The X-Files #41: End Game

"I got a bad case of freezer burn."
ACTUAL DOCUMENTED ACCOUNT: Samantha wasn't Samantha, so Mulder follows the Bounty Hunter to Alaska.

REVIEW: If Part 1 was all about asking questions, then Part 2 had to be about giving at least some answers. Good thing Samantha "Exposition" Mulder is here! And here in spades. We were right, the anti-climactic return of Mulder's sister was no such thing. She was just one of many "clones", the female equivalent of a "Gregor", seeking to manipulate Mulder as the Bounty Hunter was bearing down on them. We're left with the notion that the real Samantha is still alive, but the quest isn't over. We may even wonder if fake-Sam looks anything LIKE the real Samantha. Is one reason they're abducting humans to steal their genomes to make these sleeper agents? Here I go again with the questions. Well, if they ever find the real Samantha, I kind of hope they recast. Leitch still does nothing for me, and has a weird cadence as well. We further discover (if I'm interpreting this right) that these Gregors and Sams are true alien visitors who cloned themselves and are now trying to create human-alien hybrids to propagate their race and conduct a back-door colonization of the planet. The Bounty Hunter represents forces that see this as heresy, a dilution of the race, and has been sent to destroy them all for their presumption.

Huh. Mytharc episodes seem to send me into summary mode, and that may well be their weakness. They're less about tightly-constructed stories and atmosphere, and more about throwing pieces of the puzzle at the audience. We end up talking about those pieces more than the whole. Perhaps that's why the episode's structure is such a mess (never mind the fact a mid-season episode is called "End Game"). The teaser goes back in time to show the Bounty Hunter's arrival (really just to set up the submarine location used later), which is one back and forth too many across two episodes. And it seems to climax several times - the confrontation on the Justified bridge, the raid on the Samanthas' lab, the struggle aboard the sub. Each of those set pieces is well done, with good tension, stunts and effects, but the flow feels wrong.

At least mytharc episodes don't skimp on character development. By the end, Mulder's faith/obsession is restored - but not before he breaks down like a little boy in front of his stern father - and Scully herself gets a nice speech about why she's on the quest as well. And Skinner! My God, Skinner! Such a badass. After failing to prevent his agents from getting off this dangerous case, he finds himself in an elevator with X, going through "unofficial channels" to get Mulder's location and hand it to Scully. HIs deadpan is hilarious as he stands there, bleeding, like nothing's wrong. The episode certainly delivers on violence, with some extremely hard hits in all three featured fights. The Bounty Hunter has superhuman strength and uses it to shocking effect (whoever doubles for Anderson is doing great work). The Skinner-X fight is no less brutal, and those guys were doing it themselves! Yikes!

THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE: So how does this all connect to The Erlenmeyer Flask? That episode features a runaway hybrid with similarly green, noxious blood. It's debilitating, but doesn't infect someone with the blood-coagulating retrovirus. It's a virus, so probably just one of the Bounty Hunter's weapons; not all alien blood has this effect. But what about the clones' experiments with fetuses? It doesn't look like they've bred tons of hybrids. Rather, it seems like the Bounty Hunter has come to destroy their work BEFORE they can succeed. The Visitors' clones don't have any toxic effect at all, so maybe their current experiments are to create a hybrid that won't give itself away with its blood. Or perhaps they're a competing faction and the U.S. government's program has advanced faster than theirs (they don't have as many resources, for one thing). Or the Conspiracy is trying to graft alien DNA on adult humans, not trying to breed them from scratch.

- An exciting episode with some excellent set pieces, but there's definitely something off about its pacing.


LiamKav said...

Pretty sure that this is the episode that made me love Skinner. He is awesome.

Anonymous said...

I've seen a lot of reviews of the final "Endgame" issue of "Batman" today, but you bring up lots of points that I don't see anyone else mentioning. That's why I keep coming back.

Siskoid said...

Well, Batman is hardly in this. I had to find other avenues to talk about ;).


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