Sunday, August 1, 2010

The X-Files: 731 (3.10)

This was another episode where my enjoyment was hampered by my knowledge of the rest of the series. I was always a casual X-Files viewer, and this is my first time watching the show unfold episode-by-episode, but I'm already aware that literal aliens do come into play at various points down the line, which affected how I viewed 731. It would have been pretty heartbreaking to have Mulder proved wrong in his beliefs, but it would have been equally as daring. Having The Conspiracy creating these elaborate and grand red-herrings to cover up brutal, human evil at its worst? It takes a lot of guts to do that, and I can't help but wonder if it might have really worked.

It was a little disappointing to see Scully appearing to be distanced from The Truth once again. Her gradual coming-around to the theories of extra-terrestrial life were fun to see unfold, and I hope it's not a complete set-back to have her accept that her abduction was at the hands of humans and not something alien in origin. It does, however, create another wedge between Scully and Mulder. Mulder is at his most unhinged here, risking his life to prove that the government wants whatever was on the train very much alive. Ultimately, they could handle the loss.

Obvious Nazi parallels continued with the massacre scenes and Scully's discovery of the pit of rotting corpses. I've said it already, but humanizing so much horror brings this show straight into reality.

Further revelations included the discovery that whoever abducted Scully could potentially read her thoughts via the chip in her neck. Poor Scully, it keeps getting worse. Last week cancer and probable death, this week mind rape. Yikes. At least she has awkward Agent Pendrell crushing on her. That's something... right?

While on its own 731 was moving, entertaining and pretty damn nifty, the fact that it's also another conspiracy episode that I'm guessing goes nowhere makes it disappointing. I really wish that either the writers or Fox could have stepped in and allowed the whole series come together somehow. But maybe that type of Lost-style pre-planning is too much of a modern invention, at least compared to way back in the mid-'90s. Rating B+

Guest stars Stephen McHattie (The Red-Haired Man); William B. Davis (The Cigarette-Smoking Man); Michael Puttonen (Conductor); Robert Ito (Dr. Shiro Zama); Steven Williams (X)
Writer Frank Spotnitz Director Rob Bowman

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