Revisiting The X-Files: season 1 episode 8
Matt continues his look back at the maiden season of X-Files, and encounters the best episode yet of its early run
What happens when you take Mulder and Scully out of their usual environment and dump them in the middle of a deserted Antarctic research facility? Well, lots of shots of snowy blizzards to remind us we're in the arctic, a huge dose of paranoia, and the best episode of the series so far.
If you've been following this series of articles and have read my somewhat tepid response to the series so far, you may not think that's saying much. But make no mistake, this one stands apart from the rest.
When a team of researches digging into the ice are killed in unusual circumstances, and video footage of their last moments is found, Mulder and Scully head off with a small team (including a doctor, some sort of ice expert, and a pilot) to the base in order to discover what happened there. What they find upon arrival is a lot of dead bodies and a dog with swollen lymph glands and black boils beneath its arms; in other words, the dog exhibits all the signs of the plague.
The dog attacks the pilot, who subsequently becomes infected with a kind of parasite. When the pilot begins to act in an increasingly violent way, the team hold him down and extract a disgusting worm from him, which proves to be his end. Their research leads them to uncover that the worm is a parasite which takes up lodgings in a host and drives that host to become severely aggressive and kill other people.
Scully makes the discovery that the worms will even fight each other to the death, which leads her to the conclusion that if a second worm is introduced into the body of someone already infected, the two worms will kill each other, and thus the infected individual will be cured. For a while Mulder is suspected of having the worm inside him, but it actually turns out to be inside one of the female doctors, who subsequently goes mad, and needs to be rugby tackled to the ground in order for a second worm to be put inside her ear. Iew.
Okay, so what we essentially have here is The Thing, except a mind-bending worm that was discovered in the ice of a meteor crater stands in place of a monster that was discovered in the ice of a meteor crater. The episode makes no bones about wanting to emulate the John Carpenter classic, however; from the very beginning it lays its cards on the table and lets us know exactly what we're in for. Enclosed and cut off from society, Mulder, Scully and the rest begin to break down, to suspect each other of murder; the paranoia level is shot to breaking point here, and it makes for an extremely absorbing and thrilling episodes - exactly what some of the previous episodes have been lacking.
Check out Matt's review of episode 7 here.