulder’s habit of refusing to follow protocol has placed the entire X-Files in jeopardy now. Section Chief McGrath at the Bureau wants to shut the whole thing down and boot Fox from the FBI.

He rolls his eyes at that being nothing new. He confronts Scully about the cover story of a derailment, when there aren’t any train tracks where the army is saying a train accident occurred. Dana tells him that he’s right about the cover story, but tells him the real story is a Libyan jet carrying a nuclear warhead having gone down.

Fox can’t keep the skeptical laughter at bay. Scully goes on to tell him that there has been low grade radiation spikes indicating the nuclear casing may have cracked, and the military is trying to keep a lid on the panic that could cause. Fox doesn’t believe it for a second.

Mulder points out that they’re searching hard for somebody and when Scully suggests the pilot of the plane, Fox tells her how implausible it would be for all of the heavy weaponry to be hauled out into the woods over a lost jet jockey.

Commentary: Which actually points out another problem with this scripting. It just isn’t believable that the government, involved in this massive conspiracy to HIDE THE TRUTH, wouldn’t come up with a better lie than this! All they had to do was claim a truck accident with barrels of noxious gas being transported for destruction went off the road and there is now a chemical danger. WHY would they claim a train accident where there aren’t any tracks… except to make Fox suspicious and to convince Dana that maybe she’s falling for a grand lie? In the same vein… A Libyan Pilot with a Nuclear Warhead seemed like a better cover story than Chemical Stockpile Being Transported For Destruction To A Secure Facility?

I mean, I’d still question why they weren’t just destroyed on site and why there wouldn’t be such destruction capability already where the weapons were stored but that could be your typical bureaucratic bumbling. It’s much more believable than that we allowed a foreign pilot to fly a jet with a nuclear warhead over the mid-west.

I mean, do we really need the FORCES OF DARKNESS to be really blatantly stupid?

Scene 14: Out in the woods, a cloaking-deviced figure can be seen walking up to the laser grid with air distortion marking its passage. We get a skewed-POV of the laser grid in front of it [and it indicates that its eyes must be located where our kneecaps would be… how much you want to bet we won’t see that when he finally get a good look at whatever is wandering around].

The figure seems ready to try crossing the barrier when another army transport truck comes by. It watches it passing. It then runs through the grid and dashes across the road through the forest on the other side. Containment has been breached (again).

Scene 15: Outside of the local motel, Dana is trying to convince Fox to get back to D.C. for his disciplinary hearing but he offers that they have 24 hours to investigate.

[Again, I just have trouble buying into this story because of the way the plot is being constructed. It seems highly unlikely that Agent Mulder would be released until after the clean up operation is completed. It certainly seems suspect that he’d be so without the FBI sending more than his partner to escort him to the earliest flight back to D.C. with the condition that if he isn’t on that flight, he can forget coming into the office ever again.]

When Fox opens his motel room door, they find the room torn apart from somebody looking for something. Whoever is responsible is still there in the bathroom, and apparently so engrossed in their search that they fail to hear Dana and Fox talking from the next room.

Scene 16: It turns out to be Max NICAP. And he was actually trying to get out of the bathroom window, but it was too small for him to get himself out.

Max, having been caught trespassing, now explains that members of NICAP have been following Fox’s career for sometime, since his involvement began with the X-Files. When he saw him, he had to be sure that THE Fox Mulder was really there in living color. Fox is taken aback, as you can imagine and wonders how Max’s group could be following him around and Max explains that they’ve used the Freedom of Information Act to gain details on his investigations and reports.

Mulder finds this all relatively amusing, especially Max referring to Dana as “the enigmatic Doctor Scully”, but Dana is finding Max and the culture of Mulder-watchers as ludicrous.

But Max has something he’s chomping at the bit to show the two agents.

Commentary: Okay, since I’ve harped on the set-up and scripting let me give a bit of praise. I really found this scene to be pretty amusing… or creepy… depending on how you feel about people watching and following what you’re doing through FOIA requests. Ameepy? Creeusing?

But this scene… for just a moment… made me forgive Max for being so irritating.

Scene 17: Max leads them to his trailer/NICAP Mobile Base.

While Max is geeking out over his hobby and getting Mulder’s opinion on crop circles, Dana is noting the medication bottles that their host has lying about. What Max really wants to share however, is his state of the art signal sweep equipment. It’s the same that is ordered by the CIA from Wolf Industries. And he was able to record a broadcast from our Deputy to Townsend PD two nights previous.

Thirty five minutes after the Deputy’s report and request for fire units, Max caught a broadcast from the firemen on scene. They reported a “man down” and requested a medivac flight immediately.

But the more interesting thing is the sounds of an electronic signal under the firefighter’s radio call. The fireman, still with his broadcast button depressed, suddenly yells “What the hell?! Charlie, we’ve got a situation here!” before there was radio silence.

Scene 18: Meanwhile, Henderson is reporting in that they’re covering every square inch super-duper-thoroughly [except for that thing where two people were easily able to penetrate their quarantine and that the search team in Mulder’s room - and admittedly I’m assuming that Max didn’t tear apart Fox’s entire room just to confirm his identity for the moment - didn’t detect a signal sweeper listening in on communications from one of the people they’d actually already caught… but otherwise, they have a clamp on the place].

He assures whoever it is that this time “it” won’t get away.

Scene 19: From the meeting with Max, Dana and Fox drop in at the evacuation center held in the local high school. They find the wife of our Deputy. She’s pissed and taking it out on them. When she calms a little, she reports that he’s reported dead, but the government won’t release his body to her for a proper burial.

What’s more, when Scully points out that the government can’t withhold remains from her, she tells them not to make waves. It comes out that she’s been threatened that if she tells anyone or makes trouble about finding out what exactly happened to her husband, they’ll withhold his pension from her. With no income, she and her son would be screwed.

As Dana and Fox are considering this new wrinkle in the “train derailment, no it's a nuclear warhead” story, the lights suddenly go out in the high school.

Scene 20: At the military base camp, communications are interrupted by the receipt of a high frequency audible signal. They also lose power at the same time.

Meanwhile, another soldier reports to Henderson that they have a target moving about 7 miles per hour circling by the command center. He orders “beta team” into action on a search and destroy intercept.

Scene 21: The team is dispatched to an office complex on the edge of town to find their quarry. While the men are looking around and nearly hyperventilating [wow - professional], the alien knee-level POV shows that their target is creeping right up on them nearly in front of their faces.

Bright flashes of strobe light are released at the soldiers, who all go down with yells.

We also get more blurry-cam and herky-jerky movements. A documentation team waiting outside the “kill zone” exchanges frightened looks, including Henderson.

Scene 22: At the local hospital, a doctor is telling our agents that he can’t discuss patient information unless they’ve got a subpoena. Mulder guesses that the doctor was threatened just like the grieving wife was. The doctor rages against fascism and decides “screw the authority!” after a bit of prodding by Fox.

He tells the agents that the deputy and three fire crewmen were brought in with 5th and 6th degree burns over 90% of their bodies. But the burns were like nothing that he’d ever seen before and the armed men took the bodies before a pathology exam could be conducted.

[I had no idea that there was anything past third degree. It turns out that there used to be, but it’s actually an outdated classification now, as usually burns are now classified as superficial, partial thickness, deep tissue and fourth degree -which would most likely be classified at autopsy. Basically the doctor is stating that the men were burned down to the bone and in the sixth degree burns the bone could’ve actually charred. Survival was impossible.]

Mulder brings up ionizing radiation as a possible cause and the doctor admits it could be possible, but it would have to be very intense for such tissue damage as he witnessed.

Scene 23: Mulder and Dana walk back down the hallway of the hospital having a walk&talk about the possibility that the men died of radiation like they speculate. She points out that the nuclear casing crack could explain the exposure. Mulder counters with his stack of X-Files reports describing the same injuries from extraterrestrial visitors.

Dana sighs that they need to get back to D.C. regardless because of his hearing that is going to determine if there is an X-Files to return to. But they’re interrupted by the army rushing their burned men in for emergency treatment.

They’re followed by a very pissed off Henderson, who isn’t any more happy to see that Fox and Dana haven’t left yet.

Scene 24: The hospital is chaotic with medical personnel trying to save what men they can, but the prospects are grim. Fox and Dana has followed Henderson into the emergency ward set up. Mulder throws out a request for what happened to him men, but Calvin is tight lipped.

Fox jumps to a chase for an alien causing this loss of life and tries to impress on the Commander to stop hunting it like a wild animal. Henderson tries to order Scully and Mulder out of the area immediately, but Doctor Talker countermands him. He insists that Scully as a medical doctor [even realizing that she’s not a practicing physician, so one can conclude that he’s just trying to have witnesses that can’t be silenced through threats] is staying to help as they’re understaffed for this disaster.

Calvin tries to push over the doctor, but he’s not budging, straight up threatening not to treat his men at all if Scully is tossed out on her ass. Calvin gives threatening pissy-face.

Fox though is roughly escorted out of the trauma room.

Commentary: I’m trying to decide how I feel about the Henderson character. I think the actor is doing what he can with the role, but he feels very one note and his default mode of “pissed face” is getting repetitive. I understand the character’s purpose and I can see where he needs to be a dick because of his mission, but the fact is that his character is coming across as flat and uninteresting for the amount of time he’s onscreen.

I wish that they’d given him some type of human undercurrent of concern for his men or some sign of doubt in his facial expression. I also didn’t quite like Dana Scully in this scene either. Instead of standing there and waiting for Henderson and the Doctor’s pissing match to resolve, I wish that Gillian had been directed to already be taking off her coat and grabbing a nurse or orderly to ask where she can scrub in. As a medical doctor [even non practicing], she should’ve been much more forceful in insisting that she could help and the disaster was large enough to be needed.

Scene 25: Fox returns to the motel. He decides to knock on Max’s trailer door but there isn’t any answer. Inside, he finds Max in the midst of a seizure.

When he comes out of it, he tells Fox that he hasn’t had a convulsive event in seven years since he started on his medication. He tells Mulder that epilepsy started when he was ten. The docs told him he must’ve hit his head, but he has no memory of doing so and when in a fit, he would often times wake up in strange places with no idea how he got there.

After giving him some water, Fox helps him onto his mattress, where he falls into an immediate deep sleep. But this is the X-Files, so a perfectly normal medical condition is extremely unlikely.

As he tucks a blanket around him, Fox notices an oddly shaped surgical scar just behind Max’s ear. He appears to recognize it from other X-Files.

Scene 26: A bit later, Fox is working on his laptop and looking at print outs of scars on abductees when Dana returns. It’s the next morning… the morning of the hearing, in fact. Scully reports, now exhausted, that they lost all but two of the burn victims overnight.

Fox asks for her opinion about what is going on, but she doesn’t know. And though she wants to find out what they’ve stumbled into, she reminds him they need to catch a flight.

Mulder ignores this to bring up the unusual incision scar behind Max’s ear and the way that it matches two women’s scars who were 1000 miles apart and had no other contact with one another. Both women claim to be abductees. Scully fills in the blank that Fox believes Max was abducted at some point, too. But she offers her skeptic’s view that a portion of Max’s prescription medication is for schizophrenia, pointing to his suffering delusional states.

Mulder tells her that Max isn’t the one to believe that he was abducted, it’s Mulder’s belief that he could have been. He asks her to take a look at the scar and give a medical opinion about it. She gives in to his Earnest Plea Face. But she tells him to start packing, as well.

Scene 27: Elsewhere, the Space Electronic Monitoring Station picks up another bogey.

Radar Tech again calls over to Junior Officer to point out the coordinates of the new reading is traveling along the exact route of the earlier “meteor”, but is a much larger “meteor”.

The Radar Tech hears over her headset that an Air Base has also begun to track the object now. She reports to Junior Officer, with an attempt to hide her smirk, that their meteor appears to be hovering over a Wisconsin town.

Both are left unsure how to proceed.

Scene 28: Meanwhile, out in the woods POV is searching the skies. It then appears to be standing on Max’s trailer roof and fiddling with his reception disk. It enters Max’s through the skylight cover.

POV stares down at Max for some reason and his ear begins to fill up with blood. He remains asleep through this. The POV gets down in front of Max’s face, when his eyes shoot open. He doesn’t seem to react and then there is a bright strobe light.

Scene 29: Out in the parking lot, Scully packs her things in the trunk and then she and Mulder go to the trailer to inspect Max’s scar. They find him gone, but Dana spots the bit of blood on his pillow.

Mulder is bothered by the radio traffic in the trailer and goes to turn off some of the noise when he hears the report of unidentified traffic over the local waterfront. Scully stares at Mulder already knowing that they’re not going to make their flight. He stares back with a look of anticipation.

Scene 30: Dana gives it one try to convince Mulder to get on that flight so he can defend himself before the hearing, but Fox isn’t having any of it. He points out the unbelievable coincidence that Max, a wanderer, would just so happen to arrive the very evening when Wisconsin gets a series of strange events beginning and being the one to pick up the Deputy’s radio call informing him that something is afoot. Added to the scar on his head, Mulder finds this too much to ignore.

Fox tells Dana that if Max was abducted, it’d go a long way to explaining his obsessions. And if they’ve figured that much out, it’s a sure bet that Henderson has as well. Mulder is clearly worried that the Commander has had something to do with Max leaving behind blood on his pillow and not being there now.

He demands the car keys and she hands them over with an air of defeat.

Scene 31: Meantime, Max NICAP has gone to the waterfront and is staggering about holding his ear.

He’s intercepted by a pair of army men in a jeep and pleads with them not to interfere as they radio their location into base. Both Henderson and our agents are also headed to the waterfront.

Scene 32: When Scully and Mulder arrive, they find the two army grunts lying on the ground, having been subjected to a radiation burst.

The sound of Max yelling in distress is heard.

Scene 33: They find him in a warehouse, holding his ear and saying over and over that “it hurts, why, it hurts”.

He keeps pressing in at the scar behind his ear and complaining that somebody is coming for him. He’s obviously in a state of fear, as well as the pain. Outside, the sound of a helicopter is heard coming in.

The army soon arrives full force with Henderson leading a charge. Scully goes out to meet them and is immediately taken into custody. Meanwhile a team unpacks a small case. It has plastic explosive as they’re preparing to blow the corrugated walls in.

Scene 34: Dana tries to tell Henderson that he’s just dealing with her partner and a delusional man, but the camera guy on a roof nearby is using infrared. He reports that there are three life forms in the structure to Dana’s puzzlement.

CameraGuy reports that the third figure is approaching the other two stealthily.

Henderson prepares to storm the warehouse.

Scene 35: Inside, Fox is struggling to get Max focused enough to get out of there while Max asks that he not be taken. The POV creepers up on them.

Max spots it and screams, while Fox spins around.

A bright light zaps him and he goes feet over ass through the air to land on the other side of some pallets. When he recovers, Max is simply gone.

Commentary: And yes, it does annoy me that Fox gets the "knocked across the room" bit, when everyone else ends up with burns. This could be covered by stating that the alien didn't want Max caught in the radiation beam, but it feels more like they were making sure Mulder didn't suffer too badly so that he could play eyewitness to Max' fate. It's just too convenient for the alien to just now be revealing that he has not-deadly-radiation powers, too and just chose to butcher everybody until now.

Scene 36: Mulder goes through the warehouse yelling Max’s name. He finds him floating in an anti-gravity glow off of the floor, unresponsive.

Max starts convulsing as tendrils of energy seep up from him above his head. Another burst of bright light bathes everything, Max and Mulder in the warehouse.

Scene 37: Outside, the CameraGuy suddenly reports that he can only see one figure now inside the building. They blast their way in, only to find Mulder with his gun out and looking stunned.

Of Max, there is only his NICAP cap left behind. Fox tells Henderson that “they beat us Colonel” and that Max is gone. Calvin orders Mulder arrested.

Scene 36: Back in Washington, D.C. at FBI HQ, four days after Mulder’s unauthorized trip to WI: Scully is being asked whether Fox was authorized to go off to Wisconsin on a case. McGrath asks a few more questions designed to point out that Mulder misappropriated government funds for a non-official cause.

Dana tries to make a statement, but she’s continually cut off by McGrath before being rudely dismissed.

Scene 37: When Scully comes out of the hearing, Fox is waiting for her. He tells her not to worry, that he’s actually surprised that he lasted as long as he did within the agency.

As she sits down to wait for Mulder’s turn with the committee, she sees a very small blurb in the paper about the toxic waste in WI being successfully cleaned up.

Scene 38: In the hearing, Mulder is being accused of insubordination and misconduct.

He and McGrath shout at each other across the table with Mulder pointing out the attempted cover up and the deaths of a dozen men, while McGrath is stuck on the lack of authorization sought or granted for Fox’s trip.

Fox shouts about Max’s disappearance and the X-Rays that Mulder has gotten showing the foreign body lodged in his cerebellum, but McGrath shouts back that Colonel Henderson reported Max’s body found a few hours later in a cargo container.

Fox gives up the argument and tells McGrath that he can’t keep the truth from being known much longer, as there are too many people aware of what is happening out there in the real world. He then tells him that no government agency has jurisdiction over the truth.

Commentary: Ugh. This is supposed to be a power moment for Fox Mulder standing up against the man… but it really isn’t. First, because with just a glance at the facts, Fox was in fact misusing government resources for a personal mission. The fact that he didn’t take time off and use his own credit card makes him in the wrong immediately going in.

Second, McGrath is right … jerkass-ish as we’re supposed to see him. Fox should have sought an official investigation under FBI jurisdiction before setting out on his own, and should it have been denied - then again: Take a few sick days and use your own money.

Thirdly… that power-line was soooooo cheesy. I had to fight not to burst out laughing. I’m having to fight it still right now. “No government agency has jurisdiction over the truth…!” was intoned with such pomposity that Mulder just sounded like an ass, himself. I wish that McGrath had responded with “The Justice Department will be interested in that observation, but it’s really irrelevant to the fact that you misappropriated funds for personal use” rather than just glaring at him.

Scene 39: Shortly after, McGrath marches across the quad behind the building. He’s incensed that the committee’s findings that Mulder be dismissed was countermanded.

He’s confronting… Deep Throat!

Who goes on to tell him that they know Mulder’s quest is a singular passion and that he needs to be handled with kit gloves and in a way that they can keep an eye on what he’s doing and what he’s finding. He tells McGrath the well worn adage about friends and enemies and keeping them both close before walking away, leaving us to wonder if Deep Throat is ultimately on Mulder’s side, or only managing him to keep him from discovering too much that can’t be denied.

The Good: I liked the opening, especially the John Carpenter-inspired score done.

I really liked a lot of Gillian Anderson's face pulling and eye rolling in this episode. She was pretty funny having to once again deal with her partner getting them into hot water and not doing anything to stop making it worse.

I also did enjoy the acting and soundtrack for the scene in the warehouse where Mulder is trying to save Max while the alien is stalking up on them.

The Bad: Getting Fox Mulder into the story by letting him sneak his way through the quarantine cordon so easily was just poorly done. It was ridiculous how he was able to maneuver around all of the military in the area.

The government's cover story to make Mulder so suspicious is also incredibly stupid and flimsy for no other reason than to allow him to overcome Scully's rationality. The scripting to set up the investigation and finding hints of the alien presence is just so clumsy and badly handled.

It's also annoying that the alien spends all of its time being cloaked against casual detection, but spends all of its time burning people alive with radiation. He/She/It obviously failed "maintaining a low cover while lost in alien environments" training. It just doesn't make sense to hide from being discovered, but then give reasons for everyone to be investigating your presence.

Other Thoughts: The opening part with Mulder, after return from credits, was a little bit confusing by jostling the time line, and it felt like there wasn't really a reason for it than trying to be fancy-director. It kinda bugged me, but I liked that Deep Throat was specifically sending Fox out to find something this time around. Although, I have to say he isn't being very careful about it, which sort of bugs me and should be worrying Fox, too.

I started out not liking Max's character as he felt too over the top to me. I even wondered if he was a plant to find out how much Fox actually knew, especially when he was conveniently "released" despite also apparently violating a quarantine. But I warmed up to him throughout the episode, and I was really sorry over his unfair fate. The aliens are assholes.

I disliked the Commander, Colonel Henderson, because he came across as such a flat character. His face seems permanently set at angry scowl and he took up too much screen time without some more development or something interesting happening with him.

I like that Max had a purpose other than random background character in that he was apparently and unknowingly in contact with this alien race before the events of this episode. But... again the script fails a bit here. We never know WHY the aliens are using him or what they want from him. And it doesn't appear that he's needed for the stranded traveler to get back home, unless he needed to travel via a humanoid host into the tractor beam light...?? It just doesn't make sense, and is never even discussed. It feels like Max was just set up to be an unfortunate victim for Mulder to feel sorry for but wasn't actually needed for the final confrontation with the fleeing alien.

I wanted to like Mulder and McGrath shouting down one another over the truth of what happened, but the stack is really clearly against Mulder because he did everything wrong. It annoys me instead, because we're supposed to just buy that what Mulder does is right and what everyone who opposes him do is wrong and for nefarious purposes. But I did like that when McGrath is meeting after the hearing with the stranger, I believed it was Cigarette Smoking Man. It was a nice twist that it was Deep Throat stepping in to save Mulder's job, while at the same time being ambivalent as to what he ultimately wanted him to stay close for [but not really, otherwise he wouldn't of sent Fox off on this mission in the first place].

The Score: So, what do I think about this one? I'm conflicted. I like individual scenes but the overall plot doesn't really hang together for me. I find myself being more annoyed by the dangling questions than intrigued and the way that the plot is kicked off is so haphazardly done to get Fox where he needs to be that it feels like it was only half-thought through.

I want to like it more because it's another link in the chain started in the pilot that there are aliens visiting Earth and Mulder's search for the truth as to why. But this one is just clumsily and clunkily written.

I'll give it 3 stars out of 5 ... with a tighter script, this really could've been interesting.

Next Up: Supernatural's "Nightmare"

Tags: x-files season 1 reviews

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