The X-Files #58: Nisei

"Mulder, this is even hokier than the one they aired on the Fox network!"
ACTUAL DOCUMENTED ACCOUNT: Mulder tracks aliens the Japanese are smuggling on America's secret railroad. Scully has an Abductees Anonymous meeting.

REVIEW: Annnnnd we're back into the mytharc (so of course it's to be continued), with Mulder chasing down an alien autopsy (that didn't work out so well last time, with his trust in Deep Throat getting severely compromised) and amusingly, it starts with a bootleg tape of an "authentic" alien autopsy (something Fox had indeed aired some months earlier, and then again the night after Nisei, with promos for it appearing during Nisei's broadcast!). There's not real ambiguity though, because the objective camera saw it all happened before Mulder ever got the tape. And once he tracks down the tape to its source, the video pirate is dead, probably at the hands of a Japanese agent (but could be the Red-Haired Man). Why the Japanese are conducting alien autopsies on American soil, using the U.S.A.'s secret railroad, and assassinating U.S. citizens, BUT ALSO getting raided and killed by American black ops units is a mystery. Do they have an expertise the U.S. doesn't? (There's a scientist who, during the war, conducted horrific experiments on people, and we're led to believe the "chipping" of abductees is leading to advances in medical technology.) Are they targets of a different faction (Syndicate vs. X's people)? An episode called "Revelations" is only two reviews away, but a complete mislead. Boo.

While Mulder is involved in all kinds of action scenes - fighting martial artists, jumping off ships or onto trains - Scully deals with the meaning of her recent abduction. She essentially stumbles onto an abductee support group that fills in some of the holes in her memory. They remember her from the "white place", and help her jog some memories loose, like the face of a certain Japanese scientist that's also on Mulder's autopsy tape, and who's supposed to be dead since 1965. More disturbingly, we discover all the abductees have contracted an unknown form of cancer from the experiments they've been subjected to. Could it happen to Scully? Is the Cigarette Smoking Man sometimes called Cancerman as a play on his side's agenda? The plot thickens.

Of course, there's also a lot of starch in it. Which is to say it's been artificially thickened at times, or should I say "padded". For example, it's clear all the recurring characters have been alerted to the fact this is a mytharc episode. Skinner sits in the dark to growl at Mulder. The Lone Gunmen score a scene as does that helpful senator. And X, of course. He's the one who makes Mulder and Scully reconnect by making her call her partner so he doesn't get on the train carrying what he thinks is a live alien specimen (now THIS is ambiguous at best). Why doesn't X call Mulder himself? Since he's always said meeting Mulder was dangerous, maybe he's decided going through Scully is safer. So there's a LOT going on, too much for us to get any real sense of the big picture, but there are enough isolated moments to make Nisei worthy of one's attention, not the least of which is Mulder figuring out he needs a second gun because he keeps losing his main weapon in fights and stunts. Now all he needs is a second cell phone.

THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE: We've already covered some of the questions this episode asks, but deeper still... When someone is deemed worthy of a professional hit, you have to wonder if that person is more than they seem. So did Mulder come across the autopsy tape through his normal fringe classified, or was the bootlegger directly targeting him and people like him to expose the truth? Getting the transmission off a satellite is a mighty be lapse in Conspiracy security, after all. Was he a member of X's faction hacking the boxcar's feed, as well as an agent infiltrating the abductee support group? Or just a free agent, like the Gunmen, highly skilled in addition to being a believer? And on a totally different matter, a production problem could be used to support the theory that Mulder or Scully have some kind of psychic ability. See, Scully's fragmented memory uses the same shots of the white place Mulder saw in a dream while she was missing. So is there a psychic connection between them that allows for this? Remember that when Mulder was thought dead, he seemed to call out to Scully in a dream. And there's also the fact that Scully's sister was apparently psychic. Does that run in the family?

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-High - A nice dense "existence of aliens" episode that advances both of the leads' stories, though the script depends a little too much on coincidences, something it tries to hide with big stunts and guest stars.



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