The X-Files: Død Kalm

Case: A disappearing and marooned ship whose passengers age at a greatly accelerated rate.

Destination: Norwegian Sea, 65 degrees latitude, 8 degrees longitude.

This was a mish-mash of a case that started out as wormhole, then a second Bermuda triangle and ended up as a case of “heavy salt” of unknown origin. Maybe it was a meteorite or a Norse god or a botched government experiment. The closest they get to explaining things is to say that it was a bright light that made everything stop. It really was difficult to make heads or tails of the story line and I had to watch it twice to understand it. The first time I totally missed that Tronheim had killed Olafsson. He was just tucked away in a corner. And I couldn’t figure out why Olafsson had killed Halvorsen at all. It all came together when I watched it again but you shouldn’t have to watch an episode twice to follow the plot. It felt to me that the writers started in the rapidly aging direction but then realized that they would have some trouble rescuing Mulder and Scully and making them young again.

I’m usually quite positive about the shows I watch and I love The X-Files, but every show has its not as great episodes, some might even call them bad and for me this was one of those for The X-Files. The make-up was terrible, the plot was full of holes (your fingernails grow but your hair doesn’t turn grey or fall out, Mulder was rescued by synthetic hormones?) and the story wasn’t that engaging. Trondheim was a distraction but I didn’t really care about him and I’m not sure why he was there other than to highlight that Mulder and Scully are much better behaved when under threat of death. I did enjoy their argument over who should drink the lovely lemon, sardine and snow globe cocktail.

What the episode seemed to illustrate is that Scully will do pretty much anything for Mulder including walking into a heavily guarded hospital room and climb aboard a ship that is obviously in trouble. But Scully is actually doing these things because now she wants to know as much as Mulder does. She wanted to find out what had happened to the men aboard the boat and why. She is just as willing as Mulder to give her life and her career for the truth.

Other Thoughts

The Canadians who found the sailors in the lifeboat were great and their Newfoundland accents weren’t half bad.

The Philadelphia experiment is a thing. The Navy even has a page that addresses this ‘myth’.

How exactly did the pirate whalers figure out that they should drink the sewage water? Was that the only water they had? Bad Navy.

I enjoyed the science bits on wormholes and free radicals. Unfortunately it was neither.

I did learn a new word - senescene, the biological process of aging.

There was also an interesting bit about the Norwegian version of the end of the world.

Quotes

Trondheim: “They worship it by staying away.”

Mulder: “You’re lucky you inherited your father’s legs.”
Scully: “What?”
Mulder: “Sea legs.”

Scully: “Mulder, where are we going?”
Mulder: “I’m not sure yet but we don’t have much time to get there.”

Mulder: “The service on this ship is terrible, Scully.”

Scully: “We have nothing to fear when it’s over.”

Scully: “I think I hear the wolf at the door.”

3 comments:

Jess Lynde said...

You're right that this isn't the greatest episode, Doc, but I do like how contemplative it gets at the end. It was nice to get a somewhat quieter glimpse at Mulder and Scully facing their mortality together. It was quite fitting for Mulder to "rage against the dying of the light" --- particularly in the wake of recovering his "faith to keep looking" --- saying “it’s not our time, we still have work to do.” And I loved Scully referring back to her own near-death experience from ‘One Breath,’ reassuring him that they have nothing to fear from death. Plus, the quiet blanket of snow with the wolf at the door imagery was striking. That has always seemed to me a far more powerful and haunting notion of the end of the world. Going out not with a bang, but a whimper.

I also enjoyed seeing a young David Cubitt (Medium) (before they put all the bad old age makeup on him). It's so fun playing "Hey! It's that guy (or gal)!" with the guest cast in these early episodes.

ChrisB said...

Agree that this episode is one of the weaker ones. But, I love the Norse myth. As Scully narrates it for us, I can visualize it so clearly.

I also love the exchange about Scully inheriting her father's legs that you quote. In the midst of all the silliness is some real humor.

Heather said...

I always like when Scully gets to be a doctor. That, the intimacy and general quiet of the story saved this otherwise lackluster one for me. Love the review!