The X-Files: Blood

Case: A recently fired postal worker sees a message in an LED display that instructs him to commit murder.

Destination: Franklin, Pennsylvania

Mulder: “Fear. It’s the oldest tool of power.”

This was an interesting episode for a show that deals in paranoia. It looks at what would happen if ‘someone’ decided to manipulate the fears, phobias and paranoia of a population.

This is self-referential in so many ways. It wasn’t too long ago that Mulder was worried that his own paranoia was being manipulated. Paranoia about paranoia. The episode also talked about killing sprees while it referenced several actual killing sprees - the first being the initial incident while Ed was a postal worker and the ending when Ed went up into the bell tower at the college. While X-Files is an intelligent show, it all got a little too ‘meta’ for me.

There wasn’t much character development in this episode. Mulder is back investigating spooky things and Sully is worming her way into the case any way she can but the focus was really on the government conspiracy. Pesticides are generally not my favourite thing. They are intentionally poisonous so it isn’t much of a stretch to think that they might be harmful to humans. The added extra here was the messaging targeted at people who already experienced some type of phobia or paranoia. It takes a particularly nasty government to target their own people in such a heinous way. Of course, this is partly what The X-Files is about, we cannot trust our own governments to have our best interests at heart. While I always found this an interesting and nicely subversive message, I think I mostly watch/watched X-Files for the weird phenomenon and the relationship between Mulder and Scully, so this is not my favourite episode. Still it was an interesting concept and gave me enough chills to satisfy my spooky needs.

In particular, I thought the bit in the garage was well done, very atmospheric with the right music. I would have high-tailed it out of there and walked. It was a nice twist to have the woman be the one who ended up being the murderer. Then again, the actual scariest thing in the episode was what appeared to be archival footage about the spraying of DDT. I grew up in fruit country and saw many a cloud of pesticide hanging behind a farmer on a tractor with no safety gear evident. Many of them ended up with cancer.

Other Thoughts

Seven people killed 22. The most interesting point of that was that, per capita, it beat the combined homicide rate of Detroit, D.C. and Los Angeles.

You can always count on X-Files to be educational. I now know the different forms of mass murder.

I appreciated the visit to the offices of the Lone Gunman. I always enjoy it when those guys show up.

The actor who played Ed, William Sanderson, did a great job. He’s a wonderful character actor who I remember mostly from Deadwood.

Since I have a phobia of elevators, this episode gave me even more reason to avoid them!

By whom, people, by whom.


Sheriff: “Things like this aren’t supposed to happen here.”
Mulder: “42 year old real estate agent murders four strangers with his bare hands. That’s not supposed to happen anywhere.”

Mulder: “Pardon my rubber.”

Mulder: “Imagine being one of those flies on the wall of the oval office.”
Frohicke: “Been there, done that.”

Mulder: “She wouldn’t come, she’s afraid of her love for you.”

Mulder: “Frustrated Jehovah’s witness?”

Mulder’s phone: “All done. Bye bye.”


ChrisB said...

This episode, while not my favorite, hits home for me as well. As a child, my small town used to spray for bugs weekly. My mother, a woman always ahead of her time, used to make us come inside when that happened -- much to our annoyance. I now thank her for her foresight.

This episode always feels a bit stagnant to me. No mythology, no real character development, no real humor. I do like the semi-cliffhanger at the end, but as it is never resolved, it loses a bit of punch.

By whom, people, by whom. LOL I always think exactly the same thing.

Great review, Doc.

Jess Lynde said...

Glad to have you on board, Doc! I'm sorry you also got stuck with an episode that doesn't do much for you for your first at bat. (I've got my fingers crossed that we break that streak when Chris covers 'Sleepless' next week.)

For me, this episode comes down to the gloriously unhinged performance by William Sanderson. It's the first thing that springs to mind when I think of this episode. The shot of him in front of the wall of televisions is great, and he gets to have all manner of wonderful freakouts. I'm partial to the bus freakout "Open the door! Open the door, damn it!!!" (I confess: I've occasionally felt that way on crowded public transit.) But, of course, the clock tower freakout is great, too.

So, even though this episode doesn't do much in terms of character development or the overall mythology, it works for me because of a great guest turn. Plus, the return of the Lone Gunmen and Frohike meeting Scully is delightful.

Frohike: "She's tasty."
Mulder: "Frohike, it's men like you that give perversion a bad name."

Jess Lynde said...

Correction: Frohike doesn't meet Scully in this episode. They met last season. He's just pining for her here. It's still delightful. (That's what I get for only jotting down short notes after I watch.)

drnanamom said...

@Jess I enjoyed the episode, it's just not my favourite and actually I think that made it easier to review. I almost included that quote but went for the fear of her love for you instead. As children we weren't directly exposed to spraying but my mom was also ahead of her time in terms of sunning. We were supposed to stay in the shade from 10-2. I never laid out in the sun to tan. Thank-you mom.

Billie Doux said...

Congratulations on your first X-Files review, Doc!

Stijn Van Tongerloo said...

Thanks for a new X-files review ! Glad you guys keep reviewingt the episodes.

"Blood" always was a "smaller" episode to me, but I still enjoyed the premise. the whole idea of deliberately driving people into a paranoid state by a mix of chemical signals and subliminal messages put an icy chill in my spine... it still does.

An intelligent show, indeed.