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The X-Files Newbie Recap: “Fallen Angel,” “Eve”

xfiles-640x425 (1)MULDER STOWS AWAY UNDER A MOVING VEHICLE TO GET INTO A CRASH SITE. WHAT WILL HE DO NEXT.

Fallen Angel

Between the angel reference, the opening shot of the stars, and my recently having finished Battlestar Galactica, for the first time this is all a bit much.

A “fallen angel” is a military term for a downed aircraft, so unfortunately there are no actual angels in this. I do hope they tackle something like an angelic myth at some point though. In this episode, we have a suspicious air crash and Mulder going all Rambo following a tip-off from Deep Throat. I think he might be out of control.

Something crashes in the woods in rural Wisconsin. A space surveillance centre in Cheyenne picks it up on radar and the overseeing colonel is swift to claim it’s a meteor (despite its having moved far too erratically to be any known aircraft, of course). He then makes a quick call to mobilise “Operation Falcon.” The town nearest to where the craft fell is evacuated on account of a “toxic waste spillage.” Mulder is tipped off by Deep Throat, dons his spies ‘r’ us stakeout outfit and goes all Bear Grylls in the woods to get to the crash site. All go in this episode, lads. 

Mulder reaches the site perimeter and is greeted by hilariously ’90s lasers.

Lolz. Lasers.
These force him to stow away under a van to sneak inside. I repeat: he stows away under a moving vehicle. Tactical espionage action. Do they teach that at the FBI training academy? He gets the briefest of glimpses of the downed craft, which is all frozen over in dry ice, and his face is honestly not dissimilar to this. He then makes the poor decision to start taking photographs and is swiftly rewarded with a rifle butt to the face. You’ll never learn, babe.

After his film is confiscated and destroyed, he’s thrown into a makeshift jail cell right next to a chap named Max. Max is a member of the National Investigative Committee of Aerial Phenomena (NICAP) and will soon be revealed as the first great Mulder fanboy of the series. The next morning, Scully shows up looking like an extremely miffed mom and warns her ridiculous partner that their section chief is furious and talking about shutting down the X-Files altogether. Mulder is to high-tail it back to DC for a hearing the next day, so of course all he wants to do is stick around and investigate. Scully is exasperated but mellows a little when they get back to his motel room and discover it’s been ransacked. I wonder how many times this will happen over the course of nine seasons? This time though, it’s not shady government types but Max, who was released before Mulder and is found lodged in the windowsill. Scully shoots Mulder the perfect “you know this guy?!” look at this point and wonders how her life came to be so tragic.

Now, some fun facts. Max says NICAP have been following Mulder’s career very closely and particularly so since he joined the X-Files. They figured out who he was through a combination of freedom of information requests and an article Mulder wrote under an extremely poorly-anagrammed pseudonym. Apparently Mulder also attached a photo to said article because, despite his huge intelligence, he’s a complete eejit. Scully is known to NICAP as “the enigmatic Doctor Scully” which is adorable and fitting. Max escorts them back to his camper van and shows them some fancy surveillance equipment. It’s the same stuff used by the CIA and with it he intercepted two emergency calls from the night the craft crashed. The first was from a police officer reporting a fire (shown in the opening scenes) and the second from a fire crew reporting a “man down” and then a “situation.” Scully discreetly notes the presence of a great deal of medication on Max’s shelves before they head off.

After meeting with the widow of the aforementioned police officer, they go to the hospital to interview the doctor who treated him and the fire crew. This doctor – whose name is, no joke, Oppenheim – says they were DOA with fifth and sixth degree burns over 90% of their bodies. He wasn’t able to examine them further however, as the military showed up and took away the bodies. Mulder posits ionising radiation as a possible cause of the burns, which the doctor acknowledges may be right. He has just enough time to tell Scully about his “stack” of X-Files on close encounter mortalities before the military rolls in again, this time with a group of soldiers who were attacked by whatever’s hiding out at the crash site. The colonel kindly tells Mulder and Scully to get lost but Oppenheim interjects and says given they’re understaffed, they could use Scully’s medical skills. YEY DOCTOR DANA! Though alas, we don’t actually get to see her in action, just heading off to scrub up.

Max is still hanging out in his trailer when he takes a seizure. Mulder, because he’s useless in the real world, has left Scully at the hospital and come to find him. When Max comes around, he tells Mulder that he first started getting seizures when he was 10 and living in South Dakota. Doctors figured he must have gotten a head injury, but he doesn’t remember any. Mind, he says that when he was young he would often wake up in strange places with no memory of how he got there. Mulder helps him into bed and notices a strange mark behind his ear. The game, as Sherlock would say, is on.

Bit icky
Later, the same weird presence at the crash site which took out the soldiers visits Max. He’s still sleeping but his ear starts to bleed. When Mulder and Scully come to look for him later, he’s gone. They’ve had a discussion in the meantime as to what could be going on. Scully thinks Max might be delusional, saying that some of the medication in his trailer is used to treat schizophrenia. Mulder has produced photos of two women with identical marks to the one behind Max’s ear. Both of these women claimed to have been abducted by aliens. He believes that, while Max himself hasn’t suggested that he was abducted, this might explain his obsessions.

While in the trailer they overhear a message on the surveillance equipment. The military is looking for something at a nearby dock. They hurry over and find two soldiers burned up on the ground. Max is hiding out in a warehouse, tearing at his ear and exclaiming that something is coming for him. Scully goes out to try to distract the rest of the military contingent, but she’s apprehended. Mulder stays inside and tries to persuade Max to leave. The presence appears again and zaps Mulder, who manages to climb back to his feet for just long enough to see Max floating in mid-air in what looks like a giant electricity beam.

More delightful 90s effects
When the military burst in, he’s gone. Mulder picks up Max’s NICAP cap and broods. When the colonel asks where Max disappeared to, he replies that “they” got to him first. They always get there first. And yet Mulder remains like the Jessica Fletcher of the piece, always just in time to see it all go down.

The next day, Mulder’s professional responsibility hearing goes ahead. Scully is interviewed first and does her best to stick up for him, but is brusquely told to get out once she’s answered all their questions. Sigh. You’re a good egg, Dana. It’s stunning Mulder’s even made it this far. He acknowledges this himself barely a few moments later. He’s on crutches and talking about a gallows being built in the town square. Even when staring professional apocalypse in the face, he is naught if not poetic.

There follows a beautiful A Few Good Men-style scene where Mulder essentially tells his superiors to go frak themselves, that Max was probably abducted by aliens (apparently his medical records showed an object lodged in his cerebellum), and that “no government agency has jurisdiction over the truth.” It’s quite a powerful moment in conveying how angry and frustrated he’s becoming, though it does beg the question why they’ve even bothered keeping him around for this long. If his superiors in the Bureau know something, surely he’s a threat to them. If they don’t, he must come across as slightly less than hinged. However, the next scene reveals all – the hearing was designed to get rid of him, but Deep Throat countermanded the order. He says Mulder’s work poses a unique dilemma but it’s better to keep their enemies close. Hmm. I’m intrigued. Does this mean Deep Throat is a double agent of sorts and playing his own crew in the Bureau, or is he slipping Mulder info as a way of controlling what he learns and investigates? Bit of both? Something else? All will be revealed? On verra.

A note: I assume the aliens’ plan the whole time was just to get Max, and they didn’t actually intend to crash. The military’s showing up and locking the place down was just an unfortunate complication, oui? It would have been cooler for the military to impound Max when they heard about the crash and effectively use him as bait, cos it seems like the aliens went to a lot of effort for one guy. At Mulder’s hearing, his superiors claimed Max’s body was found two hours after the incident at the docks. Not exactly convincing. Maybe there’ll come a point in this series where all the abductees walk back out of a mothership, Close Encounters-style. Imagine Mulder’s face. Or no, imagine Scully’s. That, as a certain credit card company likes to say, would be priceless.

Eve

Our heroes face off against homicidal, genetically modified children. True horror, lads.

Mulder and Scully head up to Connecticut to interview a little girl whose father has just been killed. He was found sitting on the swings behind their house with two distinctly vampiric puncture wounds in the neck and 4 litres of blood drained from his body. The little girl, Tina, doesn’t remember anything. Mulder has X-Files relating to UFO sightings where cattle were mutilated in much the same way the dead man was. He reckons it’s aliens using us as science experiments, and asks Tina if she saw any strange sounds or lights before her dad was killed. She mentions seeing red lightning and “men from the clouds,” and that the latter wanted to “exsanguinate” her father. Listen, no child should be saying things like “exsanguinate.” The fact this girl is up to something should really have been obvious to both of them from this moment.

Nosferatu etc.
In the midst of the interview, they get a call about an identical killing in Marin County, California. This man also had one daughter and died about three hours before the first victim. Mulder notices that the second time of death is Pacific Standard Time, meaning the victims actually died at the exact same moment. The daughter in this case, Cindy, was also present when it happened but doesn’t remember anything either.

Later that day, Tina is kidnapped. When Mulder and Scully go to interview Cindy, they discover she looks exactly the same as Tina. They awkwardly ask the mother if Cindy might have been adopted but no, she’s their biological child, and was conceived through IVF. Mulder notes that if there are two killers working together, kidnapping is part of the pattern. He therefore opts to stay outside the house while Scully goes to the IVF clinic to do some investigating. She learns that Tina’s parents had IVF treatment at the same clinic, and the doctor who saw both sets of parents had been “a problem.” Apparently this doctor – Sally Kendrick – was tampering with genetic material before implanting embryos. She was sacked and reported to the AMA, but no investigation followed. She’s since disappeared. 

Mulder meets Deep Throat and learns about the so-called Litchfield experiments. These were organised in response to primitive Russian attempts to create a superior soldier. (It’s OK. We’ve all tried those at some point.) The US version had a group of scientists raising genetically controlled children on a compound in Litchfield. The boys were called Adam and the girls Eve. He arranges for Mulder and Scully to visit the place and see one of the subjects.

The subject in question is Eve 6, and it’s Sally Kendrick. Or, well, she looks exactly like Kendrick, as do all the Eves. She’s restrained in a straitjacket and says she’s the only one left at the compound. The children were prone to suicide, and Eves 7 and 8 escaped. Their genetic make-up has given them heightened strength, intelligence, and, er, an innate tendency towards psychosis. She points to a photo on the wall of a group of girls, all of whom are identical to Cindy and Tina. It’s basically a nightmare version of The Parent Trap, if the summer camp were run by crazed Machiavellian scientists.

Mulder reckons that if the other surviving Eves escaped, this may account for the identical murders. They stake out Cindy’s house that night and manage not to prevent her being kidnapped. The culprit is indeed one of the Eves. She takes Cindy to a motel and introduces her to Tina. The girls seem suspiciously unmoved by this discovery. Of course, it transpires that they’re the ones who killed their fathers. The Eve talks about their “accelerated development” – apparently psychosis and homicidal tendencies only appeared in the other Eves when they were 16 and 20 – and tries to convince them not to give in to this “genetic destiny.” Methinks that particular bird has already flown the coop, friend. Cindy and Tina evidently agree as they duly poison Eve’s drink and kill her. Marvellous.

Meanwhile, the motel manager has called the cops. He recognised the Eve from a description put out by authorities and calls it in. Mulder and Scully arrive and find Eve dead and the girls hiding in the corner. They claim Eve and “another lady” who looked the same tried to poison them. You’re being played, lads. Heads up. Mulder and Scully volunteer to escort them back to HQ, only passingly commenting on how close they seem already and the fact they’re dressed exactly the same. Sure, guys. Nothing suspicious there.

Uncanny as they say
Along the way, they pitstop at a truck stop and order drinks. Everyone slips off to the bathroom while the drinks are being prepared. One of the girls then distracts Scully, while the other slips out and poisons two of the drinks. Mulder and Scully both take sips from said drinks on the way out, which is slightly alarming. Luckily, Mulder forgets the car keys and when he goes back in to get them, notices green residue on the counter. He twigs that it’s poison and rushes back out, but the girls make their escape. 

There’s a brief chase around the truckstop before Mulder eventually catches them hiding out in a boat. They’re brought in for questioning and then, apparently, sent off to some kind of home. It’s not immediately clear whether Mulder and Scully know where they’ve been sent as they later visit Cindy’s mother and try to tell her that the government can’t keep her daughter’s whereabouts from her. This seems to fall on deaf ears as she’s already burning photos of Cindy and saying she wasn’t her daughter. An interesting shift in attitude, that, considering how quick she was to defend Cindy as her biological child earlier. 

As it turns out, the girls are back in Litchfield. They’ve been placed in cells next to Eve 6, which seems like a terrible idea. They get a visit from the actual Dr. Kendrick, who turns out to be Eve 8. I’m guessing the one they killed at the motel was Eve 7, then. Rather fascinating that they can tell which number they all are. I feel like I’m looking at Cylon skinjobs all over again.

(Three BSG references in one recap, go me.)

This episode didn’t do much for me, tbh. Unless something further comes from the Litchfield experiments down the line, it all seems a bit fruitless. I’m not sure they explained Tina’s references to red lightning or the victims’ puncture wounds either – unless the latter was simply the girls’ preferred method of killing (they’d poisoned both victims before the bloodletting started), and Tina somehow knew Mulder would latch on to anything UFO-like. But how would she know that? They were precociously intelligent but would they have had an opportunity to glean anything about Mulder and Scully in advance? In a pre-internet era, to boot? Hmm. Maybe there is more to come from this.

Grace Duffy is a pop culture devotée and sometime film critic currently catching up on her classic sci-fi. You can read more on her blogTumblr, or catch her frequent TV liveblogs on Twitter.

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