The X-Files #33: Firewalker

"Our meddling intellect misshapes the beauteous forms of things. We murder to dissect."
ACTUAL DOCUMENTED ACCOUNT: A silicon-based fungal parasite infects a team of vulcanologists.

REVIEW: Another attempt at remaking Ice, Firewalker's monster from the depths of the Earth isn't as interesting, nor at the characters trapped with Mulder and Scully in the proverbial "base under siege". It tries to ramp up the paranoia, but never quite achieves even Darkness Falls' level. Part of it is that the leads are never really in as much danger as in those two other episodes (the month-long quarantine at the end of this echoes Darkness Falls', but seems unnecessary). The explosive spore infections all occur far from them, or before they even arrive. While we're not initially sure who to trust (how about, no one?), and there's some body horror in the way the fungus spring out of people's throats, neither element goes far enough. Having a branch come out of a person, killing them, is scary, but not as scary as something that'd be squirming and alive.

The nominal villain who turns out to be on the side of the angels(ish) is played by Bradley Whitford, five years before The West Wing, potentially the most interesting character. He's a bipolar scientist with a penchant for poetic diatribes and going Rambo on the fungi's hosts. And if he'd been front and center, that might have been something. Instead, he's kept to the shadows and even when he shows up, flare gun in hand, he's all grimed up to the point where I had to look him up in the credits. A case of burying the lede, especially in retrospect.

In the background, there's the fact this is Scully's first mission after recuperating from her near-death experience. Mulder is over-protective of her, and she's intent on getting back on the horse, but that's it really. Mulder is back to his old pattern, jumping to conclusions and willing to believe in what Scully calls "science fiction". Gone is the skepticism he showcased in her absence. I wish there was more of a tangible personality arc there. Not that he's wrong to be over-protective, mind you. Every time a situation like Ice's has come around, they've been in just the worst danger. She almost died last time. And there's a pretty good action scene for her here too, as she fights for survival while handcuffed to someone who's about to literally blow. But that's not enough to make me think Firewalker is anything but a retread of better episodes.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-Low - Perfectly fine, but I'd rather just watch Ice again if it's all the same to you.



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