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The X-Files Newbie Recap: “Fresh Bones” & “Colony”

"What do you know about zombies?"

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Two intense and lengthy recaps ahead, peeps. I hate to leave it on the cliffhanger of “Colony” for a week but, er, you all already know what happens. In the meantime, think of me.

Fresh Bones
“So you say your son was kidnapped and brainwashed by voodoo witchdoctors.” (<— Thumbs if you remember what this is from.)

I never knew how much I needed Fox Mulder talking about zombies in my life until this episode. Beautiful cinnamon roll.

So our heroes are on the trail of voodoo goings-on in North Carolina. Two strange deaths (what else) on an army base have everyone all worked up, not least because voodoo symbols were found at both scenes. The base is currently being used to house Haitian refugees and the two deceased were Marines. Their deaths have been ruled suicides, but one of the widows isn’t quite convinced and contacts the FBI when she finds the same voodoo symbol in her toddler son’s playpen.

The colonel overseeing the base, Wharton, thinks it’s all poppycock and blames the unrest on one refugee in particular, Pierre Bauvais. He claims that Bauvais sees himself as some kind of revolutionary and has had him placed in solitary confinement. Scully asks to examine the body of the most recent victim, McAlpin, whose widow called them in. Mulder goes to talk to Bauvais. When Scully gets to the med bay McAlpin’s body is gone and the corpse of what looks like a dog is left on the slab. She goes to inform Mulder, who’s learned from Bauvais that the voodoo symbol represents a crossroads between worlds. He tells them that the disappearance of McAlpin’s body is a warning from the spirits and that they won’t be warned a second time. Eeep. This might be a bit soon after the devil worship in the last episode.

Voodoo

Deciding to check on the body of the other dead Marine, Gutierrez, Mulder and Scully head to the nearby graveyard. His grave has been dug up. The caretaker tells them there’s been a spate of grave robberies and he too accuses the Haitian refugees and voodoo practitioners of starting it. Before they leave, they spot a young boy from the base digging at one of the other graves. They’d spoken to him earlier when Mulder agreed to buy a protective charm from him. (When not a hard-nosed FBI agent, he’s basically a massive softie.) Anyway, this child—the hilariously and improbably-named Chester Bonaparte—claims he’s been selling trinkets (“trinkets”) from the graves to Bauvais. Mulder realises another Marine has been following them. When he confronts him, this guy, Dunham, tells him Wharton has been ordering beatings at the base. Dunham is deeply superstitious about voodoo and claims his late fiancée was killed by a witchdoctor after her father double-crossed someone in a business deal. In the course of their conversation, Chester runs off and when Mulder chases him all he finds is a black cat instead.

Back at the base, there’s some consternation when McAlpin turns up perfectly alive. Scully narrows her eyes and immediately consults the medical reports, assuming the examiner cocked something up. She notices trace levels of a poison called tetrodotoxin in his blood. This toxin can apparently slow cardiac activity to such an extent that the victim might appear dead. Let’s call it the Romeo and Juliet poison, so, or else that serum Banner developed to deal with ~ stress. Anyway, Mulder’s heard of it before. It was mentioned in reports on the “zombification phenomenon” (his words) in Haiti, when a comprehensive investigation revealed the presence of said toxin in all known victims. Apparently this stuff is the poison in puffer fish, so I’m intrigued as to how it ended up in Haiti. Unless it can be found in other animals too?

Anyway, they’re headed back to the hotel when Scully cuts her hand on a briar someone left in the car. That’s unpleasant enough, but as they drive off we see that someone’s drawn the voodoo symbol on the ground underneath the car. No me gusta, chaps. We then cut to Wharton beating up Bauvais and demanding—in possibly the most awful French ever caught on film—that Bauvais open up the frontier between worlds for him. Or something. It’s all quite ridiculous. Wharton seems like your average cultural appropriation enthusiast and boy is he gonna get his.

The cut on Scully’s hand starts to make her go a little shifty. While Mulder’s out meeting and greeting with Mr. X (hello again!) she makes an unpleasant discovery when Dunham shows up dead in the bathtub. Mulder learns from our stealthy government friend that access to the base is about to be restricted to military personnel only and that he and Scully will shortly be called back to DC on an urgent matter. Apparently three soldiers committed suicide during the most recent US incursion into Haiti, and two of them were under Wharton’s command. Mulder is aghast at the idea of the government sanctioning Wharton’s private revenge, but Mr. X dryly observes that Lady Liberty is on vacation. Let’s pause for some levity here, cos Cher Horowitz said it better than we all could.

Dunham’s body was found in Scully and Mulder’s hotel, and McAlpin is discovered rambling around outside with a bloodied knife. He’s taken in for questioning and signs a confession. Our heroes suspect Wharton talked him into it. Wharton, who’s present when they question McAlpin, casually informs them that Bauvais killed himself the night before. Everything’s looking increasingly funky. McAlpin’s wife gives them a photo which Dunham had asked her to keep in case anything happened to him. The photo shows Wharton in Haiti with Bauvais, suggesting they had some history. Mulder and Scully sneak into Wharton’s office at night and do some probing, discovering Gutierrez’s bleached remains along with a document detailing complaints he and Dunham had filed against Wharton. They’re interrupted by another soldier, who tells them where Bauvais’s been buried.

Over at the graveyard, Wharton is dressed up in ceremonial garb, spouting more terrible French and digging up Bauvais’s grave. Mulder and Scully arrive and he goes after Wharton, but Scully stays in the car as she’s still feeling a bit off. She starts having visions of her mouth filling with blood and fingers tearing out of the cut on her hand (ughhhh) before a man appears and starts strangling her. All of this is intensely unpleasant. Elsewhere, Mulder’s been stabbed in the back—or at least, has the sensation of being stabbed in the back, as Wharton’s stuck a stick into a voodoo doll of him. Before he can do anything else, Bauvais leaps up out of his coffin and blows some kind of powder over him. By the time Mulder comes to, both men are dead (again, in Bauvais’s case). Scully catches up a little while later. Her visions disappeared when she grabbed the token Chester sold them, which Mulder had hung off the mirror in the car. She examines the bodies and both do indeed appear to be thoroughly deceased. Good riddance, in Wharton’s case, only …

Cultural appropriation at its worst

… he’s not actually dead. Evidently the dust Bauvais blew over him was the toxin because we see him in the final scene, perfectly alive and alert in the coffin and hammering at the lid as his grave is filled in. This is not in any way nice. Being buried alive is pretty grim, lads, no matter how much of a scumbag you are. Back at the base, McAlpin appears to be in perfect health again and is overseeing the repatriation of the refugees. When Scully points out that Chester’s name is missing from the manifest, McAlpin says he died in a riot a few weeks back. That is … disturbing. That’s what, the second or third ghost Scully’s seen since she started working these cases? Her therapist is going to need a therapist.

So, this was pretty good and most unnerving, though I’m not sure if its depiction of the Haitian people and voodoo is entirely respectful. Regardless, the observations about improper treatment of refugees are worthwhile, especially as time marches on and this ugly practice never seems to dissipate. Our heroes remain noble in the face of injustice.

Now, fasten your seatbelts, cos the next one’s a doozy.

 

Colony

fry

I don’t believe this is actually Samantha for a second, and I’ll tell you why after we recap.

There’s a lot of detail in this so I’m going to try and keep it as brief as possible: alien clones are being attacked and killed across the US. Mulder is tipped off when he receives a bunch of obituaries by email, and on investigating further discovers all the men look exactly the same. Scully—as is her adorable fashion—asks if they’re triplets but Mulder says there’s no blood connection and no further information on any of them, almost as if they didn’t exist before they were killed.

They hit the trail and find a newspaper ad with a picture of another man resembling the victims and a phone number. On calling the voicemail for the number, they discover there’s a tip pointing them in the direction of Syracuse. Mulder calls the field office there and asks an agent to go to the guy’s house and keep an eye. The agent, Weiss, does so but inadvertently interrupts the killer at work and is himself bumped off for his troubles. Before he dies, he sees the dead clone dissolve into a puddle of green goo like so:

Green goo

The killer, who can change his appearance, also bleeds green so it seems we’ve got an alien beef on our hands. He’s been interrogating the victims before killing them, demanding to know where “he” is and saying their plans will not succeed”. When Mulder and Scully get back to DC, Skinner drags Mulder in and reads him the riot act for the unofficial investigation. Only now does Mulder learn that Weiss is dead, as the alien killer had assumed his appearance and tried to fob them off. Skinner demands a full report and tells him to quit the investigation immediately. The two of them may have an understanding about the X-Files, but the people Skinner answers to are slightly less forgiving.

It’s really hard to imagine Skinner taking orders from anyone.

Scully gets an email with a scanned photo of another clone. This one’s in DC, so they head over to his workplace. All the victims thus far have worked in reproductive health clinics. When they arrive, they’re met by a CIA agent named Ambrose Chapel. He recognises Mulder and fills them in on what he knows about the case. The clones are the result of Cold War-era Soviet experiments with the DNA of identical twins. Basically, a bunch of them came into the US years back and took up positions within the medical and pharmaceutical industry. The plan was to cripple the country’s immune system should the Cold War spill over into actual war. Chapel believes a contract killer is now wiping out evidence of the clones as part of an agreement between governments to suppress the programme and exchange intel. Scully is extremely skeptical of this story from the off, but Mulder invites Chapel along on their search for the next clone. Seems he responds well to flattery, as Chapel said the clones (“Gregors”, so named for the project’s codename) were obviously looking for him given his reputation as someone who might protect them and blow the whole thing wide open. Sure. Mulder’s been so successful at that thus far, after all.

Anyway, they get to the next clone, Dickens, who does a runner as soon as he sees Chapel. There’s a woman hiding in the apartment and we’ll … get back to her. Mulder and Chapel chase after Dickens but Mulder gets run over so Chapel reaches him first. Dickens swiftly becomes a pile of green goo, and though Scully catches up to him she’s too late to see or do anything other than step in the goo.

Arguing ensues. Scully doesn’t trust Chapel at all. She’s way too sharp to be easily led by expertly-placed stories about mistrusting the government, but Mulder has checked him out and says he’s a CIA veteran of some 17 years. She immediately retorts that someone with so much experience shouldn’t need their help and wouldn’t have let their quarry slip away so easily. Now brace yourselves: Mulder actually looks her in the face and says she’s being paranoid. YOU WOULD KNOW, FRIEND. Scully all but rolls her eyes and says they can’t keep pursuing cases to the point of insanity and have to draw a line somewhere. A man has died, and this is all getting ridiculous. I think she should start carrying around a water gun and just launch it at his face every time he acts like a stubborn child. He’s still being angsty so she produces her shoe, the one that stepped in the green goo the night before. It’s only a week old and the sole has eroded away as though it were dipped in acid. Finally, her ridiculous partner cops on and says that while preparing his report for Skinner, he learned that no cause of death could be established for Weiss. All his blood had curdled as though it clotted right before he died, but there’s no sign of a toxin or other agent which might have caused that.

At this point, Skinner calls Mulder in to say that there’s an emergency and his dad’s been looking for him. Mulder calls home and reaches his mum, which seems to surprise him. I’m guessing his parents are divorced what with this and the earlier references to the family falling apart after Samantha was taken. And speaking of Samantha, if it isn’t the OFT-MENTIONED LATE-LAMENTED herself causing all the uproar.

Mulder heads home, leaving Scully to keep working on the case, and discovers his sister has come back to life. Before going inside he talks to his dad, who is mechanical and formal and distant to the nth (practically aristocratic) degree and actually holds out his hand when Mulder attempts to hug him. I don’t think I like you, mate. He rabbits on about certainty and moving on and the like while Mulder looks inside, sees his mum talking to someone and is promptly informed that it’s his sister.

Samantha is the woman who was hiding at Dickens’ apartment earlier. Mulder’s mum is sobbing, as one would expect, and when he helps her into bed later she grabs his arm and asks if it’s really Samantha who’s come home. Mulder replies—not entirely convinced himself—”who else could it be?” and goes downstairs to chat to her. She’s one for the unlikely stories. She claims she was returned when she was 9 or 10 and placed with an adoptive family. Her foster dad is one of the aliens being hunted—and they are aliens, she confirms. She didn’t remember anything when she came back and only through recent hypnotherapy sessions (oh snap!) did she begin to recover some of her memories. There’s hugging, and Mulder is obviously quite emotional over the whole thing, and I really want to reach out and drag him back cos I don’t believe a fecking word of this.

This is so emosh.

But we’ll get back to that. Scully’s investigation is ongoing back at base camp. She has a medical bag belonging to Dickens and recovers an address from it. This leads her to what looks like a disused facility in an industrial estate, but when she peeks inside she sees Chapel smashing containers of green liquid and squashing the little jelly things inside. She nopes out quickly before he sees her, but he still spots her car speeding off. When she gets back to her apartment she realises she’s been followed and quickly calls Mulder, leaving a message to say she found something significant and she thinks she may be in danger. In what will become a prolonged and fateful game of phone tag, she and Mulder continue calling and missing each other for the next several hours until everything culminates in a startling cliffhanger.

She slips out of her apartment the next day and returns to the facility, examining some of the things Chapel was standing on. They look like foetuses in amniotic sacs and they’re still moving. Someone runs by behind her and she gives chase, discovering four more clones. They claim to be the last ones left and ask for her help. Being the badass she is, she immediately gets them into protective custody. Unfortunately, she’s missed Mulder’s message about the killer being able to change his appearance. This info came from Samantha, who not-suspiciously-at-all says she can recognise him no matter what he looks like. The killer later gets into the jail where the clones are being held and presumably kills them all.

Scully’s left a message telling Mulder the name of the hotel she’s staying it. He calls before she checks in and the useless receptionist takes a message, then forgets who it’s for. When Scully does check in she misses yet another call as she hops into the shower. That night, she’s tucked up in bed when there’s a knock on the door. She looks outside quickly and sees Mulder, so she lets him in. Right at that moment the phone rings and the real Mulder FINALLY gets through to her, leaving her to look back at his doppelgänger in horror and try not to shit a brick.

Bum-bum-bum!

Phew. Apologies for the length, but the detail seemed necessary for this one. Now please join me in some equally lengthy and feverish explanation as to how THIS CANNOT POSSIBLY BE SAMANTHA. Like, there’s just no way. I refuse to believe she’d just show up out of nowhere with hardly any fanfare and only when her so-called adoptive family is in need of Mulder’s help. Her information is too specific and she herself is too calm and emotionless, plus she seems so innocently manipulative (hypnotherapy indeed, of all the random specific treatments to namedrop to him!). I dunno if this show has made me ridiculously paranoid about everything but this is all way too convenient. I’m expecting Samantha’s reappearance—assuming she does show up at some stage—to be a big, season-ending event that’ll knock everyone for six. I just feel so bad for Mulder and his mum cos if this is all a no-go then they’ll be in bits. :(

I … don’t really care about his dad. He doesn’t seem very nice. I guess he’s going for the old-fashioned stoic silent manly thing when it comes to his emotions, but I’ve read too many books and seen too many movies where that attitude just messes everybody up royally so I’m unwilling to sanction it. It’s clear he and Mulder have a pretty strained relationship so I’ll wait and see how that plays out before deciding whether to alter this stance.

Also: CLIFFHANGER! Gasp. I reiterate that Scully has been through way too much in such a short space of time, but she was working away goodo before all this came out and I commend her ever-reliable professional diligence. She’ll be grand, right? She has to be. Sure we’ve seven seasons left. And she was in the prologue to this one, presumably preparing to swing into action to save poor desperate tragic Mulder’s wayward life once again. Oh my gosh, yes, I forgot: at the beginning of the episode he’s wheeled into an army hospital suffering from what seems to be hypothermia. Scully arrives shortly afterwards and tells the doctors to keep him cold or he’ll die. In a voiceover, Mulder reflects on everything he’s risked over the years in his quest to find the truth about Samantha and extra-terrestrials, and concludes that “after what happened out on the ice” he knows his faith has been righteous. Beautifully spoken, babe. Now we await what it all means.

In conclusion: this episode was amazing. Getting back to the conspiracy mythos is just so joyous after all this time! I’ve a mad busy week which keeps me from recapping the next episode for y’all here, but I will hit the ground running next week and gobble up as many as I can.

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 blog, Tumblr, or catch her frequent TV liveblogs on Twitter.

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