Thursday, 10 September 2015

X-Files Rewatch | E.B.E. & Miracle Man

Time to delve back into the mythology and get a dose of faith healing in 'E.B.E.' and 'Miracle Man'.

The X-Files begins its return to its developing mythology, focusing on a downed UFO near Iraqi airspace. Mulder and Scully follow an unmarked truck, housing what Mulder believes to be both the wreckage and the UFOs occupant - an extra-terrestrial biological entity (E.B.E.). 'E.B.E.' also marks the first appearance of the series (and Mulder's) beloved trio, The Lone Gunmen. 

Close encounter after close encounter occur throughout the episode. The pilot in the cold open, the unmarked truck driver and eventually Mulder and Scully - although they seem to be duped by an extreme but elaborate hoax. The truck driver is Mulder and Scully's main concern, as he seems to recall a familiar set of tell-tale signs of alien abductions/encounters. Both Mulder and Scully are exposed to this later in the episode through a string of callbacks to the Pilot episode - losing radio signal, loss of time and sudden power loss. 

'E.B.E.' is shrouded with the constant mystery of what the government conspirators are hiding. Mulder has constantly been strung along by Deep Throat throughout the first season, he never seems to second guess his intentions. For a man that sticks by the motto of 'Trust No One', he puts all his faith and trust into a man that could all the while being deceiving him. 'E.B.E.' truly marks the beginning of Mulder and Scully's 'us against the world' mentality, as Scully eventually brings Mulder's attention to Deep Throat's constant deceptions. Especially in the form of the photograph Deep Throat gives to Mulder of a 'real' UFO. 

Mulder may believe that he's in possession of the best photo of a UFO he's even seen, but he still has to show Scully to see if she believes it or not. Scully concludes that it's fake, due to the shadow falling contradictory to the soldier's shadow and the reflection in the car window. But Mulder won't take any of this, and constantly defends himself each time. Scully points something else out, which leads to a heated argument between the two: 

MULDER: "Why don't you just admit it Scully, you're determined not to believe him." 
SCULLY: "Well maybe you're too determined to believe him." 
MULDER: "I'm determined to follow a lead that may result in the proof of the existence of extra-terrestrial biological entities. I need to go." 
SCULLY: "Mulder, listen to me." 
SCULLY: "Please! Will you just hear me? I have never met anyone so passionate and dedicated to a belief as you. It's so intense that sometimes it's blinding. But there are others who are watching you who know what I know. Whereas I can respect and admire that passion, they will use it against you. Mulder, the truth is out there. But so are lies." 

Mulder abruptly leaves after this, but he does take Scully's advice and gets the photograph analyzed. It turns out she was right. Mulder always seems to do this. He has an argument with Scully about why he's right, then actually does what she suggests and she manages to make him see past what he wants to see. Scully enables Mulder to see past the lies. 

Mulder needs Scully to help see past his delusions, but Scully also needs Mulder. She admires to Mulder that he's the only one she trusts. She's in deep now. Scully's beginning to mistrust the government as much as Mulder already does. Mulder's paranoia may take hold in a more obvious way through trashing his apartment to look for a piece of surveillance equipment (a homage to the final scene of the 1974 film The Conversation) - which turns out to be in a plug socket. Scully finds her mistrust in a simpler way from stumbling across it, through a pen.

Scully's never going back to her original assignment to Mulder of debunking his work, due to all the things she's already seen with him - whether she believes half of it or not - and through becoming friends with him. 

You can see this change in her character shine in this episode, especially when they're exposed to the hoax encounter. She asks Mulder, "What just happened, does it fit the profile?" Scully doesn't have any rational thought as to what they both just witnessed, she's visibly shaken. It's a stark contrast to this happening in the Pilot in pretty much the same way, as she now actually believes that they had a close encounter and is confiding in Mulder as to whether they did or not. 

The introduction to The Lone Gunmen is the highlight of this episode. It's the first time you see Mulder truly happy outside of him being around Scully. You can tell that Byers, Langly and Frohike were Mulder's only friends before Scully got assigned to him. It's really enlightening to see him laughing along with the trio and enjoying himself. Scully seems to enjoy seeing him be himself around other people rather than just her, too. 

'E.B.E.' is a great episode in terms of delving back into the mythology. It doesn't reveal much, as we already knew of the deep government conspiracy watching Mulder and Scully and concealing the evidence of extra-terrestrial life, but both Mulder and Scully seem to get the closest they've ever gotten to it. They're both beginning to realise how dark and deep this really goes, with the episode ending with Deep Throat walking off into the shadows.

Scully thinking that The Lone Gunmen were the most paranoid people she's ever met. Mulder is now a close second. 

This is one of my favourite conversations between Mulder and Scully throughout the whole show: 

SCULLY: "From the trucker's description, the shape he fired upon could conceivably have been a mountain lions."
MULDER: "Conceivably."
SCULLY: "The national weather service last night reported atmospheric conditions in this area, which were possibly conductive to lightning." 
MULDER: "Possibly."
SCULLY: "It is feasible that the truck was struck by lightning, creating an electric failure."
MULDER: "It's feasible." 
SCULLY: "And you know there's a marsh over there, those lights the driver saw might have been swamp gas." 
MULDER: "Swamp gas?" 
SCULLY: "It's a natural phenomenon." 
MULDER: "Happens to me when I eat Dodger dogs."

Since when did Mulder even have a doorbell? 

Of course, Deep Throat. Meet Mulder in an aquarium. That's not the slightest bit suspicious. 

How does Mulder know where to meet Deep Throat each time? Do they talk about it in advance? How does he know where to be with just a click on the phone? 

"If shark's stop swimming, they will die. Don't stop swimming, Mr. Mulder." I do like that analogy from Deep Throat, but I couldn't help thinking to myself: Just keep swimming, just keep swimming...

I love the score in this episode. I don't know why. I think it's the piano, it seems more alien-y. 

Several UFO sightings in Mattawa, Washington. Mulder and Scully come across my kind of party, a UFO party. 

"Like the reaction to the Kennedy assassination, or MIAs, or radiation experiments on terminal patients, Watergate, Iran Contra, Roswell, the Tuskegee experiments...Where will it end?" Mulder could make up his own version of 'We Didn't Start The Fire' with this. 

Mulder is alluding to events that may or may not have some extent of some sort of government cover-ups:

Kennedy assassination: Lee Harvey Oswald has long been believed to have been a pawn in a conspiracy to assassinate Kennedy. 

MIAs: People thought to still be missing in action in Vietnam that the government didn't bother in finding. 

Radiation experiments: Experiments that have been believed to have been conducted on people without their knowledge. 

Watergate: A major political scandal as a result of a break-in at the Democratic National Committee in 1972 headquarters at the Watergate office complex in Washington, D.C. The term 'Watergate' described multiple illegal activities of the Nixon administration, including bugging offices of political opponents and people of whom Nixon was suspicious of, harassment of activist groups and political figures. The Watergate scandal eventually led to the resignation of Nixon as President of the United States in August 1974.

Iran Contra: Similar to the Watergate scandal, the Iran Contra was also referred to as Irangate. It was a political scandal in the United States that occurred during the second term of the Reagan Administration through secretly facilitating the sale of arms to Iran, which was the subject of an arms embargo.

Roswell: In mid-1947, what was believed to be a UFO crashed in the New Mexican desert at a ranch near Roswell. The military reported that the downed craft was a United States Air Force surveillance balloon after suggesting it was a weather balloon. Interest decreased from there on-wards until the 1970s, when ufologists began coming up with elaborate conspiracy theories, claiming that more than one spacecraft crashed and the extraterrestrial occupants had been recovered and removed by the military and were subsequently hidden in Area 51 and other government air bases around the US.

Tuskegee: Referring to an infamous experiment conducted between 1932 and 1972 by the U.S. Public Health Service to study the natural progression of untreated syphilis in rural African-American men in Alabama. 399 African men were enrolled in the testing process, never being told what they were suffering from and were subsequently never treated. They had no consent, no information and the test only proved something once the men died. By the end of 1972, 28 men had died of direct consequence, 100 from complications, 40 of their wives had been infected and 19 children were born with the disease. 

"The cough, the fever, the rash - those are all symptoms of Gulf War Syndrome". The definition of Gulf War Syndrome: "A medical condition affecting many veterans of the 1991 Gulf War, causing fatigue, chronic headaches, and skin and respiratory disorders. Its origin is uncertain, though it has been attributed to exposure to a combination of pesticides, vaccines and other chemicals."

"Let's just say I have a source with a deep background." Ayyyy 

"I don't speak Japanese, but I think some businessman told me to stick a piece of sushi where the sun don't shine." 

BYERS: "He's being put into power by the most heinous and evil force of the 21st century." 
MULDER: "Barney?" 

"Imagine if Eisenhower told the rest of the allies that the D-Day would take place in Belgium." 

DEEP THROAT: "You're awfully quiet, Mr. Mulder." 
MULDER: "I'm just wondering which lie to believe." 

"Maybe they're just using me against myself, like you said before. That I wanted so badly to believe that I just accept the obvious conclusions and walk away."

LANGLY: "Is this your skeptical partner?" 
FROHIKE: "She's hot."
(All continue talking) 
FROHIKE: "She is hot." 
MULDER: "Settle down, Frohike." 

MULDER: "He's never lied to me. I won't break that confidence. I trust him."
SCULLY: "Mulder, you're the only one I trust." 
MULDER: "Then you're going to have to trust me."

SCULLY: "I don't know how you could think that what they say is remotely plausible."
MULDER: "I think it's remotely plausible that someone might think you're hot."  

'Miracle Man' is a strange episode. Not strange in the usual X-Files sense, but in the way that the story is extremely perplexing. It makes little sense in the long run, and questions as to what happens are in reality left unanswered. 

Scully shows a video tape to Mulder of a famed faith healer, Sam Hartley, who has been miraculously healing the sick since 1983. He is the adoptive son of the creator of the 'Miracle Ministry', which has been under the microscope of the local authorities as they believe it is all a scam. Several deaths begin to occur at the hands of the 'healer' Sam, which gives the authorities a chance to close the 'Miracle Ministry' down for good. Mulder and Scully are called in to assist the investigation, with Mulder suspecting that Sam is truly a psychic healer, and the killings are being carried out by a third party. This is only after Sam feels Mulder's pain regarding his sister Samantha. 

The perplexing story come in the form of why a third party wanted to frame Sam, and why the authorities wanted Sam dead. That's what seems to come from this episode. The third party comes in the form on Vance, the man that Sam resurrected in 1983 at the scene of a car accident. Vance seems to have a marked vendetta against Sam for doing this, due to the quality of his life since being resurrected - i.e. being covered in burns. So, Vance decides to try and frame Sam because of this, by making it look as though his healing hand is a murder weapon.
(via carlithiel)
I have no idea what happened in this episode. Sam could heal people, he was the real deal. But then Vance thought he was a false prophet and tried to sabotage the ministry that he's involved with. Why wait so long to do it? It ends up being the local authorities that end up killing Sam anyway, through annoyance? I don't even know. It's a nice touch of police corruption to the story I guess, but they literally have no other motive than them believing the ministry is a scam, a hindrance and an annoyance. 

Even though we know how much pain Mulder is in due to his sister, it's refreshing to see it pop up now and again in MOTW episodes rather than just mythology episodes. You can see Scully's growth as Mulder's friend through this resurgence too, due to her face when Sam mentions the brother/sister part. She knows where he's going and wants him to sop, to prevent pain from Mulder and a revival of hope on his part. When it comes to Samantha, he will literally believe anything. Mulder has such a warped ideal of what happened due to him just wanting the truth and wanting his pain to end. He always seems to be tricked into thinking and believing the best possible outcome - that his sister is alive. He gets really defensive about it: 

MULDER: "I've seen her twice now."
SCULLY: "Maybe you just want to see her."
MULDER: "I'm not delusional, Scully." 
SCULLY: "Mulder, don't discount the power of suggestion." 

Even though this episode is convoluted in terms of actual story, I love how Mulder comes up with a bizarre theory and Scully just listens to him. Mulder believes that if a body emits an electromagnetic field, Sam can repair this energy field in order to heal, in turn being able to destroy it in order to kill (this is before we find out that Vance was the reason for the killings). Mulder will come up with an outlandish theory, but Scully doesn't debunk it. Instead, she just tries to make sure that what he believes to be true is actually true and if it can be applied in practical terms. 
'Miracle Man' ended up being a pretty forgettable episode. The only reason I remembered it was through an episode of Supernatural reminding me of it. The story never seems to go anywhere, and when it attempts to it doesn't end with a satisfying conclusion. 

Had 'Jesus He Knows Me' by Genesis playing in my head throughout the whole damn episode. 

"Come as you are...leave as you always wanted to be" - Please say this is some sort of veiled Nirvana reference. 

I don't know why televangelists freak me out and annoy me. 

The Exorcist is a 1973 supernatural horror film directed by William Friedkin. The film is an adaptation of the novel of the same name by William Peter Blatty. Both the book and the film are inspired by the 1949 exorcism of Roland Doe, both dealing with the demonic possession of a 12-year-old girl and her mother's attempts to get her child back through an exorcisms conducted by two priests. 

No autopsies performed on the bodies due to religious ground. Scully suggests they can organise to have the bodies exhumed. Somewhat of a callback to the Pilot when Mulder and Scully tried to exhume the body of one of the teenagers killed. 

"Grave digging and defying bodies as mortal sins." 

 "There's a whole library of medical literature dealing with unexplained spontaneous cures."

MULDER: "I think I saw some of these same people at Woodstock." 
SCULLY: "Mulder, you weren't at Woodstock." 
MULDER: "I saw the movie." 

"No, wait, wait. This is the part where they bring out Elvis." 

SCULLY: "Mulder, take a look at this." 
MULDER: " I have to?" 

SCULLY: "What exactly are you trying to find?" 
MULDER: "Clues?" 

"I think these people are looking too hard for miracles. So hard they make themselves see what they want to see."

Scully trying to rationalize a smorgasbord for infestation, "So what's next, slaying of the first born?" And Mulder chuckling at her.

MULDER: "You think the boy really did it?" 
MULDER: "Why not?" 
SCULLY: "I was raised a Catholic, and I have a certain familiarity with the scripture. And God never lets the devil steal the show." 
MULDER: "You must have really liked the Exorcist." 
SCULLY: "One of my favourite movies." 

SCULLY: "You've got that look on your face, Mulder." 
MULDER: "What look is that?" 
SCULLY: "The kind when you've forgotten your keys and you're trying to figure out how to get back into the house."

Reminds me of the "When I panic, I make this face" conversation in 'Fight the Future'.
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