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.
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?
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?
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.