The X-Files: The Beginning

Case: Mulder and Scully investigate an alien that is loose in the desert.

Destination: Phoenix, Arizona

Maslin: “And, so the plot... I’m just trying to get this straight. The plot is for these spacelings to take over the planet aided by a group of men here on earth?”
Mulder: “A shadow conspiracy within our own government.”
Maslin: “Who are growing corn in the middle of the desert, which features pollen which was genetically altered to hold a virus, which will be taken away by bees whose sting transmits the virus, causing the growth of an extraterrestrial biological entity inside the human host?”

Huh? As much as I crush on Fox Mulder, I’m with A.D. Maslin on this one.

When looked at from today’s perspective, the title of this episode is deeply ironic. Five seasons and a movie have come before. This is not the beginning of anything. It could have been; it should have been. It was not.

As I re-watched this episode, it occurred to me that TPTB went out of their way to reassure their core viewers that nothing had changed. The show was still going to be the show that they loved, in spite of its new location and in spite of all the story that had come before.

That’s a shame because things should change, especially in any long running story. Plots should develop, resolve, and morph into something else. Characters should grow and their world views should evolve. Hit the reset button too many times, force the characters to maintain their old views, and the story begins to lose its intensity.

Scully, for example, should be in a very different place by now. She has just been through an ordeal that nearly killed her, has seen things that should only have changed her, yet the writers have her skeptical side re-emerge in a big way. How is that possible? I understand wanting to keep the skeptic/believer tension going, but with the additions of Fowley and Spender into the mix, the writers had a golden opportunity to shift that dynamic in some very interesting ways.

The problem, of course, is that Fowley and Spender are meant to be villains. Fine, except that they aren’t. CSM is scary and I believe that he has the ability to be a real threat to Mulder and Scully. These other two just pale in comparison.

Similarly, Kersh is a clear move to get back to the early days of Skinner. Now that Skinner has, in effect, joined the team, there needed to be someone in charge who was going to enforce the rules and make sure that our duo didn’t wander too far off the reservation. The glare he gives the two agents at the end of the episode is fun, but predictable.

This episode has some very strong elements. The monster is truly scary, and what it does it horrific. The return of Gibson Praise is well done. I especially like seeing Scully’s maternal side come out when she interacts with him.

As always, it is the dynamic between Mulder and Scully that is the highlight of this episode. I love the scene where Scully tells Mulder he has to trust her. The fact that she needs to say it tells us more about where they are than anything else she could possibly have said.

Other Thoughts

-- What is clear in this episode is that Fox has invested some real money into the show. The production values are much higher and the caliber of guest stars is on another level altogether.

-- The previously on section contains scenes from both last season’s finale and the movie. What’s interesting are the choices made. It is clear where the producers were hoping to take this episode.

-- I love the opening shot. Carter was announcing in no uncertain terms that the show had switched to sunnier climes.

-- I’m not sure we can say that the alien bursting through the chest was an homage. That seems to me to be a direct rip-off from Alien.

Quotes

Mulder: “Yeah, well, as much as this all may sound like science fiction, we can and will prove the validity of our report.”

CSM: “You can kill a man but you can't kill what he stands for. Not unless you first break his spirit. That's a beautiful thing to see.”

Final Analysis: Not really a new beginning, but there are plenty of signs that we have entered a new phase of the show.

ChrisB is a freelance writer who spends more time than she ought in front of a television screen or with a book in her hand.

1 comment:

Heather said...

Chris,
Well-done review. It's getting even trickier now to try and write about the show and certain elements to it and I think you navigated it beautifully. I concur that the budget really was so high for this one and LA looks very different! Also, I love reading in black and white that you "crush" on Fox Mulder because of course so do I. :)