July 20, 2024

Gabbing Geek

Your online community for all things geeky.

The X-Files “This”

Langly might still be alive. It's complicated.

For the first episode of this final, final season, the series finally gave the Smoking Man a name.  This one does the same for Deep Throat.  Apparently, he was one Ronald Pakula.  For the record, Alan J Pakula was the director of, among other things, All the President’s Men.  That would be the movie where Hal Holbrook played government informant Deep Throat.  So…that’s appropriate.

I don’t really know where the “Ronald” came from.

The Case:  Virtual Afterlife!

The Rest:  I noted more than once that, when push came to shove, Fox Mulder couldn’t really fight very well.  He could get ahead of Krycek, but that was about it.  But here?  Man, he and Scully kick some ass.  This is The X-Files as an action movie, as written and directed by Glen Morgan (who had some experience doing that between the original run and the revival), and there’s a legit tense and exciting shoot-out in the opening scene that has Scully slide across the floor of Mulder’s cabin to get a gun, Mulder run upstairs, lots of running, and some good shootin’ on both sides.

Considering Duchuvny was in his late 50s and Anderson in her late 40s at the time, that actually makes it more impressive.

What’s less impressive is how this whole episode plays out.  Langly of the Lone Gunmen contacts the duo over Mulder’s smartphone to say, well, he’s sort of still alive.  Or as it turns out his brain was scanned and downloaded to some server along with all kinds of other tech geniuses (like Steve Jobs!…wait, was he a tech genius or a good businessman?  I’m not sure).  As revealed by Barbara Hershey later in a scene almost certainly meant to evoke Ned Beatty’s monologue from Network, anyone who has used a smartphone got their brain scanned and put into the system so that, when they die, they can end up in this virtual reality where Langly says things are kinda awesome, but no one is happy because they’re also slaves to the system.  He’s just the only one to realize it.

As I see it, here’s the problem with this episode:  by using Barbara Hershey–c’mon, they weren’t gonna have her just stand in the background for a single scene of one episode–, they are setting this up as more of the conspiracy.  By putting Langly as the guy suffering inside the simulation when he’d rather just rest in peace, there’s a connection to the audience.  Trust in Skinner is a little low since, at some point, the X-Files went digital and other countries and agencies had access to Mulder’s work, but he’s still basically on their side even if Mulder and Scully don’t quite believe it.  Scully even disconnects the computer server hosting the virtual afterlife, but there’s the episode-ending scene where Langly pops up again to say he’s in the back-up server and then some also-dead Russian hitman who looks like he enjoys the same music Langly does takes him away and gives the camera a threatening look.  What’s so bad about that?

Well, they never follow up on any of that.  The episode ends, and that’s that.  Langly is presumably still in a server somewhere.  Barbara Hershey is still part of a conspiracy.  Or the conspiracy.  But nothing more will come of this plotline.  It’s a lot of action in the beginning, a good mystery, and then all the bad guys get away (including the dead ones), and then it just ends.  It feels like a conspiracy episode.  It’s actually a monster-of-the-week.  And a character the audience presumably cares about is suffering for the rest of eternity.

Or he’s not because that’s just a brainscan and not the actual Langly.

Say, does Scully live in Mulder’s cabin now?

Up next, killer word games!