X-Files Week at The Tuesday List, part the second. First, sorry for this being on Wednesday. Maybe it was aliens? Let's say it was aliens.
Second, credit where credit is due, this month long feature was inspired by the X-Files Files podcast. Find it on iTunes, Stitcher, Soundcloud. Avoid the Tunes if at all possible (FIGHT THE POWER!).
Today's list concerns, essentially, animals, "natural" phenomenon, and science run amok. The rules here are much clearer than last week's list, but still probably not 100%. I apologize in advance for those of you who struggle with ambiguity.
X-Files Science Gone too Far and Nature Gone Awry Monsters of the Week in Order of Personal Preference (and by no means fully comprehensive)
10.) Salt Water Monster- The episode is not very good (it is bad, in fact) but the monster is pretty excellent. A great "could be anywhere" beast that challenges the show to show it without showing it (as it is effectively clear, like water.) Again, it is an episode where science gets to be right as well which is a nice treat.
9.) Big Blue- The X-Files take on the Loch Ness turned into anything but. Still by being the creature that dragged them out there and that forced them to cling to a rock in the middle of the lake, Blue sparked great interplay between the leads that served as a nice "where are we in our lives" reset without resorting to endless obvious exposition. Plus, it finally confronts the whole Mulder as Ahab thing that I am sure the writers were aching to do for awhile.
8.) F Emasculata Virus- Especially chilling for all you Ebola fans out there, this one is a super gross virus (think bursting sores) that is actually more about corporate malfeasance than a killer virus. Nonetheless, there is a virus and it is plenty scary.
7.) AI from "Kill Switch"- The AI itself is pretty standard evil computer, but the way the episode, penned by sci-fi authors William Gibson and Tom Maddox, tells the story is just awesome. Scully virtual avatar is a particular highlight in a scene that seems almost proto-Matrix-y
6.) The Ardent- The ship itself is not actually the monster, but rather the conditions on it. Contaminated water is horribly accelerating the aging of anyone on-board and all Mulder and Scully can do is ration what little potable liquids they have and pray they make it long enough to be rescued. An incredibly human episode that lets Scully be right (science saves the day!) and highlights the love (not sexual people!) the two leads already have for one another.
5.) The Artic Worm- A take on The Thing in many ways, this episode nonetheless transcends its conventions by playing on the relatively new status of the Mulder-Scully partnership (this is a Season 1 episode) as the worm causes people to act out of character and shreds trust. When trust is new and barely there, well then, how devastating can this worm be?
It is also a great way to leapfrog episodes upon episodes of trust earning. A lot of shows could learn from this kind of thing as it makes it clear, by episode's end, why the characters trust each other and how much without spending weeks showing (or worse telling) us how that trust is building. One horrifying, chaotic situation later, you are able to buy the depth of their commitment to one another.
4.) The Firewalker Fungus- Very similar to the episode above, except in hot instead of cold climates. I do not have a great answer why this one hit me a bit harder than the Arctic Worm, especially given I encountered that one first. And I get how that's a flaw since I am writing a list where I talk about that sort of thing but there it is. The best I can guess is that it is because I find Bradley Whitford's Trepkos a much more compelling character than any of the ones from "Ice" and that Scully's ordeal is especially tense given she has just returned to active duty.
3.) The Jesus Slug- One of the most interesting elements of the X-Files, for me at least, is that Dana Scully is a skeptic in all things, save her faith in God while Mulder believes everything, almost, but struggles to connect with anything spirituality-wise. It is a nice reminder that we are not all one thing or another or, at least, we do not have to be.
Thus, any episode that plays with that theme is of interest to me. This one is an oddity as Mulder is not around at this point (the X-Files get super murky towards the end) but it still places Scully in a position where her faith is both a help and a possible danger.
I also confess that I just really love the simple "joke" (if you will) of a slug being worshipped as a messiah. It really takes the "least among you" and turns it on its head, doesn't it?
2.) The Field Trip Fungus- The Black Mercy (ask your Superman friends) comes to the X-Files. The fungus, by its nature, creates an episode that is constantly changing the rules from underneath the viewer. Every scene, every moment, must be questioned because while it might be real, it might also just be a hallucination meant to distract you as your body is metabolized. A passive monster that is as dangerous as anything the series presents and it never needs to move an inch.
1.) The Darkness Mites- The "monster" of my one of my absolute favorite X-Files of all time. I still, now and again, think about the episode and these guys, trying to game my way out of dying like most of the characters did. So small, so deadly, but utterly mindless. Unleashed on people by people's insistence on pushing farther and using more and more resources. Oh, and they come out at night. Such perfect nightmare fuel.