Tunguska 4×9: These men, they make it up as they go along.

Shock and awe.

The Black Oil is back, or should I say, the Black Worms have arrived. This time it’s not transporting itself through human carriers, but it’s being excavated and transported within ancient rocks. However creepy its earlier form may have been, this is the first time I think a mythology episode ever tiptoed this close to the horror genre. Those little worms are memorable and fantastic.

I said earlier that a mythology primer is almost necessary to keep track of the various forms of alien and half-alien life we’ve been exposed to. If it would have been nice before it’s vital now. Is this the same Black Oil that we were introduced to in “Piper Maru” (3×15)? That version was decidedly unwormlike, but more than that, it “possessed” human beings to further it’s own agenda, clearly having sentience. It could also use its radioactive properties as a weapon if need be.

This new (same?) version acts more like a basic organism than something highly evolved. When expelled from one person, it makes no effort to jump to the next and so preserve itself. And it certainly doesn’t possess or manipulate anyone. Instead it puts them in a sort of coma, the purpose of which isn’t ever explained.

And what about the Black Oil’s eventually to be revealed version in Fight the Future? Reconciling that incarnation of it to the story at large is a headache I’ll save for another time.

Needless to say that after numerous rewatches, this two-parter still leaves me a tad confused. Okay, I’m lost. That doesn’t completely interfere with my enjoyment of it, though. After all, Krycek’s back and hanging off of balconies and such. Scully’s at her Sculliest in that Senate hearing. And, most of all, I had sorely missed Well-Manicured Man.

On a less satisfying note, you’ll think I’m naïve, but this watch is the first time I realized that Marita Covarrubias was inserted to add some sex appeal to the show. She doesn’t serve much of a purpose outside of that, which is probably why outside of giving Mulder access to a few bits of information, she hasn’t actually done anything yet and we’re already a third of the way through the season. Funny how the show becomes a sensation and then they feel like they have to add a femme fatale to give it some flavor. Wasn’t Scully doing the job just fine?

Alright, I’m being mean because I’m biased. That strangely affected cadence of hers gets on my nerves. She wouldn’t actually become interesting until Season 5 when they let her hands dirty with conspiracy much. Let’s look forward to it, shall we?


“They found me in North Dakota” is not a sufficient explanation for how Krycek escaped from that former military silo in which he was so memorably abandoned in “Apocrypha” (3×16). Either a radical militia broke into the silo while on a hunt for supplies and he charmed them with some reasonable explanation for why he was locked in the silo in the first place, or, to hear Terry Mayhew tell it, he escaped and came looking for them. The first scenario seems more likely, but whatever version is closer to the truth at least we can know for sure that Krycek is lying. Why? Because he always lies. Watching him betray Mulder to his torturers in Tunguska is one of his more satisfying double-crosses.

But what is the man really up to? Did Mulder really lead him to Tunguska or the other way around? Who’s he working for now and what’s his agenda?

There should be a lot more to discuss in “Terma” (4×10) when hopefully things will begin to connect. This episode is solid in terms of the experience, but it presents more questions than it answers. That’s partially because it’s the first of a two-part arc, and even more so because it’s a mythology episode.

I’m starting to remember how many threads of the mythology never got woven into the whole



How did Krycek reach his hand up that high to pull his would-be assassin down over the balcony?


Scully’s hair suddenly got shorter. Now she truly has the “Scully cut.”

Krycek is like a brat throwing a tantrum sometimes.

I remember when you could freely enter the gate area of an airport like that.

Best Quotes:

Krycek: They found me in North Dakota. They liberated me on a salvage hunt. Hey, you go underground, you got to learn to live with the rats.
Mulder: I’m sure you had no trouble adapting.


Krycek: These men, they fear one thing: exposure. You expose him, expose his crimes, you destroy the destroyer’s ability to destroy.
Mulder: The only thing that will destroy this man is the truth.
Krycek: The truth, the truth… There is no truth. These men just make it up as they go along. They’re the engineers of the future. They’re the real revolutionaries.


Krycek: You can’t leave me out here! I’m going to freeze to death!
Skinner: Just think warm thoughts.


Mulder: I’m leaving the window rolled down. If I’m not back in a week I’ll call Agent Scully and to come bring you a bowl of water.

20 responses to “Tunguska 4×9: These men, they make it up as they go along.


    Do you think it was coincidence that the same time they brought in sexy blonde lady they give Scully the chic bob?

    • I never thought of that. But you know, the sexy factor was being played up all around Season 4. I think they were trying to make The X-Files big screen ready.

  2. I agree that Scully had enough sex appeal to go around – especially now that her hair has calmed down!

  3. Oh I love love love Krycek- the dynamic between he and Mulder was always fantastic and I love that Skinner got in on the sarcasm and Krycek!torture too! I guess I could never understand the Marita sex appeal thing because most males fans I knew of the show were all about Scully and onlu Scully and who could blame them? They really didn’t need anyone else.

    • Marita could’ve worked better if they gave her something to do besides try to act like a movie vixen from the 1940’s, a trick she didn’t pull off too well. Scully was always sexier because she was more interesting!

      • Exactly! Its like you said, Marita didn’t get interesting to me until the fifth season and when she became involved with Krycek, THAT was interesting. I remember wondering just what the hell she was there for, the fourth season and dreading if they were going to have her get involved with Mulder. Ugh.

      • I love that this review triggered three women arguing against chris carter & co. on the issue of Marita’s sex appeal/lack thereof. We very quickly come to Scully’s defense when her sexiness is questioned 🙂

      • Late to the party, but I must say bravo ladies for your staunch support of Scully. It boggles the mind that her sexiness could ever be questioned but there’s no accounting for taste for some. Scully is the total package: gorgeous, intelligent, loyal, strong, resilient…etc (need I go on?).

        While Marita is the moon to Scully’s Sun, one can still appreciate the moon. So for me while it’s not a contest, I still like and enjoy Marita (strange cadence and all :P). You ladies do have Mulder, Skinner, and Pendrel so fair’s fair for the gents to have Scully and Marita as well.

        And tsk tsk, Salome. No mention of a shirtless Skinner being his usual badass self? 🙂

      • Marita totally does sound like she belongs in a black-and-white movie from the 1940s, haha. It really stood out to me during this ep and I was going to mention it here and then saw you already had! Great minds think alike, I say.
        Also, how obnoxious is it that the ONLY reason Marita is there is because of sex appeal? I mean, she doesn’t really do anything plot-wise. One thing this show unfortunately lacked was female characters (aside from Scully, Marita, and later Monica Reyes there is like… no one) and it irks me that with so few women on the show, one is so bland and just there to be hot. Like, she can be sexy but also have a personality and do important stuff, those don’t need to be mutually exclusive. Sigh.

  4. I just love how many times Krycek gets beaten up in this one. Best moment being when Skinner has a go. Also, the cliffhanger left me with nightmares for days. I don’t know about anybody else but just the image of Mulder clamped down with that chicken wire and the black oil being spilled all over him was just brilliantly disturbing.

    • This. Mulder did a fine job of giving Krycek his just deserts; loved the scene after Mulder leaves Marita’s apartment and they’re both briefly talking in the car when Mulder punches Krycek for asking a question. But the sounds of
      anguish Skinner elicited from Krycek with just one hit was so satisfying. I love that entire scene start to finish.

  5. Agent Venkman

    Tunguska was the episode that made me an X-Phile. Most of my friends in high-school had been telling me to check the show for years, but as much as I tried it seemed I always ended up catching one of the “bad” episodes (Teso Dos Bichos), so I thought my friends had poor taste.

    With Tunguska it was different, I don’t know if it was that I watched it alone on a cable rerun, at midnight, but there was so much going on: weird black liquid worms, characters that came and went that seemed to have a lot of previous history, Scully facing off against Congress, Mulder going to Russia and getting himself captured, how was he going to escape from something like that? The whole show was dead serious. Not cheesy at all, as opposed to episodes I had seen previously. From then on I was hooked, and later became obsessed with TXF.

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  8. Sex appeal? All they needed to do was show shirtless-Skinner more often. That would have been enough for me. Whoo Boy!

  9. Krychek is just so satisfyingly, lovably, hateable. I think my favorite moment is when Mulder’s immediate reason for punching him is his “stupid-ass haircut”. Pure gold.

  10. Did anyone else notice Mulder’s watch? Along with the time and date, it says ’96. A wristwatch that tells the year!? I found this far funnier than it should have been XD

  11. Pingback: Season 4 Wrap Up: Stand back, Scully. It’s loaded. | Musings of an X-Phile

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