The X-Files #273: Provenance

"It'd mean that everything mankind believes in... is in question."
ACTUAL DOCUMENTED ACCOUNT: An FBI agent sent to infiltrate a UFO cult that got its hands on a ship just like the one in Africa tries to kill Scully's baby.

REVIEW: One thing about the writing of this episode that nearly drove me mad is that no character is apparently able to answer a question directly, or at all. Even characters that trust each other are closed off to the point of absurdity, such as when Skinner is asked if Doggett is hurt, as he clearly is, it's no secret, and he has no answer. I'd allow for shock - but Skinner, c'mon - but everyone responds to everyone else's dialog the same way throughout. It's a writer's affectation and way overused. Some of it is for plot reasons, of course, though the reasoning isn't always too solid. They didn't want to tell Scully about a UFO cult's threats against Mulder's life to spare her feelings?! C'mon, Skinner. Keeping the whole X-Files team out of the loop when a UFO cult is involved is completely ridiculous, no matter how invested you are in hiding the fact that you've got a rogue undercover agent, especially when that agent is likely to come gunning for X-Files agents or their babies. Their reasons feel contrived.

So though we're trapped in a cycle of exposition/people not wanting to reveal any exposition, I must concede the episode does make some things clearer (maybe). Mulder was definitely altered by the rubbing from the UFO found in Africa a couple seasons back, and that alteration passed something on to his child. In this follow-up, a similar craft is found in Alberta by the cult, and the agent they turned enters the U.S. with a piece of UFO metal that's definitely drawn to the baby and that reacts to its telekinesis. If you were watching the show back in the day, Reyes reacting much as Scully had two season ago and the massive info-dumps required to refresh our memory, would have been fine, if a bit of a slog. Shotgunning the program as I'm doing, it all feels so redundant.

Nevertheless, I appreciate how th X-Files team has become something of a support group for one another, how they can't really confide in anyone else on these things. The action is violent - even Scully's mom gets thrown about - and the jeopardy real (is it me, or has Doggett spent more than his fare share of time in the hospital already?). But then when Scully decides the only people she can trust to protect her baby are the Lone Gunmen (which goes about how you think it would go), the show completely loses the plot. Maybe I have the episode where they take care of a baby in my head (wish I didn't), but if their next move wasn't to hand the baby to Yves... It feels like a joke, though after such a heavy episode, it can't possibly be.

THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE: Is there a connection between the alien hybrid farm in Alberta and the location of this UFO? Or is it just that the California desert can pass itself off as Alberta? (Or, I'm sorry, "Alberta Province", like anyone has ever called it that.) One wonders.

- Not altogether bad, as there is one important reveal here, but the writing has several problems, only some of which have to do with the large dose of recapping that must be done.



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