The X-Files: The Pine Bluff Variant

Case: A domestic terrorist organization is using a lethal bioweapon. Mulder is deep undercover to infiltrate them.

Destination: Washington,D.C.

U.S. Attorney Leamus: “We’re going to stop these men. We’re going to make it all go away.”

This episode is a classic X-Files plot within a plot within a plot. We take a rest from the alien conspiracy arc to look at a good old 'your own government is trying to kill you' bioterrorism arc.

Mulder is deep undercover with a domestic terrorist group called the New Spartans. They approached him when he was giving a talk and espoused his beliefs about the government. It is interesting that even though Mulder believes that the government is conspiring against their own people he is willing to risk his life to find out what this group wants from him. As Leamus says at the end, does he want to take down the government or not? I don't think that Mulder wants to destroy the government. On the contrary I think he believes very deeply in American democracy. He just wants the government to do what they are supposed to do according to the Constitution. This does not include using their own people as test subjects. However, I also think he doesn't believe that bringing the government down will help, either. He just wants to tell the truth so that people will hold their government accountable.

The episode begins with one twist - Mulder helps the suspect escape and Scully witnesses this. It doesn't take Scully very long to find out that Mulder is working undercover - the second twist. He is trying to find out what the New Spartans want from him. But we eventually find out that his secret mission is a set-up - third twist but the final twist is a sympathizer on the inside. Did Mulder get sent on a suicide mission or did Leamus know there was a man on the inside? I always enjoy it when it is just as hard for the audience to tell the good guys from the bad guys as it is for Mulder and Scully. In particular, at the end, I knew that they couldn't kill off Mulder but I wasn't exactly sure how he was going to get out of this particular mess. Kudos to the writers for keeping me guessing and kudos to the director/film crew/editors for that slow motion shot of Mulder (not to mention Duchovny for his acting).

Scully is fierce in this episode. She is sure that Mulder is not telling her the truth (he doesn't lie to Scully very well) yet Scully doesn’t rat him out. Instead she tries to find out what he is doing and keep him safe. She is angry that she has been left out. She is angry that they are willing to put Mulder in danger and she is finally totally pissed at Leamus who has set all this up. She was the one yelling at Leamus and I enjoyed the fact that Scully with her brains and aggressiveness messed up whatever complicated government plot was afoot. She is fighting evil as an equal partner now.

Other Thoughts

I kept watching them spray this deadly toxin on things and wondered about blowback. I've spray painted and I always get some on my clothes.

I wasn't sure why Bremer would be willing to kill 14 innocent people but would save Mulder's life. I get the feeling that doing so was not part of Leamus' plan.

The masked bank robbery and the insistence that Mulder kill someone was a bit cliche. It has been done and redone.

The whole scene where they broke Mulder's finger was unnecessary. Torture doesn't get you the truth but perhaps they needed some Mulder melodrama.

The scientist that Scully went to see was kind of creepy. He seemed gleefully impressed by the strep bacterium. And I'm wondering how he has seen everything in the Russian bio-arsenal.


Hotel clerk: “Are you the wife?”
Scully: “Not even close.”

Scully: “Exactly what agency are you guys from? Obviously not the Office of Information.”

Mulder: “Is this the Pepsi challenge?”

Mulder: “If you don’t hear from me by midnight, feed my fish.”

Bremer: “You’re a believer?”
Mulder: “I have my beliefs.”
Bremer: “You willing to die for them?”
Mulder: “I’d prefer it didn’t come to that.”

Mulder: “I want people to know the truth.”
U.S. Attorney Leamus: “Well, sometimes our job is to protect those people from knowing it.”

1 comment:

ChrisB said...

I like the point you make, Doc, about Scully fighting evil as an equal partner now. I believe that one of the great character arcs of the fifth season is watching Mulder and Scully come together as true equals, both professionally and in their beliefs. This episode showcases perfectly just how far Scully has come.