Rm9sbG93ZXJz 11×7: Intruder alert.


 

TXF_S11E07_(9).jpg

Run before the computers start talking for you too.

 

First, I just want to say it: The title of this episode is obnoxious. Apparently, it translates to “Followers” in Base64. Which makes sense as I was wondering why the name of the unmanned restaurant Mulder and Scully ate at was “Follower” or “Followers” in Japanese. How’s that for a heavy-handed hint?

Second, I have to say it: I saw Kristen Cloke’s name in the credits and cold shuddered. Yes, I’m happy to see women writers on The X-Files. No, I haven’t forgotten “The Field Where I Died” (4×5) and the love affair between her and Glen Morgan that birthed it. Yes, I wish them all the best. No, I would prefer not to be reminded of a previous television trauma.

Third, I’m going to confess: The reason this review is late is not that I didn’t watch [insert name here] on the night that it aired and not because I didn’t type up my initial musings that same evening. No. I haven’t bothered to post this review or the review for “Familiar” (11×8) because I’ve been too busy binge-watching The X-Files, The Real X-Files, to stop and slide backwards (forwards?) into entertainment darkness.

In my defense, my intentions were innocent. The overall taste of disappointment and disillusionment this revival has left in my mouth drove me back to the Pilot (1×79). I had to make sure I had seen what I knew I had once seen. I’ve been obsessed with this show for two decades for a reason, dangit. I know there was magic here once.

So off to the Pilot I went. And you know what? There it was. The Magic. Or should I say, there were several different types of Magic gelled to form an overall Magic. Well, one magical exploration led to another, and another, and another. And before I knew it, I was popping episodes like Pringles and I couldn’t stop. I mean, you don’t understand. This was one of those binge-watches where you’re falling asleep and you keep nodding off and rewinding and nodding off and rewinding because your mind won’t let you rest until you know what happens at the end of the episode.

You see the curiosity here? I already know what happens at the end of every episode.

My word. This stuff is like visual crack.

Anyway.

Back to the cold reality of The X-Files in 2018. Writers Shannon Hamblin and Kristen Cloke are taking us where every sci-fi franchise known to man, including The X-Files, has already taken us. (Though I still contend that The X-Files was never truly science fiction, only touching on it occasionally, but was instead more of a romantic mythical quest wrapped up in a paranormal fantasy.) I still remember some bogusly deep paper for a film class in college about some random 70s movie where the AI that ran a “smart house” ran amok a la HAL 9000. You know what? Scully’s Roomba-by-another-name is no HAL. And you know what else? After this latest binge-fest I’ve been on, I think my initial takeaway from this episode was correct, that this episode is too based in reality to recreate the fantastical magic that The X-Files had at the height of its powers. If I laughed at all, it’s because I was ruefully reminded of my own father’s struggles with Alexa, not because I was joyfully taken by surprise. If you’re going to go somewhere with a story, go somewhere right on the edge of an unseen world and partially peel back the curtain, because I’m sitting in a room with a Smartphone, a Roomba, and goodness knows what else and I’m neither afraid nor intimidated since I already know it’s not that bad. Sheesh.

Verdict:

This experiment in minimal dialogue is a cool concept, especially on a famously talky show. But after a minute, it felt forced and gimmicky. They get trapped in a building together and don’t talk? Really?

And I dunno. Once upon a time, Japan was associated with all things high tech. But once upon a time, I went everywhere with my Sony Walkman.

This whole idea would have been a lot cooler in the 90s. And in the 90s, the show would have been in full swing, just waiting for someone to toy with its status quo a la Darin Morgan. A high-concept episode like this needs to exist in the context of a more established series (because let’s face it, the Revival is a new, independent animal), one that’s gliding along like a well-oiled machine. And if it had, it might have worked better.

Then again, I stayed up late the other night because I was more interested in and entertained by the famously low-tech and talky “Space” (1×8) than I was by this entire episode. #TruFax

Even the ending felt falsely sweet. I wish someone would stop feeding me Sweet ‘N Low and telling me it’s sugar.

F

Artificial Intelligence:

When I saw this title on my DVR, I seriously thought it was a glitch.

“You have arrived at your final destination.” I see you, Glen Morgan.

In 20+ years, the voice of Artificial Intelligence hasn’t improved since “Ghost in the Machine” (1×6). No, it hasn’t improved since 2001: A Space Odyssey. Tell me, do computers have to sound like computers?

The Scully Hair has returned sans fanfare or explanation. I guess that’s how it should be.

Scully laughed! Finally.

Scully’s wearing sneakers again for the first time I can recall since Season 3. Unless… I’m trying to think back to “Chinga” (5×10). Those weren’t sneakers, were they?

“Never again!” I see you, Glen Morgan.

Mulder has a map in his car? I didn’t know they still made those.

And now we know: Mulder and Scully aren’t living together.

Who would have walked into that Blade-Runner-on-Lysol restaurant to begin with?

“This Man” makes his second appearance this season.

“Queequeg.” I see you, Glen Morgan.

Does Mulder normally keep a baseball bat by the door?

The warehouse scene with the slowly encroaching robots feels more like something out of Dr. Who. Exterminate.

I thought the running vibrator joke was crass, and it is, but it’s also oddly relevant:

Vulnerable vibrator: Security researchers find flaw in connected toy

I get it. The AIs are like our children. Our followers. They learn by our example, through observing us. Yeeeeaaah, okay. Then why when I type “I’ll have the fish” in Japanese into Google Translate does it still think I’m saying “I am a fish”? How about you follow context?

Best Quote:

Mulder: Why is your house so much nicer than mine?

*Seriously, though. Where would Scully have found this California-style midcentury modern masterpiece in the suburbs of D.C.? Scully has spent most of her adult life working as a grunt for the federal government. Stop this nonsense. Thanks.

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52 responses to “Rm9sbG93ZXJz 11×7: Intruder alert.

  1. “Second, I have to say it: I saw Kristen Cloke’s name in the credits and cold shuddered. Yes, I’m happy to see women writers on The X-Files. No, I haven’t forgotten “The Field Where I Died” (4×5) and the love affair between her and Glen Morgan that birthed it. Yes, I wish them all the best. No, I would prefer not to be reminded of a previous television trauma.”

    I have to stop right now and proclaim my undying love for you, Salome. OK, back to reading the review….

  2. “I was popping episodes like Pringles and I couldn’t stop. I mean, you don’t understand. This was one of those binge-watches where you’re falling asleep and you keep nodding off and rewinding and nodding off and rewinding because your mind won’t let you rest until you know what happens at the end of the episode.”

    Woman, please. I understood before… *sigh* Remembering my mountain of VHS from the first few seasons… Gods, I’m old…. 😦

    • NO ONE touches my VHS tapes. All of my X-Files recordings are very carefully archived and labeled. And maybe, just maybe, you can only understand the magic if you’ve seen it on VHS.

  3. “The X-Files was never truly science fiction, only touching on it occasionally, but was instead more of a romantic mythical quest wrapped up in a paranormal fantasy.)” — this goes back to the “CC inadvertently happened upon GA/DD gold otherwise it’d have been cancelled sooner than later” theory.

    “This experiment in minimal dialogue is a cool concept, especially on a famously talky show. But after a minute, it felt forced and gimmicky.”
    – Thank you. How the hell would they not be expounding, M&S-style, on the crazy goings-on? This grew frustrating about 5-10 minutes into the episode. This isn’t “The Avengers / “The House that Jack Built” and it certainly isn’t Agnes Moorehead’s Twilight Zone classic, “The Invaders”. It’s just novelty television.

    ““You have arrived at your final destination.” I see you, Glen Morgan.” I still haven’t seen that movie… and I’m fine with that. ““Never again!” I see you, Glen Morgan.” … not so fine with this. We need an in-joke limit, apparently.

    “Mulder: Why is your house so much nicer than mine?
    *Seriously, though. Where would Scully have found this California-style midcentury modern masterpiece in the suburbs of D.C.? Scully has spent most of her adult life working as a grunt for the federal government. Stop this nonsense. Thanks.”

    So the only way Scully could that castle in the DC metro area is if Mama Scully left her with the same bank as apparently Mama Mulder left our hero. The decor was entirely “that Gillian-penned XF episode that wasn’t an X File” and nothing like Scully’s actual previous digs. In what post-Drumph reality can she afford that house? Plus, she’s in Bethesda now?

    And Mulder (AND SCULLY’S) middle of nowhere house has a sight line to DC.

    And the orchestra of evil computerized objects only rail against them and only for a brief period of time.

    I watched this and kept thinking, “Aside from Mulder’s ‘Get offa my lawn!’ motif, is this possibly as bad as CC’s “Ghost in the Machine”?

    On a kinder note I just watched “Familiar” and though not shippy in the Vince way that I need, I actually felt like I was watching an XF episode. So, yay?

    • That’s a good way to describe it: “novelty television”. That pretty much sums up my problem with this episode that didn’t feel like an episode. It wasn’t entertainment, it was a gimmick, an inordinately long GIF, if you will.

      And somebody noticed! Scully’s decor style was always traditional/homey. Where did this sudden invasion of Asian minimalist come from?

      “And Mulder (AND SCULLY’S) middle of nowhere house has a sight line to DC.”

      Dude.

      But no, this isn’t as bad as GITM. If it were, I’d be happy. I actually enjoy GITM.

      • “Scully’s decor style was always traditional/homey. Where did this sudden invasion of Asian minimalist come from?”

        YES! I was so distracted by this that I couldn’t enjoy even any of the slightly enjoyable bits of this episode. I couldn’t stop thinking “THAT ISN’T SCULLY’S HOUSE!!!”

        I too am in the middle of a re-watch (on season 3), I reckon spurred by exactly the same reasons as you… Going back to War of the Coprophages to hide my head under the blankets and ignore this nonsense!

        • Right?! I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of midcentury modern looks myself. But Scully’s apartment looked like a model sitcom home circa TGIF. It was 90s floral pattern mania at its finest.

  4. And another thing… How the frell do you get an F-rating level episode from an episode that starts out with an M&S date night??? *sigh*

    • I consider nearly the entire revival an MSR buzzkill.

      But mainly, I was serious about that “Space” comparison. Embarrassingly bad as it is, I was oddly entertained by it, much more so than I was by this entire episode.

  5. I concur, Salome.

    It was a purely “meh” episode for me as well. I was actually quite bored and only mildly interested in how it was going to end.

    I was thinking about this show on my way back to work after lunch today (I watched “familiar” at lunch that gave me a couple moments of some genuine XF vibe) I think where I’m really not feeling this season and last is this…I don’t want older Mulder and Scully..I don’t want an XF set in the current century and culture. I wanted more of what we loved and knowing that can’t be I am not going to be satisfied like I was then.

    I am enjoying aspects of this season but at the end of the day..hell, the end of the hour I have already forgotten about them.

    • Back in the day, I always watched an episode twice when I first saw it. Once and then once more right after my initial viewing. You know why? Because there was so much meat to chew on mentally. One good episode could keep my imagination going for a week until the next episode. Now, I’m like you. I watch it and almost immediately forget it.

      Meanwhile, these classic episodes still get my synapses firing and I’ve seen them all more times than I can keep track of.

      I don’t think the problem is age. I think there’s a fundamental lack of good storytelling combined with an unrestrained eagerness to be “relevant” and “modern” like all the other shows on TV now that The X-Files helped birth. It’s like a 40-year-old mother wearing her daughter’s Urban Outfitters leggings.

  6. “It’s like a 40-year-old mother wearing her daughter’s Urban Outfitters leggings.”

    LoL

    Awesome…

  7. I really enjoyed like the first eight minutes. I was thrilled it opened with a date night and I thought Scully yelling at her driverless car was kinda funny. (I’m still puzzled as to why Mulder needed help getting back to a home he’s inhabited for over a decade. I meant they just went to dinner its night like he was driving from Milwaukee, but whatever.
    But then I was like wait…are they REALLY only going to fight gadgets for the ENTIRE episode??? Yep. They are.
    But more importantly, she said “our house”. WE CAN’T RETURN TO OUR HOUSE. I heard it. You all heard it. GAH!
    Lately I’ve begun to suspect that the legendary X-files inconsistency/revisionism is really less them yanking our chains, but rather in actuality the writers aren’t properly communicating and conferring with one another at all.

    • Speaking of which, I’ve got this cold chill going on this rewatch around: they were making these same mistakes in the mythology as early as Seasons 3 and 4. My word. Maybe you’re right and this is all incidental to flawed communication and storytelling.

      Warts and all, though, the original series was fathoms more fun than this kiddy park ride.

  8. I hated it, and what you’ve all said in the post and the comments sums it up for me. The “quirky” nature of the episode dropped it several grades for me.

    I WANT TO SEE MULDER AND SCULLY TALKING AND LAUGHING AND DISAGREEING AND FIGHTING AND FALLING OUT AND MAKING UP. I don’t want them to be victims of quirky storytelling when we’ve got so little time with them.

    But there is the other thing, which is that the entire premise is nonsense in M/S world. Scully HAD A CHIP PUT IN HER NECK WHICH CAUSED/CURED CANCER. Scully became a victim of government technological experimentation in “Wetwired”.

    Mulder and Scully have seen the extreme dangers of allowing technology to have power. More than anyone else, they’ve seen how commerce and government interact to use technology to control people. Just a short while ago, they found out that an incredible computer system had been developed that can store the entire consciousnesses of groups of people, and that can use the mobile data network to upload pieces of consciousness without the victim even knowing it.

    So in what world would Mulder & Scully ever allow their homes to have smart locks, smart technology and smart devices? They would know that there was a real problem with AI systems taking over, whether by design or by machine learning.

    I know one of the purposes of the episode was to say “you can’t avoid this stuff”, but you really can. Almost all of us *don’t* have smart locks and smart heating systems and smart devices that can control gas and volume etc. It’s a minority interest so far.

    Yes, it’ll become a majority thing in future, and yes AI is really dangerous, cos it will be developed for profit and not for humanity.

    But Mulder and Scully being at the absolute cutting edge of machine learning and smart technology in their homes and cars? Absolutely not.

    Remember, we saw in season 10 that Mulder even tapes up his laptop’s camera. That’s the Mulder we know. A guy who would’ve been in touch with Snowden types, who would understand that we need technology but that we also need to be careful with it.

    • You touched on something that bothered me way back in “My Struggle II” and I mentioned it at the time. Why, for the love of all that is Reticulan, would Fox Mulder use a smartphone with a GPS app on it that renders him traceable? This IS Fox Mulder we’re talking about. Isn’t it? Because if he’s lost his paranoia, the ship is in and we all need to go home.

      And as you said, that goes for Scully too. Not because she’s a maniac like Mulder, but after all she’s been through, she’s not a trusting soul either. I can’t believe either of them would give control over their lives to smart devices. Not when their own government has bugged them and tried to kill them more times than I can keep track of in the series.

    • YES. This. I mean, is it too much to ask that they stay true to the BASIC fundamentals of the characters? No way would they have these devices in a million dollar home. This would be far more appropriate as an x file that they investigate! Some uber rich person with every technological advantage gets tortured by them — enter our leads with witty, sexual-tension laden banter about the duality of the nature of technology, and Mulder eschewing it while Scully says, “Mulder you can’t avoid everything, this is the future,” and they further debate our dependence on it and whether or not it is a necessary evil. The saddest thing for me is that I can’t even concentrate on this ridiculousness because I’m so mad about the stupid vibrator bit. Now I’m no prude, I’m all for a great vibrator joke! But to reduce our Scully character with a crass and meaningless joke-on a show where they cannot even kiss and she is portrayed as this nearly celibate character….i mean what in the ACTUAL @#!$. What was it I heard in an old interview for never again? ….something along the lines of “I just feel like all other women on tv are jumping into bed every episode, and we want Scully to be different.” To TRANSCEND typical sexual stereotypes.
      In two seasons they don’t kiss and there’s almost no MSR. I don’t feel like we are in a place where the audience cares for crass vibrator jokes. To me all of season 11 is a grab for the average viewer flipping channels. Can that be who they brought this back for? Are die hard shippers & fans now viewed with distain?
      Long deep sigh.

  9. Aside from all that, for me the basic mechanics of the episode failed. A restaurant system is totally automated but doesn’t have a button to press that says “order incorrect”? The whole thing would’ve been dealt with if Mulder had been able to get the correct food. Things like that, that aren’t feasible even in the world of the story, annoy me.

    I always hate that: I can accept the unreality of a story as long as it’s logically correct. I bet we’re all like that. I hate it when an entire episode fails cos the most basic part of the story mechanics doesn’t work.

    That said, I truly loved the ending. I totally agree that this revival ruins a lot of things, and I’m lucky that my brain allows me to separate the revival from the original. so *in the context of all the awful stuff they’ve done to the relationship* in seasons 10 and 11, I loved the simplicity of the ending.

    I felt it really suited the characters and the general arc.

    But yeah, they’ve set such a low bar for success, it doesn’t take much to make me happy. I think what made me happier is that the end scene would’ve been something Carter really didn’t want to do. He would’ve loved to never have a scene like that.

    Of course, he might ruin it all again with the finale. Go for it Chris, ruin it all again.

    We’re all gonna go back and watch seasons 1-7 anyway. I’m waiting til the end of season 11 to go back and binge.

    • “I can accept the unreality of a story as long as it’s logically correct. I bet we’re all like that.”

      So true. Then the story becomes its own reality.

  10. While I didn’t overall hate this episode…it had a few moments here and there that made me smile/laugh, it just missed the mark overall with me on two main points:

    First, the not talking gimmick. While it may have been some ploy to comment on how technology is pushing us to rely on it, nose-glued to our cell phones while eating at a restaurant, you’re absolutely right…it felt extremely forced with Mulder and Scully. These two have always found something to debate, converse, and even disagree about in each and every episode for as long as the show has existed! Now that we see them off the clock and going on a date, we’re to assume they’re two completely different people, obsessed with interacting on social media, and connected in every way possible? We’ve never seen the cell phones buzzing so much while they’re working, but now for the sake of the episode it’s filled with almost constant pop-up messages? I just don’t buy it.

    The discussions between Mulder and Scully have become a cornerstone to the series. It’s one of the reasons I love the show so much. While I’ve heard so many positive reactions from many, I fail to understand why.

    That leads me perfectly into reason #2: This didn’t feel like an X-File. Short on the already mentioned Mulder/Scully banter, if you’d have taken out Gillian Anderson & David Duchovny and placed two other actors in this, you’d have easily made this episode into one for Black Mirror or some other similar show without any modifications to the script. Because of that, the writing just felt lazy.

    I realize there was a bit of backlash over the lack of female writers from Ms. Anderson last year, and suspect adding Kristen Cloke to the writing staff may have been a way to soothe things over. That said, you can’t just write a script that adapts to any old show, toss in the main characters and expect it to fly.

    Scully owning an ultra-modern, technology-infused house? I just don’t buy it! A.Her paychecks from the non-profit, Christian hospital must have been extremely generous. B. This just doesn’t strike me as Scully’s style.

    Overall, this felt like a long way to go for basically the only joke that everyone keeps talking about…”Scully owns a vibrator.” Well, good for her. I personally wanted more from this episode. It’s another lost opportunity. Another chance to give us some great, classic X-Files moments that ultimately missed.

    • Thank you!! When did Mulder and Scully turn into Millenials? Did 1013 do this to amuse a Millenial audience? Sure, they were ahead of the cell phone game in the 90s. But they talked on their phones. To each other. Like you, I just can’t see two people whose cell phones rarely ever ping with notifications and messages suddenly being glued to their screens.

      This wasn’t an X-File, it was an exercise. Granted, we’ve had experimental episodes before. Sometimes they’ve worked and sometimes they haven’t, but I can’t think of one that doesn’t involve some kind of mystery that has to be solved.

      “That said, you can’t just write a script that adapts to any old show, toss in the main characters and expect it to fly.”

      Thank you, preacher.

      “Overall, this felt like a long way to go for basically the only joke that everyone keeps talking about…’Scully owns a vibrator.’ ”

      Part of me thinks that someone read an article about that vibrator tracking controversy and wanted to write a story where they could use a truth stranger than fiction. Mulder and Scully are the unwitting victims of that someone’s eagerness.

      • “This wasn’t an X-File, it was an exercise.” – that’s a perfect summary.

        Also, re them being buried in their phones: when we saw Scully continually flicking notifications away, I thought we were being shown that they *weren’t* buried in their phones – that they treated them as a distracting irritant. Such a shame that the rest of the story didn’t live up to that good idea.

    • Oh, i dont think anyone actually reads the scripts before theyre approved anymore.

  11. Okay, so here’s my deal. I get the concept of technology separating us from each other and ultimately making us disconnected not only from the natural world but our natural existence has human beings, yadayadayada, and that it’s an important concept to explore (side note: my Pop-Pop, who was a Deacon, wrote a philosophical essay about this concept in the ’60’s or ’70’s or something. I think he was referring to phones or something back then, ergo, this concept is not new), but was a 10 episode arch which most likely will be the official end of this iconic television show REALLY the appropriate place to (re)explore this (totally not new) concept?

    And the near silence of the episode was sooooo out of character, not just for the characters, but for the show as a whole itself. Mulder and Scully talk, and banter, and argue, and banter some more. That’s one of the reasons why we love them together as both friends and a couple. Why would they be on their cell phones during a date and not interacting with each other again? And why didn’t Mulder drive Scully to said date? Also, I know I haven’t been on a date in a few months so I might be a bit off, but I surely don’t remember me and the dude staring at our cell phones the whole time, i.e., NO ONE DOES THAT ON A DATE. Rant aside, leave the stylistic concepts to Joss Whedon in the ’90’s where it belongs (and then forget Joss Whedon exists because it terns out he was a total cheating creep on the set of Buffy et. al. the whole time).

    Why do these people who trust no one have so many automated devices again? Three words for you: Out. Of. Character. Even I have a piece of tape over my computer’s web cam because I don’t trust the government or anyone else who wants to hack into my business.

    I usually watch an episode twice: once to just enjoy it and and a second time with the close caption on so that I can pick-up any dialogue that I missed. I found myself not interested in the latter for this episode, because, hey, what’s the point…Also, it was super boring.

    The one good take-away I got from this episode is that I’m glad I have a job where I can’t legally have a cell phone, where I actually talk an interact with my co-workers and still have human communication. Sure, we still whip-out our phones at happy hour, but we’re so conditioned to talk to each other face to face that we put the dang things down once the drinks and munchies get there.

    Also, I don’t buy the whole “we need to be better teachers” deal. In fact, I don’t buy this whole A.I.’s will take over the world thing a la Skynet. I was once at a young people Mass and subsequent meeting at a brew pub for people between the ages of 21 to 35 and I struck up a conversation with a guy who had studied in a seminary in Rome for years, earned a Masters in Divinity and all, before realizing that wasn’t his calling and dropping out to come back State-side to study A.I. and computers and stuff and junk I’m too much of a luddite to understand or care about, but I asked him, given his knowledge of both the human condition and technology if a Skynet situation could ever happen (yes I’m so fun to converse with at a brew pub, I know, settle down) and he said no. His reason being was basically that machines don’t have souls nor real cognition and thus could never grow to think for themselves. Anyway, my point being, I don’t really think we “need to be better teachers.” I think maybe a better concept is we need to be better people who aren’t disassociated from each other because of our reliance on machines over personal connections. But still, YOU DON’T NEED THAT IN A 10 EPISODE ARCH THAT WILL MOST LIKELY BE THE END OF THIS SERIES.

    • *slow clap*

      No, it ain’t new. Not at all. It’s not new in philosophy, books, or movies. Sci-fi has killed this topic. The X-Files slayed this topic with “Kill Switch” and addressed it more times than that.

      “Why do these people who trust no one have so many automated devices again? Three words for you: Out. Of. Character.”

      There’s just really nothing else I can add to that.

      And I too miss the days when I felt compelled to watch an episode twice in a row. Now, I have to force myself to watch the episode a second time. This is a bit of a dilemma since I refuse to write “musings” unless I’ve watched it twice for the post. Sacrifices must be made, Mr. Mulder.

      And side note: What little I’ve heard from people who understand AI corroborates what you’ve heard from people who understand AI. They can’t reason and never will – which is good for me as it means my job will (should?) never become completely irrelevant.

      Meanwhile, I will never understand AI.

      • I think these things are dangerous only in the way that all technology developed primarily for military applications can be dangerous, but you’re right: it’s hugely unlikely that AI would get to the point where it threatens humanity.

        We are much more likely to see the lower-level “machine learning” automated stuff being a danger – being allowed to make decisions that harm us.

        But if the world of The X Files is already at the stage where a *restaurant*’s artificial intelligence system can commandeer a large number of drones, can make weapons on the fly, and can create robots that are unstoppable by human hands, then it’s game over already.

        The episode wasn’t about the military or government, it was about a restaurant. If we’ve ceded that much control already, even the premise of the episode – “we need to be better teachers” – fails, because the damage is done: one single restaurant’s AI system can use the banking, GPS and telephone system to mess people up, can control their houses and can attempt to kill them, all for not tipping.

        Seriously, they thought this was a good idea for a story?

        Mulder and Scully became their playthings for an hour, and I hate that they care so little about our characters that they dropped them into this nonsense world.

      • You and the others here are correct. Mass media and Hollywood movies have given us the idea that AI is becoming or can become sentient and act just like us. For that to happen the technology we currently have would need to be light years more advanced than it is now.

        The scenario of this episode is not even remotely possible and so knowing that I found it more akin to magic happening rather than so run away tech.

  12. Salome, are you a Doctor Who fan too?
    You could write reviews of the New Doctor with Jodie Whittaker.

  13. From the moment I saw the title in the TV guide, I had a bad feeling about this episode. I hoped that it was a print error, but alas.

    I really hated the teaser with the backstory of the Tay Bot, (which did actually exist). If we’re going to get a voiceover, I want Mulder or Scully, not Stephen Hawking. The teaser also seemed pointless. It was a bit of an explanation as to the takeover of AI in our lives, the it wouldn’t have any effect on the episode if taken out.

    The episode itself, I did enjoy, but NOT as an X-Files episode. This was an episode for an entirely different TV show. Take out Mulder and Scully and replace them with two other characters, and it would be exactly the same. Actually, it would be better because I wouldn’t feel like my characters had been violated.

    The whole first scene where Mulder and Scully were glued to their phones not exchanging a word with one another was completely out of character. We saw in season 10 how they weren’t feeling particularly comfortable or up to speed with modern day tech, and needed their retro 90s kit back.

    At one point I thought the entire episode was going to go by without any dialogue, and you can’t imagine my relief when I heard Scully say ‘Mulder’ for the first time.

    And what is with Scully’s totally un-Scully house? Not only is it not her style, but since when to doctors get such great pay cheques? I assumed her mother gave her a heft inheritance. Does Scully even have a house anymore? Last we saw, it was on fire and no one was coming to put it out. Is Scully homeless or what?

    Not only were Mulder and Scully out of character, but the whole world was out of character. It wasn’t the same world they were in last week, and it wasn’t even the same world they were in at the very end of the episode. Where we all the people, when did Washington become so automated?

    This leads me to believe that none of those events were actually real, but it something else they were experiencing….I don’t know, I’ve got nothing. I can’t come up with a reasonable explanation for what they experienced and how they then ended up back in the normal world again. Maybe it was a bit like a digital environment akin to ‘First Person Shooter’. If only the writers had made it so it looked like their situation had been orchestrated by some kind of organisation (government, syndicate, whatever).

    Whatever was meant to be going on, I like to think to myself that it was some kind of augmented reality and didn’t technically happen.

    There were a few bits that I liked such as the swarm of drones chasing Mulder like mini UFOs, the mention of Skinner’s birthday, and the nod to ‘War of the Coprophages’ with those robotic bugs. They should have incorporated that more, to suggest these AIs had some alien connection like they did in the WotC.

    Anyway, like I said, I liked it as an episode, but hated it as an X-Files episode.

    • I’ve just been reading other reviews of this episode and all of them are praising this episode as a work of genius. Are these actual fans of the show? Do they know what Mulder & Scully are like and how they behave? Does no one else but us seem to acknowledge how completely out of character they are?

    • Okay, I decided to try and rewrite this episode so that it makes more sense, especially in terms of characterisation and why these things are happening. It found that it wouldn’t actually take that many changes, just a few teaks to make things ring more true.

      1. No Tay Bot teaser
      2. Replace it with the following scene:

      Mulder is at home on his computer, talking to Scully on the phone over a speaker. They have a conversation something along the lines of:

      Mulder: Hey, Scully, instead of going to [insert name of human-served diner], there’s this new sushi bar in town. Online reviews all five-star. (This would link into the real world issue of fake reviews) It’s over in [insert location name]
      Scully: You know the way?
      Mulder: Yeah, I’ve got this new SatNav recommended
      Scully: What happened to your paranoia of being traced?
      Mulder: I figured they already know where I live. I’m in the phone book after all. (This links back to ‘The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat’)
      Scully: They?
      Mulder: Want me to pick you up.
      Scully: Think I’ll play it safe and catch a cab.

      3. Next scene, they arrive at the Japanese restaurant, which is deserted. They look at each other (camera shot from the back).

      Mulder: Good thing I made a reservation.

      They sit down and no one comes.

      Scully: Hello?

      AI graphic pops up with a smiley face.

      AI: Hello, would you like to order?

      Menus are provided, and the scene continues like it did in the episode, with Mulder and Scully exchanges amused glances at what they’re viewing.

      4. Things continue like they did in the episode, but instead of the taxi taking Scully home like instructed, it takes her to a swanky (but deserted) hotel full of smart tech. (This avoids the problem of Scully’s house not being her style. If they have to have the vibrator gag in their, it can be in her handbag, which might even be more humorous). Scully is practically forced into booking a room, and the same events that ensued at her home do so in a similar way here, only the tech is ‘room service’.

      5. Everything else happens the same up until the warehouse. Instead of the warehouse, they are back inside the restaurant and attacked by the bot chefs until Mulder gives a tip. His phone then asks ‘would you like to leave a five star review?’ He clicks ‘No’, the screen frowns and asks ‘are you sure?’ The AIs get poised to attack again. Mulder gives five stars and the screen says ‘thank you’.

      6. In the human-served diner as happened in the the episode.
      7. Some foreboding closing ending about the organisation that might have orchestrated it all, in the form of a text or alert, or alike.

      • I would have watched that episode. Sounds far more interesting & an actual X-File!

        One minor tweek: Perhaps Scully could be getting her hair cut when Mulder calls? (Or just finishing up at the salon?) The salon is out of the way/all the way across town from the sushi place, so makes sense that Scully take a taxi.

        Maybe for trying out the service, she gets a free same-day ride? Which is the best explanation why she didn’t let Mulder drive her.

        As I’ve said for years, Chris Carter should bring in fans to write the series. Not only do we know the show we’ll enough to understand it, but we come up with some pretty fun, interesting, & creative ideas! Nice job!!

        • The salon would be a nice way to explain the new hairstyle and have the taxi make more sense for sure.

          I agree; it would have been great if fans had had a chance to help write scripts. Back when Star Trek: The Next Generation was on, the writers accepted scripts from fans, and some of them were actually used. It was great.

        • *whispers* We’re paying attention.

      • That “Good thing I made a reservation” line would be classic Mulder.

    • While I agree with you that it felt like a coherent episode for another show, I can’t say I enjoy it even as that. It’s just been done and been done much better. Maybe if the Lone Gunmen hadn’t been killed off something interesting could have been done with the smart tech all around us. Maybe they could have done an episode on the death of 80s and 90s style internet anarchy and the rise of political and corporate hacking?

      • It has been done a lot, but I’ll admit I haven’t watched a lot of what has been done, so it didn’t feel too overdone in that sense for me. As for the Lone Gunmen, if they were alive, that is something I would so have wanted to see. it actually feels like a Langly one-liner.

      • Salome – while I understand your concerns, you do have to admit, Bryony’s ideas would have at least brought more enjoyment out of the episode. While it’s been done before, I’d have much rather seen that instead of the odd “other-worldly” & millennial Mulder/Scully we saw in this episode. It just didn’t work. At least in the re-write version, we got the actual characters from the show.

  14. As always I agree with pretty much everything all the commenters are saying. Some really well-thought-out stuff here, and I agree with it all 100%, including Bryony’s sense-making rewrite!

  15. Hmm… A.I. again. Already covered in “Ghost in the Machine”, “Kill Switch” and possibly another episode that I can’t remember. I actually quite like the teaser. The voice sounds like a Stephen Hawking impersonation. Although the teaser feels like a subtle political statement, which this season has plenty, and not so subtle ones. Anyway I’m intrigued.

    Any yet another tag change. I think this is becoming a theme. This time somebody has accidentally lent on the keyboard. New Scully hair! Oh god I’ve just realised this is the episode without any talking. I accidentally heard a rumour about that and I don’t like the sound of it. Well it must have been an easy episode for DD and GA at least not having to learn all those lines.
    LOL That fish on the plate. BUT WTF is this episode?! Haha no tip. Remember “Bad Blood”?

    Ok I’m starting to feel bored of this gimmick already. Is this whole episode just and ad for Yo Sushi and Samsung phones? Ok I see where this episode is going now and I’m beginning to enjoy it now. But A.I taking over the world and turning on us isn’t exactly a new idea. “Never Again” referenced by Scully, one of my all time favourite episodes. This episode was basically written by Glen Morgan anyway, but given to his wife as the x files was being criticised for its lack of female writers.

    What is this? Scully’s new apartment? So she does have a separate place despite calling Mulder’s place “our home”. And why is she living in Bethesda, Maryland? Is that a vibrator Scully has under her bed? LOL so many people can identify with what M&S are going through. The frustration and exasperation. Spot on. All this because he didn’t leave a tip? I guess by the end of the episode he’s gonna tip.

    Scully was born in Annapolis. Did we know that already? And so Mulder has NEVER been to her house before? Man those robot dogs are scary! Wow that climax is scary, tense and cool. Love it! Who is Harry Reid, and the guy sitting behind them in the cafe? So the moral of the story is to give a tip! The last scene was nice. This episode could have been contrived as an advert for Ford and Samsung again, but despite the product placement I’ve ended up loving this episode, one of the strongest of the season.

    A

  16. Got some really bad Trust No 1 vibes there… With no dialogue and no teary Scully. It was painful to watch, didn’t enjoy it at all. Yes I got the point (actually I was so bored that I was missing my phone and just wanted to go to this site and read your review of this episode) but it was just sad how out of characters Mulder and Scully where. We only got 10 episodes so it hurts. Well-earned F.

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