April 24, 2024

Gabbing Geek

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The X-Files “Darkness Falls”

Mulder and Scully look into a logging crew's disappearance deep in the forests of the Pacific Northwest.

Hey, what’s this?  A young Titus Welliver as an ecoterrorist?  I’ve seen that guy in…well, a whole lot of things.  Once again, a recognizable actor in a supporting role for this show.

The Case:  Killer Fireflies!

The Rest:  Once again, Mulder has some knowledge of an old X-File striking again, and this time, it involves an entire logging crew disappearing from deep in the woods.  The area is prone to acts of eco-terrorism because this is the 90s and environmentalism was mostly about lumberjacks vs the spotted owl.  You know who won that one?  Well, I haven’t heard anyone say anything about the spotted owl in a while, so you tell me.

Anyway, Mulder pulled some strings to get himself and Scully out to take a look around, and since this is set in the Pacific Northwest, for once the Vancouver region is actually going to look right.

Regardless, the lumberjacks all disappeared in the woods, and assisting Mulder and Scully are a Forest Ranger and the well-armed security chief for the logging company.  They run into problems when their vehicle hits some caltrops and they have to hike the rest of the way there, encountering on the way one of those very eco-terrorists who laid the spikes, played by the aforementioned Mr. Welliver.

By the by, I do like how the show sets up which of the three guest stars are meant to be sympathetic.  The mining company rep is angry, hostile, and almost kills the environmentalist when he finds him.  The environmentalist seems to care more about trees than people.  The Forest Ranger says he sympathizes with the environmentalist’s cause but not their methods.  Since he’s the guy in the middle, we’re probably supposed to hope he gets out of this one alive.  And he might, but when all is said and done, Mulder asks about Scully but not the Ranger.

Mulder can be a bit of a jerk sometimes.  No wonder he loaned the eco guy some of their precious, precious gasoline.

Anyway, the problem is these insects, largely invisible unless in total darkness.  Then they look like a lot of glowing specs.  Eco guy knows about them, says they’re in danger in the dark.  Mining guy thinks that’s stupid.  Naturally, the bugs get him first.  Said bugs drain people of all their vital fluids, leaving nothing behind but desiccated mummies wrapped in a cocoon.  Not sure how the bugs get victims up into trees, but that where the first body was found.  It looks like the bugs were trapped deep inside really old trees that the lumber company cut down illegally, and so, yeah.  Killer fireflies.

Anyway, the eco guy was as good as his word, coming back to rescue the others when they finally make a break for it after another sunset only to once again hit the caltrops.  Eco guy goes out to do something and gets attacked by the bugs.  The bugs then work their way into the car, making it a small miracle that Mulder, Scully, and possibly the Ranger are still alive when the men in the hazmat suits show up the next day.

I wondered then and now why no one thought to get into the beams from the car’s headlights.  They were still shining pretty bright.

Anyway, Mulder is the only one awake at the end.  He asks about Scully, but she’ll pull through.  He doesn’t ask about the Ranger in the next bed.  Mulder is a jerk.  But he does ask what the anonymous government guys are going to do about the bugs.  Something about pesticides and controlled fires.  And if those don’t work?

Well…The X-Files rarely revisited some of these previous monster-of-the-week threats.  I doubt we’ll see the bugs again.

Up next, the series revisits a previous monster-of-the-week threat.