The X-Files: Red Museum

Case: The potential possession of several abducted, marked, and severely traumatized teens.

Destination: Delta Glen, Wisconsin

Mulder and Scully head to Wisconsin to investigate a series of abductions in which the teenaged victims are returned with “he is one” or “she is one” written on their backs, and in such a hysterical state that several have had to be sedated and hospitalized. The local sheriff suspects that they are being possessed, and that the abductors are from the “Church of the Red Museum,” a cultish group of vegetarians that have set up shop in the middle of cow country. During the course of the investigation, Mulder and Scully are shocked to discover that the kids and the wider community have been long-term test subjects in an experiment with connections to the government conspirators they’ve confronted in the past.

‘Red Museum’ isn’t a terribly strong episode. At the outset, it seems like a standard “freak of the week” episode, with some abducted teens, a creepy Peeping Tom, and an odd, turban-wearing cult. But then about halfway through it shows its true colors, revealing it is actually a stealth mythology episode! The victims (and the cows, of course) were being injected with alien DNA! And not just any alien DNA, the very same stuff that Scully discovered back in ‘The Erlenmeyer Flask’! This is just like the experiment that Deep Throat told Scully about: “In 1987, a group of children from a southern state were given what their parents thought was a routine inoculation. What they were injected with was a clone DNA from the contents of that package you’re holding as a test.” Awesome! All of a sudden, Scully’s talking about ‘Purity Control’ and Crew-Cut Man is in the house covering up the conspirators’ tracks, and the episode shifts into a whole new gear.

Of course, the resolution to the whole thing is in no way satisfying. Crew-Cut Man ends up dead, but they can’t identify his body, and there’s no hard evidence to prove that the kids were doped with alien DNA. There’s not even enough evidence to close the overall case! (I’m assuming that Peeping Tom pedophile went to prison for the videos and the abductions, but that whole thing sort of fell by the way side.) So another taste of The Truth, and still no proof. Alas.

This also isn’t a terribly interesting episode from a character perspective. Probably the most interesting aspect is that the turn in the case presents a bit of a skepticism challenge for Scully. She tries to cling to the notion that the purported alien origin of ‘Purity Control’ was never proven conclusively, but ultimately even she has to acknowledge that there’s something seriously hinky going on in this town and it appears the shadow conspiracy is trying to cover it up. “That man that I recognized on the road today … that’s the same man that executed Deep Throat.” Her protestations to Mulder are weak at best. And even though the death of Crew-Cut Man means they won’t get any confirmation of Mulder’s beliefs, the foundations of Scully’s skepticism have got to be just a little bit shakier.

Other Thoughts

Gillian Barber shows up again, this time as Beth Kane. She was previously a fellow FBI agent in last season’s ‘Ghost in the Machine.’ As noted in the review for that episode, she will show up again in later seasons as a different, very memorable character. I find it a bit jarring when she pops up in these early, different roles.

Scully is a really messy rib eater. Did you see that bib?! And Mulder had to wipe her face off for her! (Which struck me as an unusually intimate gesture for friends. Who reaches across a table and wipes food off another person’s face unless that person is your significant other or your child? I know they are close friends, but come on.)

I had several “Who’s that kid?” moments watching this one. There was Katie, the girl that was grabbed and got to hallucinate in the woods. She was played by Elizabeth Rosen, who turned out to be familiar from her role as Cadet/Lt. Hailey in a couple episodes of Stargate: SG-1. Then there was the sheriff’s kid, Rick, who was played by Cameron Labine. For some reason I kept thinking this was the episode with Tyler Labine, but the kid didn’t quite look like him. Turns out it was his brother!

Chalk up another “appearance” for Mulder’s favorite DC lackey, Danny!

True confession: The first time I saw this episode, I did not recognize Crew-Cut Man until Scully flashed back to him on the bridge. I was super jazzed by the reveal though. “Holy Crap! It’s the guy that killed Deep Throat!”

Paul Sands was suitably disturbing as the Peeping Tom.

For some reason, one of the things I associate most strongly with this episode is the drunk kid saying he had to “drain the lizard.” When I was getting ready to watch it, I remember thinking “’Red Museum.’ That’s the one where the kid talks about ‘draining the lizard,’ right?” Weird.

And another fine example of “Mulder drops his gun” syndrome.

RIP, Crew-Cut Man. We hardly knew ya. And apparently no one else did either, because you didn’t seem to exist legally.

Quotes

Odin (through reader): ““They who slaughter the flesh, slaughter their own souls, and must be taught the way.”

Scully: “You know, Mulder, with ribs like these, I’d say the Church of the Red Museum has its work cut out for it.”

Mulder: “According to the literature, Abe Lincoln was a Walk In. And Mikhail Gorbachev, and Charles Colson, Nixon’s advisor.”
Scully: “But not Nixon?”
Mulder: “No. Not even they wanna claim Nixon.”

Mulder (to Odin): “You know, for a holy man, you’ve got quite a knack for pissing people off.”

Scully: “The residual substance couldn’t be analyzed because it contained synthetic corticosteroids with unidentified amino acids. That’s ‘Purity Control,’ Mulder.”
Mulder: “Do you know what you’re saying, Scully?”
Scully: “The man who died in that plane crash was inoculating those kids with antibodies derived from what may have been an extraterrestrial source.”

Scully (voice over): “The FBI investigation into this case is currently at a standstill. The case remains open and unsolved.”
This could be the closing voice over for so many of their cases.

Final Analysis: Not the most intriguing episode overall, but I do love the “stealth mythology” twist.

Jess Lynde is a highly engaged television viewer. Probably a bit too engaged.

3 comments:

Juliette said...

I kept confusing this one with Aubrey when I was re-watching (the writing across the victims) and I also appear to have hallucinated an episode involving exsanguinated cows and teens from season 2 that doesn't exist but is some weird amalgam of this, Blood. Aubrey and (very bizarrely as I'd long stopped watching by then) season 5's Bad Blood. Which is all to say - not bad but not memorable!

ChrisB said...

The twist in the middle is what saves this episode from being truly dire. The revelation of what is in the vial does amp things up.

I also like the idea of the cult giving sanctuary to the town. In just about any religion you can think of, this would be the correct way to behave.

drnanamom said...

I agree with all that you said in the review. I found the turbans a bit much. Costuming must been having a bad week with this episode.