As I said last episode, the middle episode of any of the recent mythology trifecta has always been weak compared to the first or third parts. And even after all of the worries over the state of the series post-Mulder, it is nice to know that some things remain the same.
This episode takes a lot of the weakness of the final episode of last season and places it into a context that actually manages to make an awful lot of sense, when the mythology as a whole is taken into consideration. Granted, there are still some holes that need to be filled. OK, some rather large holes. But at least they are beginning to shovel dirt this time around!
According to this episode, the replicants are part of an ongoing program within government circles to create a super-soldier. The program has recently come to the point where they have successfully created a means to stimulate pregnancy, leading to the direct creation of the super-soldier mutation within a human ovum.
At first glance, this may not seem to make much sense. The latest round of experiments related to the super-soldiers had to do with Mulder’s abduction. He was abducted by a ship upon which the alien bounty hunters types were torturing former abductees with altered brain function. The abductees were tortured to the point of death, at which point they were left for dead in remote areas. At some point, a virus of possibly alien origin causes the replicant form to develop within the apparently dead host body.
Along the way we found out that Scully’s miracle pregnancy was possibly related in some way to secret experiments being conducted on the children of previously abducted women...experiments that were related in some way to Knowle Rohr.
Mulder was infected and about to develop the replicant form, but Scully used anti-virals to cure him. Soon after, we are shown that Knowle Rohr is one of the replicants, and that the experiments being conducted involved the introduction of alien DNA into human embryos. In the process of destroying the evidence of those experiments, the replicants hunt down Scully and appear to want to kill her and her child...only to express the desire to see the child be born.
All the while we are supposed to believe that the replicants are a new kind of alien, and that they are working to prepare the world for colonization. Even I thought, at the end of last season, that the replicants were aliens seeking to prepare for colonization. However, this episode tells us that they are actually the product of government super-soldier experiments. Can any of that be reconciled?
Actually, it can. But in order for that to be true, we have to completely rethink what has happened since Mulder’s abduction, and look carefully at the evolution of the mythology.
There are a lot of references in the early seasons to the government experiments using alien tissue to create some kind of super-soldier able to withstand any kind of punishment. “The Erlenmeyer Flask” shows people being modified to breathe underwater, and “Sleepless” introduced the idea of soldiers being altered to not have to sleep. Both of these ideas are mentioned here. But there was also the evidence unearthed in “Anasazi”, “Nisei”, and “731”. These episodes established that there had been experiments since the end of World War II, to the purpose of creating alien/human hybrids.
At the same time, we saw all of the evidence of women being abducted and having their ova removed for unknown medical experiments. Scully, of course, was one of them, and eventually we discovered that those eggs were being used to meld alien DNA to create clones and children. The creation of the clones was never explained, not was the purpose of a child like Emily.
Finally, there was the idea of the alien virus, the black oil, which the same Syndicate that was conducting the experiments mentioned above was attempting to create a vaccine for. The black oil aliens were going to colonize the planet, and experiments were being conducted to develop a vaccine or cure against the virus. A vaccine was developed that could withstand the virus, which meant that there was a way to not only survive the black oil...but a way to contain it with safety.
I think that all of this fits together.
What if the replicants really are part of the ongoing super-soldier program, a program that was always designed as a means of defending against alien invasion by using alien DNA to modify the human race against the black oil? We know that at least some of the abductees were experimented upon by the Syndicate in order to work on hybridization, because there was the eventual goal of creating a process by which a human could withstand the black oil and survive, albeit controlled. But why would they end the experiments to create a means to survive the black oil without a vaccine and without being controlled?
With the aliens aware of the vaccine, and the successful hybrid no longer available, the experiments would continue. But the vaccine would allow them to work on a way to modify the virus to their own goals, by infecting abductees with genetically modified black oil to see what changes they could engender.
So what if the alien abductions began in “Requiem” were not meant to eliminate evidence of alien activity, as Scully mistakenly thought, but was actually meant to experiment on abductees that were part of the super-soldier program, to find a way to counteract the results of the latest experiments? The question, then, is when Mulder would have been made a part of the experiments. But then again, we never did find out what exactly what that lethal brain condition was, did we?
That would explain why Jeremiah Smith thought that the new virus was alien, if the super-soldier experiments were now based directly on an altered form of the black oil virus. It would also explain how Scully could use a simple combination of anti-virals to counter it, if it was a hybrid of alien and terrestrial genetic components. And the original vaccine would also be effective, which would explain why Krycek felt it was worth bargaining with.
And that means that if William is the most recent product of the program, then those behind the program would want him to live in order to study him and determine how he was born and what he is capable of.
So Kersh, an old associate of the Syndicate, is put into place over the X-Files again when the abductions begin. It always seemed to me that he was portrayed in the sixth season as displaying his lack of belief and patience in conspiracies and aliens as a function of his place within the Syndicate plans. Taking that into context, when the abductions by the aliens started and Mulder was taken along with those part of the super-soldier experiments, those in charge of the program would have put Kersh over Skinner to keep an eye on what was discovered about the abductions, knowing that Scully would have a vested interest in finding out as much as possible.
But they would know, because of her part in the program, that Scully’s time would be limited. Who better, then, than to choose a known quantity, someone who would also give incentive to those within the FBI who could be a useful resource? Enter John Doggett, someone whom those within the program could use based on their past friendships, and someone that Kersh would love to see taken out of the fast track to the director’s chair. Almost everything that Knowle did last season was a careful strategy to keep Doggett looking in the right places, while ensuring that he would be trapped working on the X-Files.
Here we begin to see Kersh playing the two sides against the middle. On one hand, he is working to maintain the status quo and keep the overall program moving forward. Certainly his cultivation of Follmer is an example of that. Follmer’s motivations so far appear to be nothing more than enlightened self-interest, a desire to keep a threat to advancement like Doggett out of the way.
On the other hand, Kersh told Mulder, Scully, and Skinner what could happen if Mulder remained close to the FBI, and what could happen if William began showing signs of something other than normal development, while making sure that Doggett was able to discover as much as possible about the current aspects of the program.
This doesn’t leave Doggett in a very good place. He has to know that while Kersh might be more of an ally than he first appeared, there is also the constant danger that if he goes too far, he could end his own career and put Scully and William in danger. Certainly, as Doggett’s boss and a close friend to Scully and Mulder, Skinner is going to have to help Doggett see where that fine line can be found.
Scully is also in an awkward position. She knows exactly what the stakes are, but at the same time, she wants answers to William’s conception. As much as she might trust Doggett and Reyes, she also knows that they are under constant watch by the forces that threaten her family. It will be interesting to see if she can trust Monica as much as she would like, knowing that there is always a chance that Doggett might hear something later.
All of this is, of course, nothing but idle speculation. The entire super-soldier explanation could be revealed to be nothing more than a smokescreen for the alien colonization. This is where Shannon McMahon comes into the picture. How much of what she said can we believe? Obviously there were experiments being done on that ship, but what exactly were they designed for?
There are still a lot of unanswered questions, and it may be some time before we get any more information to see if this is a viable line of conjecture. But this is the kind of fun that a mythology episode is supposed to provide, and while there may be some fans who tire of these endless puzzles and games, I find this latest twist to be more than worthy of the legacy of the X-Files.
That said, there is also an awful lot of potential for this to become a complete mess...especially if the writers continue to lose the ability to write a scene without the need to make every bit of dialogue portentous or vague.
Some other thoughts:
- If the captain wasn’t supposed to see the doctor or whatever was in the secret room, then why did he have access at all?
- “Nothing Important Happened Today” as a tagline? Whatever happened to the mysterious, spooky taglines?
- You know, by now Doggett has to wonder what neat, exciting way he’s going to die on the next case!
- Since when does paper sink? Or did those files from the office dissolve? They just disappeared!
- I wonder where Follmer was all those times that Scully was performing an unauthorized autopsy, or Mulder was breaking and entering...
- How many men out there would like to wake up and find Lucy Lawless staring at you from the end of the bed?
- Um, did Doggett need to be told that Bravo Company was part of the USMC?
- How many parents out there are dumb enough to keep the baby in the middle of the living room? Whatever happened to her bedroom?
- It was a nice trick how Skinner’s dialogue was written so one might assume that it was Mulder or Scully who told Skinner to discourage the investigation.
- I wonder who will be the first person to tell Scully to stop saying that something’s wrong with the baby if she’s not going to tell anyone what it is!
- That’s one damn big one week old child!
- Oh, and I’d love to have the Scully babysitting service. It apparently is so fast that Scully can get from just outside Washington to Falls Church in no time!
- I hate to tell the super-soldier that she’s wrong, but when you change the molecular formula of something, it’s not that thing anymore! So just say the damned Chloromite was switched with something else and get it over with!
- If they are all supposed to think that William’s a super-soldier, and they all have that spike on their necks, then why not check his neck? No spikes, no problem!
- Wouldn’t dumping the first mate’s body just prompt yet another unwanted murder investigation?
- “It’s freaky! It’s mindblowin’!”
- “She’s the key to everything...” Can someone please get the writers a new playbook?
- According to her file, Shannon McMahon was born in Snowmalique, Washington...the place “Twin Peaks” was filmed!
- Isn’t it nice to know that someone can just create their own FBI access badge?
- You’re going to meet a mysterious informant a stone’s throw away from the secret naval vessel that you’re not supposed to know about. The guy by the phone turns your way and doesn’t stop when you ask him to hold up. So what do you do? Just stand there and keeping asking him to stop until he’s close enough to pop your head off!
- Did Doggett forget what happened the last time he tried shooting Knowle?
- Hmm...ship’s deserted, someone just tried to kill you...think maybe the thing’s wired to blow? Nah!
- Man, they can really move! I mean, damn, they had what, less than 30 seconds to go from the middle of the ship to the dock?
- You know the real irony of that King George III story? That people actually think it means something. I mean, gee, the revolution had started years before, unless something changed when I wasn’t looking. And who thinks that the king in England would actually hear the news about the Declaration of Independence the sane day it was signed?
- If looks could kill, Follmer would have been a smear at the end of the corridor, the way Doggett was sizing him up for a Skippy jar!
Overall, I found this episode to be a wonderful addition to the mythology, taking a lot of the assumptions made over the past year and turning them upside-down. I am quite intrigued at the idea of the new direction of the mythology. However, the true test of the new status quo comes next episode. Can the series find new life in an expanded cast?
I give it a 9/10.
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