The X-Files #82: Terma

"They're all honorable, these honorable men."
ACTUAL DOCUMENTED ACCOUNT: Mulder escapes Russia in time to stop a black oil bomb. Krycek loses an arm.

REVIEW: The conclusion of this particular two-parter is so action-packed that I almost didn't notice it cheaped out of the first part's cliffhanger by having Mulder NOT infected by black oil (called Black Cancer here). Almost. I'm not TOO disappointed, but I will be by the end of Terma. The conceit is that the Russians (and Americans too) are trying to create a safe inoculation for black oil, so Mulder can, like the other prisoners of the gulag, be real sick, but still have the infection voided out of him. While Russia's experimenting on prisoners, America is doing the same in assisted care homes! Well, of course it is. I've decided I most definitely DON'T like how the organism is more and more portrayed as a kind of leech, or worm; I prefer it as an outright liquid. But in any case, Mulder and Scully really should be commenting on worms/liquid coming out of a woman's face in the Florida home. Why don't they?

Meanwhile, Krycek WAS screwing with Mulder all along, and is seen yucking it up with the Russians. He's even got a Russian alias! A double-agent? (Triple, even?) What's fun about Krycek is that he's a dangerous backstabber, yes, and even a bit of a badass, BUT he's also the guy the show loves to torture. So after Mulder savagely punches him out in the easiest escape from a gulag in Russian history, the king of the weasels gets his arm cut off by "rebels" who protect themselves from the experiments by getting rid of their "inoculation arm". That's very Russian, but also frankly absurd. Are you telling me there's no way to inoculate someone who doesn't have a left arm? The production threatens to do the same to Mulder, but he magically appears at Scully's congressional hearing with no loss of limb and no real explanation.

Is the episode too crammed for one? Not really, because it then proceeds to pad things out with a clunky bomb threat, tying the terrorists from the start of Part 1 to the possible dissemination of black oil(?) via explosive device in Canada, which Action Mulder throws into an oil well (proper oil), which sort of ignites and creates a plume of fire... Feels tacked on, and it isn't quite clear what's going on. I mean, was that the result Mulder was going for? I can't decide if he succeeds or fails from what's on screen. And bringing real oil into this just confuses the issue. And then back to the hearing where Mulder pulls a Galileo and asks when the politicians will start to believe the evidence, but uhm, what evidence? Much stronger is the whole thread with the Russian assassin taking revenge on the Syndicate for trying to steal Russian black oil. Proper creepy, and despite his advanced years, quite lethal. Oh and a friend of Krycek's.

THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE: I think we have sufficient evidence to believe Cancerman is in on it with Krycek. He certainly has contacts in Russia to let him know that Mulder was captured and then escaped. And if he knows where the Well-Manicured Man's ranch is, it makes it easy for the former KGB assassin to find it and kill the Syndicate's virologist (and the patients at the home, etc.). The question that remains is why? It looks to me like he's working for the aliens, and most definitely doesn't want America (perhaps ANYone) to have a way to counter the effects of black oil and resist mind control. Or perhaps crazier still, could he be infected by black oil? From the elderly lady who wants to be euthanized in the teaser (a weird rip from the headlines) who then shows signs of contamination, we could infer that black oil can remain dormant in your system, and you might not even know you're being possessed. And if the oil learns to mimic its host's personality, we the audience might not be able to notice. In other words, Krycek could still be infected through this story, which might help him cope with the loss of an arm. Cancerman might be infected, which would explain the "cancer" detected by Jeremiah in Talitha Cumi. And Mulder might be infected after all...

It's all pretty exciting, but I'm afraid there are a lot of plot holes for trucks to drive through and crash.



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