Now we get back into the swing of things and the season begins for real. Forget about little green men for a while, it’s back to the paranormal or, more accurately in this case, the pseudo-scientific.
Mulder’s faith in his mission has been reaffirmed but his affection for the FBI at this point is non-existent. It doesn’t help that his boss acts like he’s about ready to make Agent Mulder run laps. Stolid and serious, Assistant Director Skinner is picking up as a recurring character where Deep Throat left off, which is a very, very good thing.
But where does Skinner stand? His mysterious loyalties are what make his character interesting. And however secretly sympathetic he may be, he keeps his personal feelings about Mulder separate from his role as Mulder’s superior. He’s like a no nonsense father. You know, the type that came home a veteran from a brutal war, only to end up a distanced disciplinarian to his children. Even so, there’s no one that would go to bat for his kids faster. That’s how Skinner is with Mulder. He’s on his side, but he’s not about to pat him on the head and hand him a lollipop either. That’s why I like him. Let Scully be the one to worry about Mulder’s fragile ego.
Mulder and Scully stand exactly where they did with each other in the last episode. They’re in “gentle” mode. There’s a meekness and a nostalgia that hangs in the air whenever they meet now, as if they’d like nothing more than to break out a picture book and have a glass of wine over old times. Don’t get me wrong, I fully enjoy it. But it feels like more of a departure from the tone of Season 1 than it did in “Little Green Men” (2×1). Gone is any hint of frustration or antagonism between these characters. Season 2 is shaping up to be the start of Mulder and Scully’s relationship honeymoon.
So onto our “villain.” Unsurprisingly, Russia is the root of all evil. Flukeman would come out of Chernobyl. Unlike Tooms, Flukeman’s origins have a scientific explanation. And very unlike Tooms, everyone actually believes Mulder this time. Which leads me to an issue: why isn’t there more freaking out in this episode?? Flukeman is a giant, humanoid worm using people as living incubators. Shouldn’t there have been more of an uproar? Scully looks through the glass at Flukeman with only mild surprise. Skinner claims to have already had his reaction “this morning,” but my reaction would have gone on for a week, and it would have been loud. Did anyone even bother to call the President?
This is the first true “gross out” episode since “Ice” (1×7). These types of episodes are a niche all their own. In all honesty, I wouldn’t say that the plot is particularly powerful or the script truly frightening, but that “Ewww!” factor sure counts for a lot. This isn’t a story about the paranormal, but then again, neither was “Ice.” It is, though, Sci-fi in its truest form. And after all, The X-Files is a show about the unexplained, not just the undead.
Besides all that, there are great seeds being planted here between Mulder and Skinner and Mulder and Deep Throat’s mysterious replacement. This isn’t an adventure meant to satiate us, it’s meant to keep us hungry and tuning in. Will Mulder be driven out of the FBI? When this mysterious voice comes out of the shadows, will we like him? What new ways will they come up with to cover Gillian Anderson’s baby bump next week?
As always, I made my way through this episode cringing and squinting. If the fate of the entire population of New Jersey depended upon me going in the sewer after that thing, people would just have to die.
Why did Skinner give Mulder this case? He’s not truly out to get Mulder, so did the order come from higher up? Or in the case of CSM, further back in the shadows? I suppose it’s possible that Skinner had a clue that this was an X-File but I don’t see how. The local police hadn’t even moved before Mulder got there so it’s not clear what evidence they had already found. In fact, why did they call in the FBI again?
Darin Morgan must have been horribly, horribly uncomfortable in that Flukeman suit.
It took me about two watches to figure out that the guy emptying the port-a-potties was the police officer from “Chinga” (5×10). I knew that mustache rang a bell.
Detective Norman: Watch yourself.
Mulder: Yeah, wouldn’t want to step into anything.
Detective Norman: They say it cuts the smell if you don’t breathe through your mouth.
Mulder: They lied.
Scully: Is this seat taken?
Mulder: No, but I should warn you, I’m experiencing violent impulses.
Scully: Well, I’m armed, so I’ll take my chances.
Scully: It’s called Tubalaria, or it’s commonly known as a fluke or flat worm.
Mulder: This was living inside the body?
Scully: Apparently it had attached itself to the bile duct and was feeding off the liver.
Scully: Believe it or not something like 40 million people are infected worldwide.
Mulder: This isn’t where you tell me some terrible story about sushi, is it?
Scully: Well maybe you’d rather hear what you could catch from a nice rare steak?
Mulder: So, what? The murder weapon was a top sirloin?
Scully: They are not creatures that go around attacking people.
Mulder: Well, that’s good. I didn’t want to have to tell Skinner that his murder suspect was a giant bloodsucking worm.