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.
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…
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.
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.
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.