Wednesday, 30 September 2015

X-Files Rewatch | Little Green Men & The Host

It's the beginning of season two and the X-Files are no more. But that doesn't stop Mulder and Scully facing off aliens and mutated parasites left right and centre. 

After the inevitable closure of the X-Files, Mulder and Scully have been placed in mundane and unimportant assignments. Mulder more so, being subjected to spending his work hours wiretapping. You can already tell Mulder hates being there without him having to voice that fact, with the amount of sunflower seeds strewn around the desk and shells on the floor. 

The absence of the X-Files and Mulder's electronic surveillance adventures lead him to question his commitment to his pursuit of the paranormal; that is until one of his connections in congress informs him of damning evidence that there might actually be life outside Earth. What looks to be an abandoned satellite centre in Puerto Rico is receiving the images and sounds sent from Earth to space in 1977. Someone out there is listening, and is trying to communicate. 

This sets Mulder on a frenzy to witness this evidence first hand, dropping everything to make his way to Puerto Rico. His friend in congress promises to delay the higher powers from Mulder as long as he can for Mulder to get there undetected, his guess being that Mulder will have 24 hours. After that, he can no longer hold off the Blue Beret UFO Retrieval team. If Mulder get's caught up with them, they have been authorised to display terminal force. 

MULDER: What am I looking for?
SENATOR: Contact. 

'Little Green Men' serves as an X-Files pilot part two. It acts as a strong vehicle in reintroducing what the pilot brought to the table in the first series, but this time with much more depth and added history from the twenty four episodes we've already witnessed of Mulder and Scully's search for the truth. It serves purpose as a strong character episode in terms of Mulder's crisis of faith due to his life's work and partner being taken out from underneath him. 

Mulder is so far gone that he has not only lost the one person he trusts, but he has also lost trust in himself, mainly because of his memories regarding his sister's abduction. After Mulder and Scully meet in the Watergate complex, it sparks Mulder's memory to the night Samantha disappeared. This is the first time we witness how Samantha was abducted through the eyes of Mulder. It seems as though Mulder suffers from PSTD from the abduction, as he wakes from a recurring nightmare in his apartment. 

The loss of the X-Files, Scully and his growing depression and isolation are disheartening to watch, especially since it really hasn't been that long since the X-Files were closed. Mulder is a strong-headed individual, but unfortunately seems to be ridden with self-doubt under the surface, and all he needs is a catalyst to fall back down the rabbit hole as he does in this episode. Scully even tries to reach out to him, which honesty makes Mulder's fall worse. Mulder had been searching for the truth relying by himself, he finally had someone of whom he could trust and someone that believed in him and that he wasn't just 'Spooky' Mulder. But as soon as their trust and friendship began to incline, she was taken away from him. Additionally, funnily enough Mulder actually does listen to Scully's rationale that you need solid evidence to even begin to close a case. He's learned from her and has ingrained it onto his brain, making it even harder to succumb to relying on distant memories that his sister was abducted. He has no evidence pertaining to it, much like he and Scully rarely did on cases. 

Scully isn't having any of this, though. She may try to lead Mulder on the right path pertaining to actually having evidence for cases, she can't bear to see his blinding passion being taken away from him so easily and she's having none of it. Mulder is such a passionate and intelligent person, and Scully can see that. She hates seeing him so defeated because the X-Files have been taken away from them. She has to look after Mulder in a lot of ways, like training him out of being so paranoid about everything. To stop them having conversations in dimly lit parking garages like Mulder used to with Deep Throat. 

Mulder may have already learned from Scully that he needs evidence to support his theories for their superiors to take the X-Files seriously, and Mulder himself. But Mulder has also taught Scully to have more of an open mind at the beginning of this season due to all the freaky monsters she's been subject too throughout the first season, along with the alien foetus in the season one finale. 

Even though Mulder and Scully have been separated, they aren't quitting on each other. They seem to have a system in place without Skinner or any of their superiors knowing. Scully puts Mulder's photograph of Samantha on his desk face down with a post-it note to signal Mulder. Even here, you can see that Samantha is clearly still effecting him, as when he removes the post-it he stares longingly at the photograph. He's lost without the X-Files, the X-Files are his only real connection to his sister and now to Scully. 

It's the conversation in the parking garage that becomes one of the most important conversations that Mulder and Scully ever have. It's the beginning of the second season, and it's being established straight away that they're not just work partners any more. They weren't just work partners after the Bellefluer case to be honest. But it's here that you can see that faced with being split up, they'll do anything to see each other. Especially Scully on this occasion. 

By the end of 'Little Green Men', it looks as though Mulder has his hands on some promising evidence and experiences from his alien vacation to Puerto Rico, but seemingly ends up with nothing and ends right back where he started. But after all he's seen up in the isolated survey station, he has a new sense of purpose. He may still be stuck in a dead end part of the bureau, and Scully may still be in Quantico, but he has a renewed sense of hope for the future of himself and Scully. 

MULDER: Well, I may not have the X-Files, Scully, but I still have my work. I still have you. I still have myself."

I adore the introductory monologue spoken by Mulder in this episode: 
"We wanted to believe. We wanted to call out. On August 20, September 5th 1977, two spacecraft were launched from the Kennedy Space Flight Center, Florida. They were called 'Voyager'. Each one carries a message. A gold plated record depicting images and sounds of our planet. Arranged so that it may be understood if ever intercepted by a technological, mature extra-terrestrial civilization. Thirteen years after its launch, Voyager One passed the orbital plain of Neptune and essentially left our solar system. Within that time, there were no further messages sent, nor are any planet. We wanted to listen. On October 12, 1992 NASA initiated a high resolution microwave survey. A decade long search by radio telescopes, scanning ten million frequencies for any transition by extra-terrestrial intelligence. Less than one year later, first term Nevada senator Richard Brian successfully championed an amendment with terminated the project. I wanted to believe, but the tools had been taken away. The X-Files had been shut down. They closed our eyes, our voices have been silenced, our ears now deaf to the realms of extreme possibilities."
Really good casting in terms of Mulder as a kid. 

Lovin' Mulder's Puerto Rico outfit combo. Raybans and all. I'm not kidding, I'd wear that. And he looks extremely hot. In both ways. 

This exchange: 

SCULLY: I was told by the Assistant Director that Mulder was gone. 

SCULLY: So, whenever he's away I feed his fish. 

Scully at Mulder's apartment. Listening to his answering machine, actually shows that he at least tries to have a life, but is obviously unsuccessful as he's stood someone up for lunch to go hunt for aliens. Priorities. Also looking on Mulder's computer and needing to figure out the password. Tries: SPOOKY and SAMANTHA, but ends up getting the correct match with TRUSTNO1. Only three tries. Way to go, Scully. 

Mulder will go anywhere for the truth. Even if that's going all the way to South America. 

Scully looking at the flight manifestos to see which flight Mulder took to either California or Puerto Rico. Spots a familiar name - George E. Hale. An alias Mulder uses, like M F Luder. 

The way Mulder is talking to a tape recorder and recording what he finds around the control room reminds me of Cooper talking to 'Diane' in Twin Peaks. Eventually we find out that he's making these tapes either for Scully to listen to, or is just using Scully as someone to direct his thought passages at. 

MAN: Well, anyway. She's onstage dancing to that Offspring dance, 'Come Out and Play'. 

THE OFFSPRING: The Offspring are an American punk rock band from California that formed in 1984. 'Come Out and Play' is the lead single off their third record, released in 1994. 

Safe to say I freaked out when they were mentioned, seeing as they're one of my favourite bands. 

TROISKY: Looks like the 'wow!' signal. 

'WOW!' SIGNAL: Ohio State has a radio telescope that conducts electronic searches for extra-terrestrial intelligence. In August, 1977 a transmission on the printout was found. The man who found the signal was so excited, he wrote 'wow!' in the margins. A signal was found, which was thirty times stronger than background galactic noise. It came through on the 21cm frequency which no satellite transmitters are allowed to use. The signal was intermittent like Morse code, and seemed to turn itself on while in the telescopes beam. But the signal Mulder is given in the episode is even better.

SETI PROJECT: The search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) is the name given for scientific activities undertaken whilst searching for intelligent extraterrestrial life. The project started in 1959 by searching for radio signals being created by intelligent life in space. The project used radio telescopes around the world to scan the sky to look for specific patterns in radio waves that could have been sent from other civilizations in space. 

MULDER: Good thing it wasn't a double Jeopardy! question.

This is a reference to the popular TV game show, Jeopardy!, more specifically the second round. A show in which Duchovny guest starred on in 1995 that he lost.

MULDER: Leave it, I'm watching The Magician at nine. 

The Magician was one of creator Chris Carter's favourite shows when he was a teenager. It was an NBC television series that ran during 1973-1974. The series focused on stage illusionist Anthony Blake who used his skills to solve crimes. 

THE VOYAGER PROJECT: The Voyager Program is a continuing American scientific program that has two robotic probes, Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 in the solar system to study it. They were launched in 1977 due to the alignment of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune and are now exploring the outer boundary of the heliosphere. Their original mission was to study the planetary systems of Jupiter and Saturn, with Voyager 2 continuing on to Uranus and Neptune. Both Voyagers are now exploring interstellar space. The mission has been expended three times. 

Each carried a universal message intended for any alien life they might encounter. These messages are contained on a 12-inch golden phonograph on both Voyagers, which have pictures and sounds of Earth with symbolic directions on the cover for playing the record and data detailing the location of our planet. The contents were selected by NASA by a committee chaired by Carl Sagan. Sagan and his associates assembled 116 images and a variety of natural sounds (made by surf, wind, thunder and animals), musical selections from different cultures, spoken greetings in 55 ancient and modern languages, and printed messages from United States president Jimmy Carter and U.N. Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim. 

The images on the phonograph are in both black and white and colour. The images include mathematical and physical quantities, the solar system and it's planets, DNA, and human anatomy and reproduction. There are also photographs of animals and insects, plants and landscapes, food, architecture and humans in portraits. The music selection is varied, featuring artists such as Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Stravinsky, Guan Pinghu, Blind Willie Johnson, Chuck Berry, Kerkar and Valya Balkanska. Sagan suggested The Beatles song 'Here Comes The Sun' to be on the record, but EMI declined due to copyright concerns.

SENATOR MATHESON: Are you familiar with the high-resolution microwave survey in Arecibo? 

The Arecibo Observatory is a radio telescope in Arecibo, Puerto Rico. The observatory is operated by SRI International, USRA and UMET, under cooperative agreement with the National Space Foundation (NSF). The observatory's 1,000 ft (305 m) radio telescope is the world's largest single-aperture telescope. It is used in radio astronomy, atmospheric science and radar astronomy.

Matheson directs Mulder to the site. Even though Mulder says that the project was terminated by Nevada Senator Richard Bryan, the telescope still scans the sky for signs of intelligent life as part of the SETI project.

The telescope is also featured in the 1997 film Contact.

Scully's back at Quantico, teaching medical students:
SCULLY: What this man imagined, his dreams, who he loved, saw, heard, remembered, what he feared...somehow it's all locked in this small mass of tissue and fluid.

Mulder records his own autopsy addressed to Scully to give her a rough idea of what Juan's body looked like if Mulder doesn't get back in time, or at all:

MULDER: Although I'm not a qualified pathologist, I will record my observations of the body in case of future time decomposition should obscure forensic evidence...the expression reflects, my God Scully. It's as if he's been frightened to death."  

SENATOR: Do you know this Fox?
MULDER: It's Bach. Brandenburg Concerto No. 3.
SENATOR: (Holding up two fingers) Two.
MULDER: Good thing it wasn't a double jeopardy question.

SENATOR: Do you like Bach, Mulder?
MULDER: I live for Bach.

JORGE: (Touches red button)
MULDER: NO! Jorge, don't touch that red button. Nojo on the rojo. (You can totally see David trying not to laugh saying that).

WOMAN: Are you okay, Agent Scully? You kinda sounded a little...spooky. 

Clearly both of them are missing each other, then. Obviously.

MULDER: I was sent here by one of those people. Deep Throat said to trust no one. That's hard, Scully. Suspecting everyone, everything, it wears you down. You even begin to doubt what you know is the truth. Before, I could only trust myself. Now I can only trust you. And they've taken you away from me. My life up to this point has been about the need to see her again. To see them. But what would I do if they really came?" 

Mulder shielding Scully from the bullets when they're rally driving away from the survey station. This being after all the unnecessary grabbing and touching when Scully finds Mulder. 

After Mulder tells Scully that he still has his work, himself and her Scully holds Mulder's hand. He still has her, and always will have her. This is also the first time he mentions having himself. Scully makes him feel worthy of actually liking himself. She makes him feel human because she likes him. Scully is the first person to stick around because of him, not because of what he can do. 

Mulder and Scully have yet to be reunited, but there's nothing like another demon mutant to bring two partner's closer together. Scully decides to help Mulder with his latest case that Skinner has assigned to him, to make sure that Mulder doesn't go ahead and quit the bureau due to his passion and interest decreasingly disappearing. 

As Gillan Anderson was increasingly pregnant at the time of filming the last part of season one and the first part of season two, the writers had to find a way to write Scully out of the majority of the beginning of season two before she left to give birth. Hence why even in this case which is spurred on by Scully's involvement, she doesn't have a particular amount of scenes. The majority of her scenes are shot from the chest upwards to combat showing that she was pregnant. In turn, we've got a lot of Mulder centric storylines in the first 6 episodes of the second season, which I ain't complaining about. 

'The Host' opens similarly to 'Little Green Men', with Mulder paying no attention to the electronic surveillance that he's supposed to be doing. Instead his focus is waning on playing with Styrofoam cups and launching sunflower seeds and shells into them. It turns out that Mulder is being relieved from that current assignment, after being requested to investigate a murder case in New Jersey by Skinner. Mulder isn't too happy about this though, storming into Skinner's office demanding to speak with him about why he's being put on useless assignments. His little outburst turns out to be when Skinner is in a meeting, leading to a very awkward encounter of Mulder having to explain why he regards his homicide case in New Jersey as meaningless. Mulder insinuates it's a waste of time, with Skinner then insinuating that Mulder's work on the X-Files was also a waster of time. BURN.


In terms of a monster-of-the-week, 'The Host' is somewhat lacking. Granted, the flukeman scares the absolute hell out of me and the idea that mutants such as that could be living in sewers is too much to comprehend, that's all this episode hinges on. The episode doesn't entirely flow to well. There is vast amount of horror in terms of the flukeman, cute Mulder/Scully moments and some tense sense involving a Jaws inspired scene towards the end - but everything else seems to drain into the background. 

'The Host' does mark the first episode that Mulder and Scully witness the monster together, this kind of monster anyway. One that's unbelievable. What's even more unbelievable is that Skinner actually accepts Mulder's field report. Mulder (and myself included) laughs at him, due to the unexpected response from the bizarre nature of the case and of the suspect. There's no way in hell the case will be able to be prosecuted, even though they have the suspect. 

MULDER: This is not a man, this is a monster. You can't put it in an institution.
SKINNER: What do you want to do with it, Agent Mulder? Put it in a zoo? It killed two people.

It's quite disappointing that this episode doesn't flow as well as hoped. It introduces and touches upon some very important characteristics for the show. This episode marks the first introduction to Mulder and Scully's new informant, Deep Throat's predecessor. The yet to be named source wants the X-Files reopened immediately, as do Mulder and Scully. Skinner actually turns out to be in the same boat, after Mulder reminds him that he had two agents that could have solved this case easily if their department wasn't closed. 

Mulder so desperately want's the X-Files to be reopened, he even goes as far as threatening to leave the FBI. Scully is determined this isn't going to happen, even if she isn't working with him. Mulder thinks that he'll be able to continue his work into the paranormal (Ghostbusters, anyone? How cool would that have been?). Scully suggests he could request a transfer to Quantico to go back to the Behavioural Science Unit. Basically so that they can be closer with each other, or even work together again. But Mulder points out that Skinner and co. don't want them working with each other. But that's the only reason he can think of to stay. 

As much as I love how much this episode scares me - there always feels like there's something missing. I assume it's the pacing and the dwelling in the sewers, but it just doesn't fit well within the likes of episodes like 'Squeeze' or 'Tooms'. Although kudos to the costume and make-up department for making one of the most terrifying monsters to ever grace both The X-Files and television screens. 

I've never been able to use a port-a-loo the same way since I first watched this episode. Every single time I go in one I have flashbacks to this.

I don't know how Mulder doesn't suffer from constant nightmares of monsters from the things he witnesses. Hell, I don't know how I don't from watching the show.

I love the part where the guy transferring the fluke to the institution gets killed, and the camera pans up to the sign that says 'Live Bait'.

Darin Morgan plays the Flukeman. He's the brother of co-executive producer Glen Morgan, and eventually became a writer on the show. 

This episode marks the first appearance of X. When a confidential source phones Mulder to say that he has 'a friend in the FBI', the actor on the phone isn't actually Steven Williams. The voice was eventually dubbed over after Williams' was cast as X in 'Sleepless'.

MULDER: I know these. These are from Chernobyl.
SCULLY: That creature came off a decommissioned Russian freighter that was used in the disposal of salvage material from the meltdown. It was born in the primordial soup of radioactive sewage.
MULDER: You know, they say three species disappear off the planet every day. You wonder how many new ones are being created. 

Mulder is referring to the Chernobyl disaster of 1986. It was a catastrophic nuclear disaster that occurred at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine, which was under the direct jurisdiction of the central authorities of the Soviet Union. The cloud of radioactive material that was released that day still effects people due to the cloud increasing the chances of cancer and physical abnormalities. The site of the explosion is deserted and policed, and a clean-up operation is still in place. 


SCULLY: Body is an adult male with advanced tissue decomposition. Weighing 165 pounds in extremis, 65 inches in length. Intact skin is modelled and discoloured due to submergence in and exposure to a highly bacterial environment. Cause and time of death - Unknown. Possible identifying mark on right forearm. Body cavities appear normal, interior organs intact, consistent in rate of decomposition. Condition of heart and lungs are good, no sign of thrombi, natural or denigrative diseases. Indicate victim was probably a young adult. The liver shows some nodular hardening consistent with concipient alcoholism-
 Then a worm comes out of the cavity. Some sort of parasite.

Turbellaria. Commonly known as a fluke or flatworm. Attached itself to the bile duct and was feeding off of the man's liver. Something like 40 million people are affected with it worldwide.

Flukes are endemic in unsanitary conditions. It's more likely that the victim contracted it down inside the sewer. Unlikely that a single parasite could have killed the man. No other concernable cause of death. They attach themselves with a tiny organ called a skollex. They are endoparasites, they live inside the host, entering the body through the ingestion of larvae or eggs. They are not creatures that go around attacking people. The tubellarian flatworms are free living carnivorous scavengers, usually less than 3cm in length, found in fresh and seawater. They are hermaphroditic with complex reproductive systems, capable of internal fertilization. Many species requite more than one host to complete a life cycle. Although the shape of the wound on the sanitation worker suggest skolex attachment, the sheer size of the wound precludes involvement of the common flukeworm.

The fluke attacks because it's looking for hosts. It attacks because the victims bodies have generative nourishment. If it can get into more bodies, then there's a chance that it will multiply.

MULDER: (Handing other agent a bag of sunflower seeds) Treat yourself.

DETECTIVE: Watch yourself.
MULDER: Yeah, wouldn't want to step in anything.

DETECTIVE: They say it cuts the smell if you don't breathe through your mouth.
MULDER: They lied.

DETECTIVE: Front side of the body is pretty much eaten away. Would you like us to turn him over for you?
MULDER: No, I'll take your word on that.

SKINNER: Is there a problem, Agent Mulder?
MULDER: Yeah, there is.
SKINNER: Then make an appointment.
MULDER: It's kinda hard to make an appointment when you're up to your ass in raw sewage being jerked from one meaningless assignment to another.
SKINNER: Excuse me?
MULDER: What's my next punishment, scrubbing the bathroom floors with a toothbrush?
SKINNER: You're way out of line, Agent Mulder.
MULDER: So I gathered.

MULDER: You know, sometimes it just gets hard to smile through it when they ask you to bend down and grab your ankles, you know?

SCULLY: Apparently it attached itself to the bile duct and was feeding off the liver.
MULDER: Lovely.

MULDER: This isn't where you tell me some terrible story about sushi is it?

MULDER: So what, the murder weapon was a top sirloin?

MULDER: (Picking up flukeworm in jar) How big can these things get?
SCULLY: Mulder! I-I'm sorry. Felt like old times there for a second. 

KILL ME. They stand there grinning at each other, too.

SCULLY: And Mulder, when you see Skinner to hand in your field report, I know that it's your decision, but I hope you know that I'd consider it more than a professional loss if you decided to leave. 

Mulder looks astonished. No one's cared for him in the bureau in even a professional way, none the less in a personal way before. Scully is his one in five billion, as he mentions to her later on in the series.

SCULLY: Is this seat taken?
MULDER: No, but I should warn you I may reek a bit of the sewer.
SCULLY: I'll take my chances. 

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