The X-Files #248: Vienen

"I never would have believed those stories about you." "Really? What stories are those?" "That you could find a conspiracy at a church picnic." "What church?"
ACTUAL DOCUMENTED ACCOUNT: Mulder and Doggett investigate an oil rig infected with black oil.

REVIEW: An oil rig cut off from civilization makes a great location for a horror show and... wait, did you say OIL rig? Yes, this is the last hurrah for the black oil aliens, replaced of late by a new breed of human-alien hybrid. And we've never see so many people infected with the oil at once. But is seems the Gulf of Mexico is sitting on a completely infected oil reserve, enough there to take over every car driver in the world. How the virus was originally delivered, or if it's been sitting there since the time of the dinosaurs isn't something that's touched on, nor could our agents really figure it out. But now, the black oil men are sending and/or receiving signals from the mother ship, and either out to help the ongoing takeover of Earth, or stage their own secondary invasion. Stakes.

But despite the location, the big explosions, and the stunts - money thrown at the screen - that's background to a more important story. The REAL stakes, if you will, are whether Mulder and Doggett can actually work together, and whether either of them have a future at the X-Files. Antagonistic though they may be - cocksure Mulder is entertaining to us, but a real pain in the ass to a straight arrow like Doggett - they do have good chemistry AND each others' backs. Ultimately, it's that Mulder can't trust Doggett with his old office so long as he keeps denying the existence of everything. After Vienen, Doggett has SEEN the black oil at work, and is now confident his replacement has sufficient perspective. Doggett has graduated from his apprenticeship, so to speak. And so Doggett has a future in the X-Files, and Mulder doesn't, getting his ass fired upon returning to the mainland. He throws himself on his sword, but it's not like he wasn't already falling towards it. One thing Doggett has that Mulder doesn't is credibility, so his sacrifice is for the good of the many. But what will happen to the one?

And can I just say how much I want to see Kersh disgraced at this point? It's not that he's the show's resident antagonist - though until he's shown working with the Conspiracy, he's just a foolish bureaucrat, not a proper villain - it's something to do with the acting. James Pickens, Jr. just doesn't have the chance to give Kersh any real ambiguity and is stuck in two modes - vaguely threatening and so angry. he. speaks. like. a. robot. I'm done with the character. Why couldn't he be on the rig when it blew?

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-High
- The action stuff is just okay - we've seen it all before - but it's great fun to watch Mulder and Doggett try to work together.

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