Salvage 8×10: More powerful than a speeding locomotive.



No jaywalking.

Up until the last episode, “Surekill” (8×9), Season 8 hadn’t really shown us anything bad, just episodes that were more or less successful. In “Salvage”, the boredom train keeps a-rollin’, though like several Season 8 episodes that don’t live up to their initial promise, the teaser starts off pretty well.

Methinks the brain team over at 1013 Productions were reminiscing over their Superman comics right about this time. We just had a villain with x-ray vision and now we have a man of steel. Okay, that’s fine. A man who can withstand a car plowing into him sounds cool enough. But after the initial startling image, where do you take the idea? “Salvage” feels as though someone had a brilliant concept, but couldn’t come up with a story likewise brilliant enough to sustain it.

Charged with penning what may likely have been a group idea was Jeffrey Bell, the writer who gave us “Rain King” (6×7), “Alpha” (6×14), “The Goldberg Variation” (7×2), and “Signs and Wonders” (7×9). As you can see, his level of success has varied widely. “Salvage” would be his last effort for The X-Files before moving on to Angel and eventually becoming the showrunner there. He’s currently working on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., so whatever I’m about to say, I think he’s doing okay.

Once again, the story presumes that the audience is familiar with Scully and Doggett as a pair and that they’re familiar with each other as well. They seem to have slipped into a routine. Funny, I never got the memo. I guess I can’t be mad at it since seeing them constantly at odds would distract from the Monster of the Week episodes and those have always been my favorites so that would be a shame. And hearing Mulder regularly mentioned would also be distracting and frustrating since we’re no closer to finding him and no one seems to be making moves in that direction either.

Anyway, my point is that this episode is rather formulaic considering a successful formula for Scully and Doggett solving cases has yet to be developed. The result is staid and joyless. “Salvage” isn’t the worst story, but it has no sense of adventure, it’s not shocking, it’s not frightening, it’s not thoughtful and it’s not funny, despite a half-hearted attempt at a Terminator 2 in joke. It’s a cute reference to Robert Patrick’s movie past. But that’s all it is, a cute reference, as if the show’s been forced to acknowledge the similarities between “Salvage” and Terminator 2 or they figured they’d better say something before the audience does. Cute can’t save the episode.

I should feel bad for victim and villain Ray Pearce, or at least sympathetic toward his bereaved wife. There are echoes of “Kaddish” (4×12) here; a couple is separated by death before their time and the husband comes back as a monster instead of as the loving man his woman once knew. I would probably understand his dark mission better if Pearce’s vengeance wasn’t misplaced, if his friends had purposefully betrayed him or exposed him to something knowing it would kill him. Instead, he and his wife are both looking for people to blame and then spontaneously giving up on revenge, rather than deserving vengeance and magnanimously and consciously giving up their right to it. That could have held my emotional interest. This was just going through the motions.


Scully and Doggett better find themselves some compelling chemistry quickly if they hope to carry episodes this lackluster.


I know it sounds like I hate “Salvage” but I don’t hate it, I just don’t care about it which is almost worse. It’s a filler episode, another tale we’ll forget on our journey back to Mulder. Scully and Doggett don’t grow any closer, and the case doesn’t prove to be anything special. The cast of guest characters is quickly forgotten.

On the side of pleasantries, the production is as high quality as ever and the special effects are downright impressive. But even those aren’t enough to make me want to watch this again.

We’ve hit a lull in Season 8. There’s nothing to do but wait it out and there’s nowhere to go from the valley but up.


Salvaged Parts:

One image that has stuck with me is Ray Pearce clipping the metal spikes sticking out of his cheek. That’s pretty gross.

Speaking of spikes and other random things sticking out of somebody, Ray Pearce looks more like a humanized form of the garbage monster in “Arcadia” (6×13) than he does like a metal man. Maybe this was an attempt at not alluding to Terminator 2 too closely? So he becomes salvaged metal parts rather than a single metal alloy?

Scully and Doggett show up at the scene early enough that the car hasn’t been moved yet. So who are these scientists who have already come up with these detailed physics calculations that Scully quotes?

I’m sorry. I’m still not used to Scully playing Mulder. I don’t think I’ll ever be.

When a murder is suspected, don’t police check nearby dumpsters as a matter of course?

A guy made of metal tries to get out of a metal barrel and can’t because the metal is too strong. But Doggett can just kick the barrel over and knock it open?

How did Mrs. Pearce get in the Chamber Technologies building and into one of the private offices? That looked like a major corporation, the kind where not everyone could get past the front desk. Not to mention, there was a police presence.

I saw palm trees outside of the corporate office. Do they have palm trees in Indiana?

Best Quotes:

Doggett: Car’s registered to a Curtis Delario, local address. So far, he’s been unreachable.

Scully: Well, it’s highly unlikely that wherever he is he feels like picking up the phone this morning.


Doggett: [On phone] What are you saying? Ray Pearce has become some kind of metal man? Because that only happens in the movies, Agent Scully.

Scully: [On phone] Does it, Agent Doggett?


12 responses to “Salvage 8×10: More powerful than a speeding locomotive.

  1. I don’t hate this episode either but I always lose interest before the explanations start. I’ve seen it four or five times and I still don’t know why Pearce did what he did. Well, I kind of do now (thanks to your review). That being said, I’m pretty sure I’ll watch it again on my next X-Files binge because I can’t skip episodes, even the crappy ones. I do have to admit that I laughed out loud at the metal man-movie comment. I love little in-jokes like that.

    • It’s a vague excuse to have a scary man on a rampage; that’s about all it amounts to. I’m not sure I ever understood why he did it before either. Although, maybe I always lose interest by the explanations like you said. As a MOTW it should work, but somehow it falls flat by the end. That’s been a trend of late.

  2. I was also very bored during this episode. I kept checking to see how much time I had left in it. I know we’re missing the M/S chemistry and the writers must see it, too, so they should really be upping their game on engaging side characters. I feel like this is two episodes in a row where we have a mostly silent, large male character who I’m supposed to sort of care about, but for who I end up feeling nothing.

    I also kept thinking that this is the kind of case where Mulder would be making silly metal jokes the whole time. I miss Mulder’s humor. I also miss skeptical Scully and her science and sass and large medical vocabulary and basically her fire. We lost Mulder, but we lost Scully, too. The heart is gone from my show!

    • Yes, yes, and yes.

      I realize it’d be weird for Scully to be… relaxed while Mulder’s missing, but it’s hard to see her subdued and imitating Mulder. I guess I just want the old team back. If they’re going to solve MOTW cases, it’s hard to pull off the routine without Mulder. On the one hand, there almost shouldn’t be a routine when Mulder’s whereabouts are still unknown. On the other hand, if you’re going to have a routine, make it a routine that doesn’t make me miss the way that Mulder and Scully were.

      That might be impossible, I’ll admit.

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  5. Can only echo the rest here…boring overall with some impressive effects. I was reminded of the Japanese indie film Iron Man Tetsuo…very bizarre and crazy cool film.

  6. “They seem to have slipped into a routine. Funny, I never got the memo.”

    This is too painful to watch.

  7. For what it’s worth… there is a brief quote from the Grieg Piano Concerto two or three times in this episode. There seem to be more use of classical music motives in the past couple of seasons than ever before.

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  9. Salvage IS filler and I used to love hating it. After a season 7 re-watch, I’ve softened to it however. I like the message Scully gives at the end about the strange duality of a metal-man -surprisingly affecting – but this episode did need a kick up its metal ass.

    Incidentally, I just noticed I used an episode photo of Salvage for my review of Je Souhaite *face-palm*.

  10. This episode is not bad. A HUGE improvement over “Surekill” 8X09.
    It had some good set pieces and there were some scenes with tension which was good. However, my only gripe would be that it is a revenge story essentially and this has been done to death on The X Files, and that’s what kind of makes it feel like a filler episode.

    I’m sure the irony was not lost writing a story about a metal man, but if the episode was even vaguely similar to T2 then it may have been more exciting.

    Robert Patrick sounds like he has a cold for the whole of the episode.

    I’m kinda of glad he killed that blond woman at the halfway house, she was so annoying.

    Note the end of the Bill Clinton era reference. His picture has been in Skinner’s office all these years.


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