The X-Files S1, E10: “Fallen Angel”

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I’ve been delving into the popular sci-fi series The X-Files for a while now, making many attempts and failures to engage with its first season. Now it’s summer, and I’ve been weaving in and out through the series various episodes, trying to piece the gigantic enterprise together. It may seem strange for me to go back and recap an over two decades old television show, in some ways that type of thing is what the blog was built for. Join me this week as I recap/review the tenth episode! (Notes can be read here)

...and so is a ghost from Mars!

…and so is a nice guy from an alien club!

After many monster of the week episodes, we are back with a mythology one. I don’t think we’ve had one of those since “Conduit,” even though Deep Throat has had appearances since then. This episode is a return to abductions in the woods, implants in people’s brains type of X-Files. And that’s fine with me, overall “Fallen Angel” is a pretty decent episode.

In the cold open, we see a fire break out in a Wisconsin forest. Then we cut to a military observatory, and a commanding officer silencing the report made by one his subordinates. Their conversation suggests that the military has something to hide; they don’t know what the aircraft is but seems to have a procedure for handling it. As the fire continues to spread, the commanding officer calls it the “fallen angel” of episode’s title and initiates “Operation Falcon” seemingly as a cover-up. For the rest of the episode, Mulder goes off the reservation trying to prove that the “Fallen Angel” is indeed an alien craft, trespassing the containment zone and getting arresting in the process. Arrested along with him is Max Fenig (Scott Bellis), a nice guy from NICAP (National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena) trying to prove the same thing. Scully goes to spring Mulder, and gets pulled into his crusade as well. There’s talk at the Bureau shutting down the X-Files, the military doesn’t have time for Mulder’s theories, Scully gets pulled into surgery as the military team in the woods sustain bad burns, and poor Max eventually becomes victim to the same sinister force. Is it radiation, toxic waste, or biological terrorism? All bets are off, but the goal is to keep the X-Files open so Mulder and Scully can find out.

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Let’s take stock of how the mythology arc is coming together. In the pilot, we see people getting abducting a forest similar to what happens here. In this episode, we still have blinding white lights, and slow motion, but we add a creepy first-person monster cam with a fish-eye lens (a little too over the top for my taste, but it’s there). We also have implants in “Fallen Angel” similar to the pilot, tho the marks on the body are different than in the pilot (an arrow behind the ear instead of dots on the back). We have aircraft with unusual capabilities and people getting badly burned, like in the second episode “Deep Throat.” In the character of Max we also have someone who has potentially survived an abduction and lived to tell the tale, as in the pilot and “Conduit.” And as always in The X-Files, we have the government’s inability to explain or admit to any of it.

When you stop and look at it, this episode continues the mythology arc pretty well. It doesn’t add a ton of new stuff, but it combines almost everything we’ve seen in previous episodes into one and puts a face on it, Max Fenig. He resembles Mulder quite a bit, except more on the science geek and than special agent side. They believe in the same things and their goals and dedication is the same. His eventual fate is that much more sad though, because he seems less equipped to deal with it than Mulder. He’s just a nicer, more sensitive guy.

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The main emphasis here, what we’re left with beside what happens to Max, is the cover-up in the government. Scully throughout the episode is trying to get Mulder back to DC so he can show up at his own hearing. The FBI wants to shut down the X-Files because Mulder’s using a bunch of funds and can’t seem to get any meaningful results (which is kind of true). They couldn’t bring to light what happened to Max or save him. Eventually, unbeknownst to either Scully or Mulder, Deep Throat saves their jobs and keeps the X-Files open. Is the conspiracy working in their favor? Unclear…

This episode isn’t the best episode out there, but it’s far from the worst. The mythology arc can be cumbersome sometimes, but this episode does a decent job with it. The introduction of Max is a particular highlight, even if the specifics of what the supposed aliens do in the episode is kind of been there done that. Mulder and Scully both sort of play second fiddle to the new guy, but Max is a welcome presence so I don’t really mind it. Overall, a pretty decent episode.

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“No one, no government agency has jurisdiction over The Truth.”

Long story short: 3/4 stars

Click here to read my review of next week’s episode, “Eve”

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