Is Duane Barry Mulder’s future?
Mulder’s been sliding down a dangerously deluded path for a long time now. He even admitted in “Little Green Men” (2×1) that he didn’t know whether his quest amounted to little more than tilting at windmills. But the whole point of that episode was that it didn’t matter if Mulder was right or wrong as long as he kept going. Now Mulder, similarly to Duane Barry, is at the point where it’s again important to him to prove the truth of what he’s been claiming all these years.
When you think about it, there are quite a few parallels between these two characters. While Duane is eventually used as a patsy by CSM to carry out his dastardly plans in regards to Scully, initially Duane kidnapped his doctor not to make an exchange with the aliens, but to prove to him that he’s been telling the truth all along. Duane wants desperately to be believed. He wants to be understood. Well, so does Mulder. And like Duane, Mulder is willing to go to fantastic lengths to expose the truth. He thinks he’s willing to go to any length, but this episode will test Mulder’s resolve in that regard.
In the end, Mulder is proven right. Duane Barry was telling the truth. But in being validated, Mulder loses Scully. He finds the truth and meets the consequences. Was it worth it? Is the cost too high to find the answers? Is it enough to know you’re right and be right all by yourself? Mulder will be dealing with those questions for the next few episodes.
Of course, these events don’t transpire naturally. Krycek has been sent to spy on Mulder by CSM, presumably to gauge what information he has and were he’s getting it from. Unfortunately for their plans, Mulder is stuck like glue to his old partner Scully and isn’t interested in learning to trust Krycek. That’s a problem because not only do Mulder and Scully have the annoying habit of getting to the bottom of things, but as long as Mulder keeps Krycek out of the loop it’s going to be hard to feed him disinformation. What to do, what to do…
What they do is manipulate Duane Barry through a staged abduction scenario into kidnapping Scully and bringing her to them. It’s clear why they used someone like him. Because of his medical and psychological history, there’s no need to discredit his story. He discredits himself. That’s no doubt why they took him for abductions in the first place.
…And the Verdict is:
This episode is about truth versus delusion and how sometimes you can’t tell the difference. Mulder is sure about Duane, then unsure about Duane, then sure again. Does it matter either way? It does for Mulder because the events of the last several months have weakened his confidence in his beliefs. Even though now he’s surer than ever, soon he’ll learn the cost of that certainty.
Steve Railsback gives a fabulous turn as Duane Barry. His character was set up in such a way that his performance would make or break the episode and I’m glad to say he couldn’t have done a thing better. To be both frightening and endearing is a hard line to walk.
It’s also exciting to see the conspiracy take a diabolical turn this season. Before, the issue was whether they were keeping the secret of alien life from the American public. But this, this is personal. CSM is out to contain Mulder and if he has to hurt him to do it, so be it.
Overall, a great episode that leaves you wondering which lie to believe.
Why didn’t the FBI set up a roadblock once they knew from the police tape what general area of Virginia Duane Barry was in? It’s not like he changed direction on them.
Didn’t the hostage team already assume Duane Barry was dangerous and delusional? Mulder was the only one who believed him even though he knew Duane came out of a mental hospital. I don’t see why the information Scully brought was so earth-shattering.
CSM is controlling Duane Barry, not aliens, which would meant that the government is behind the abductions. If that’s true, how can they do things like stop time? And if they can stop time, shouldn’t they be able to balance the budget?
Another highlight was that scene where Scully scans Duane’s implant in the supermarket. Americans are being abducted and tagged like so much human merchandise. Only on The X-Files. Also, that old-fashioned “asterisk” scanner brings back memories.
Those alien costumes look like alien costumes. That will make more sense later. Hide a lie within a lie. To hide the aliens, pretend to be aliens.
Did we just hear the very first, “Mulder, it’s me?” I don’t think I heard it in an episode previously, but I could be wrong.
Krycek: Is there anything I can do?
Agent Kazdin: Yeah. What’s your name again?
Agent Kazdin: Krycek. Have you got your notepad?
Krycek: Yeah. [Takes out notepad.]
Agent Kazdin: Grande, 2% cappuccino with vanilla. Agent Rich?
Agent Rich: [Waves, “No.”]
Agent Kazdin: [Walks off.]
Krycek: [Replaces notepad with disgust.]