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Next time, I’ll wear a clown suit and do balloon tricks.


The X-Files
6.1: The Beginning


Hang in there for another week, and you’d be able to see the shot in the arm the show would get from relocating to California. Right here, though, The X-Files is running on fumes, attempting to restart/reboot/regroup with regard to the arc plot and showing it has next-to-nothing doing. The movie’s events are addressed by Chris Carter, in a manner that seems expressly designed to provoke derision (“global domination plans by vicious, long-clawed spacelings”) so I’ll give him that, but otherwise, the only plot point eliciting interest is the tribulations of poor Gibson Praise (Jeff Gulka).

AD MaslinAnd, so, the plot… I – I’m just trying to get this straight. The plot is for these spacelings to take over the planet aided by a group of men here on earth?
MulderA shadow conspiracy within our own government.
AD MaslinWho are growing corn in the middle of the desert which features pollen which was genetically altered to hold a virus which will be taken away by bees whose sting transmits the virus, causing the growth of an extra-terrestrial biological entity inside the human host?

Gibson would appear twice more in the show (the Season 8 opener and the Season 9/series finale), suggesting they never really came to grips with how to utilise one of the arc’s more original characters. Here, the mind-reading chess prodigy has his skull opened up by the Syndicate – the scars are one of the show’s more palpably grisly gross-out effects – in order to probe his abilities, which should come as no hammer-to-crack-a-nut surprise. Gulka, who’s very sympathetic, elicits genuine concern from Scully on discovering his status, but it’s modified later by his reading her mind: “You want to make me well, but you’re just thinking about yourself and what you can learn from me”. The conclusion regarding his alien DNA/ “virus”, that we’re all part extra-terrestrial, though…

MulderWait a minute. I don’t understand. You’re saying that Gibson Praise is infected with the virus?
ScullyNo. It’s a part of his DNA. In fact, it’s a part of all of our DNA. It’s called a genetic remnant. It’s inactive junk DNA. Except in Gibson it’s turned on.
Mulder: So if that were true, that would mean that Gibson is in some part extra-terrestrial.
Scully: It would mean that all of us are.

Obviously, it’s very ancient astronauts, very Prometheus, von Danicken, Sitchin etc. But what does it mean to the overall arc plot? How does it impact the alien/human hybrid programme if humans are already alien/human hybrids? Conceptually, it fits in with the series’ increasing transhumanist emphasis (and if we’ve been altered already, there’s no reason not to alter us some more), while also emphasising (via Gibson and the worker) that none of this is a pretty business. I’m unsure this is ever satisfyingly clarified, though. It’s one of those things that’s intriguingly introduced and then left dangling, rather typically. Rather like this episode’s alien.

Which makes itself known rather effectively in a decent opening scene, as a Roush Technologies guy – Roush was also bankrolling Kritschgau per Redux – is dropped off home feeling poorly, and by morning there’s a hole in him that makes a Chestburster seem positively discriminate (the idea that he “accidentally injected himself” is a bit feeble, though). As I noted of the movie, the opportunistic inclusion of a xenomorph-type alien is the height of Carter’s inability to fashion or plan a consistent arc, since it is introduced there and then casually dismissed here with, dare I say it, retconning of its capacities. It seems it’s only a short-term vicious killer now, and once it is sufficiently heated up, it’ll become a nice “cuddly” common-or-ET Grey.

Scully: I don’t doubt what you saw, Mulder. I don’t doubt you. I’m willing to believe, but not in a lie and not in the opposite of what I can prove. It comes down to a matter of trust. I guess it always has.

We can see this kind of blasé – some might say lazy – approach throughout, from the manner in which Mulder’s able to retrieve most of his devastated files (“I should be able to recover a large percentage of the case material that was destroyed in my office fire several months ago”) to the laborious re-entrenchment of Mulder and Scully’s traditional positions. Their conversations throughout represent the dialogue equivalent of bashing one’s head against a wall, with numerous mentions of trust and proof. When Scully says “If I change now… It wouldn’t be right… or honest” what she means is “If I could change now… It would mess up our clichéd dynamic, but wait two seasons until you’ve naffed off, and I’ll be you. Overnight, basically”. I’m on Mulder’s side here, in response to Scully’s “… you can’t question the science”; that’s exactly why you can do: “… you’re science is wrong”.

Also present is Jeffrey Spender being a little bitch, and Chris Owens doing his job commendably, while Mimi Rogers takes over the X-Files and visits a nuclear power plant with Mulder. We’re introduced to AD Kersh (James Pickens Jr) too. This is essentially rearranging the furniture, though. There’s nothing really new in the mix. Still Skinner pleading his case to a nonplussed Mulder. Still CSM telling the Syndicate what’s what. On the plus side, this season soft pedals the myth-arc tales, but that’s because it’s only got leftovers to work with now; it won’t really locate a unifying thread again until the super soldiers, for better or worse.

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