The X-Files #74: Herrenvolk

"Parenting is unnecessary, a needless division of energy."
ACTUAL DOCUMENTED ACCOUNT: Mulder is taken to a secret clone farm with killer bees, X is shot, and the Bounty Hunter heals Mulder's mom. First appearance of Marita Covarrubias.

REVIEW: For a whistle-blowers, "Jeremiah Smith" must be the worst explainer in the history of explaining. He travels to Alberta (yay! Canada playing Canada!) with Mulder, and yet never gives any information, and when he wants to, it's usually cryptic or cut off by the Terminator-like Bounty Hunter showing up. What conclusions we CAN draw is that the aliens(?) are growing a special crop using mute human clones (one of which is a pre-teen Samantha Mulder), crops that have effectively turned their pollinating bees into lethal plague/toxin carriers. But while this visit is a great use of a location, it doesn't give away many answers. In fact, it probably asks a lot more questions. What it looks like is the aliens will be working human slaves adapted to Earth's environment after replacing all non-slaves with a plague, and run the show from their ivory spaceships. Working with partial answers is the nature of this particular beast, of course, and is in evidence when Mulder stabs the Bounty Hunter in the back of the neck and the alien survives after all. It seems the weapon merely renders his toxic blood inert. It makes him sick, and you could then kill him without fear of killing yourself (note how he doesn't vent fumes when stung all over by bees), but Mulder doesn't finish the job for lack of information. Again, THANKS JEREMIAH! And of course you've got Mulder running around trying to save Samantha, even though it's not HIS Samantha. I hate it when he gets REALLY irrational like this.

Scully, by comparison, follows a more informative thread by investigating just what all the Jeremiah Smiths were doing working at various branches of the Social Security Office. As it turns out, they were tracking Americans using engineered DNA from their smallpox inoculations. Well, we sort of knew this already from Paper Clip, but that confirms it, and confirms that those files are still "active" as well, and in alien shapeshifter hands. But even if that advances the plot, Scully spends most of the episode as a bystander. She even tells Mulder at one point that she just sat in her car because she didn't know what to do. Again, it's that theme of working from incomplete information, but it still means one of the leads is left with nothing to do. That's an important flaw.

The episode also makes the death of X who had been acting as Mulder's chief informant for the past two seasons. Killing someone off in a season opener rather than a season finale is somehow a little more shocking. It's too bad too, because having just drawn a close connection between him and the Cigarette Smoking Man made him instantly more interesting. Ah well. At least he dies like a badass, dragging himself to Mulder's apartment with a bullet in his chest and leaving a cryptic message before being replaced by Marita Covarrubias (Chris Carter really has a way with names, doesn't he?). But though Teena Mulder is at death's door, she ISN'T killed off. Instead, the Cancerman has the Bounty Hunter heal her (so they all have these bio-tampering powers), and after a twisted, reversed "pang of conscience" moment where he asks why he must, he does. Why Mulder is so important to the project he mustn't lose the will to live is still unknown, of course, but it's interesting that the Cancerman is using hope as a tool after telling Jeremiah they have to cultivate despair to achieve their goals.

THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE: Or could the Cigarette Smoking Man be lying to the Bounty Hunter, and has him save Teena's life because he cares for her or owes her husband, or in fact, needs the information she wouldn't give him at the top of the previous episode?

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - There's no question there are important revelations, exits and introductions here, but Scully's lack of agency and the script going out of its way to keep secrets keep it from greatness.



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