Red Museum 2×10: It’s kind of hard to tell the villains without a score card.


Where's mine??

This isn’t usually appreciated as a mythology episode, probably because it’s hard to decipher what elements of the mythology it contains. That and the mythology proper doesn’t really exist at this point in the series. “Red Museum” is little more than vague confirmation of what we first learned in “The Erlenmeyer Flask” (1×23) and what’s already been reconfirmed since: The government is running tests on innocent civilians using alien genetic material.

The government is testing out “Purity Control,” that mysterious alien substance introduced in “The Erlenmyer Flask,” which is a carrier for a virus. We saw the effects of one test in the Season 1 finale, but apparently the conspiracy as several pots boiling and they picked this town in rural Wisconsin as a focus group of sorts. Based on what we know from later on in the series, this is probably another effort to create a vaccine against the alien virus.

The problem, which seems to be cropping up a lot in recent episodes, is that there are too many red herrings, far too many clues that lead nowhere. One or two is fine, but past a certain point the audience can’t tell what’s important and what’s not. By the time of the big reveal the significance is lost.

Not to keep bringing it up but “The Erlenmeyer Flask” did a much better job of weaving together a complicated story like this. It has lots of clues that are initially disconnected, but sooner or later they all connect. And voila, we have a solution to the mystery with some details cleverly left ambiguous and uncertain. That’s how you do it, folks.

Apart from a convoluted conspiracy plot there’s a sub-plot about the nature of prejudice and presumption in this small community, prejudice on both the side of the meat-eaters and the white-wearers. Mulder and Scully themselves are a little too easily convinced that Odin is capable of hurting these children based on his beliefs. Come to think of it, do they arrest him because they had real evidence against him or because they were creeped out when their car was surrounded by Odin’s followers? In the end, everyone was wrong about the church. The very children that were ridiculing and bullying their members were the ones they opened their doors to protect. A community being preyed on by outside forces put aside their differences and came together when it counted.

Conclusion:

I don’t have much to say about this episode because it didn’t have much to say to me. Or rather, it tried to say so much that it said nothing at all. Sure, we know Purity Control is still in the mix, but so what? Is there anything new to reveal? Are the experiments progressing? Do Mulder and Scully know who the players are? Yawn.

The most interesting thing about this episode is a brief moment that leads me to not so brief contemplation of the Mulder and Scully relationship timeline.

My theory walking into this season was that Mulder and Scully go from being buddies to being almost like brother and sister during this period. And I still think that. But… there are moments such as in this episode, when Mulder wipes BBQ sauce off of Scully’s face and she has a small but thoughtful reaction, that make me think that Scully at least considered the possibility that their relationship could go either way. I could be reading way too much into this, and if so, it’s all Gillian Anderson’s fault. Darn those unnaturally expressive eyes of hers! But now that I’m older and I’m watching this show as a woman (or so they tell me) and not a teenage girl, I’m seeing different signs and making new inferences. It would be a rare woman indeed who had a guy in her life as devoted to her as Mulder is to Scully who wouldn’t flit the idea about her mind for a bit. I still don’t think that Scully considered it overly much as the risk was too high, especially after her abduction when the depth of their relationship took on spaceship-like proportions. Though methinks Scully reacts to that moment a half a second too long…

C

Questions:

Why is the fact that this town has become the local rape capital only mentioned in passing? This episode had so many elements that it couldn’t possibly treat them all with dignity.

Comments:

The guy who plays Gird Thomas reminds me forcefully of Martin Short. Paul Sand, if you’re reading this, I like your face.

Digging the Chuck Colson shout out. I love listening to him on the radio.

It looks like Chris Carter was looking into the idea of Walk-Ins long before “Closure” (7×11).

They missed an opportunity when Odin mentioned “the dawning of the age of aquarius.” The entire case should have broken out in song.

Best Quotes:

Scully: So, you started to tell me about walk-ins, but I’m not sure if I grasped the finer points.
Mulder: It’s kind of a new aged religion based on an old idea, that if you lose hope or despair and want to leave this mortal coil you become open and vulnerable.
Scully: To inhabitation by a new spirit.
Mulder: A new enlightened spirit. According to the literature, Abe Lincoln was a walk-in. And Mikail Gorbachev and Charles Colson, Nixon’s adviser.
Scully: But not Nixon?
Mulder: No. Not even they want to claim Nixon.

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18 responses to “Red Museum 2×10: It’s kind of hard to tell the villains without a score card.

  1. I’m a little rusty on the details but I’m fairly certain there is a little nod to the ‘big reveal’ of season 9 in this episode: the end date. when the red museum cult is have their sermon they talk about the dawning of the age of aquarius which is generally considered to occur in around 2012, furthermore he says that a great change will occur then. the ironic thing about that ‘big reveal’ is that it could be guessed long before the CSM reveals it; not just from this episode but also vague remarks the Syndicate make in season 5 to the ‘calendar’ and there are other nods to the timescale for colonisation as well. its interesting that this vague remark is in this episode, particularly in regards to walk-ins which play a small but crucial part in the mythology’s narrative. either chris carter is indeed a genius mastermind of the story or he’s very good a retro engineering his story 😛

    • The world is doomed to end 12/22/12 if 20th Century Fox doesn’t get their act together and put Mulder and Scully on the job. Save The X-Files, save the world!

      Anywho, I suspect that Chris Carter was making it up as he went along for the first few seasons. I think I read somewhere that they didn’t come up with an overall arc for the mythology until he started planning a movie. Before that there was no real beginning, middle and end. That said, I think he always intended to use these disparate elements in some fashion or other. He probably meant to work in the 2012 angle from early on, but hadn’t planned it out in any specific way.

      Not that he’s not a genius mastermind of the story. 😉

  2. Yeah, I’ll second the idea of CC making it up as the series went on. That really makes these early ‘mythology’ episodes (if we can even call them that in good faith) a little frustrating, because it gives you the feeling that it’s all for effect, and there wasn’t much substance behind all of it.

    As for Red Museum, I was glad for the conspiracy component to what I otherwise would have found to be an even more boring episode. The BBQ scene was another cute moment though that draws further attention to the fact that the characters are the main sell of this program.

    • I just found out yesterday that this episode was originally supposed to be a crossover with Picket Fences. That’s way before my time so I can’t judge, but I wonder if that would’ve been good? It certainly goes a long way to explaining some of the weaker elements of the plot. They had to scramble at the last minute to adjust the script. Perhaps that’s why they brought it the mythology at all, but I’m just guessing.

  3. These early series mythology episodes make me think really hard and then subsequently think harder about whether or not I should be thinking hard. It’s interesting for us to be trying to connect the dots, retrospectively, then reminding ourselves that CC didn’t necessarily have it all together at that point. (I’m constantly asking myself, how does this connect with A, B, and C? Am I missing something, or is this just another hole in the mythology?)

    George, that’s an interesting point you make about the vague reference to the end date. I also wonder if he had some general direction with the 2012 thing like Salome said – or maybe he just got incredibly lucky that once the mythology was worked out these early pieces just happen to fit together – some of them, anyway!

  4. This is one of those episodes I really enjoy even though I know it’s not so good. I agree with you, doesn’t do a very good job of telling the story and fitting all the pieces together without it seeming hokey or “wow that’s a coincidence…” like Erlenmeyer Flask does. Either way, I still enjoy iit.

  5. From what I recall of this ep (and it’s not much) it was one of those best remembered for one or two scenes that stuck in my mind. Like the restaurant/diner scene… Goodness how could she not have fancied him, FGS? I bet she thought about it. A. Lot ;-)) And then there’s the scene of the congregation at the “church” which kind of reminded me of a Sikh bingo-callers’ convention. Why did the head honcho need to have his words of wisdom typed up onto a big screen? Was he going to recite the lyrics of a popular ditty later as well, so that they could all join in for a “follow the bouncing ball” type sing-song?I am being a bit facetious here, but seriously, I don’t recall this ep as one of my favourites. Just nada really!

    • If Dana Scully were real she would never have been able to resist Fox Mulder so long. #Fact

      • Word! Let’s face it, he’s drop dead gorgeous and no red-blooded woman would’ve been immune. But one of Mulder’s many charms was that he seemed completely unaware of just how gorge he actually was. In real life he’d darn well know it alright & he’d make good use of it 😉

  6. I just embarked on a massive re-watch of the entire series (having bombed through seasons 1-5 and FTF in the last 2 weeks, and will likely weigh in on a few more items later on. For the time-being, though, I have that it wasn’t the wiping of the sauce that had the most impact for me, in terms of the restaurant scene/ship speculation aspects of this ep. It was a far more subtle move by Mulder out on the street during the confrontation with the local hoodlums.

    I will preface this with a disclaimer: it is so subtle a manouver, in fact, that I think it’s entirely possible I’ve made it up, and so am doubly curious to know if anyone else actually saw it – if only to re-affirm that I’ve maintained some minor grip on my sanity during this exercise in x-files madness.

    With that: after the lead brat tells Mulder to “take the little wifey” and go home, he and Scully are talking under the streetlamp – at which point, he breaks the usual steady eye-contact and gives her a medium-quick once-over during which I firmly got the impression that he was considering what it would be like to take her home. At first, I characterized it as an “Oh yeah, I almost forgot, Scully’s a girl…who has boobs…” sort of thing. but after a quick rewind and look back, I’m not so sure.

    Seems to me there’s an air of “Married to Scully? I wonder…” to the exchange. The fact that he doesn’t make a reference to or joke about the ‘wifey’ comment also seemed indicative of…something…but I am quite likely reading far too much into it what probably amounts to a moistening of the eyelids on Duchovny’s part. After all, it could be the height differential. Or got some BBQ sauce on her shoe? It’s also probably that, because his face is so expressive all the time and there’s so much that goes on in between the lines of dialogue, that I’m constantly on the lookout for non-verbal cues…

    • I won’t even pretend to be rational about this. I just took Trevor, the write up of which I was in the midst of, out of the player to pop Red Museum in and poised remote in hand, with my glasses on, to watch for the moment.

      As much as I’d like to think so, I doubt the look Mulder gives her is connected to the little brat’s comment. BUT, I think that look and a myriad of others just like it are why the Shipper flames licked so close to the neck of Chris Carter until he caved. I mean, really, you can’t have a man who looks like David Duchovny looking at a woman who looks like Gillian Anderson like THAT on the regular and not expect to titillate your audience. Seriously. Those two kill me. Always exchanging deeply meaningful glances over the most ridiculous things.

      Oh, and welcome aboard, friend.

  7. I recently began re-watching the x-files and after each episode I read the related blog. I actually forgot how much I enjoy this show. You have great insight and pick up on many things I miss. As for their relationship I think it has evolved at this point into a casual affection. They’re comfortable with each other and neither are interested in moving it to the next level – yet!

  8. Pingback: Sein Und Zeit 7×10: If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take. | Musings of an X-Phile

  9. Um Mulder riding “bitch” between Scully and the guy driving the pickup? Dying

  10. The pedo guy was Martin Short’s doppleganger and the reference to 2012 was no conincidence, methinks.

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