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01 July 2016 @ 06:33 pm
X-Files, Season 2, Episodes 1-3  
You may have thought I abandoned this, but no, I'm just very slow!

Little Green Men
WTF, they weren't green at all.  photo emot-colbert.gif

The aliens in this episode were weirdly cute. Like, the door burst open, white light blazed forth into the previously dark room where the UFO had disabled the electricity, and then the alien started...doing the robot? They traveled all those light years in order to kidnap people and have a dance competition? Is Space Channel 5 an accurate depiction of human-alien diplomacy?

During the episode, they bring up the Wow Signal, so-called because the astronomer who found it wrote "Wow!" on the paper it was printed on. It was never repeated and no one actually knows what it was or where it was from. Here they say the communication they're getting is better, but I was curious while we were watching and looked it up and found up that the Wow Signal is 1) real and 2) might have been interference from a passing comet. I guess we'll know in 2017, though this does remind me a bit of that Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal about science ruining everything. At least we might still have alien megastructures.

I like how Mulder is falling into classical conspiracy thing. Scully brings up that they have no evidence they're being followed or watched and his immediate response is that's just proof of how powerful and far-reaching the conspiracy is. I mean, he's right, because this was the 90s when we thought the government was capable of this kind of comprehensive coverup and FEMA camps and black helicopters are the bedrock on which X-Files is built, but it's still a great way to come up with a ton of false positives. This is the point where softlykarou pointed out that Delta Green wouldn't even approach Mulder as a Friendly. He's too credulous. They'd send him on an opera and he'd be like, "It's clearly SHADOW JUMPER, probably in collusion with TATTERDEMALION. I've got the evidence right here," and he would show pictures of one of those classic rooms with papers and string everywhere and then ALPHONSE would turn to ANDREA and say, "I believe Agent FOX is due for retirement."

Also I just realized both softlykarou and I fell down. When the MOONDUST team ("Blue Beret" in the episode) showed up and just opened fire, we should have turned to each other and said, "No NORWEGIANS."

The episode ends as you'd expect, with all physical evidence useless and Mulder and Scully alive, though it was nice to see Skinner tell off Cancer Man. Oh the 90s, when you could still smoke indoors.

The Host
Ah, the infamous Flukeman episode. This is one of the few bits of X-Files lore I knew before I saw any of the show, just from hearing about it on the internet and looking it up on the wiki.

I mentioned before after watching Darkness Falls that my headcanon is that X-Files is a prelude to Fallout, and the revelation that flukeman is a Chernobyl mutant just reconfirms that. This is a universe where radiation exposure doesn't give you cancer and kill you, it gives mutates you into monsters. At least, sometimes. Enough that it can create viable new species out of insects and flatworms.

We had a bit of a debate over the course of this episode--is the flukeman a parasite that mutates the host, or does it just rely on the host for nutrients and then vanish into the sewers and grow into a mammal/flukeworm hybrid monster? The episode is kind of ambiguous over whether the flatworm grows into a human monster hybrid thing or whether it needs to mutate someone. Vomiting up the larva indicates the former, but some discussion at the end seems to point to the latter. Also, radiation turning flatworms into flukeman monster is directly Fallout--look at the mirelurk king, mutated from a snapping turtle--and that hits me right in my suspension of disbelief. It's totally arbitrary, but it happens.

I really liked the debate between Mulder and Skinner over what to do with the captured flukeman. Skinner wanted to give it a psych eval and Mulder telling him it was a monster and it was pointless. It's something I leaned on when I ran Cthulhutech--protection of human rights is very important, but human rights only apply to humans. Not even to things that look like humans. Especially not to things that look like humans.

I also liked how the Russian sailor had his own name tattooed on his arm. I guess it's in case he forgets?

Also, doesn't this totally shatter the Masquerade? This isn't like the previous episode where everyone involved is a part of MAJESTIC, dead, or our heroes. They had federal marshals try to transport it down public highways and a bunch of sewer workers got killed. Plus, the larva shows there are more out there. The one in the sewers is probably from the Russian's body--which gives them xenomorph-like powers to ignore conservation of mass, but whatever,  photo emot-science.gif radiation  photo emot-science.gif--which leaves the original and the new one from the sewer worker. They don't have supertech that lets them erase tapes and kidnap people. They're just flukemen. How is MAJESTIC going to conceal this, and do they even care about concealing it when they have aliens to deal with?

I know it's monster-of-the-week and that's not the point, but now I want armed sewer worker flukeman-hunting squads.

Blood
Let's learn cyber-Aklo!

Okay, not really. What it actually reminded me of is the old White Wolf game Hunter: the Reckoning. If you're not familiar with it, the premise is that ordinary salarymen and retirees and stay-at-home parents and taxi drivers and so on start seeing people with horrific blood-dripping fangs or horns and goat legs or looking half-wolf, and then store signs or public transit displays with messages like THEY WALK AMONG YOU or IT DOES NOT LIVE or YOU MUST STOP THEM. It's about how ordinary people deal with suddenly knowing that there are monsters among them and not being able to close their eyes to the sight. Except the art, which was all Trenchcoat McKatana of the clan McKatana hurling molotovs with abandon. That dichotomy meant it never did all that well--people who bought into the personal horror aspect refused to buy it because of the art, and people who wanted Trenchcoat McKatana found out that the rules were about your marriage breaking down and your powers not being enough to actually fight a vampire, so it never worked that well.

Anyway, I spent most of the beginning of the episode wondering if it was another crazy computer, like Ghost in the Machine, but that turned out not to be the case. They left the ultimate villain ambiguous, even though it's clearly a MAJESTIC psi-op. There's even a black helicopter doing the spraying of the mysterious chemical, which a quick google informs me is not actually a chemical but is instead an airbase in Switzerland. They clearly wanted something that was close to LSD without actually being LSD, so I suppose they succeeded in that.

I commented to softlykarou about how fake the blood looked in the lobby after the elevator murder, and checking the X-Files wiki, I found this passage:
blood slabs – translucent, portable pieces of rubber shaped like pools of blood – were positioned on the terra cotta floor of the tower lobby.
"Blood slabs"? I didn't even realize that was a thing! I even found a recipe here, though watch out for 90s web design. Just think of it as more authenticity, considering the reason I was looking it up.

I wasn't a huge fan of the ending--I think it was a bit tacky to evoke the Clocktower Shooting so directly. Though here, in a truly statistically improbable display considering the pile of shell casings left behind, no one was killed or even injured. At least, no one on screen. I suppose it could have happened in the background, and if it did, at least it happened at a blood drive?

I guess Mulder's phone at the end is a strike against the idea that it's MAJESTIC. From what I've seen so far, I think they're above taunting Mulder with 90s phone text messages. Which isn't to say that it's not the government doing it. If there's one thing we learn from X-Files, it's that the government has roughly thirty dozen conspiracies running in parallel, all of which manage to stay perfectly hidden from each other. Taunting isn't in that headspace.
 
 
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