Man, as much as the budget of this show probably wasn’t that impressive when it started, The X-Files sure did manage to get more than a few of those “That guy!” actors. You know the type. These are actors who have really familiar faces, probably really long resumes, that tend to pop up all kinds of places and despite it all, plenty of people don’t know their names. This episode has one such actor, the late Ed Lauter as a former astronaut.
The Case: Space Ghost!
The Rest: Well, that was an odd. Yeah, there’s an X-File kind of activity here, but Mulder and Scully barely seem to notice it. There’s no great moment where Mulder offers a theory about something weird and Scully offers a more rational one. Heck, the agents barely see or experience any of the paranormal or whatever phenomena this time around. Yeah, they do in the end, and Scully refuses the evidence of her own eyes when some shoddy 90s-era special effects superimposes its face over the face of Lauter’s Colonel Belt, onetime astronaut, then a NASA bigwig, and Mulder’s personal hero.
It’s kinda weird seeing Mulder in hero worship mode, but he still speaks in the general monotone that is the acting style for both agents. Seeing Mulder acting giddy would be out of character, but he still seems to be, well, Mulder. He’s just saying things about how much of a hero Belt is to him and even sorta apologizing for doing his job.
But that is sort of what makes this odd. NASA tech Michelle Generoo asks for the FBI to look into sabotage to the Space Shuttle, and that means Mulder and Scully go down to Houston, meet with Belt, look around, and very little of what they see seems all that out of place. Generoo’s fiance is on the latest mission, so she has a personal stake, but she isn’t wrong that someone messed with the shuttle.
So, what is it?
Oh, just some ghost thing from outer space that wants to keep people on Earth. I think. Belt gets that much out, but all Mulder, Scully, and Generoo see is the spectral face. Regardless, most of the episode shows the agents hanging around NASA, watching the shuttle get in trouble and how Belt, who lived through a similar experience (where he met that lousy Space Ghost), gave just enough information to get the shuttle back to Earth safely. Granted, the shuttle is all stock footage and voices over a comm system. We don’t even get to see those astronauts!
That said, when the Space Ghost seems to force the ailing Belt to jump out of a window and then plummet to his death in, I am guessing, the only hospital in Texas that doesn’t have shatterproof windows, it was a really neat series of shots. But really, this was an episode where Scully and Mulder didn’t even seem to be aware that there was something weird going on. And that was weird all by itself. This one was barely an X-File. It could have been a rather mundane investigation for most of its run time since the agents didn’t even know to look for an alien until the last ten minutes or so.
That just struck me as odd.