I loved seeing the X-Files make its return to television last night. Here are some thoughts about the episode and in particular religious themes in it.
The episode begins with Mulder’s story and perspective. In narrating about the long history of UFOs, he refers to “Biblical references.” At the end of the opening monologue, he says we have to ask ourselves whether they are truly a hoax, or whether we are being lied to.
Through much of the episode, a storyline in Roswell in 1947 is interspersed with one in the present day. In the latter, Walter Skinner contacts Dana Scully, trying to put a conspiracy theory talk show host, Tad O’Malley, in touch with him. He takes them to meet an abductee that Fox interviewed as a little girl. The girl, Sveta, says that it was people who impregnated her and took her babies. Fox also gets taken to see a replica vehicle supposedly made with alien technology, using zero point energy and gravity warp drive harnessing the power of element 151, ununpentium. The latter is a reference to claims of a real life individual who says he worked at Groom Lake/Area 51.
In another interesting religious reference, Scully refers to her work at a hospital, focused on a rare condition of children born without ears. Her reference to surgeons who are “doing God’s work” is particularly striking, since it involves human intervention into situations in which biology has not given children something most of us take for granted. And so what sort of idea of God is at work here?
Mulder revisits his office (where we see his famous poster). When he talks to Skinner there, he refers to controlling the past to control the future. He decides that in the past he was manipulated to pursue aliens, when in fact that was intended as a distraction from something else. In fact it was the military complex using alien technology, against other humans. The aim is the takeover of America. Fox has met with a doctor who was at Roswell, and hints that he now believes the Russians were behind it.
But Scully tells Sveta that her tests showed no alien DNA, and so Sveta goes to the media saying it was a hoax and that she was manipulated by O’Malley. The military shows up and destroys the alien ship replica. Tad O’Malley’s “Truth Squad” site goes offline. Yet when Scully retests Sveta’s DNA, and compares it with her own, she becomes convinced that the same abduction and tests were done to both of them. Scully says they need to protect Sveta, but an alien ship kills her and blows up her car.
The episode ends with the cigarette-smoking man saying there is a small problem – they’ve re-opened the X-Files.
It is interesting to reflect on the show’s updating of its conspiracy theory approach to embrace 9/11 trutherism, false flag operations, and other such things. Conspiracy theories and the right wing conservativism have not always gone hand in hand in the way that they have come to. Indeed, the political Right seems to be trying at once to be a movement of patriotic support for the nation, and skepticism of that nation and its politicians. And so I will be interested to see whether the show engages that constituency of Fox viewers (referring there to the TV channel as well as the character – is the fact that they are the same a coincidence, or proof of the conspiracy?)
What did you think of the episode?