The X-Files #117: Powers, Principalities, Thrones and Dominions

"Paranoia is just a kind of awareness, and awareness is just a form of love." - Charles Manson
ACTUAL DOCUMENTED ACCOUNT: Mike Atkins is now killed in a battle between devils and angels.

REVIEW: It's certainly Part 2 as far as the meta-arc goes - Frank dealing with the death of Bletcher - but there's a whole new A-plot. The surprise is that it connects to what's been happening since at least Frank's sister-in-law's kidnapping. Someone out there is pulling the strings, and in this episode, lures him to an apparently Satanical ritual murder, except it's all been staged for his benefit. And not to kill him, or even get him away from his family, but to seduce and corrupt him. This isn't the first time a villain has tried to hire him away from the Millennium Group (remember the Judge?), but this time it's definitely framed as a game of demons and angels. To the point where it's very hard not to see it as supernatural. The "angel" who kills Pepper the seducer is just a street kid, unlikely to know so much about Frank. Of course - and this is perfect for this show - even if Heaven and Hell are waging a war on Earth, God shows a cosmic indifference to individuals like Frank. He gets help in this episode, but he's told it's incidental, not an end in and of itself. Wonderful.

Whether or not you see Frank's abilities as supernatural, they haven't been working well since Bletcher died, and had he had his way, he wouldn't have gone back to work so soon. One might wonder whether Catherine is an angel or a devil on his shoulder, pushing for him to "be who he is", which means getting back out there. Is it support and acceptance, or she pushing him into something dangerous? But his visions aren't as off-kilter as he thinks they are. Everywhere he goes, he sees Bletcher's death, which you and I might call a natural reaction to this kind of trauma, but it's really because these other murders (and the coerced suicide of an apparent brainwash victim) ARE connected to Bletch's. Even in a rational world, Frank's visions are a visual interpretation of subconscious intuitions, and they don't mislead him. The conspiracy, whatever it might be, is further enriched by Frank's visually connecting the killer, the lawyer and... Lucy Butler from the previous episode? He's in fact intuiting that all these characters are agents of the same power.

And whatever that power is - the Devil or a Moriarty figure who runs a network of psychopaths - he's destroying Frank's support system. After Bletch, Mike Atkins. He's lured into the story by a voice that sounds like Frank (the villains can mimic any of their voices and do it several times), and is killed by... well, that's a little ambiguous. The quick shot of a figure on the hotel balcony would seem to correspond to the "angel" (so was Mike acting creepy because he was a traitor?), though it's possible he was actually chasing the real malefactor. Mike had only been in one other episode, but the bond between him and Frank seemed tight, and he was memorable enough for this seem significant. Hey, better him than Watts. There's blood drawn on both sides, of course, and the creepy lawyer is killed as well (spectacularly too, love the edit on that), but questions linger as to why which could turn our "angel" into a "demon" very easily. Perhaps here's only a Hell and no Heaven. That would be an even more Millennium idea than the one about cosmic indifference.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-High - I really quite like the Heaven & Hell elements (since they were proposed in The X-Files, in fact). Fools around with red herrings, but on the whole, a strong reinvention(?) of the format.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is about where I stopped being so fond of the series. Prior to this, the show was about the world going mad, but there was no particular indication of a deeper cause to it. When angels and demons enter the picture, it becomes something very different.

This is not to say there won't be very good episodes -- one in particular that is very demon-centric -- but I was happy with the thrust of the show being about how mankind sometimes goes insane, no real explanation (with the tacit suggestion that it's simply the nature of mankind to go through phases of madness).

Siskoid said...

Someone could still say it's ambiguous, but the supernaturalism is quite overt here. Harder to ignore or wave away.

But in the context of Frank's appearance on the X-Files later, a retcon that places Millennium in the X-Files universe, the supernatural MUST exist.

 

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