Friday, September 18

X-Files Season One: Episodes 7-9 (Ghost in the Machine, Ice, Space)

1x07: Ghost in the Machine

So this is October. they got together in March, so they've been partners about 7-8 months by this episode.

The only real note I have (since I don't feel like delving into the ideas about technology in 1993 vs. 2015) is this: Scully is over your shit. Scully means business and she is over your shit. We all know where she's going to end up, with a level of cold self-confidence and almost royal bearing that could take over the entire FBI if she wanted to, but it's really cool to see the first hints of it here when we didn't know, yet.  

"What else could I have done?" "Nothing... Unless you were willing to let the technology survive..." Deep Throat says VERY POINTEDLY. This is almost like a test for Mulder - people vs. ideas? Where are you going to fall? Deep Throat is paying attention to that.

1x08: Ice

Ice is probably one of my "most watched" episodes of season one, but the rewatch was kind of surprisingly meh this time around and I have surprisingly little to say about it. I still love the very visceral quality of Mulder and Scully "checking" each other in the storage room. Also, it's an interesting note or highlight to the season how Mulder's normal level of paranoia reads as possibly infectious to the rest of the "team". Scully knows it's not, but they both miscalculated with the damn guns. (So much foreshadowing of so many other standoffs with loaded weapons (I'm looking at you, Season Three).)

From a more meta perspective (what am I saying, this is all meta, you know what I mean) - it's a great adaptation of one of the classic stories of modern speculative horror done by the show that what will turn out to be a game-changer of modern speculative horror, itself.

1x09: Space

So I had a revelation. I really do not like this episode. I don't think I paid enough attention to it originally to care, but this time around, wow, no.

I'll start with the kind things I can say about it, which have to do with the broad-strokes narrative. Namely, that this looks like it should be a conspiracy episode, but they very neatly subvert those expectations with what is actually a monster of the week story, illustrating that the distinction has very little to do with "aliens" vs. "everything else" and everything to do with the locus of control (as it were). Yes, Col. Belt is technically military and NASA and all those government things. However, the push/pull is entirely between Belt and this entity that's possessing him. The "conspiracy-esque" elements like the sabotage or leaked files are all done by or initiated by Belt, either in opposition to or at the behest of the entity. When the government gets referenced, it's as if it's an outside figure beyond NASA or the shuttle launch, it looms in regards to budget cuts, but is kept well away from the mystery. That part, that dichotomy, I really liked.

Now, for everything else: First, I don't really get the sense here that Mulder and Scully are all that involved in the story. Yes, they end up performing certain actions, but the focus remains on the ground control crew and the shuttle crew, and Belt himself in some indefinable way. They mostly run around, either explaining to one another or having someone explain to them what's going on technically with the launch, mostly for the sake of the audience. They don't save the shuttle, other than being the physical conveyance of a message and they don't, precisely, solve the mystery - yes they come around to Belt having sabotaged things, but we don't find out why and, most importantly, Belt confesses because of his complete breakdown rather than some external reveal. Knowing who did it is almost an afterthought and was never really in question. The immediate danger the shuttle is in takes center stage, is solved by Belt and the ground crew, and Mulder and Scully just function as a Greek Chorus while all this goes on.

Second, the hero worship Mulder feels for Belt seems both forced and a caricature of Mulder's usual optimistic belief behaviour. It's nice to see Mulder so enthusiastic about things, I like when characters can do that, but the way they play his desire to believe in Belt's innocence falls flat to me, since it seems to rely on Mulder seeing him as a hero rather than Mulder trying to believe in the extraordinary.
And finally, the camera work feels both claustrophobic and off-center, which makes it really visually unappealing for me. That might've been the intention, in which case, okay, it's just not to my tastes, but I don't just mean the special effects scenes, I mean overall.  
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