The X-Files #200: Matryoshka

"It must end."
ACTUAL DOCUMENTED ACCOUNT: Frank and Emma investigate a former agent's suicide, which leads them to a radioactive body, Russian dolls, Barbara Bain, and the Millennium Group.

REVIEW: The X-Files have pulled this kind of thing before - relegating part (or most) of the action to a third party protagonist while the leads act as observers - but that show was well-established when it started doing it. After almost three seasons, Millennium has yet to settle down. Thankfully, the 1945 action doesn't make up the bulk of the episode. They are just useful flashbacks so we can better visualize the cold case Frank and Emma are working on as the evidence comes out, directed to provide a nice sense of era. The production also does well to wrangle some memorable guest-stars both for the past and present day sequences, with Oz's Dean Winters as the cool-as-ice, noirish FBI agent Michael Lanyard whose modern-day suicide our heroes are investigating, and Barbara Bain as a Millennium Group member through whom we learn some of the Group's origins, and who gets a pretty terrific speech about Man inventing the end of the world in the atomic bomb.

Now, of course, there is the strange matter of the experiments conducted at Los Alamos in the 40s leading to a man releasing his inner evil. That is some really mad science, and I'm not sure what I think of it. That Mr. Hyde looks a lot like the Buffy-type demons we've seen before, so at a guess, there may be a link with the supernatural monsters and the first atomic blast. If nuclear fission is also fission of the soul, then perhaps reality was split open that day and something escaped into our realm. It doesn't explain how these creatures came to be known in the past, though perhaps they've used volcanic eruptions or meteor strikes or something. It may all be supposition on my part, but the release of evil using these same principles isn't easy to explain.

The investigation and the discoveries it leads to are well handled - the radioactive corpse, Peter Watts arriving at Barbara Bain's residence, the leftover Russian doll (a mirror of the man inside the man from the experiments), and ultimately, the reason for the agent's suicide. That the scientist's young daughter grew up to "create monsters" in the field of genetics is a bit bizarre, but hits the right ironic tone. How this figures into the Group's agenda is unknown, though Watts following Frank's advice (or dare) leads to an emotional finale, even if that finale is about characters we didn't know before this episode (and don't know that well regardless). The idea that J. Edgar Hoover thought up the Ouroboros symbol for the Group is a bit of a stretch, and that reveal is probably the weakest, apparently there only to explain why it was drawn on a case file, a clue I'm sure wasn't that crucial to the investigation.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-High - Strong guest-stars and well-written speeches draws the attention away from the slightly gonzo science plot.



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