The X-Files #189: TEOKWAWKI

"It is prophesied that when the end comes, it will come in darkness: a catastrophe all foresaw but few believed. Most of us will battle too late against the chaos, but not the few, the radical few, who obey no discipline. Unencumbered by conscience, they prepare ruthlessly pursuing their own preservation. If they survive, the rest of us perish."
ACTUAL DOCUMENTED ACCOUNT: A school shooting is motivated by the Y2K problem.

REVIEW: Oh Lord, the simpering Agent Barry Baldwin is a regular? I thought (or hoped) we'd seen the last of him after the opening story. Ugh. Such manufactured conflict. If he's interacting with Emma, I want to punch him. If he's interacting with Frank, he seems the facile office villain who takes short-cuts and does shoddy work just so Frank can call him on it and reopen his cases. He's just an obstructionist who doesn't really need to be there, but IS there. A LOT. Conflict isn't the only thing that's manufactured. The irony is also pretty ham-fisted. Since this is the story of a shooting, and of survivalists hoarding guns, we must also have "ironic" shots of Frank at the shooting range, and looking at his sidearm in distaste, and of course, not bringing his gun to the gun fight. Similarly, he scolds Jordan for opening the door to Emma, because you don't know who could actually be at the door. Then, later, he opens the door of his motel room and gets a gun jammed in his face. I can see the puppet master pull the strings and it's undercutting the effect he's trying to make.

So the school shooting. This aired 6 months before Columbine, and of course, it's a disgustingly common occurrence these days. It's an upsetting element to use on a television show, even if it wasn't done in the shadow of well-known tragedies from later, but it's undermined by the lamebrain conspiracy story that takes over almost as soon as the slow-motion wailing is over. See, there's this computer company that can't crack the Y2K problem - silly now, since we've gone through the clock change without the Apocalypse happening - and the company men have decided to turn survivalist, buy some land and go native. Fine, it's caused some of their kids to go coo-coo, but so what if "people know what [they're] up to"? They can legally buy land and move to a farm, can't they? It's dumb and leads to a very limp stand-off between Emma and cowering survivalists. The Apocalyptic apocrypha found in one kid's possession that acts as a red flag for Frank is more or less a red herring. The father who kills his son to scapegoat him and keep him from talking is barely justified. And the mother is played by a strident actress. The episode probably has something important to say about the cowardice of survivalist values, and how gun culture is a part of it, but it knows it, and means to make it so obvious, it just doesn't play.

I was wrong about the Seattle PD being cut out of the show, because Giebelhouse appears - he asked for Frank but got bargain basement James Spader - but it makes one ask, why move Frank at all if we're just going to go back to Seattle? Glad to see the character, but it doesn't feel like we're really moving forward with the series here, especially given the lack of a Millennium Group. Emma Hollis isn't really doing it for me as a character, in large part because she's consistently used to deliver lines that make the obvious extra obvious. Feels like a network note gone rampant. She really does say the stupidest things. Frank: "It wasn't a suicide." Emma: "It's a murder, isn't it?" Gah. As far as the relationship between the two characters goes, I can't quite make out if Frank is being impatient or supportive with her, but Henrikson at least makes it feel like Frank doesn't know either. But I think as long as she overtly acts like she's inferior to him in every way - an eager puppy hoping for a treat, but afraid of a rap on the nose - I'm afraid I won't think much of her either.

THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE: If Y2K really were the reason society falls in Millennium, it would certainly tie in with the "back to nature" vibe of the Group's preparations.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-Low - The more I think about this one, the more I dislike it. Only Henrikson is watchable. The rest is obvious, preachy, weak and muddled.



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