The X-Files: Essence

Case: Anyone involved with a secret cloning operation is being murdered.

Destination: Washington, D.C.

Mulder: “How did this child come to be? What set its heart beating?”

This is the first of two parts but easily stood on its own.

This episode brought together many threads and characters and even answered some questions. We already knew many of the answers but it was satisfying to have them confirmed. One of the issues with The X-Files is that we as viewers are often given many pieces of a puzzle, but it is one of those puzzles with no real picture. Sure, you know it is supposed to fit together, but actually identifying which piece goes where is difficult. Sometimes you wonder if even the writers know what the final product is supposed to look like. In 'Essence' we got a good chunk of a corner.

Billy Miles is an alien replicant/super soldier created by taking humans and messing with them until they aren't human anymore. Fortunately they can be identified by a malformation on the back of their neck (thank you, aliens). Billy is destroying any work related to creating a human/alien hybrid, one that might survive the coming invasion. It becomes clear that Scully is carrying the first successful hybrid and the aliens now know about both the effort to create the hybrid and Scully's pregnancy. She is Billy Miles' next target.

Mulder, Skinner, Doggett and even Krycek must work together to save Scully. Scully is a pregnant woman in the last stage before birth. This is supposedly the time when women are most vulnerable. You can sense her frustration with it. She is not used to being shuffled around like a package but she seems to have little choice but to trust the three men who have cared about her throughout. I would have actually liked her to be more kick-ass. She does still have a gun. In other questions, I'm not sure why she was willing to go with Krycek or why anyone thought he was the best person to protect her. I think the answers to these questions are - 1. nobody was ready for a very pregnant woman to start shooting people and 2. they wanted us to see Skinner and Mulder working together on the roof to tip Billy into the garbage truck. Such are the necessary conveniences for story telling.

There is some interesting character development in this episode. Mulder has shifted his priorities over eight seasons and Scully has become the centre of his world with the X-Files a distant second. He really doesn't care about the evidence unfolding before him unless it can help him keep Scully safe. He's still a bit of a jerk but an even more lovable jerk. Maybe I wasn't paying attention but this episode also made it crystal clear how much Doggett is the antithesis of Mulder. The scene with Doggett cleaning his gun while watching NASCAR on TV on a Saturday morning highlighted how different they are. It even made me notice Doggett's accent. I knew that Doggett was a different kind of FBI agent but he's also a different kind of man. Doggett is an 'everyman' to Mulder's educated, upper middle class philosopher. What they do have in common is their care for Scully and their search for truth.

The escape from the FBI building was sufficiently tense and complicated. It did stretch my capacity to suspend disbelief, though, and in true X-Files style they had to throw in one more variable and make Crane a super soldier. Of course, this is only the first part of the story. More of the corner, next episode?

Other thoughts

The cold open for this episode was particularly interesting. Those same questions don't seem as pertinent today as they were at the time but they probably should be.

Are we still so obsessed with gender? Boy or girl seem like outdated categories.

I think there must be cleaner and more efficient ways than chopping off heads to kill people especially if you are a super soldier.

Quotes

Scully: “This has got to be a conspiracy.”

Doggett: “What is it exactly we’re looking for, being I’m starting to piss a lot of people off, Mr. Mulder?”
Mulder: “Pissing people off comes with the territory, Agent Doggett. It's part of working on the X-Files.”

Skinner: “Heads have been rolling, Agent Doggett, all in your direction.”

Doggett: “You read about these things but you don’t imagine they exist.”
Skinner: “Yeah, just like aliens.”

Mulder: “You want to know who the father is, that’s Scully’s business.” (Damn right it is.)

Scully: “Mulder, I can’t take this... living like this, the object of some unending X-File.”

1 comment:

Heather said...

"She does still have a gun." I almost spit out my coffee when I read this. XXOO