Wednesday, 13 September 2017

X-Files Rewatch | Død Kalm



Norwegian for ‘Dead Calm’, ‘Død Kalm’ takes place in the Norwegian Sea onboard the USS Ardent. Mulder is captivated by the mysterious abandonment of a crew onboard the ship in the 65th parallel; a Bermuda Triangle-like span of water that has a history of vessels disappearing.

Eighteen hours after half the crew abandoned ship, a Canadian fishing vessel finds the young men that appear to have endured rapid aging.

Only one member of the crew survives (Lt. Harper), who has been quarantined at the Bethesda Naval Hospital. Both Mulder and Scully are denied access to the patient, as he is under heavy security guard. Mulder manages to get Scully in briefly to see that Lt. Harper – who is in his twenties – has aged beyond recognition. Mulder believes that this case of rapid aging is due to a ‘wrinkle in time’ that exists within the 65th parallel, and that the ship was undergoing similar experimentation to the USS Eldridge during the alleged Philadelphia Experiment of 1943.

Surprisingly, the question of mysterious, rapid aging in ‘Død Kalm’ peaks Scully’s interest. Not as obsessively as Mulder; when Scully is presented with something she cannot scientifically answer, she begins her own quest to find the truth that intertwines with Mulder’s beliefs. The two, therefore, decide to travel to Norway in search of the truth.

   
   
   
gifset source: carlithiel.tumblr.com

Courtesy of naval trawler captain Henry Trondheim (John Savage), Mulder and Scully sail to the last known location of the Ardent. They abruptly crash into the bow of the Ardent with no warning, discovering that the ship has undergone advanced corrosion, despite being a few years old.

If the writers – Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa – stuck to the ‘wrinkle in time’ theory, the episode would have played similarly to the sixth season episode ‘Triangle’. However, ‘Død Kalm’ plays through three separate theories, eventually concluding with a strange case of contaminated water that when exposed to causes rapid cellular damage and intensely increases sodium chloride (‘heavy salt’) that produces rapid aging. Gansa and Gordon display an interesting theory and narrative, but once Mulder and Scully have rapidly aged and are near-death … how are they supposed to recover? It’s glossed over in the outro of the episode (Mulder is given ‘synthetic hormones’), and the duo is back to business in the next (and classic) episode, ‘Humbug’.

I’ve seen ‘Død Kalm’ four times now, and I still cannot decide my final opinion on this episode. I love the Twilight Zone feel that the episode explores – much like ‘Triangle’ – and the isolation that it presents to Mulder and Scully. The combination of Scully being as interested and in control of the case as Mulder leads to the deepening of their relationship. If it were not for the mishmash of theories throughout the episode and the rushed resolution, ‘Død Kalm’ could have been as instrumental as ‘Triangle’. There is also the trouble surrounding the makeup; it’s questionable, to say the least, especially for the men. It looks vaguely realistic on Scully when they are nearing the end of their ‘aging’, but Mulder and Trondheim look as though they’ve got a ton of latex stuck on their faces.



• Mulder is me on a boat. On the verge of throwing up and wanting to be anywhere than on the ocean.

• I love when these cases come up and we get to see just obsessed Mulder is with the X-Files. He’s been obsessively tracking the USS Arden and other ships that have disappeared on a bulletin board. 

All the ships paths cross through the same coordinates, of which they all disappear. The 65th parallel.  

• This is the first time Mulder and Scully have conducted a ‘case’ outside of the US.


• Bermuda Triangle: Sometimes referred to as the ‘Devil’s Triangle’, the Bermuda Triangle is a region of the North Atlantic Ocean where numerous ships and aircraft (Ellen Austin, USS Cyclops, Carroll A. Deering, Flight 19, Star Tiger and Star Ariel, Douglas DC-3, etc.) have disappeared without a trace. The triangle is loosely defined but is often located at the vertices of Miami, San Juan, Puerto Rico and Bermuda.

The area is not recognized by the United States Board on Geographic Names, nor is it believed to be an area of paranormal or supernatural activity by a number of reputable sources.

• The Philadelphia Experiment: An alleged experiment vehemently denied by the US Navy, the ‘Philadelphia Experiment’ is speculated to have been a military experiment carried out at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, sometime within October 1943.

It was claimed that the USS Eldridge had been fitted with some sort of cloaking device, rendering the vessel invisible to enemies. The origin of the theory came from a ‘crackpot’ – as described by astronomer Morris K. Jessup – who sent Jessup two letters regarding the USS Eldridge and its interdimensional travels and teleportation after being rendered invisible by the US Navy.

• The Manhattan Project: A project researched and developed during World War II, the ‘Manhattan Project’ saw the production and use of the first nuclear weapons between 1942 and 1946.

The Trinity Test – conducted at New Mexico’s Alamogordo Bombing and Gunnery Range was the first nuclear device to ever be detonated. A month later, the nuclear bombs ‘Little Boy’ and ‘Fat Man’ were deployed in the atomic ambushes of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. 


SCULLY: Feeling any better?
MULDER: No, you’re lucky you inherited your father’s legs.
SCULLY: What?
MULDER: Sea legs.

SCULLY: Mulder, what do you know about free radicals?
MULDER: Is this a quiz? 

MULDER: (Giving urine sample to Scully) I think I just lapped George Burns. 

MULDER: I at least thought when I got older, I’d take a cruise somewhere … this isn’t exactly what I had in mind. The service on this ship is terrible, Scully. 


SCULLY: Time acceleration is an equation, Mulder. A theory.
MULDER: Then theoretically it’s possible. What else could it be?
SCULLY: Well, whatever it is, it isn’t a time warp. None of us has directly observed phenomena reported in the ship's log. There is no hard evidence to indicate that this is a time warp.
MULDER: We’re the evidence, Scully! Look at us! We’re aging by the minute.
SCULLY: Well, if this is rapid aging phenomena, then why hasn’t our hair grayed or started to fall out?  

SCULLY: They’re highly reactive chemicals containing extra electrons. Now they can attack DNA proteins, they can cause body tissue and cell membranes to oxidize.
MULDER: Grow old, you mean.
SCULLY: It’s the prevailing theory on how our bodies age.
MULDER: So, you think something is triggering that reaction in us?
SCULLY: This is just a theory. But what if this ship is drifting towards another mass of metallic source. Like a meteor, maybe it’s way down deep in the ocean or embedded into an iceberg. But, the two could effectively be acting as positive and negative terminals, with the ocean itself being a kind of giant battery. That level of electromagnetic energy could be exciting the free radicals and effectively oxidizing every piece of matter in its field.
MULDER: It makes sense, Scully. The organic equivalent to rust would be rapid premature senescence. 

SCULLY: It has been eighteen hours and forty-five minutes since the onset of symptoms. Rudimentary blood tests have revealed impossibly high concentrations of sodium chloride – salt – though the contaminated water itself is not saline, it appears to catalyze existing body fluids causing rapid and massive cellular damage. The untainted water has slowed the degenerative progression in Trondheim and me. But Mulder has fared less well, perhaps because of the dehydration he suffered on the way here. 

SCULLY: Mulder’s urine analysis continues to indicate his kidney’s failure to excrete the substance I’m calling heavy salt. Whether the untainted water from the sewage system is even helping him at all is unclear. What does remain clear to me is that I can’t give up trying. 


MULDER: I don’t want to leave Scully alone, in case there are others. 

MULDER: (Looking through Scully’s journal) You’re almost out of pages. It’s good you kept a record.
SCULLY: Trondheim’s locked himself in the sewage hold. He’s back-washed all the water and he’s keeping it for himself. I looked everywhere, and this is all I could find. It’s sardine juice, half a dozen lemons and the water from a snow globe.
MULDER: *slurping noise*
SCULLY: It’s not Evian, but-
MULDER: You go ahead and drink it.
SCULLY: No, Mulder.
MULDER: It’s the only logical choice, Scully. You’re a woman. Your life expectancy is greater and your body retains more water and fatty tissues.
SCULLY: That’s more reason for you to drink it.
MULDER: You have a much greater chance of surviving until help comes.
SCULLY: Don’t do this, Mulder.
MULDER: No. Don’t be so stubborn, Scully. You know I’m right.
SCULLY: Well, there isn’t much liquid to make a difference anyway.
MULDER: There might be *slides jar over to Scully*
SCULLY: No. 

MULDER: It’s not fair. It’s not our time. We still have work to do.
SCULLY: Mulder, when they found me, after the doctors and even my family had given up, I experienced something that I never told you about. Even now it’s hard to find the words. But there’s one thing I’m certain of, as certain as I am of this life, we have nothing to fear whenever it’s over.
MULDER: I’m so tired.
SCULLY: You should sleep. 
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