I warn you, this will be short. Mainly because though I’ve racked my brain, this isn’t an episode where a lot is revealed or explored. Oh, it’s a fun ride and there are some memorable and iconic moments but there isn’t too much to dig into analysis wise. But without further ado, I’ll give it a shot.
We open with a great black and white teaser. Finally, there are more than just hints about Bill Mulder’s involvement in the conspiracy. We get to glimpse the reluctant conspirator in action. The trust that the poor dying crewman so desperately gives to Bill Mulder is chill inducing. Little does he know that he’s giving his secrets away to an organization far more sinister than the Navy could ever be. Though, really, Young CSM’s face should have given it away. And just who is the third “Man in Black” tagging along with Bill Mulder and CSM? A young Deep Throat, maybe? Another question that’s never answered.
But on to the present day plot, CSM has figured out that Krycek is back in the country and sends his goons to kill a man who’s supposed to already be dead and recover a disk that was supposedly already destroyed. All the while he’s trying to keep his fellow Syndicate members in the dark. This results in a great scene where the Syndicate show some obvious signs of cracks in their armor. CSM gets chastised like an errant child; He’s their errand boy, the flashy muscle a la John Gotti. Well-Manicured Man meets Mulder to gather information and finds out that CSM has been lying. Krycek’s alive and so is the disk. Busted.
In the Syndicate, we have a group of powerful old men who each have a slightly different personal agenda that they’re trying to keep under wraps. Even though they’re ostensibly working together, the elephant in the room is that they can’t really trust each other. It’s a thread just begging to be pulled until the whole mess unravels.
There’s only one glaring hole that gets to me: Why didn’t Hosteen just tell Mulder what was on the tape way back in “Paper Clip” (3×2)?? He memorized the whole thing, did he not? All Mulder has to do is pick up the phone.
I’m starting to realize how little of the mythology I ever understood. I watched it for the effect, not the plot. But now that I’m paying attention the machinations of the Syndicate and their political wars within things are starting to make sense and I’m glad there was a leftover element of The X-Files that I had never fully enjoyed.
Does much actually happen in this episode? Not at all. But it’s like a chessboard where the pieces are slowly moving into position, turn by turn. Krycek is back in the U.S. and presumably buried alive. The Black Oil has made it back to its ship. Mulder again thinks he knows something he has no real proof of. Scully meets her sister’s killer only to have him slip through the fingers of justice. And, my personal joy, Well-Manicured Man is onto CSM’s shenanigans.
Yep. Pieces keep moving. But will there ever actually be a checkmate?
I only wish that Syndicate thread would get pulled a little harder.
After the black oil gets back to its ship, then what? Did it fly it out of the silo and we’re just not shown it?
More importantly, how does Krycek ever get out?
CSM’s a lot like Mulder. His sits alone in his apartment watching old movies.
Interesting to note that in the early stages of its mythology the Black Oil used actual oil to transmit itself. I’m not sure if that always held true. So I’ll just have to watch carefully.
This is an episode that makes Skinner/Scully Shippers everywhere swoon.
Sick Crewman: That thing is still down there. The Navy’ll deny it. But you’ve got to make sure the truth gets out. I can trust you to do that, can’t I, Mr. Mulder?
Young Smoking Man: You can trust all of us.
CSM: Have the bodies destroyed.
Navy Doctor: But sir, these men aren’t dead yet!
CSM: Isn’t that the prognosis?
Frohike: Nothing to it.
Byers: You should call upon our services more often.
Langly: We show talent for these G-man activities.
Mulder: You mean if I want somebody whacked on the knee with a lead pipe?
Frohike: Only if you want the job done right.
Scully: I think the dead are speaking to us, Mulder. Demanding Justice. Maybe that man was right. Maybe we bury the dead alive.