[XF/M] S3E11 & S6E11: “Collateral” and “Two Fathers”

Tuesday evening we returned to our rotation.

First: John Locke, Spike, and Art Bell in one episode … I can’t take credit for that way of looking at it, though, as it’s part of the A.V. Club review.

Then: over in ‘The X-Files’ we get the first of a two-parter, “Two Fathers”, in which we begin to wrap up the entire mythology arc. It’s more of a punt than anything, but it’s still hugely entertaining.

I. Collateral Damage

Just to be obvious here … ‘collateral damage’ refers both to those Desert Storm soldiers as well as to Peter Watts’ daughter. We’ve got a ‘sins of the father’ theme going on and made explicit here, but this is the second episode in a row in which a major character’s daughter is put in peril, and what’s interesting is comparing/contrasting the matters of fate (Jordan) and fault (Peter Watts).

In short: Peter’s daughter (Taylor) is abducted after a night of bowling and the FBI is called in to help find her (aside: I couldn’t help but think of “Five Easy Pieces” when watching the bowling scene). Frank concludes that Peter did not want the FBI involved; that was the local PD … the Millennium Group would rather handle it in-house, as evidenced by them finding one of the abductors, then torturing and executing him before leaving the crime scene for the FBI so as make it appear as if Eric Swan (James Marsters), the other abductor, did it. We eventually learn what Swan wants: for Peter to admit his and the Group’s involvement in biological warfare testing during Desert Storm that Swan was unwittingly a part of. Swan posts on conspiracy boards and called in a lot to Art Bell — remember in the late 90s when Art Bell was ‘a thing’? –, and this gives the show an opportunity to locate itself “in the real world” and go on Bell’s show in order to hook and locate Swan.

Needless to say, Swan outsmarts them and we get another one of those obvious and manipulative set of cuts between the villain’s den and our characters approaching what they think is the lair, only to bust in and discover that it’s a different location.

Anyway: Frank on Art Bell’s show. Frank is there to talk to Swan if Bell can’t keep him on the line, but Frank goes off-script a bit, for he truly does sympathize with Swan somewhat … nobody believes him either about Seattle, Catherine’s death, or the Group’s involvement. It’s a bit of impotent venting, but relevant nonetheless because Frank finally has an outlet of some sort. If only the show would maintain this connection and send Frank off into crazy conspiracy nut territory … Frank Black, nutjob antihero.

I doubt that’s how it will play out.

Swan doesn’t exactly get what he wants, though he gets an admission by Peter that isn’t heard by any except those present. Swan returns to the room where he locked Taylor up, and in an unsurprising move she got loose and manages to snap his neck. Not use the Marburg virus variant that Swan had been playing with … no, that would have been too obvious. Instead she pulls a stunt of physical violence that only works on TV and in movies. That she’s bad-ass was already established earlier in the episode, but still. But still … the episode ends with the Watts family ‘enjoying’ dinner, and Taylor knows what Peter has done … how or whether she’ll internalize it is a different matter. And whether it will actually play out in the series? Who can tell? (Well, those who have seen the rest of the show)

At the end of season 2 it was explicitly established how much of a cult the Millennium Group is; here we just reenforce what a typically patriarchal establishment it remains. Father knows best.

II. Two Fathers

Speaking of fathers … knowing best or otherwise … here we get the CSM. And furthermore:

  • Yay! Krycek kicking ass and taking names
  • Yay for Skinner trying to help his agents
  • Lots of CSM monologuing; and get get his initials but not his full name
  • Spender is so useless and stubborn you just want him to die
  • Mulder just does not give a f*ck anymore. Also: Basketball

It’s an info-dump sort of episode in which neither Mulder nor Scully does much; it’s the second a row in which Mulder is effectively sidelined, as he had little to do in the Scully-centric (and excellent) “Tithonus”.

If there’s one moment here I particularly appreciate, it’s is at the Syndicate meeting when CSM realizes that one of his colleagues has been replaced by an alien rebel. He doesn’t flip out then and there, he does not accuse. He remains the CSM, and working with Krycek he assigns Spender to kill the impostor. It’s in-character, but it’s also dialed-back and measured in that scene. No special glares or glowers, nothing to telegraph what we already know. It’s not that it’s subtle, it’s that it’s not over the top. That’s kind of a rare thing.

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