Wednesday, 5 August 2015

X-Files Rewatch | Space & Fallen Angel

The next two weeks are going to be X-Files centric, as I figured out that if I only do one episode a week up until the revival, I'll still be on season eight or nine once it starts.

Instead, I'll be doing four every Monday, Wednesday and Friday until I'm up to speed with the '201 Days of X-Files', then I'll be doing a rewatch every day up until the revival.

I can hear that collective sigh, 'Space' isn't one of the most favored episodes in The X-Files canon. But no rewatch is complete without it.

The one time X-Files use NASA in an episode, it's focus is on the most ridiculous plot point that carries this entire episode. What's that plot point, I hear you ask? A face on Mars. Yes, you read correctly, a face on a planet. But not only that, this 'face' is able to possess people and make them sabotage spaceships. That is in the case of Colonel Belt, who seems to have encountered this face on Mars on a previous space mission that he was a part of.

It never really makes much sense as to how Belt got possessed by the face in the first place. And ode to the early 90s effects, as the warping face mixed with a blood-curdling scream aren't really that scary, either.

This would have probably turned out to have been my absolute favorite X-Files episode if they handled it in a better way than they did. NASA and The X-Files? My two favorite things.

As mentioned previously, the episode focuses around Colonel Belt being possessed by an entity that has come from the face on Mars. Colonel Belt is the commander of a recent space shuttle mission that has already been plagued with problems due to rumored sabotage. Deep groove scoring marks in the APU valve of the shuttle were found which seem to be the reason of its failed lift-off. The only problem is, someone couldn't have tampered with it, as it would have needed extreme temperatures for the valve to have been scored like that.

A communications commander for NASA's Mission Control is sent evidence of what was taking place with the sabotages, so Mulder and Scully are called in to investigate who the culprit of these sabotages is. Mulder eventually theorizes that due to Belt being possessed by the entity, it was compelling him to commit the sabotage but his own conscience was making him send the evidence to Generoo, the communications commander to stop him (more so the entity).

Even though the episode is plagued with a lacklustre plot, Mulder and Scully's interaction with it makes up for it as usual. Mulder ends up being extremely relatable to me in this episode, as his fangirling over both Colonel Belt and NASA in general would be me if I were in that situation. Belt was his childhood hero, much like Buzz Aldrin was one of mine. He's especially me when it comes to seeing the launch, as he gets as overexcited as I did when I was able to see one when I was in Florida.

(via jodiesfoster

Mulder obviously knows a lot about NASA, as he has to tell Scully everything that's happening whilst they're in the midst of the commotion in the control room. He explains details to her so she understands what everyone is getting anxious about. This is my favorite part of the episode by far, it's such a sweet moment between the two of them. Scully doesn't make fun of Mulder knowing so much about NASA which is extremely nice to see. Scully seems to be in awe of how excited he is.

It must be hard for Mulder to see his hero - Colonel Belt - lying to the press in one instance in this episode, though. And witnessing him shouting at commander Generoo; that he doesn't care for both the astronauts up in the shuttle or the staff on the ground.

I've seen this episode at least four times now since I started watching the show, yet I still have no idea what the actual plot to this is. The face from Mars seems to be possessing the craft? Or its Belt being possessed by the face that is sabotaging the ship. See, I don't know!

I do like the overall message of this episode, though. That astronauts going to space at the time (and now) barely make the news unless they've done something wrong or if they've died. It's not like the 60s anymore. There isn't the same awe and pride that the moon landing brought. The press are just waiting for NASA to make a mistake and for congress to find a reason to stop funding them. This point is proven at the end, with Colonel being in the newspaper after he dies.

We're finally at one of my personal favorites, surprisingly an episode based on UFO lore and abductions. 'Fallen Angel' is a slang term for a downed UFO. That's the great thing about this show, you learn all these UFO abbreviations that you're never going to use in any sane conversation, but feel ethereal for knowing it.

A season of The X-Files isn't complete without at least one episode based around a government cover-up, and this episode is no different. The U.S. Space Surveillance Center witness a UFO in flight and its subsequent crash into a forest in the outskirts of Townsend, Wisconsin. Although, they quickly deny that this was a UFO, and instead go with the more 'believable' story that it was a meteor. The government quickly change this reason when describing the crash to Mulder, stating that it's a government quarantine over an ecological disaster. Which is then changed, again, to a downed Libyan fighter jet to explain the wreckage that Mulder witnessed - which was a UFO.

Mulder manages to find this wreckage through his informant, Deep Throat. He has 24 hours until the entire area of the wreckage is sanitized, so he has to be quick. He ventures up there without Scully to conduct a little investigation of his own. This is how dedicated Mulder is to his cause. He goes full out with the gear, sneaking around and getting as close as he possibly can to the wreckage. He does it what it takes, even if that involves having to traipse through miles of forest. His curiosity always gets the better of him and puts him in dangerous situations that he need not put himself in. I assume this is what he was like before Scully came along, before he ever had a partner on these cases. It's a wonder how Mulder never got killed before Scully got assigned to him, to be honest.

(via foxanddana)

Even though he does eventually get caught, at least it's not a repeat of his close encounter in 'Deep Throat'. Mulder sees what he wants to see - the UFO - but doesn't get his memory wiped this time. He may get the camera taken away from him, as he does in 'Deep Throat'. But he'll always have what he saw in his mind, he'll always know that he isn't crazy. Which probably, in the long run, makes him even crazier. 

'Fallen Angel' gives us an introduction to an ally of Mulder's - Max Fenig (Scott Bellis). After being interrogated, Mulder gets detained alongside Max, an eccentric NICAP member. He's much like an extended Lone Gunmen member, (even though they have yet to be introduced). One could say that Max is an alternate Mulder if he wasn't in the FBI. 

Max is detained for the same reason as Mulder, but Max didn't manage to get as far as Mulder did in terms of being able to view the wreckage. Even though Max didn't get to see it, he knows that 'it's like the Roswell cover up all over again'. 

Mulder is known within the NICAP community, ever since he became involved with The X-Files. Mulder has written articles about UFO sightings and phenomena under the pseudonym M. F. Luder, which Max has been following along with his career. Although, Mulder never thought anyone was paying attention, a sentiment that I relate to strongly.

Whilst Mulder is detained after being interrogated along with Max, the next morning Scully arrives with an understandable degree of aggravation to retrieve Mulder. Max has already been released, but Mulder faces threat of The X-Files being shut down because of his reckless actions. Mulder may not see it through is blind faith that he's right and Scully's wrong, but Scully acts as his beacon of light - literally in the sense in which she enters the holding cell; as she opens the door and all you see is her silhouette with billowing light behind her. It's what Mulder sees, too, and he knows she's come to save him, however annoyed she is with him.

 (via danscullys)

This episode goes to show how Mulder always has too much on his mind through his beliefs, which continually cloud his judgment. He needs Scully to ground him to make sure that he still has a job, which she does continually through this episode through reminding him that they have a hearing the next day to keep their jobs on The X-Files. 

A hearing that they should be going to straight away, that is until Mulder theorizes that Max is a victim of alien abduction. He figures this out after he goes to speak with Max whilst Scully is at the hospital tending to recent victims of what Mulder believes to be close encounter fatalities. Mulder finds Max suffering from an epileptic seizure, a scene that displays a tender moment between the two as Mulder holds Max as he eventually comes back to consciousness. As this happens, Mulder discovers a mysterious scar behind Max's ear. This seems to remind Mulder of something in The X-Files, so he reviews some early files and finds similar scars on two reported alien abductees. 

Scully doesn't buy this one bit, linking Max's experiences to the schizophrenic medication that he keeps in his trailer. But Mulder thinks that even though Max is a UFO fanatic such as he is, he has no idea that these abductions are taking place. That he was guided to Townsend by his abductors, much like Mulder was guided there by Deep Throat. 

Max's abductors precede to hover over his trailer and abduct him again, with Mulder and Scully finding him missing from his trailer, with an Army radio transmission signaling the duo that he has been transported to the Waterfront. Scully makes a point to Mulder that they need to get back to D.C. for the hearing, but they head to the Waterfront anyway to find Max. 

Scully always manages to give in to Mulder. Even if it's going against her better judgment, like Mulder pleading her to give him the keys to their car so they can go find him. Mulder's passion is so blinding to Scully, it can be extremely manipulative at times. Not in a bad way, as Mulder isn't consciously doing it to get his way, but it's his sheer excitement and belief in what he knows is true (and is true) that ultimately sways Scully into doing the wrong thing. But even at this point, Scully's swaying more towards the fact that Max is a victim of alien abduction than what the government have been trying to persuade them both from the beginning.

  (via qqmoarz)

'Fallen Angel' highlights that even though Scully eventually comes to believe Mulder, or at least appreciates his theories and listens to him, she's the only one that does. She's meant to be there to debunk his work. But Mulder manages to see aliens again once he finds Max, yet he cannot tell anyone without them not believing him. This is especially shown in the hearing that they nearly miss, as they won't listen to Mulder's theories, even to the point of him yelling at them to try and get his point across. Scully even tries to make a statement to their superiors at how they are treating Mulder unfairly. 

Scully knows and can see how much Mulder believes, and feels it's her duty to make other people see it. She may not believe in most things that he believes in, but she respects his cause and goals. This episode further cements that Scully's in it for the long haul, and will do anything to defend Mulder's actions and beliefs. However 'off-the-books' they may seem.


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