July 22, 2024

Gabbing Geek

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The X-Files “The Pine Bluff Variant”

Mulder is a traitor. Or he's undercover. One of those.

Some more “That Guy!” actors in this one.  Daniel von Bargen, best known as the hapless Mr. Kruger on Seinfeld, and Sam Anderson, best known perhaps as Bernard the dentist on Ryan’s favorite show Lost, who play an anti-government militia type and a U.S. Attorney.  Sort of.

The Case:  A Militia Has A Bioweapon!

The Rest:  Now, I always check the basic premise of these episodes before I watch them, mostly because I want to see if I A) remember the episode and B) write the “Up Next!” tag at the end of each of these.  Anyhoo, the premise here of Mulder going undercover in a militia group seemed, well, almost normal for this show.  Like, I would expect the FBI to do that on any other show to do something like this.  But The X-Files?  That seems far too mundane a thing.

And how the hell does Mulder of all people end up going undercover?  That’s not his normal bag.

Well, to the episode’s credit, it actually has a good explanation for that.  Mulder was speaking at a UFO convention, said some anti-government stuff, and he was approached by the militia.  He went undercover, something known only to Skinner and that U.S. Attorney.  Scully more or less figures it out because Scully actually knows what she’s doing.

As for the case, the militia got its hand on a bioweapon that basically turns infected bodies to absolute goo.

And yes, there’s a mass outbreak at a movie theater when one of the militia guys, their mysterious leader Bremer, takes out twelve patrons, the projectionist, and an usherette.  “Usherette” was Skinner’s word.  Scully is there to do medical stuff, figures out the whole thing is spread through touch, particularly through the tickets or the cash, and Mulder is getting tortured to get past Mr. Kruger’s trust issues.

Actually…von Bargen is pretty scary in this one.  Like, I know the guy as one of the many idiots who gave George Costanza long term employment, but here, he’s pretty threatening.  And when Mulder gets roped into a bank robbery where the goal is to infect the money, it’s pretty tense.  All things being equal, this was a surprisingly effective episode.  You know, given the fact that the X-Files-ish sort of stuff was at a minimum.

You know, until it came out the bioweapon was probably made by the CIA, the head of the militia set the whole thing up as a probable test, and he even infected Mr. Kruger with his own car keys at some point, meaning once again bad things happened, and the masterminds got away with it.

That’s an X-Files thing.

Up next, a monster at a telemarketing company?  Are they even trying anymore?