season 1, episode 24, “the erlenmeyer flask”
i forgot that these earlier mythology episodes were so good. they got to be a little convoluted later in the series. this first season finale may be one of the best in the mytharc of the show. the series started out so strong and was able to maintain through its first season. this finale has shown that the show has grown, but also holds true to its beginnings and original spark. the cold open shows its growth. a car chase and a shootout and a big stunt. “the x-files” has its big boy pants on. the subject of the chase, shootout, and stunt is an unstoppable man. he evades capture by both stun gun and real gun, hurling himself into the ocean after being shot in the back. there is a green liquid on the ground that would be where his blood would have been. the now familiar spooky music comes up and we get an alteration on the opening sequence. where it normally reads ‘the truth is out there,” it warns ‘trust no one,’ upping the intrigue even more.
mulder is so appropriately sleeping on his couch surrounded by x-files. we know him enough now that this is obviously how you would find mulder most nights. he gets a call from deep throat giving him a very vague tip. mulder is sure there is something there and scully is skeptical. after the events of “ebe” where deep throat admitted he misled the agents, mulder has continued to believe, where as it has made scully even more suspicious of his motives. i think she was so excited to have outed deep throat’s lie, that she’s hanging on to the fact that she was right for once and about something so important. she let’s mulder know that she’s run out of patience for deep throat and mulder’s unflinching dutifulness in regards to his demands. mulder sees her point and airs his grievances to deep throat when he comes calling and doubts mulder’s dedication. “maybe it’s you who has become too dependent on me,” he tells deep throat.
the seemingly insipid clue that deep throat gave them actually does end up leading the agents to something big. a doctor who they came across investigating the tip shows up dead by apparent suicide. but, the suicide seems contrived to mulder and scully. scully will analyze a liquid that the scientist was working with that is labeled ‘purity control’ and mulder is going to do some background checking on the doctor. it’s one of those many times where scully asks him “what are you going to do?” it’s always kind of pouty. scully has her sometimes tedious tasks and mulder gets to galavant around on mysterious adventures. makes me fast forward in my mind to “bad blood.” “what do you mean you want me to do another autopsy? why do I have to do it now? i just spent hours on my feet doing an autopsy, all for you! i do it all for you, mulder! you know i haven’t eaten since six o’clock this morning, and that was half a cream cheese bagel. and it wasn’t even real cream cheese, it was light cream cheese! now you want me to run off and do another autopsy?” she’s not quite there yet (if she ever even got that crazed. remember, it was mulder’s version of events), this is only the beginning. and it turns out this is no inane autopsy. the liquid she takes to the lab contains a bacteria with a 5th and 6th nucleotide and does not exist in nature. the scientist scully is working with says it must be “extraterrestrial” and i get instant goosebumps. scientific proof! something that both mulder and scully want and need.
well, they have the evidence, so now it needs to be systematically taken away. the doctor scully was working with turns up dead (frightening) and the proof gone. the super creepy storage unit that mulder found with the alive men in fish tanks has been cleaned up. the men were alive! sleeping underwater! in fish tanks! if only this epsiode took place today, mulder would’ve snapped a shot with his iphone and instagrammed it. but, alas, it’s cleaned up before he could even show scully. deep throat shows up to tell them that he’s surprised at the speedy cover-up job and offers them some answers including “black organizations” and alien human hybrid experiments. the man that jumped into the ocean was a success of one of these covert tests and has a blood chemistry that is both alien and toxic. he gives them a lot here, but it’s nothing substantial, nothing they can hold on to. scully still questions him.
mulder witnesses the effects of this toxic alien blood first hand, when he finally finds the missing perp from the beginning. a man that has been looking for the same guy finds him, too. mulder is at a disadvantage. the other man knows what he’s dealing with and comes prepared with a gas mask. mulder is not so lucky and is immobilized when the fugitive is shot and his green alien blood poisons the air. mulder is taken hostage and now it’s up to scully and deep throat to get him back. deep throat has something to trade with for mulder. he sends scully to a cryology lab to get their collateral. which is a freaking alien baby fetus! first men in fish tanks and now this! problem is now they have to trade this astounding evidence for agent mulder’s life. mulder is going to be so pissed when he finds out. no, kidding aside, he was as good as dead and owes them his life.
i never did understand why deep throat was so adamant on being the one to make the trade. i thought he wanted to lay low, that he was in a delicate position. nevertheless, he makes the sacrifices to let the agents see some truths and to save mulder. and he pays the ultimate price in the end. deep throat was such a key character and he gets killed off fairly soon in the overall scheme of things. it’s the show telling us, don’t get too comfortable thinking that main figures will always be around. mulder is returned and deep throat dies in scully’s arms with one foreboding warning, “trust no one.” they are left with a dead informant, no evidence, and no more x-files. mulder calls scully at night, echoing his call to her after their first case and tells her that they are shutting them down. another shocking development. how can they shut down the x-files on a show called “the x-files?” they are subverting common tv show trends already in season one.
scully has trouble accepting it having become dedicated to the search for the truth and, let’s be honest, somewhat attached to agent mulder. earlier she apologizes to mulder for having doubted him. “i should know by now to trust your instincts.” she’s afraid that she can become a hinderance rather than an asset. she recognizes this and takes steps to correct it. mulder doesn’t see her as a negative addition, but sees that she cares enough to try to fix it. he lets her off the hook, shrugs it off as no big deal because it’s not a big deal to him. he understands that she is seeing these things for the first time and confronting the government secrets is new to her. he knows she is so dedicated to science that he wouldn’t expect anything less from her anyways. in a way, this scene is as important as the “tooms” car scene. the respect that comes with challenging each other continues to strengthen their bond.
“i know it’s not silence of the lambs, but it’s what we do.” any reference to the hannibal universe is fine by me.
they did a rack focus zoom shot on mulder when he goes into the storage facility before he goes into the room with the human fish tanks. i thought that was an interesting choice to do it before instead of when he sees it. it worked. you knew you were about to see something crazy and then you did. it prolonged the impact.
finding an organism that has more than the normal amount of DNA base pairs is kind of the plot to “evolution,” no?
great parallel with the ending of the pilot episode with the cigarette smoking man filing away that alien baby in the pentagon.
did you know? behind the scenes facts:
“the truth is out there” text in the opening credits is replaced by “trust no one.” it’s been changed many times throughout the series. this is the first instance.
mulder calls her (at 11:21, in fact) to tell her that they are shutting down the x-files. scully doesn’t want to accept it. she does not want to stop working with mulder. “i love this job,” she said in “beyond the sea.” i think it may have something to do with a certain fox…
s: “ok, mulder, but i’m warning you, if this is monkey pee, you’re on your own.”
deep throat: “trust no one.”
m: “i can’t give up. not as long as the truth is out there.”