Thursday, 15 June 2017

X-Files Rewatch | Colony

(source: DVDbash)

The X-Files often dabbles in a two-parter. A two-parter is used to enable the narrative focus of the episodes to be in-depth and deeply intertwined with the shows narrative. Although, many viewers would say a two-parter – especially in relation to The X-Files – is the bane of one’s existence. Especially when the dreaded ‘… to be continued’ pops up at the end of the first episode. 

‘Colony’ and ‘Endgame’ are the second time a two-parter has been implemented in shows canon; the first being earlier in the second season: ‘Duane Barry’, ‘Ascension’ and technically ‘One Breath’ if you forget about ‘3’ (which many fans often do). The unique aspect of both these episodes is that the story is told through flashback. ‘Colony’ opens in medias res, with Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) near-death in a field hospital in the middle of the Arctic. Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) bursts in as he’s being lowered into a tub of warm water (the doctors believe he has extreme hypothermia) and nearly loses it as she witnesses the state he is in, yelling at the doctor’s that the cold is the only thing keeping Mulder alive. As she says this, Mulder’s heart monitor flat lines. 

We won’t discover the fate of Mulder until the end of ‘End Game’, as the rest of ‘Colony’ and the majority of ‘End Game’ demonstrate what occurred two weeks prior that caused Mulder to get into that situation in the first place. 

The situation initially begins to unfold in the Beaufort Sea (west of Canada’s arctic islands, and north of Yukon and Alaska), where crewman of a ship witness a light falling in the sky; a light that eventually collides with the ocean. A body is retrieved from the unidentified flying object, which is revealed as an Alien Bounty Hunter (Brian Thompson). Two days’ pass, and the Bounty Hunter proceeds to kill a doctor at an abortion clinic in Scranton, Pennsylvania. He kills the doctor in an unconventional way; stabbing him precisely in the back of the neck with an ice-pick/stiletto-like weapon. Mulder eventually receives information on the murder through an email that has the obituary of the doctor attached along with two other doctors who are strangely identical to the first. 

We soon come to discover the truth behind these identical doctors. Mulder and Scully are approached by a CIA agent named Agent Ambrose Chapel (Tom Butler) [who is actually the Alien Bounty Hunter in a shape-shifted form] who explains a false story regarding the clones’ origin. In reality, these clones are human-alien hybrids classed as the ‘Gregor’ (Dana Gladstone) series. In the 1940s, two alien visitors came to Earth in order to play a part in Earth’s eventual colonization. They in turn cloned the ‘Gregors’, whose plans and actions were not sanctioned by the Colonists (the main extraterrestrial species in the show). The ‘Gregors’ pose as doctors in abortion clinics to gain access to human fetuses. Using these fetuses, they can create further clones through alien-human hybridisation. The ‘Gregors’ contributed to the creation of the Samantha series [clones of Mulder’s sister], who consider the ‘Gregors’ as their adopted parents and also help with their experimentation. As the ‘Gregors’ are working outside of the Colonists original agenda, an Alien Bounty Hunter is sent by the Colonists to eliminate them and their work. 

source: carlithiel

Convoluted, right? And that’s just a summary of one episode. ‘Colony’ only marks the beginning for this mythology arc that has been developing since Mulder witnessed the alien-human hybrids suspended in liquid in ‘The Erlenmeyer Flask’. 
As much as I love this two-parter, writing and researching about these episodes is the first time I have ever understood the entire mythology of the show. It has taken me at least four hours and endless googling to differentiate the Colonists, the clones, the Alien Bounty Hunter, the Rebels and the Syndicate’s involvement with the whole mess to understand what on earth went down in the original series.
Hopefully this newfound clarity will aid this and my future reviews (dear LORD Chris, why did you have to make the mythology so complicated). 
And what’s all this about Mulder’s sister? Is she really Samantha (Megan Leitch)? Or is she a clone of the original Samantha? Is the original Samantha dead?
… This Samantha is a clone. That is a massive spoiler for this episode, but I’m assuming that anyone reading this near 1000-word review and explanation of ‘Colony’ is doing so to make sense of it. If not, well … sorry. 

SAMANTHA: You know, I don’t think Dad could think of anything to say. He just sat here. 
MULDER: So much has happened. Where do you begin? 
SAMANTHA: I must have been nine or ten when I was returned. I had no memory. I was placed with a family who raised me as a daughter. 
MULDER: Who were they? 
SAMANTHA: I knew they weren’t my parents, but I didn’t remember Mom or Dad. Or you. 
MULDER: But you came to remember … us. 
SAMANTHA: I started having trouble several years ago. It was diagnosed as free-floating anxiety; nothing worked for me. I hit rock bottom. Until I underwent regression hypnotherapy, and it all started coming back. The abductions, the tests … 
[Samantha hugs Mulder, Mulder looks as though he’s about to cry] 
SAMANTHA: I’m in danger, Fox. 
MULDER: What’d you mean? 
SAMANTHA: I’ve been contacted. You know there’s a man hunting my father and the other doctors. 
MULDER: Your father? 
SAMANTHA: My adopted parents. They’re only visitors here; what people would call aliens. A bounty hunter has been sent to kill them. You’ve met this man, his lies to you have caused others like my father to die. He won’t stop until he’s killed them all. And anyone who tries to stop him. He’ll come for me soon. 

Even though Samantha is a clone and not Mulder’s actual sister, Mulder doesn’t know this. He won’t find out until the end of ‘End Game’ (a discovery that initiates his near-death trip to the Arctic). This doesn’t make the ‘reunion’ of the siblings any less emotional, however. You can see it in Mulder’s face how terribly difficult it is for him to process. This person who he has spent much of his whole life searching for is suddenly in front of him, and he doesn’t know what to do or who to believe. 
From this reunion of sorts at Martha’s Vineyard, we are also witness to the dynamic of Mulder’s family. ‘Colony’ is the first time we meet Teena (Rebecca Toolan) and William ‘Bill’ Mulder (Peter Donat), and this dynamic is problematic at best. You can see the strained relationship Mulder has with his parents just by the way they greet each other; especially with his father. Mulder intends to go in for a hug with his father, but Bill extends a hand to shake instead. Apparently, his mother needs some time; it was his mother than wanted Mulder to come, not his father. 
Mulder and Scully’s relationship is as strong as ever, however. But it isn’t until ‘End Game’ – and partially the cold open of ‘Colony’ – that we see the lengths that they will go for the other.
All in all, ‘Colony’ is packed with mythology. More mythology than I can handle, if I’m quite honest. Even being spread over two episodes, there is so much to take in and handle emotionally that it does take a few watches for it to comprehend. ‘End Game’ is the better of the two, mainly for the answers to the questions posed in this episode are answered. 

• The episode opens with an extremely detailed monologue from Mulder, revealing the unraveling, overarching plot line of the aliens seeking to colonise the earth: 

MULDER: I have lived with a fragile faith built on the ether of vague memories from an experience that I could neither prove nor explain. When I was twelve, my sister was taken away from me. Taken from our home by a force that I came to believe was extra-terrestrial. This belief sustained me. Fueling a quest for truths that were as allusive as the memory itself. To believe as passionately as I did was not without sacrifice, but I always accepted the risks. To my career, my reputation, my relationships, to life itself.
What happened to me out on the ice has justified every belief, if I should die now it would be with a certainty that my faith has been righteous. And if through death larger mysteries are revealed, I will already learned the answer to the question that has driven me here. That there is intelligent life in the universe other than our own. That they are here among us, and that they have begun to colonise. 

• As Mulder leaves Scully after learning of a ‘family emergency’ [his ‘sister’s’ return], Scully seeks out the address on the doctor’s bag that they found. This was seen earlier in the episode, with one of the doctors leaving a strange laboratory.

This sequence bears resemblance to ‘The Erlenmeyer Flask’ in season one, where Mulder witnesses the bodies suspended in liquid in tanks that Scully never sees. This time she’s the one who sees the strange lab with the green substance all over the floor that has been a MacGuffin throughout this episode. 

• The casting of Teena is astounding – she and David look like they could be related in real life; it’s insane that she’s one year younger than David. 

• Scully in her little hoodie trying to go undercover, bless her soul. She takes the bus too and looks as though she’s hating every second of it lmao

• The story was put together by both Duchovny and Chris Carter, but the teleplay was written only by Carter.

• The name of the CIA agent – Ambrose Chapel – is a reference to Alfred Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956).

• This is the first episode in which the Alien Bounty Hunter, Mulder’s mother and father – Teena and William ‘Bill’ Mulder – appear. Darren McGavin, most famous for his role in Kolchak: The Night Stalker (a show that inspired Carter in his creation of The X-Files), was originally sought to play the part of Bill, but was unable due to scheduling issues.

• A few of the interior shots of the submarine where filmed on the HMCS Mackenzie, which was a decommissioned Canadian Forces destroyer. This destroyer would also be used in the following episode ‘End Game’, and ‘Dod Kalm’. 

SCULLY: There’s no clear sign of penetrative gunshot wounds, no ligature marks or abrasions from strangulation, the toxicological is clean, and the bloodwork, well the bloodwork is strange.

MULDER: Strange how?

SCULLY: Well, there’s evidence of polysythemia. An excessive production of red blood cells.

MULDER: How excessive?
SCULLY: Extremely. The doctor who made this report has it in here that the blood curdled like jelly. As if something caused the blood to thicken or clot prior death.

MULDER: Due to what?

SCULLY: Possibly a coagulating agent introduced into the body; but it would have shown up in the toxicological.

MULDER: Didn’t Agent Chapel say something about these doctors being able to contaminate the blood supply? Couldn’t one of those contaminants been used to kill this man?

SCULLY: I don’t know, Mulder. There was a doctor’s bag that I took as evidence from the apartment. 

MULDER: Oh hey, I’ve been looking for you.

SCULLY: I was just down the street, someone fired more shots at the White House last night.

MULDER: You gotta wonder about a country where even the President has to worry about drive-by shootings. 

SCULLY: How are you feeling?

Like I should have used the crosswalk. A lot better than my phone [Shakes phone and it rattles]
Mulder got hit by a car. A CAR. He’s so blasé about it, he hits the windscreen full on and states that it only ‘knocked the wind out of [him]’ to Scully and that he’s fine. HOW. HOW ARE YOU NOT DEAD. 

SCULLY: Maybe we should have dropped this case when you were told. 
MULDER: Scully, if what our friend from the CIA tells us is true, this could blow the lid off one of the biggest national security conspiracies ever.

SCULLY: Our friend from the CIA is about as unbelievable as his story, as is everything about this case. I mean whatever happened to ‘trust no one’, Mulder? 
MULDER: I changed it to ‘trust everyone’. I didn’t tell you? I ran a full background check on this guy. Ambrose Chapel is a seventeen-year veteran, special intelligence clearance. He’s the real thing, Scully. 

SCULLY: An Agent Mulder was brought here tonight? 
SECURITY GUARD #1: This is an authorized area, military personnel only. 
SCULLY: I’m a federal agent! 
[Scully tries to push past the guards, but they stop her] 
SECURITY GUARD #1: Hold on, you’re not going anywhere until we can see some I.D. 
SCULLY: There’s no time for this! A man is dying! 
[Scully proceeds to burst into the emergence room, she sees Mulder dying in the tub and struggles to talk] 
SCULLY: I-I’m Dana Scully, I’m Agent Mulder’s partner. What are his vitals? 
DOCTOR: He’s suffering from extreme hypothermia. 
SCULLY: No … no, you’ve got to get him out of the tub. 
DOCTOR: He’s dying, he’s lost all his body heat. 
SCULLY: You’ve got to listen to me! If you keep him in there, you’re going to kill him! The cold is the only thing that’s keeping him alive. 
[Mulder flatlines]

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