“The X-Files” is returning to FOX on January 24, 2016. Join Mieke Zamora-Mackay as she recaps each season for this popular TV show in preparation for the arrival of “The X-Files” Season 10. In this post she recaps the season that started it all.
In the pilot episode, we meet Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson), being briefed on her next assignment, which is to work with Oxford-educated and decorated fellow FBI agent, Fox Mulder (David Duchovny). Her job is to debunk or bear proof that Mulder’s work is irrelevant and a waste of the bureau’s time and resources.
In the first third of the season, the show’s main story arc (the “mytharc” as dubbed by “The X-Files” fandom) is quickly established. Mulder is on a quest to prove that aliens exist and have been interacting with humans. It is his desire to expose the US government’s knowledge of this fact, and their attempts to cover it up. We learn about his driving force – the abduction of his sister, Samantha.
As for Scully, we learn that she is an ambitious woman in a man’s world, propelled by her desire to be accepted as a peer by her (mostly male) co-workers. With this in mind, she attempts to maintain her skepticism, but after experiencing so much at the get go, there are too many incidents she cannot simply explain away. Her reports typically conclude that her impressions of the matters they investigate are inconclusive, equivocal, and require further study.
Through the season, we meet some of the show’s most iconic characters, aside from the two leads. There’s Cigarette Smoking Man aka Cancer Man, a never named representative of the government thwarting Mulder’s every move at finding the truth; Deep Throat, Mulder’s patron who pays the ultimate price trying to save him from possibly being eliminated; fan favorite, The Lone Gunmen, the trio of conspiracy theorists; and my personal favorite, Assistant Director Walter Skinner, Mulder and Scully’s boss.
Trust No One.
The beginning of the mytharc appears in “Deep Throat” (S1, E2). Mulder and Scully find themselves outside a military base where test pilots had gone missing, only to return to their families as if they were different persons. Mulder and Scully witness two unidentified aircraft in the air, performing maneuvers that would not be possible given the current state of art. This is Scully’s first glimpse into the possibility that the US government may be playing with alien technologies to enhance the country’s military strength. Shortly thereafter, we learn more about Mulder’s background as having witnessed the abduction of his sister, Samantha in “Conduit” (S1, E4).
Mulder never seems to catch a break when it comes to learning more about the government’s involvement in the alien visits, until in “Fallen Angel” (S1, E10) he learns about a possible crash landing of a UFO in the woods of Wisconsin. A major recovery mission is underway, with soldiers dressed in black, armed with battle grade guns. An invisible creature, presumably the alien that piloted the UFO, is roaming the woods, attacking when threatened by burning all that come into contact. Mulder is captured after watching a member of the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena (NICAP) being abducted by the aliens who had come to rescue their fellow planet mate. Back in Washington, DC, Mulder faces possible dismissal but behind the scenes, Deep Throat, convinces the disciplinary board to save his job, as he less dangerous within, than on the outside.
We first meet, The Lone Gunmen, a trio of conspiracy theorists that Mulder occasionally collaborates with in “E. B. E.” (S1, E17), when they come across a suspicious situation with a truck traveling through Tennessee. After Scully discovers a surveillance device hidden in her pen, Mulder meets with Deep Throat who provides him with a secret transmission about a downed UFO in Iraq. Believing that the suspicious truck was actually transporting the UFO within the United States, Mulder attempts to follow it before it gets to Colorado. However, Deep Throat comes again, this time with a photo of a UFO in Fort Benning, GA. This throws Mulder in a loop, as now Mulder believes that the truck was actually a decoy for the UFO sightings in Georgia. The photo is quickly revealed as a hoax. Mulder now realizes that no one can be trusted, not even Deep Throat. Deep Throat confesses that he had to throw them off because they were getting too close. The truck was actually transporting an extraterrestrial biological entity (E. B. E.) recovered from the crash in Iraq.
With the help of The Lone Gunmen, they track the truck down once again to power plant in Washington State. With fake credentials, they manage to enter the building. However, they are quickly discovered and chased through the building. Mulder finds his way into a restricted area housing a sealed chamber, believing that this is where the E. B. E. is being stored. Believing that proof of alien life is finally within his grasp, he approaches what appears to a sealed chamber, only to be stopped by the armed guards in black. Deep Throat appears and calls off the guards. He reveals that there was nothing to be seen, as the E. B. E. had already been killed, which was the protocol agreed upon by several countries after the incident at Roswell, GA. Deep Throat further confesses that he is one of three men to have ever executed an E. B. E. This revelation appears to provide his own motivation for helping Mulder discover and reveal the truth.
The final episode of the season, “The Erlenmeyer Flask” (S1, E24), Deep Throat comes back to Mulder with the case of a missing scientist that could be the key to revealing the truth of what is truly going on. Early in the episode, the scientist is shown being chased through the streets of a Maryland waterfront area. Though wounded, he exhibits superhuman strength as he fights of the police, and disappears into the harbor. We eventually learn that he has the ability to breathe underwater, and that he is the result of a human trial of a serum called Purity Control. It is in this episode that we learn just how far the government will go to hide its deeds. The government has been testing viruses of extraterrestrial origin on humans in an attempt to create a type of alien-human hybrid. The scientists and doctors with knowledge of the serum and the human trials are being picked off one by one by a crew cut assassin. Mulder is eventually captured and disappears.
Scully seeks out Deep Throat, and asks for his help. He provides her with the appropriate credentials to access a High Containment Facility to find that answer to all their questions. At the facility, Scully comes face to face with an alien fetus preserved in liquid nitrogen. Under Deep Throat’s instruction, she takes the fetus to use in barter for the release of Mulder. This is the first time an alien, in its almost stereotypical form, is shown on the show.
On a bridge, Scully hands over the container with the fetus to Deep Throat. He orders her to leave him, but she only gets as far as entering her car. She witnesses Deep Throat hand over the container to the crew cut assassin, who in turn, delivers a fatal shot at point blank range. Before Scully can get to Deep Throat, the assassin drives away in a van. A beaten up Mulder falls out of the back the van. With his dying breath, Deep Throat delivers the iconic line, “Trust no one.”
In the end, the X-Files are shut down and the last scene shows the Cigarette Smoking Man locking away the alien fetus in a box with another alien fetus in a labyrinthine vault under the Pentagon.
The other episodes I found notable in the season were: “Squeeze” (S1, E3) and “Tooms” (S1, E21) featuring the murderous lizard-like Eugene Victor Tooms, extracting his victim’s livers to prolong his life. “Ice” (S1, E 8), a super suspenseful and quick-paced episode, set in the Arctic Circle, wherein an organism of unknown origin infects its host arousing violent and aggressive feelings towards others. The one that stuck to me the most was “Eve” (S1, E11), wherein Mulder and Scully discover that The Litchfield Experiment from the 1950s was continued to create superhuman clones of a girl named Eve. The resultant effect however on the clones was psychotic behavior. The thought that the government would conduct experiments to attempt to create super soldiers creeps the bejeezus out of me. The idea isn’t as far-fetched as it seems. Look what we’ve done to our food supply.
As I re-watched this season, I quickly realized that the episodes I watched in the Philippines were not shown in order. I also think, but cannot prove, that not all of the episodes were shown there, as some of the episodes were completely foreign to me. So, it is almost as if I am experiencing the show for the first time… Well, the almost first time. I was happy to find that by the end this season, I was hooked once again. I even learned about a few character details I’d never noticed before, like Mulder’s incessant snacking on sunflower seeds, and his not so subtle affinity to porn. Scully had suffered from daughter guilt, when she chose the FBI path instead of what she thought her father wanted for her. I thought Frohike’s crush on Scully rather endearing, if not a bit on the creepy side.
I did begin to wonder whether Mulder and Scully were actually being used as pawns in some sort of world domination game that still hadn’t been revealed. Now, off to season two to find out.