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The X-Files – The Beginning (Review)

This July, we’re taking a trip back in time to review the sixth season of The X-Files and the third (and final) season of Millennium.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

The opening shot of The Beginning makes it quite clear that things have changed. The camera opens staring at the sunny cloudless sky of California, doubling for Arizona. It pans down to an open desert. As the production team conceded with Anasazi, the desert was just about the only American environment that Vancouver could not easily mimic – to the point where the team had to paint rocks red in order to convincingly set a scene in New Mexico. California makes for a much more convincing desert.

Bursting on to the scene...

Bursting on to the scene…

The contrast is striking. The sixth season of The X-Files is bright and sunny; it is aware of its new production reality and chooses to embrace them rather than pointlessly resist them. Things had changed, and there was nothing to be gained from pretending otherwise. It is no wonder that the opening sequence of The Beginning features a group of working-stiff conspirators in transit; the perfect opening image for a season still figuring out how Los Angeles works. The Beginning loads all of that into its opening shot, getting it out in the open before it gets down to business.

At the same time, The Beginning is keen to stress that not too much has actually changed. The naming of the fifth season finalé and the sixth season premiere is decidedly symmetrical – The End and The Beginning. In fact, naming the second part of a two-part episode “The Beginning” is a very clear attempt at reassurance. It is a beginning without actually being a beginning; it is a conclusion without actually being a conclusion. The wheel keeps on turning. All that is missing is the ouroboros.

Dude, that's totally not sterile...

Dude, that’s totally not sterile…

The closing shot as much as confirms this, revealing that the bold new alien design revealed in The X-Files: Fight the Future is not so bold and new after all. Instead, the monster obviously inspired by Alien is something of a missing link, a tether connecting the grey aliens seen in episodes like Duane Barry to the black oil introduced in Piper Maru. It is all one big circle in perpetual motion. Everything is connected. Everything fits together. The show might have moved two thousand miles south, but it hasn’t missed a step.

For better or worse, The Beginning is about assuring viewers that – no matter what has changed – everything remains the same. It is up to the viewer to decide whether that is a good or a bad thing.

The truth is in there...

The truth is in there…

With The End, the production team had bid farewell to Vancouver. The city had served the show well, allowing the creative team to affordably duplicate locales from Turkey to Tunguska over the first five years. The production team were like family. Many staff members moved with the show to California, while others opted to remain behind. The Beginning was the first season premiere since Little Green Men not to be directed by producer R.W. Goodwin, who had decided to remain in Canada as the team moved on without him.

It is hard to over estimate just how profoundly this shift affected The X-Files, particularly over the course of the sixth season. The production team had to get used to new surroundings and new rules. Daylight and sunshine became a lot more common in the final few years of the show, as it proved difficult to manufacture atmospheric rain and cloud cover in California. These changes would come to be reflected in the mood and tone of the scripts, with the sixth season trying to figure out precisely how much of The X-Files should be dictated by shooting location.

A sunshine state...

A sunshine state…

In a lot of contemporaneous interviews, Chris Carter worked hard to sell fans and viewers on the transition. He emphasised the new environments available to the show:

Actually, the move will offer us some different 
stories to tell we’ll be able to go down to south western states – the X Files 
travels around the stories are in different places – we get to go to California, 
Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, Texas – places we wouldn’t go normally in 
Vancouver because you can’t get there…

Of course, he downplayed the variety available in Vancouver. “In Vancouver, we were limited to mountains and forests and verdant landscapes,” he argued. “Here we’ve got so much more.”

You gotta goo where you gotta goo...

You gotta goo where you gotta goo…

Carter argued that the move might help to smooth over perceived tensions among the production team, particularly with David Duchovny. As if talking about a struggling marriage, he suggested, “I think the move will rejuvenate all of us. It may even feel like a new experience.” In some interviews, he jokingly underplayed the difference:

“It’s obvious it will change,” affirms Carter. “I’ll have a new crew. I’ll have a new environment to shoot in. We’ll have bright sunshine in the daytime, although if it’s anything like last year, it will be just like Vancouver; the weather in Los Angeles was so bad last year.”

However, even Carter would acknowledge that it took the cast and crew a little while to get fully acclimatised.  He confessed, “It was a lot of work for me because we came back here and I had to hire a whole new crew and figure out how to do the show in Los Angeles. I’m still figuring it out and we’re in episode–doing episode nine.”

Momma Scully...

Momma Scully…

Frank Spotnitz conceded that the change was not something that the production staff could easily ignore, but he also argued that there were some benefits to the move:

We’ve met the challenge of being here head on. We’re not pretending we’re somewhere else. We’re writing, at least in the beginning, to this part of the country. It’s been a little startling. There’ve been some shots where it’s like, “My God, sunlight!” We’re making it part of the story and part of what’s scary about the story. I think it’s been successful so far. I must say it’s been nice having David and Gillian and Bill Davis and all the other actors a stone’s throw away. Walking over to the set, we’ve been able to talk to them about stories and actors and things like that.

It seems like nobody working on The X-Files was under any illusions about how severe this transition would be. The staff knew that this was a very fundamental adjustment to how the show was going to be made.

Give his head peace...

Give his head peace…

Interestingly, Spotnitz also suggested that the move had fundamentally altered the economics of The X-Files as a television show:

“Things are more expensive,” adds Spotnitz. “That’s been the real pressure, the financial. The cost of moving from Vancouver to LA was extremely high, higher than anyone anticipated. So we really were between a rock and a hard place. As producers and writers, we were trying to protect the quality of the show; on the other hand, as employees of the studio, we were trying to be responsible in terms of what the show cost.”

The first couple of seasons of The X-Files had succeeded because they were relatively cheap to produce. With rising salaries for Duchovny and Anderson – not to mention the cost of the move itself – the economics were shifting.

“I’m the replacement you. Turns out the newsgroups were right. Kinda.”

The move to Los Angeles underscores something that has been quite apparent for a while now. The X-Files is no longer a cult fringe television series, built around the expectations of a cheap Friday night horror anthology. The X-Files is not a cost-effective television show filmed cheaply in Vancouver and starring two relative unknowns with affordable pay packets. The X-Files no longer exists on the fringe of popular culture, where success can be measured in active on-line news groups.

The X-Files has to be bigger now. It is a blockbuster franchise. That puts the show under a whole lot of scrutiny, both internally and externally. Newspapers were keen to print gossip about those involved in the show, and fuel speculation about arrivals or departures. Similarly, Fox expected more from the show and its production team. Fight the Future had been a financial success for the studio, but it did not set the world alight. Before the movie had even premiered, there were rumours of a sequel planned for the year 2000. It never materialised.

It's a stitch up...

It’s a stitch up…

So The Beginning represents the emergence of a new era for The X-Files. The rest of the show’s nine-year run is decidedly turbulent and chaotic, as the show and the production team struggle with the expectations and realities of running a show that is a certified hit – but which is also in a very clear decline. It is impossible to stay on top forever, and the churn of network television tends to burn through hit shows pretty fast. It is a testament to Chris Carter and all involved that The X-Files ran for just as long after its peak as it ran leading into that peak.

The Beginning catches The X-Files in the middle of a fairly significant transition. Not only does The Beginning have to deal with the fall-out from The End, it also has to wrap up all the various plot threads hanging over from Fight the Future. Given that The End felt so disconnected from Fight the Future, that is no small task. Chris Carter actually manages this task pretty well. The Beginning feels like it flows out of Fight the Future with more grace and skill than The End played into it.

“What? Fox are considering franchising opportunities!”

In The End and the Beginning, the production team acknowledge these issues and challenges facing the show’s sixth season premiere:

“Obviously,” recalls executive producer Frank Spotnitz, “the main problem was to seque from a movie that some people saw and some people did not see, and bring back several characters like Agent Fowley and Agent Spender.”

“What we needed to do,” says Chris Carter, “was wrap up some important story elements. Gibson Praise needed to return. We needed to see an alien we’d seen in the movie. We wanted to re-establish some of the conspiracy elements, and we wanted to suggest that there was a blurred line between what is terrestrial and extraterrestrial.”

Some of the transitions are surprisingly smooth, as The Beginning integrates stray plot threads from both The End and Fight the Future into a cohesive story.

The nuclear option...

The nuclear option…

There are a number of nice plotting touches that help to tie left-over elements from The End into the answers to questions posed by Fight the Future. Most obviously, The Beginning reveals that the reopening of the X-files at the end of Fight the Future was not necessarily the victory that it initially appeared to be. The X-files have been reopened, but Mulder and Scully are not reassigned. Instead, Spender and Fowley have been assigned to the basement, as a way of neutralising the effectiveness of the unit.

While assigning Spender and Fowley to the X-files rather than simply closing the division does provide a point of distinction between the major arcs of the second and sixth seasons, it feels like an arbitrary distinction at best. The decision to take Mulder and Scully off the X-files feels familiar. It is a plot that the show has done before. To be fair, the second season didn’t quite capitalise on that premise as well as it might, but the sixth season really doesn’t do too much with it either. Mulder and Scully still spend half the season randomly wandering in X-files-style cases.

Of Kersh it is...

Of Kersh it is…

There is a sense that the production team know that they are treading familiar ground and going back to the well. Ultimately, The Beginning separates Mulder and Scully from Skinner. They find themselves serving under a stone-faced Kersh. As Spotnitz conceded, this was a conscious effort to recreate the tension of the early dynamic between the duo and Skinner:

Back when we first created the character in Season Six, [Kersh] was really designed to be the antagonist that Skinner was way in the beginning of the series. In the first and second seasons, Skinner was much more unreliable as an ally, and we felt that we needed that again. We needed somebody to play that role because Skinner clearly shows colors as a good guy.

Although Kersh really doesn’t do more than stare at Mulder and Scully menacingly at the end of The Beginning, episodes like DriveDreamland and Tithonus effectively establish Kersh as a no-nonsense father figure that recalls the characterisation of Skinner in episodes like Tooms and Little Green Men. Skinner softened over time, revealing himself to be a staunch ally. Kersh feels like an obvious attempt to get back to that early dynamic.

You know, Syndicate assassins really don't have very long professional lives, do they?

You know, Syndicate assassins really don’t have very long professional lives, do they?

Perhaps this creeping sense of familiarity is an attempt to reassure the audience. The X-Files has been running for over five years at this point, and was in the process of a fairly seismic shift. Retreading old dramatic beats in the mythology might have been intended to comfort and calm an audience that might be growing wary or skeptical. In a way, it mirrors what Chris Carter was attempting to do with the third season of Millennium, trying to push the series back towards an earlier form in order to downplay the massive changes that had taken place.

For all that the opening scene and the location work stress that the show has moved from Vancouver to Los Angeles, the climax of The Beginning is very much a traditional X-Files adventure. The sequences of Mulder stalking an alien creature through a nuclear power plant could easily have come from any of the previous five seasons. Dark corridors are dark corridors; it doesn’t matter whether those dark corridors are filmed on location in Vancouver or Los Angeles. The nuclear power plant is no less atmospheric than the industrial space used in Herrenvolk.

Scratching the surface...

Scratching the surface…

Whereas Drive would build the Los Angeles sunshine into its horror, there is a sense that The Beginning is still not quite sure what to make of its new surroundings. The result is an episode that seeks to find a balance between novelty and familiarity. The first half of the episode is populated with scenes that could never have been filmed in Vancouver, but the second half finds the show trying to reassure audiences that the heart of the show remains the same. Mulder will always be poking and prodding in dark corners of America, even if outside the sky is blue and the sun is high.

This is also reflected in the revelation about the alien creature at the heart of The Beginning. Incorporating the monstrous alien from Fight the Future into The Beginning makes a great deal of narrative sense, even if the television budget cannot make it look quite as imposing or as menacing as it did in the feature film. The Beginning also cleverly incorporates Gibson Praise into the plot, revealing that Gibson is being used by the conspirators to hunt down the escaped alien as it makes its way across Arizona.

I feel like we never got to see enough conspiracy middle-management...

I feel like we never got to see enough conspiracy middle-management…

The final scene of The Beginning seems to reassure viewers that the mythology is still under control, that it has not slipped completely from the grasp of Chris Carter. The show has been complicating and expanding the mythology for years, heaping new details on top of new details. There are only so many crazy concepts something like the mythology can withstand before it loses any sense of internal consistency or cohesion. The addition of the monstrous alien creature in Fight the Future seemed to be another crazy twist in a show that could not resist crazy twists.

The closing sequence features that monstrous alien transforming itself, transitioning from a large predator into the familiar grey alien shape that we know and love. It is a fairly predictable plot development, but that’s not a bad thing. The show is entering its sixth season, and it makes sense to start tidying up loose ends. The revelation that the monstrous alien is a transitory stage between the black oil and the grey aliens provides a nice bit of connective tissue, suggesting that it is possible that the various strands of the mythology might yet fit together comfortably.

Seeing red...

Seeing red…

It is a nice idea, and it works well enough – even if it doesn’t quite bear close examination. The show has been quick to hone and revise its own mythology as it goes, meaning that there are lots of caveats and qualifications needed to fit it all together. Fight the Future suggested that the bees would be used to spread the black oil, which seems like a fairly inefficient distribution method; more than that, Herrenvolk and Zero Sum suggested that the bees were used to spread small pox instead. It is possible to reconcile details like this, but it does contribute to a sense of over-complication.

Similarly, while Fight the Future made it clear that the black oil was simply an incubation mechanism for the alien species, this is the third time that the show has redefined what it is that the black oil actually does. In Piper Maru and Apocrypha, the black oil was shown to take control of its host. It was inside Alex Krycek for quite some time without incubating, and remained inside a pilot for decades. Mulder suggested that the oil in Piper Maru and Apocrypha was just a convenient method of transport for a truly alien species, rather than its default form.

Of course his name is Homer. Of course it is.

Of course his name is Homer. Of course it is.

The show revised the function of the black oil in Tunguska and Terma. For the first time, the black oil seemed to incapacitate (rather than control) its host, rendering them in a state of catatonia. It was speculated that this behaviour was unique to this sample of the oil, which had been trapped in a rock for decades with no exposure to external stimuli. Nevertheless, Tunguska and Terma seemed to suggest that the black oil was not simply a medium through which the alien moved. The black oil in Tunguska and Terma did not come from a diesel engine.

Fight the Future represents the third revision of the black oil concept. It builds on Tunguska and Terma by stressing that the black oil incapacitates its host. This is not just the result of being kept in the same form for decades, this is standard procedure. However, the host was not simply rendered catatonic; the black oil began to eat the host from the inside. The Beginning suggests that the host could remain conscious through this process. The black oil was not merely a vehicle for the aliens to control mankind, but a larval stage of their lifecycle.

Give the man a hand...

Give the man a hand…

Again, none of these differences are irreconcilable. After all, The X-Files never quite presents a detailed overview of alien biology or provided manuals for fans to process. The bees and the black oil tended to do whatever was dramatically convenient for the episodes in question, which was an approach that worked reasonably well on a case-by-case basis, even if it made it harder to put the jigsaw together without shaving a few edges here and there. After all, Vienen will take the black oil back to its roots from Piper Maru and Apocrypha.

It is good that Carter is very consciously and very clearly trying to get the mythology under control. The Beginning is very clearly intended to tidy up loose ends so that the show can move towards Two Fathers and One Son. That controversial two-parter would represent a clear attempt to draw a line under the show’s vast mythology once and for all. For all the flaws with the later mythology episodes, the biggest problem is that the production team were never quite willing to let any of them serve as a definitive ending.

“So we’ll march day and night by the big cooling tower… they have the plant, but we have the power.”

To be fair, The End and The Beginning foreshadow a lot of those coming problems. As much as The End and The Beginning nudge the show’s mythology towards the pseudo-conclusion in Two Fathers and One Son, they also firmly set up themes and ideas that will drive and fuel the mythology episodes that will continue past that point. The End confirms that all humans are part extraterrestrial in nature. Fight the Future makes it clear that the colonists are not so much colonising as homecoming – after Anasazi and Deep Throat had emphasised how long the visitors had been here.

The idea that everybody on the planet is part-alien is very much in the spirit of The X-Files to date – both the stand-alone episodes and the larger mythology. The Erlenmeyer Flask pointedly labelled an alien foetus as “purity.” In End Game, clone!Samantha suggested that the colonists were reacting to “a dilution of their species, a pollution of their race.” In Herrenvolk (literally translated as “master race”), Jeremiah Smith took Mulder on a tour of a farm populated by clones of worker drones, all derived from the same two templates.

Claws for concern...

Claws for concern…

Even the standalone episodes touch on the same thematic concerns. It is no wonder that stories set among isolated subcultures are so common – Excelsis Dei, Fresh Bones, The Calusari, Hell Money, Teliko and El Mundo Gira all suggested that “alien” cultures need not be extraterrestrial in origin. Darin Morgan’s scripts for Humbug, Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose, War of the Coprophages and Jose Chung’s “From Outer Space” mocked the idea that you needed to look to outer space to feel alienation.

Globalisation was an on-going concern and anxiety for The X-Files, with the series not quite sure what to make of the new multicultural world of the nineties. Glen Morgan and James Wong mocked the romantic fantasy of rural Americana in Home, while Frank Spotnitz mourned the destruction of the American wilderness (and its ancient stories) in Detour. The X-Files frequently celebrated diversity and divergence in the face of massive homogenisation, a sentiment that can be traced back to early first season episodes like The Jersey Devil or Gender Bender.

“I know we said there’d be more light, but this is nuts!”

As Paul A. Cantor observed in Unamerican Gothic, this theme of hybridisation and homogenisation resonated with America in the nineties:

Thus Americans have come to worry that their very identity as a distinct people is in jeopardy, and The X-Files mirrors this fear with its sinister alien-human hybrids. The hybrid is at once a monster and “just like us.” One of the chief concerns about both immigrant aliens and the extraterrestrial aliens in The X-Files is that, while maintaining their foreign identity, they may be able to pass for ordinary Americans, blending right into society and thus able to carry out in secret whatever nefarious schemes they may have in mind.

It is no wonder that the hybrid is such an important figure in the mythology of The X-Files. It is at once something terrifying and something hopeful. Something “other”, but something “more.”

Feeling a little alienated...

Feeling a little alienated…

Although The End is the first time the show explicitly acknowledges mankind as part alien and Fight the Future is the first time the show concedes that the colonists as earlier inhabitants of the planet, the series has repeatedly stressed the idea that the European settlers are essentially aliens in North America. Even scripts like Darkness Falls and Firewalker suggested that mankind is colonising and invasive force unaware of the forces with which it tampers. The revelation that we are all actually biologically part-alien only makes the metaphor literal.

At the same time, Carter is heaping a whole new collection of ideas into a mythology that should be winding down. The suggestion that humanity is part alien is a big idea, and one that will be used to keep the mythology spinning after Carter and Spotnitz make what looks to be a genuine effort to tidy everything away half-way through the sixth season. Writing Redux, Carter boasted that the mythology had reached a point where it was practically self-sustaining. That may be a curse as much as a blessing. The mythology risks turning into a monster that cannot be slain.

They're going to nail this guy...

They’re going to nail this guy…

Even as the show begins trying to wrap up all its threads, it creates new ones. The result is an even bigger mess, as the show ends up undercutting any real attempt at a conclusion in an effort to drag things out further and for longer. The show cannot let go of that need to throw big ideas into the mythology, even as the show is trying to finish up that long-running plot line. It creates a sense that there will never be a satisfying or fulfilling ending to the story, because the show refuses to let that story go completely.

This reflects a clear fear of change on the part of the production team. As much as The X-Files would evolve in its later years, it was always keen to minimise the material change. The mythology might have been destroyed int he sixth season, but the Cigarette-Smoking Man and Krycek haunted the show beyond that. After David Duchovny departed the show, the writing staff were incredibly reluctant to move past the idea of Mulder. Similarly, the show was unwilling to release Scully, even when her every appearance seemed to serve as a reminder of Mulder’s absence.

“My contract does not cover this…”

Watching The Beginning, there is a clear sense that the show is trying for the appearance of change with the bare minimum of actual change. The sixth season status quo would have been familiar to any long-term fans of the show, and The Beginning works hard to push Scully back to the most archetypal position possible. Fight the Future had Scully infected and impregnated by a hostile alien life form, shipped off to the Antarctic and escaping from a gigantic alien space ship. It is very hard to force Scully back into the same narrow “skeptic” position she held in the first season.

Nevertheless, The Beginning tries very hard. It is aided by the rather cynical decision to have Scully spend most of the climax of Fight the Future barely conscious as she was rescued by Mulder. She advises him, “Mulder, let me remind you once again: what I saw was very little.” Mulder seems just as aggravated by that as the audience must have been. “Look, Scully, that excuse is not going to work this time. You were there and you were infected with that virus.” Mulder’s frustration is understandable, particularly because it feels so incredibly forced.

It's a wash...

It’s a wash…

“What does it take?” Mulder demands, incredulously. “For this thing to come up and bite you on the ass? I saw these creatures. I saw them burst to life. You would’ve seen them, too but you were infected with that virus. You were passed out over my shoulder.” The show has reached a point where Mulder’s meta-skepticism is more credible than Scully’s actual skepticism. To be fair, the fifth season started Scully on a character arc that suggested she might be more open-minded going forward, but The Beginning seems to set the character back to zero.

Scully attempts to justify her skepticism by suggesting it represents personal integrity. “Mulder, I know what you did,” she assures him. “I know what happened to me but without ignoring the science, I can’t… Listen, Mulder, you told me that my science kept you honest. That it made you question your assumptions. That by it, I’d made you a whole person. If I change now… It wouldn’t be right… or honest.” However, there is a sense that the show is grasping at straws. Any good scientist must be willing to let the evidence disprove their theories.

Mind yourself...

Mind yourself…

The show has always struggled with this aspect of Scully’s character, and Chris Carter has never been particularly skilled at capturing the nuance necessary to justify this steadfast skepticism. After all, Scully’s stance makes a great deal of sense in the real world, but it is downright irrational in the world of The X-Files. As a scientist, her inability to reach that conclusion based on five years of evidence undermines a lot of the assumptions underpinning the character. It makes Scully seem as reflexive and as crazy as Mulder, but in the opposite direction.

There is a rather uncomfortable possibility underpinning all of this. If Scully is unable to accept even the very basic premise of the show after five years investigating a mammoth conspiracy, it suggests that Scully is ultimately deluded and in denial – that her refusal to embrace Mulder’s viewpoint is a sign of weakness or a character flaw. At worst, Scully is lying to both Mulder and herself. Gibson seems to suggest as much when he remarks, “You already know. You just don’t want to believe it.” It is a rather unflattering portrayal of Scully that undermines her as a character.

No pressure...

No pressure…

This isn’t the only issue that The Beginning inherits from Fight the Future. It appears that Blythe Danner is quite outside the show’s budget, and so while The Beginning inherits its “Mulder and Scully for review” format from the feature film, it seems a little weird that Mulder and Scully just happen to find themselves in front of a slightly different skeptical evaluator. That said, there is something quite fun about the attempt to recap Fight the Future in a dialogue-heavy exposition scene that offers “a rattletrap account of high adventure in the Antarctic.”

To be fair, Carter’s script does have a great deal of fun with the scene, in which the review board observes, “This entire story is essentially unintelligible and, therefore, encourages unintelligible analysis.” Who says that Chris Carter is not wryly self-deprecating? There is a sense that The Beginning has a sense of just how absurd the mythology of The X-Files can be once characters actually articulate its core concepts in conversations. It is very much a case of something that is funny because it’s true; try explaining the conspiracy to a casual viewer.

Dark shadows...

Dark shadows…

“The plot is for these spacelings to take over the planet aided by a group of men here on earth?” Masling summarises. “Who are growing corn in the middle of the desert which features pollen which was genetically altered to hold a virus which will be taken away by bees whose sting transmits the virus, causing the growth of an extraterrestrial biological entity inside the human host?” See? That’s perfectly concise and reasonable. No wonder Chris Carter had to include a summary of the conspiracy on the Fight the Future soundtrack.

Still, The Beginning is a pretty solid start to the sixth season, designed to assure viewers that this is still the same show and that things have not fundamentally changed. Whether or not that is a good thing is ultimately left to the viewer’s discretion.

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4 Responses

  1. happy to see it here. when i was child i watched almost full episodes from tv and also played 4 cd play station game of x-files. its big crush for me ^^

  2. I like this episode probably more than I should. On one hand it seems like a clear attempt to bring the alien creature from Fight the Future back on the tv show and this would be its last appearance. The “creature” was designed as an easy thrill for moviegoers but seems more over the top and there fore gory shock value on the show.

    On the other hand, this episode is very crafty in the way it allows Scully to maintain her objectivity despite everything she’s been through. She tells Mulder, “I know what you did.” when he’s recounting his rescue of her in Antarctica. She took a lot of criticism for clinging to her rigid skepticism in this episode and her line about “it wouldn’t be honest or fair” does seem like it’s pandering to the status quo. But she’s re-invested after Fight the Future after having been prepared to leave in the hallway scene. So she runs the tests on Gibson and the nail, and the folder she brings Mulder in the end is the evidence they need. I think she comes across as being too rigid because it really does seem like Mulder is right. But the “truth” is in the conclusion Scully draws at the end of the episode. The virus “creates nothing.” It’s simply a catalyst to transform human dna into something else. It’s really a shame there’s no follow up on this until “Biogenesis.”

    I also like the brief scene of Mulder and Diana in the car. Mulder is using some newfound (as of The Red and the Black) objective thinking to rationalize the creature’s motivations for seeking heat. Diana’s response is something we would have heard out of Mulder in seasons 1 or 2 that they can’t make sense of it in a “conventional way.” Of course Scully does in the end.

    • I’m actually very fond of The Beginning. I much prefer it to The End, if only because it seems to actually try to reconcile all the stuff that happened in S5 with Fight the Future, which probably would have worked better before we got to the film rather than after.

      I can’t help but suspect – based on the care with which it was shot here – the alien was simply unworkable on a television budget. It’s the kinda thing I’d love to see the comics pick up on, because they’re free of television budget constraints.

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