by Jess Lynde
Destination: Beaufort Sea, Arctic Circle; Washington, DC; Scranton, Pennsylvania; Binghamton and Syracuse, New York; Germantown, Maryland; and Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts
Mulder and Scully’s investigation into the deaths of three identical doctors inadvertently leads to the death of a fellow agent, and uncovers an attempt to destroy evidence of a secret cloning project. They believe the project may be the work of the Russians, but it is actually part of some unknown alien agenda.
It took more than half a season, but with ‘Colony’ we finally get another deep dive into the overarching X-Files mythology. For the most part, this season has focused on the show’s “basic” mythology elements, with government conspirators, potential alien visitors, and Scully’s abduction at the hands of one or both of those groups. But now we are finally getting back to the really wacky stuff introduced in ‘The Erlenmeyer Flask’ with alien clones, toxic alien blood, and an even crazier new feature: a shape-shifting alien bounty hunter! Plus, for old time’s sake, the writers tossed in the possible return of Mulder’s raison d’être: his abducted sister, Samantha.
So what have we learned? It seems that a group of aliens that look like humans (or can take on the appearance of humans) are here on Earth busily working at abortion clinics, making alien clones, and serving as adoptive parents for former child abductees. (Not remotely disturbing, right?) They’ve got some sort of plan, which the cold open suggests involves colonization. But, alas, not all their alien brethren support this colonization plan, and so a scary, Terminator-like shape-shifter with toxic blood has been sent to wipe out the potential colonists and their work.
Of course, as noted, this is what we seem to have learned from this episode. With all the shape-shifting and the abundance of highly suspicious narrators, it’s not terribly clear what’s actually going on. (When Scully’s telling Mulder he’s not being paranoid enough, then you know things have gotten murky.)
First, we have CIA Agent Ambrose Chapel and his stories about Russian cloning programs and spy killers. Mulder believes the man is the real deal, and that what he’s saying may very well be the truth. Obviously, it’s not the truth, but we don’t really know if Chapel is part of the government conspiracy or if he honestly believes he’s after Russian clones. I’m somewhat inclined to think he believes his story. (Or should I say “believed” it, since he probably got killed in the alley by the Bounty Hunter.) Then again, we know that the government conspirators are developing human-alien hybrids (‘The Erlenmeyer Flask’) and experimenting on humans with alien DNA (‘Red Museum’), and the doctor clearly recognized Chapel. So should we conclude that this alien cloning effort is being conducted in coordination with the humans, or is this an entirely separate effort?
Then, there’s the most unreliable narrator of all, Samantha Mulder. “It is her, isn’t it?” “I … I don’t see who else it could be.” I know that Mulder really, really wants to believe that his sister has returned to the fold after all these years --- and what a fantastically emotional scene on the porch when he hugs her --- but I’m having trouble buying it. The timing of her return and her request for his help seem awfully suspect. If she remembered the truth about who she was years before, why not contact her family then? Why come back to push all their emotional buttons only when she needs Mulder’s help? She’s really got my Spidey senses tingling. (Plus, Megan Leitch looks nothing like an adult version of the young girl from the season premiere and Mulder’s photo, which makes her story an even harder sell for me.)
Ah, the patented in media res opening that’s become so commonplace these days. Sigh. Of course, in this case, we do get an unusual twist on the trope, in that they don’t actually pay off the opening within the episode. We’re still left wondering how Mulder ended up in a military base hovering near death. And why he thinks he has proof of a colonization plan.
This story was co-written by David Duchovny and Chris Carter.
So, can the Bounty Hunter shape shift his clothing, too? Because I have trouble believing that Brian Thompson fits into the same size clothing as the guy playing Agent Weiss. They don’t remotely have the same body type.
Some pretty intense standoffs between Mulder and Scully this week. Their confrontation in the office over Agent Chapel was quite something.
Scully: “You’ll pursue a case at the expense of everything, to the point of insanity, and expect me to follow you. There has to be somewhere to draw the line.”
Mulder: “Three identical men are dead. A fourth identical man is alive and on the lam. If the pursuit of this case seems like insanity to you, feel free to step away from it.”
Scully: “An FBI agent died because of our pursuit of this case.”
Mulder: “Those are the risks we take. You either accept them, or you don’t. We all draw our own lines.”
When Scully stepped in that second puddle of alien goo, I thought, “Crap! There goes another pair of shoes!” Her shoes are probably expensive, too. With all the running she has to do in them, she’s probably investing in some pretty high quality shoes.
So we finally meet Mulder’s parents, who appear to be divorced. Mulder’s dad is a real cold fish. No hugs, just handshakes. And he can’t even be bothered to act like he wanted to see his son. “She wanted you to come.” (She who? His mother? Samantha?) Clearly, Samantha’s abduction tore this family apart.
The visual parallels between Mr. Mulder and the Smoking Man are striking. Our very first image of Bill Mulder is him sitting in shadow and lighting up a cigarette. Fascinating.
Loved Scully rocking the hoodie and the fanny pack.
Scully always gets woken up at 11:21 p.m. I’m pretty sure she woke up from her nightmare in ‘Irresistible’ at 11:21 p.m. And the calls from Mulder that woke her in the ‘Pilot’ and ‘The Erlenmeyer Flask’ were also at 11:21 p.m. She should start going to bed later.
Mulder (voice over): “I have lived with a fragile faith, built on the ether of vague memories from an experience that I could neither prove nor explain. When I was 12, my sister was taken from me. Taken from our home by a force that I came to believe was extraterrestrial. This belief sustained me. Fueling a quest for truths that were as elusive as the memory itself. To believe as passionately as I did, was not without sacrifice, but I always accepted the risks. To my career, my reputation, my relationships. To life itself.
“What happened to me out on the ice has justified every belief. If I should die now, it would be with the certainty that my faith has been righteous. And if through death larger mysteries are revealed, I will have already learned the answer to the question that has driven me here. That there is intelligent life in the universe, other than our own. That they are here among us. And that they have begun to colonize.”
Scully: “I’ve got a bad feeling about this case, Mulder.”
Mulder: “What do you mean?”
Scully: “Well, nothing about it makes sense. We’ve got three deaths of identical victims. No bodies. A virtual non-suspect.”
Mulder: “Sounds just like an X-file.”
Chapel: “I believe we share similar sentiments on our government’s policy of denial.”
Scully: “How are you feeling?”
Mulder: “Like I should have used the crosswalk.”
Scully: “Our ‘friend’ from the CIA is as about as unbelievable as his story. As is everything about this case. I mean, whatever happened to ‘trust no one,’ Mulder?”
Mulder: “Oh, I changed it to ‘trust everyone.’ I didn’t tell you?”
Mr. Mulder: “The certainty becomes a comfort that allows you to move on. We bury our memories so deep after all that has been destroyed. Never expecting …”
Mulder: “Who is mom talking to?”
Mr. Mulder: “Your sister.”
Final Analysis: A plot-heavy, set-up episode with some intriguing (if confusing) expansions of the series mythology. Although I’m not quite sure yet what to make of the momentous return of Samantha Mulder.
Jess Lynde is a highly engaged television viewer. Probably a bit too engaged.