4×18: Max

“What are these people dying for? Is it for the truth or for the lies?” — Dana Scully
“It’s got to be for the truth. If we owe them anything, it’s to make sure of that.” — Fox Mulder

The mystery surrounding Max Fenig’s abduction and death deepens, as the hunt for an alien artifact carries on.

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Radhika: Generally speaking, “Tempus Fugit” and “Max” are well-remembered episodes of The X-Files’ mythology, with plenty of iconic abduction imagery and heightening intrigue surrounding the conspiracies that Mulder and Scully always find themselves investigating. But in retrospect, I wonder if the storyline could have been wrapped up in one tight episode because in all honesty, while I enjoyed “Tempus Fugit,” I could feel my eyes glazing over during a couple of scenes here. The mythology felt pretty logical up through “Memento Mori,” but I feel there’s a bit of a shakiness in this episode that may indicate the beginning of the convolutions found in later seasons.

The episode picks up where the last left off: Mulder is apprehended by a group of commandos after diving to the bottom of a lake to find an alien spacecraft. And Scully is trying to save the injured Agent Pendrell after he was accidentally shot — poor Pendrell goes on to die off camera, so no happy ending there. Meanwhile, U.S. Air Force air traffic controller Louis Frish is being arrested for false testimony. The official explanation for the crash is that a military fighter craft was mistakenly put on a collision course with Flight 549. But Mulder is more convinced that the crashed UFO he found underwater was involved. Continue reading

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4×17: Tempus Fugit

“These men, no. These men are trained to identify moving parts. Hydraulics, electronics. They’re trained to reconstruct those parts and the past and arrive at the present. But they can’t do that because somebody has stolen the past from them. Nine minutes of it. Nine minutes that became a lifetime for those passengers, and now for their families. Someone has got to figure out what happened in those nine minutes. Somehow, we’ve got to get them back.” – Fox Mulder

Mulder and Scully are roped into the investigation of what happened to a crashed airliner when they learn that an old friend was on that flight, potentially carrying some dangerous material…

Tempus Fugit

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Max: “Tempus Fugit” kicks off the spring two-parter of mythology episodes with perhaps one of the most unusual entries in the overall puzzle. Bringing back the beleaguered Max Fenig from season one’s excellent “Fallen Angel,” the cold open is a cacophony of paranoia and horror, with Max being threatened by a mysterious man, but then finding himself with bigger fish to fry as the tell tale sign of bright white lights flood the plane he is on, causing intense turbulence as he braces for another of his many abductions.

This is contrasted by the post-credits scene of Mulder and Scully at a bar, where he surprises her with a cake and waitstaff serenade, managing to remember her birthday this year (with a gift to boot!). Still, this jubilation is predictably short lived as a woman claiming to be Max’s sister Sharon interrupts them and tells them that she was instructed to find our heroes if Max didn’t survive his flight. Continue reading

4×08: Tunguska

“What I’m worried about is you, Mulder and how far you’ll go. And how far I can follow you.” — Dana Scully

Mulder travels to Russia with everyone’s favorite turncoat, Alex Krycek, investigating the source of a black oil contamination. Meanwhile, Skinner and Scully must field an intimidating line of questioning about his whereabouts.

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Radhika: We’ve talked about The X-Files’ cinematic moments before — spurts of artistic filming and blockbuster-esque sequences peppered the series throughout its early years, even while some scenes were shot with the artistic integrity of a low-budget health class video. (Come on, we can admit it.) Well, “Tunguska” takes on even more action movie-like qualities than previous mythology installments, so while it’s classically X-Files on many levels, it almost makes you forget you’re watching the same show you’ve been watching all along.

The episode’s events can be traced to an incident involving a courier from the Republic of Georgia, who gets searched by customs officers upon touching U.S. soil. A glass canister removed from the man’s briefcase shatters, exposing the men in to the black oil we first encountered back in “Piper Maru.” Elsewhere, Mulder and Scully encounter the traitorous Alex Krycek, who claims he can expose the Smoking Man, amongst others. Krycek leads the agents to another courier carrying a diplomatic pouch from Russia — the pouch contains a seemingly harmless rock. Continue reading

4×03: Teliko

“Sir, if you had ever been beaten by the police or had your home burned to the ground for no other reason than being born then maybe you would understand why he ran and why you would run too.” – Marcus Duff

Our heroes investigate the kidnapping of four African American men in Philadelphia, and they are confronted with ghost stories from Africa.

Teliko

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Max: The unique privilege of critically reassessing one of your favorite television programs is the ability for your opinions on particular episodes to grow and mature. This is certainly the case with “Teliko,” an episode I usually treat with little consequence as an almost clone of “Squeeze,” with the contorting Samuel Aboah being a paltry successor to Eugene Victor Tooms. Only now do I see the episode’s rich underplayed critique of the plight of native Africans, which was especially timely when this episode first aired.

AD Skinner assigns Mulder and Scully to this case because he believes Scully’s medical expertise could help uncover what has happened to a group of kidnapped African and African American men. They start to show up again, dead from what the CDC believes to be some kind of pathogen. Continue reading

4×01: Herrenvolk

“Nothing happens in contradiction to nature, only in contradiction to what we know of it. And that’s a place to start. That’s where the hope is.” – Dana Scully

We left our heroes (and the enigmatic Jeremiah Smith) last season at a industrial site in Maryland, the Alien Bounty Hunter looming over them. What follows is a race against time, with lives in the balance…

Herrenvolk

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Max: Welcome to our coverage of season four of The X-Files! The show has been at the height of its powers, and going from strength to strength. We pick up this episode where we left off last season, but first, we get a prelude of new developments in the cold open. An electrician in rural Alberta, Canada is doing maintenance work when a bee stings him. Suddenly, he is swarmed by five young blonde boys as he begins to convulse and falls to his death. This is yet another ominous demise the show does so well, and sets the stage for new wrinkles in the mythology.

Meanwhile, the Alien Bounty Hunter — who has pursued Mulder and Scully to an abandoned steel mill — chases them through the structure, intent on capturing Jeremiah Smith and condemning him to death for his recklessness in “Talitha Cumi.” Continue reading

3×21: Avatar

“Maybe that’s it. Maybe that’s why Skinner’s running. He’s afraid.” – Fox Mulder
“That he did it?” – Dana Scully
“That he doesn’t know he didn’t do it.” – Fox Mulder

Mulder and Scully set out to investigate the murder of a woman in a upscale hotel room, but the police already seem to have their man, Assistant Director Walter Skinner.

Avatar

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Max: The genesis of this episode was an idea that David Duchovny had of making an episode focusing on AD Skinner, as a way to lighten his own workload on the program in order to film his part in the infamous Red Shoe Diaries softcore erotica film series. Howard Gordon of the writing and production staff then wrote the episode based on a story he and David developed.

Skinner, after refusing to sign the final papers for his divorce (yes, he’s married!!!), goes to a hotel bar and is picked up by a very flirty blonde who he then proceeds to go to bed with. Asleep, he gets a bizarre nightmare of an old decrepit woman and is shaken awake by this vision, only to discover his blonde fling dead right next to him, her neck snapped in two. Continue reading

3×16: Apocrypha

“I think the dead are speaking to us, Mulder, demanding justice. Maybe that man was right. Maybe we bury the dead alive.” — Dana Scully

Mulder and Scully continue to investigate the mysterious black oil introduced to us in “Piper Maru,” while Scully also pursues the case of the man she believes killed her sister.

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Radhika: Previously on The X-Files, a TON of stuff happened — we got introduced to the black oil and Skinner got shot, and Mulder somehow ended up in Hong Kong, where he found Krycek, who got infected by the black oil. Whatever could happen next?

Well, Skinner survives getting shot, but Mulder — not to be outdone — gets knocked unconscious in a crash. At that point, a black oil-infected Krycek goes missing after emitting a flashing light that usually means anyone in the vicinity — in this case, some dudes sent to apprehend him — could wind up suffering severely from radiation, which they do. Meanwhile, the Cigarette Smoking Man, who we learn in a flashback has known about the black oil for decades, orders the bodies of these men destroyed. Continue reading