The X-Files #165: The Beginning

"You can kill a man, but you can't kill what he stands for. Not unless you first break his spirit."
ACTUAL DOCUMENTED ACCOUNT: Though the X-Files are reopened, Spender and Fowley get the job. Mulder and Scully still investigate a newborn killer alien, and discover the fate of Gibson, the telepathic boy.

REVIEW: With the sixth season, The X-Files trade rainy forests for dry deserts. They've moved the production to Los Angeles. Well, it'll make a change. But then, Mulder and Scully have also been switched out for Spender (who I just now realize also played young Cancerman, so the claim that old Cancerman is Spender's father gains credibility) and Diana Fowley. He's the unbeliever, and she's the believer, switching the sexes on the dynamic. Don't worry, they don't actually become the stars of the show. Those guys are basically antagonists who block Mulder and Scully's attempts to follow up on things that interest them, specifically dangling plot threads from the movie. For fans who might have missed the film, the season opener does a fair job of reiterating what happened there, but setting much of it in another hearing, with different people, seems a bit redundant. Still, the episode builds on the film's big revelations, AND on what happened in the previous season finale, juggling both adequately if not expertly.

And I do mean "build". The film's revelations worked in the context of the movie and its need for mass audiences to understand its plot. In the context of the show, however, certain things did not exactly join up. Not until The Beginning filled in the blanks. So if the ravenous alien monsters from the film seemed a very odd breed of Gray alien, this episode shows it to merely be a transitional stage in normal Grays' life cycle. The other element that couldn't be addressed in the film is that humans all have dormant alien DNA in their cells, which once activated, turns them into... well, that seems to vary. Alien genes are definitely responsible for Gibson's telepathy, but could it account for other mutations we've seen on the show, both mental and physical? In virus form (i.e. black oil), it can be used to grow a new alien, turning the human body into gelatinous food. These guys no doubt have highly advanced genetic engineering technology, so nothing is actually contradictory. Thematically, internalizing the alien invasion makes it a mirror of the government conspiracy. In The X-Files, we're always doing it to ourselves.

I appreciate everything that's happening, and the (more) final solutions make more sense now, but the elements are artlessly put together. The repetition from the film is part of it. Combining the alien and Gibson stories - which would always happen, since both are Mytharc - feels a little clunky, especially when people start walking into the heart of a nuclear reactor with no ill effects. You can't really do that, right? Is the alien absorbing all the radiation? I mean, the lazy nuclear technician being called Homer is amusing enough, I suppose, but that doesn't mean the show should feature cartoon physics. And there's a lot of stop and go. The X-Files are back, but no, our heroes aren't reassigned there. But they head out to investigate a gory alien birth anyway. Scully should be a believer after the film, but isn't, and it's not clear or "honest" (to use her word) why. And Diana's on their side, but not really, but sort of. There's a lot of running around a dark power plant, where the action isn't very clear. Scully has a more compelling thread, her interactions with Gibson showing off bother her motherly instincts and her cold clinical curiosity. However, it's also a case of the kid falling into her lap, then disappearing just as suddenly, and her running around to find an actor who can actually deliver a line.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-High(ish) - No question a lot of important stuff happens and is revealed, but the execution feels rushed and badly thought out.


Madeley said...

"You can kill a man, but you can't kill what he stands for. Not unless you first break his spirit."

Ah, the classic fig leaf explanation to answer the perennial question "why don't the bad guys just put a bullet in the protagonists' heads, like they basically do to every other character around them."


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