The X-Files #152: Luminary

"Just to do that thing that would charm you, that would make you say, 'Yes, this is the real me'. Do that, and you're alive."
ACTUAL DOCUMENTED ACCOUNT: Frank tracks a teenager who's disappeared in the Alaskan wilderness in search of enlightenment.

REVIEW: I saw Into the Wild (the film) earlier this year and hated it. For many reasons. But in no SMALL part because the protagonist seemed like a selfish pseudo-intellectual to me, his quest and his fate pointless. The book Into the Wild, based on a real life experience, came out a couple years before this episode, and is undoubtedly its inspiration. And in the context of the impending Millennium, the story's treatment works much better, even if the kid went on the very same kind of trip to Alaska, shed his bourgeois lifestyle and material possessions, was beaten by Nature, and left a poetic journal of the experience. But here, it's about seeing the world with new eyes, and ushering in a new era, just as the Renaissance might have been the manifestation of the previous Millennial change. Are people on the pivot point feeling an unnatural urge to attain a new way of thinking? (And between this episode and the one with the wild dogs, is the show prophesying a return to Nature?)

Frank's own quest is a reaction to a review of his character by the Millennium Group (but alas, no Philip Baker Hall) and is made up of two elements. The first is that he takes issue with his family priorities. So not only does he go to Alaska on behalf of people Catherine knows - part of trying to repair their marriage and use his powers in its service rather than the Group's - but also to help a family who may have lost a child. Family becomes important in other ways as Catherine becomes part of Frank's support staff, checking on his computer trouble and harassing a seemingly disloyal Peter Watts. It's great to see her take an active part again, and one that isn't antagonistic to Frank's. She learns from Watts - who seems to be juggling family and work all too well - that she must accept her role in coming events, bringing us back to the theme of Fate/Destiny also present in The X-Files. Unless it's a sexist remark, I don't know. Catherine also gets into astrology, which may be her way into the "end of days" events and a manifestation of her own sixth sense (the astrologer says she has this), but that element doesn't really work for me. And odd fit.

Frank's other motivation comes from the Group's questioning his capacity to stay the course and not bail when the going gets tough. They have him all wrong, and his trip to Alaska proves it. Even after the authorities write the kid off for dead, even when a gruesome body is found in a fishing net, even when the Group cut him off from his resources, even when he finds blood and the journal in the woods, even when his plane strands him in the wilderness... Even, in fact, once Watts comes for him, he feels the need to stay, to somehow experience the kid's journey, his epiphany, for himself. And in the end, it was probably all a test, which he passed. His instincts led him to one of the future's thinkers and he showed he never gave up on anything. What douchebags.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - Into the Wild done better, but between the Great Outdoors Adventure, the space rainbow (aren't those just Northern Lights?), Catherine playing with the star charts, the Millennium Group's jury, the lack of an identity for the body that actually does come down the river, and , the episode comes off as a bit erratic.

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