Wednesday, 16 September 2015

X-Files Rewatch | Roland & The Erlenmeyer Flask

Mulder and Scully deal with another round of possession and a ground-breaking finale ends the first season of The X-Files. The truth is totally out there.

Mulder and Scully stumble across a series of murders at an aerospace testing facility, and proceed to investigate. They encounter Roland, a mentally challenged janitor at the research lab who is constantly haunted by flashes of visions and memories that aren't his own. It turns out that Roland is the long lost twin of Dr. Arthur Grable, a member of the research team who died six months prior to the string of murders in a car accident. Mulder concludes that Roland is being controlled by his dead brother, as Roland is completing the work that his brother never got the chance to complete. 

I say Mulder and Scully 'stumbled' across this case as they do. The episode never actually explains why Mulder and Scully are there, other than Scully briefly questioning Mulder: 

SCULLY: "Ok, but how is this an X-File? Mulder, you don't think this has anything do to with UFO technology?" 
MULDER: "There's something unexplainable here, Scully, but it's certainly not unidentifiable." 

How did they find about this in the first place? Surely the FBI were called in due to the nature of the death, but wouldn't reach out to the designated paranormal team to help them. Although, Mulder seems to have a knack of hearing about certain cases through the FBI grapevine and somehow managed to attain a paranormal aspect to them to ultimately win the investigation rights. 

'Roland' isn't a stand-out MOTW episode, but it does bring forth some pretty gruesome deaths that I hate watching and thinking about. Firstly, you've got someone being ripped to shreds by a turbine engine, then the liquid nitrogen death; which admittedly was pretty cool, especially in the way the body shatters. And hilarious through how they mark up the crime scene with all the broken fragments of the victim's head. 

I liked the premise of Roland being psychically controlled by his dead brother's cryogenically frozen head, seeing as its top tier crazy even for this show. But other than that, and the horrific deaths, this episode didn't really have a lot going for it.  

Reminds me of Good Will Hunting now I've seen the film. Mainly through a janitor (Roland) being able to do complicated math on a whiteboard - even though Roland is mentally challenged and is being controlled by his brother. 

Mulder the computer whiz - Figuring out the password (152626) through the sheet of paper that he stole from Roland. 

Cryogenically frozen - Like that Walt Disney myth. 

Like previous episode - Born Again. Revenge. Reincarnation or controlled by a deceased person. 

Mulder is really good at being able to personalize with victims/suspects. Roland - Trying to get him to tell Mulder about his dreams by telling him about his. 

MULDER: "The project that everyone says doesn't exist, does exist." 
SCULLY: "The Icarus project?" 
MULDER: "The next generation in jet engine design, capable of doubling current supersonic speeds using half the fuel. At least in theory." 

THE ICARUS PROJECT: A media and activist endeavored that is part of a larger movement characterized by the view that many phenomena labeled as mental illness should be regarded as 'dangerous gifts'. The name of the endeavor is derived from the Greek hero Icarus, and is metaphorically used to convey that these experiences can lead to 'potentially flying dangerously close to the sun'. The story of Icarus became a cautionary tale against Hubris and overreaching one's limits. 

MULDER: "I don't think they'll be performing this trick on Beakman's World. 

BEAKMAN'S WORLD: A kid's science show that ran on CBS from 1992-1997, where a scientist (Beakman) answered questions related to science and nature. 

MULDER: "Don't some autistic individuals display extraordinary abilities?" 
SCULLY: "Yes, but even severance behave only as human calculators, I mean they can perform certain functions but they can't tell you the value of anything or even the meaning of a number." 

"An organic object exposed to liquid nitrogen at minus three hundred and sixty degrees will become frozen, exhibiting great tensile strength, but is vulnerable to compression or impact."

"So maybe Roland's condition is a result of a damaged chromosome rejected by one of Arthur's cells." 

"Hey Roland, you're got more shirts than I do. I think this one will look stylin' today." 

"Is that you? Cool dude." 

"I don't think they'll be performing this trick on Beakman's World." 

"The way you work that toy, is like what's happening to you. You're the spaceship, Roland. And your dreams are the controls." 

Scully went to a wedding: 

MULDER: "How was the wedding?" 
SCULLY: "You mean the part where the groom passed out or the dog bit the drummer?" 
MULDER: "Did you catch the bouquet?" 
SCULLY: "Maybe. So, is that what you couldn't talk to me about over the phone?" 

Some men are hostile towards Scully, the scientists at the beginning in this case. Mulder never seems to intervene, which is a good thing. It lets Scully hold her ground. Mulder knows she doesn't need him to assert herself, she can do it by herself. 

The first X-Files finale opens with a brutal police car chase, guns, a deep harbor dive, toxic green blood and ends with a bang (literally). The motto has changed from 'The Truth is Out There' to 'Trust No One', which Mulder and Scully take to heart throughout the episode. Ultimately, they find that they only people they can trust in is each other. 

'The Erlenmeyer Flask' truly begins once Mulder is contacted by Deep Throat to check out what seems to be a trivial case of the man in the silver Ciera that was being pursued in the cold open. Deep Throat hasn't really given the agents anything to go by, but Mulder won't give up that easily. He knows something is there, otherwise why would Deep Throat go out of his way to get Mulder and Scully on the case in the first place? 

DEEP THROAT: "Inside the intelligent community there are so called black organizations, groups within groups conducting covert activities unknown at the highest levels of power.
Deep Throat's cryptic trail eventually leads the agents to a top-secret government research scheme that has ties within the Human Genome Project that has led to the creation of human-alien hybrids. Mulder and Scully have never been closer to the truth, and just as it becomes in arms reach and they begin to collect evidence, a clean-up crew begins to destroy their evidence and anyone involved with it - which nearly costs Mulder his life.

It turns out that this human-alien hybrid project has been occurring for years, since the government have had alien tissue since 1947, but not the technology. You'd think the year being 1947, this would be in direct correlation to the Roswell incident. But according to Deep Throat, Roswell was an elaborate smokescreen. Apparently, there have been half a dozen better salvage operations than that.

 (via itsrdj)

The human-alien hybrid experiments have been conducted at the hands of Dr. Berube, who in turn had six terminally ill volunteer patients to perform this experiment on. As a result of the extra-terrestrial therapy, all six patients began to recover from their illnesses. But they also developed inhuman strength, green toxic blood and the ability to breathe underwater.

They were never supposed to survive, although Mulder manages to find them at Zeus storage facility on Pandora Street, witnessing them in suspended animation within incubation tanks. He's beginning to discover the truth that he's sought so hard to find, but he doesn't know what to make of it. As soon as he gets Scully to come and witness the truth for herself, the clean-up operation has already begun. Scully takes his word, along with Deep Throat's. She's been exposed to so much throughout the finale, it's nice to see her openness to both Mulder's and Deep Throat's ideas. Especially Deep Throat, as she's been wary of his motives since Mulder began contact with him. The episode is the first (and last) time she meets him, and ultimately conspires with him to save Mulder's life at the end of the episode. At least Scully gets to understand why Mulder has trusted him all along, that Deep Throat has always been pushing and helping both Mulder and Scully along to uncover the government conspirators secrets: 

DEEP THROAT: "Let me tell you something you should know. In 1987, a group of children from a southern state were given what their parents thought was a routine inoculation. What they were injected with was a clone DNA from the contents of that package you're holding as a test. That's the kind of people you're dealing with."
SCULLY: "So why give it back to them?"
DEEP THROAT: "To save Mulder's life."
SCULLY: "At the risk of so many other lives?"
DEEP THROAT: "It's the tip of the iceberg. You and Mulder are the only ones who can bring it to light." 

'The Erlenmeyer Flask' sums up both Mulder's, Scully's and our fears of what the government are truly capable of and what they've been conducting behind closed doors, which is some pretty horrific biological experimentation. The finale subjects Mulder to the effects of the toxic green blood, and also tests Scully's skepticism finally, through both finding out that the contents of the Erlenmeyer flask certainly isn't monkey pee and what is being hidden in a secret government facility under the name 'Purity Control'. Scully's sudden realization that Mulder has been right all along and the overwhelming evidence to support this ultimately shuts down the X-Files for good. 

The episode ends where the story began, in a Raiders of the Lost Ark style containment facility within the depths of the Pentagon. Further insinuating that these shadows conspirators are operating right underneath the government's - and America's - noses. 

MULDER: "They're shutting us down, Scully. They called me tonight, and they said they're going to reassign us to other sections." 
SCULLY: "Who told you that?" 
MULDER: "Skinner. He said word came down from the top of the executive branch." 
SCULLY: "Mulder-"
MULDER: "It's over, Scully." 
SCULLY: "Well you have to lodge a protest, they can't-"
MULDER: "Yes, they can." 
SCULLY: "What are you gonna do?" 
MULDER: "I'm...not going to give up. I can't give up. Not as long as the truth is out there." 

Never seen a printer take screenshots off a VCR tape before. 

"I know it's not Silence of the Lambs, it's just what we do." 

Name of the episode is referenced in Breaking Bad thanks to X-Files alumni Vince Gilligan. 

Mulder being monitored again. Showing how deceiving the government is. Van outside the house trying to listen to his phone call. 

The tagline change. You know when that happens it's a serious episode. 

The exchange between Mulder and the Purity Control with the demise of Deep Throat plays out like something in a film. 

HUMAN GENOME PROJECT: Initiated in 1989, the Human Genome Project is an international scientific research project with the goal of determining the sequence of chemical base pairs which make up human DNA, and of identifying and mapping all of the genes of the human genome from both a physical and functional standpoint. 

The film that Mulder is watching in his apartment is the 1959 film Journey to the Center of the Earth, directed by Henry Lavin. It's based on the novel of the same name by Julies Verne, and tells the story of a Scottish professor and his colleagues that follow a trail down an extinct Icelandic volcano to the earth's center. 

ZEUS STORAGE, 1616 PANDORA STREET: Reference to Pandora's box. Pandora's box is an artifact in Greek mythology, taken from the myth of Pandora's creation in Hesiod's Works and Days. The 'box' was actually a large jar given to Pandora, which contained all the evils of the world. 

OBI-WAN KENOBI: A reference to The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Return of the Jedi (1983), where Obi-Wan Kenobi appears now and again to give Luke advice and guidance. Mulder is comparing Deep Throat to Obi-Wan. 

"The man we met yesterday kept this place like he was waiting for the people from Good Housekeeping to show up. I would never have pegged him as someone to do all this...or a Greg Louganis out the window." Mulder is referencing both the famous Olympic diver and the women's magazine established in 1885. Louganis performed a disastrous dive when he hit his head on the board on the way down, resulting in concussion. 

RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK: The scene in which the Cigarette Smoking Man places the box containing 'Purity Control' in the Pentagon storage facility resembles the scene in the 1981 Indiana Jones film, Raiders of the Lost Ark. In the film, the Ark of the Covenant is placed in a vast warehouse similar to that of in the Pentagon. Both scenes make the point that the government are covering up important scientific finds and keeping them away from the public eye. 

PURITY CONTROL: First impression, some kind of bacteria specimen. Most bacteria are symmetrical and smooth, but these are strange. Contain a virus. Berube may have been cloning them. Also contain something that look like chloroplasts. The only reason you would clone a virus inside bacteria is to inject it into something living. Gene therapy, which is still highly experimental. Maybe that's what he's doing with the monkeys. Bacteria like this may have existed, but not for millions of years. 

Exist nowhere in nature. By definition, extra-terrestrial. Although, they could be artificial too. Scully has her first encounter with the trust Mulder so boldly believes in. She doesn't know how to process the information. 

DEEP THROAT: "Calling it a night, Mr. Mulder?" 
MULDER: "My mother usually likes me home before the street lights come on." 

"Maybe this time we can cut out the Obi-Wan Kenobi crap." 

"The man we met yesterday kept this place like he was waiting for the people from Good Housekeeping to show up. I would have never pegged him as someone to do all this...or a Greg Luganis out the window." 

CREW-CUT MAN: "Your cellular phone's been ringing off the hook." 
MULDER: (Tied up with swollen eyes and face after being exposed to the toxic green blood) "I'm a popular guy, why don't you answer it for me?" 

MULDER: "What do you think it is?" 
SCULLY: "I don't know..." 
MULDER: "Well, can you find out for me?" 
SCULLY: "What are you gonna do?" 
MULDER: "See what else I can find out about Dr. Terrance Alan Berube." 
SCULLY: "Okay, Mulder. But I'm warning you, if this is monkey pee, you're on your own." 

Going on their separate investigations, once again. 

After being told that the bacteria are extra-terrestrial, Scully doesn't argue with Mulder about it. She calls him on the phone and states it as fact. She just needs science to back it up. She won't believe it when her core truth isn't there. Mulder's faith in her belief sways her, but she needs scientific evidence to truly believe. 

SCULLY: "I just want to say that I was wrong." 
MULDER: "It's okay, don't worry about it." 
SCULLY: "No, um, if you'd have listened to me, we wouldn't be here right now. I should always know to trust your instincts." 
MULDER: "Why? Nobody else does." 
SCULLY: (Smiling) "You know, I've always held science as sacred. I've always put my trust in the accepted facts. And what I saw last night, for the first time in my life I don't know what to believe." 
MULDER: "Well, whatever it is you still believe Scully, when you walk into that room, nothing sacred will hold." 

This conversation helps set up Scully's still belief of what Mulder witnessed in that storage facility. It may not be there when he tries to show her, but Scully has trust, faith and belief in him that it was. 

Scully calling Mulder and getting worried about where he is. Constantly phoning him: 

SCULLY: "Something's happened to him." 
DEEP THROAT: "They won't kill him." 
SCULLY: "How do you know that?"

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