Space 1×8: I guess I missed that phase.

Space's one and only thumbs up.

Space: The Final Frontier. Is it officially the worst episode of Season 1? I do believe it has been so declared. The worst episode of the series? Debatable. If there are any worse, it’s not because of production or plot, that’s for sure. Ironically, this looks like one of the cheapest episodes, yet it was the most expensive episode produced in Season 1. Even Mulder grinning like a fanboy can’t save its reputation.

The intention to create a loving homage to the space program is there. Unfortunately, like the space program, the magic is gone. NASA interests the American public now even less than it did then, when Challenger was still fresh in the public memory. Colonel Belt was right, a space walk really is like a walk around the block. Public sentiment doesn’t completely explain the failure of this episode though. Remember that little Apollo 13 movie that came out two years later?

Like Ghost in the Machine (1×6) and Shadows (1×5) before it, the audience has the gist of the solution long before Mulder and Scully get a whiff of it. That seems to make for boring television. Mulder never even has to put two and two together; Colonel Belt spells it out for him. Why make a character waste his perfectly valid, perfectly expensive Oxford degree?

In five sentences or less, Colonel Belt went to space and brought back a stowaway. This alien tag-a-long becomes a sort of Dennis the Menace. It wrecks havoc in an attempt, we assume, to prevent its home planet from being invaded by aliens (read: man). Its plans are thwarted when Colonel Belt realizes it somehow lives through him and leaks out information about the sabotage. He defeats it once and for all by leaping into space (read: irony) and falling to his death.

Now that I’ve spared you the trouble of watching, watch it anyway.

And the Verdict is…

Space isn’t for the casual viewer, mind you, it’s for the X-Phile who wants and needs to see every episode of this show to feel that their life is complete. This is not, I repeat, not the episode that you watch with friends to prove how cool a series The X-Files was.

Are there any redeeming moments? Of course! Well… they don’t quite redeem the episode, but they’re not bad. Watching Mulder nearly squeal with girlish delight is fun in an awkward way. Colonel Belt’s death was poetic, even if we never got around to actually liking the man. Sadly, I can’t think of a third moment. Maybe by the tenth time I watch it.

Truly, this is a poor man’s Apollo 13. A poor, deaf, dumb and blind man.


Nagging Questions:

The astronauts have thirty minutes of reserve oxygen so Generoo feels she has no choice but to bring them down. How exactly did she plan to get them back to earth in thirty minutes? More importantly, how did she get them back in less than fifteen?

From the news report at the beginning of the episode, it would seem that this alien face and finding evidence of water on Mars are linked. But why does a specter need water?

General Observations:

Colonel Marcus Aurelius Belt? Really, Chris Carter? I bet I know which teenager read Meditations in between classes.

The alien looks less like a “sculptured human face” and more like a bloated chimpanzee. That’s intelligent life?

Best Quotes:

Mulder: I have to admit, I fulfilled one of my boyhood fantasies.

Scully: Yeah, it ranks right up there with getting a pony and learning how to braid my own hair.

23 responses to “Space 1×8: I guess I missed that phase.

  1. Each time I’ve sat thru this ep my head spins, and it’s got nothing to do with zero gravity… I’m glad I’m not the only one with nagging questions! Mainly I need an aeronautical map to the plot.. I need to get some dark chocolate and fire up the DVD player to leave a proper comment, but for now Yowza! should suffice!

  2. Me and my bf call this one “Space Face.” I don’t remember seeing this episode first run, on repeat, or on VHS. Or perhaps I just wanted to block out all the suckitude.

  3. This one is about as weak as the show ever got. I love how you pointed out that it was the most expensive episode of the season because I didn’t know that and I’ve always thought it was the cheapest looking one. All that stock footage is just terrible and – extra bad name time – Marcus Aurelius Belt?!?! You gotta be kidding me…

  4. bravo again for another great review. I tend to skip this ep on my re-runs but on the last re-run I did I watched Alpha (which I normally skip) and loved it, wandered why I had originally decided to skip it. So i decided to watch all eps this time -no skips – including space. But alas you are right not much saved this ep. I hate bagging an xfile because I am such a loyal fan so I will say it was one of my lesser favourites. But not only is the story bad but the script and dare I say our darling heros acting was rusty too. When the woman crashes her car she is yelling “Im stuck” Scully replies “Can you move at all” I was like honey she just said she was stuck the very definition being unable to move. Then Mulder pulls her out Scully says “try not to move” (as if trying to protect her from spinal damage) but the woman is moving so well she brings herself to sit up and crawl away etc then Scully goes to feel a pulse when she is so clearly not in cardiac arrest a pulse will be rapid but not really an indicator of much else at this point – I actually chuckled at how poorly this scene was executed. Then the re- entrance I totally agree with everything you said!! But also the space controller is explaining how she has to shut down comunication to initiate re-entry or something like that and when she does Scully says “what just happened?” Oh Honey are you having an off day or what? Scully she just explained it!! but Mulder clarifys for her very seriously I might add (another little chuckle from me) . The script just didn’t match with the acting sometimes. Oh another beef I have there is like this weird chemistry between the women and Mulder he grabs her hips when he is trying to get her to bring him documents or something and his hands linger longer then socially acceptable (IMO). You don’t grab someone by the waist like that unless you intend on pulling them into you in a passionate embrace it just was weird and then they hugged when the space shuttle landed – I don’t know did anyone else get a weird vibe from those too?

  5. So, they talk to the commander in the morning and have to wait there for like 8 hours for the launch. What did they do with all that time? I always picture them standing up on that platform (pictured in this blog) for hours and hours….just standing there… waiting….

  6. Definitely the worst episode of the entire series. Everytime I start a X-Files marathon, I’m really tempted to skip this one, but then I say to myself “if you skip this one, you’re gonna skip another one you didn’t like, then another one, then another one, and in the end you will have seen only the 3/4 of the series.”
    So I suck it up and watch it anyway, only to find myself asking myself during the episode “Why am I watching this one again ?”

  7. Squalorvictoria

    Why is there only five people in mission control?! Every time I look at Scully in the background during every scene she looks SO bored and I chuckle. Worst. Episode. Ever.

  8. Agent Venkman

    Lots of people say this is the worst episode ever. The fact that it was done on a shoe-string budget doesn’t help. All the archival footage LOOKS like archival footage… from the early 80’s. Make no mistake, it might have been the most expensive Season 1 episode, but it still had a tiny budget.

    And yet, there is something about early X-Files, that makes me forgive this episode for how awful it is. The real worst episodes ever, to me, are Fight Club and First Person Shooter. There is no budgetary excuse during season 7, by that point Chris Carter knew what worked and what didn’t (isn’t it weird how Carter, writing or directing, is involved with all these 3 episodes?)… the only extenuating circumstance I can think of for these couple of episodes is creative burnout, from doing the show for such a long time.

  9. I’m rewatching Space right now and there are a couple more clunky continuity errors. The day after Michelle Generoo (where do they come up with these names?) has her car crash and bleeds all over Mission Control from gashes on her head and face, her wounds are magically all healed up. Maybe it’s a gift from the Ghost of Mars or maybe she got a chip in her neck as well from the CSM. Also, whenever they show the mission timer, there’s a monitor under it showing the elapsed orbit of the shuttle. Notice that each time they show it, the icon for the orbiter has moved.

    What a crappy episode this is.

  10. Oh, and another thing… that flyover during Colonel Belt’s funeral was stock footage of the Blue Angels. Sheesh.

  11. I already have commented about this episode but I have something new to bring to my testimony, your honor.

    I rewatched that episode the other day in HD, and it makes the episode even worse. The quality of the HD is really good, no question and i’m rediscovering the entire series due to this new image definition, but for this episode it’s a major flaw.
    We all know this episode is built upon archive footage of spaceships, space shuttles, space image and so on, but these images still are in low definition.
    The gap between the reworked images of the show and those ugly old footage is clearly not in this episode’s favor.

  12. Yes, I have to admit, your honor, have been watching these HD episodes due to.. huh, let’s say… huh, unofficial channels, but I promise I will definitely go buy the complete blu ray set when i’ll have the money.

  13. Yeah, but as I started my latest rewatch marathon last week, the next one will be probably in 3 or 4 years 🙂

  14. This was one of the most terrifying episodes for me as a kid and for that reason I could never hate it.

  15. Pingback: Rm9sbG93ZXJz 11×7: Intruder alert. | Musings of an X-Phile

You Know You Want To...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s