[XF/M] S3E12 & S6E12: “The Sound of Snow” and “One Son”

M: Love and hate here.

XF: Ms. S did not see that coming.

I. The Sound of Snow

The opening to “The Sound of Snow” is almost perfect. It’s a little telegraphed — back and forth to the cassette –, but the transformation of the landscape such that what is a light drizzle when seen ‘objectively’ becomes a snow storm from the ‘subjective’ viewpoint of the hallucinating woman is elegant and demonstrates what you can do with such a visual medium.

Much of the middle part of the episode is a rather banal procedural in which Frank and Emma try to catch up to what the rest of us know: whale-song-lady is sending deadly white-noise cassettes to people. The only question is why — is it random or purposeful? –, and that’s quickly answered as the latter. She’s a menace but mundane. And there’s the whole matter of whether the law can touch her … but the Millennium Group can … we’ve established that previously.

Alas the group has been made out to be such a cult (end of season 2) and malevolent force (this season) that we can’t really entertain discussion about whether they’re really engaging in a greater-good vigilantism; we can’t really both appreciate them and the need for them but also feel disturbed by them … we’ve already come down on the side of repulsed by.

That ship has sailed.

There’s a sci-fi aspect here as well. We have white and “brown” noise, and we have talk of the Soviets, subliminal messages, and mind control. It’s not high-concept sci-fi, but it is ‘fiction’ insofar as our popular notions about subliminal messages are basically bunk. But it’s the type of thing that would actually pair well with the earlier-in-the-season ‘X-Files’ episode, “Drive”, which deals with extremely low frequency (ELF) waves. The sonic equivalent of ELF electromagnetic waves, ‘infrasound‘, has also played a part in other television shows, such as an episode of the short-lived and train-wreckish ‘Veritas: The Quest’ (its final episode, “Helmholtz Resonance”), and as a possible explanation for ghost sightings, etc.

And finally: it’s an episode about Frank coming to terms with Catherine’s death. Not only is Frank investigating this case, he’s a part of it, as he was also sent a cassette … he just failed to get it (the normal way) because he moved and the new owner of his Seattle home had it.

There’s a curious road-not-taken here involving Lucy Butler, Samiel, and the whale-song lady: the first clearly has supernatural connections, and the third is quite clearly mundane, whereas Samiel is given a somewhat supernatural explanation in his episode (“Borrowed Time”), but almost everything he does can be given a mundane explanation (but one that involves Samiel being insane). In all, though, we could simply have completely normal humans feeling the need — as the millennium approaches — to take on the guises or roles of certain angelic and demonic archetypes: a corrupter, an angel of death, someone to judge …

… that, however, would be a very season 1 approach to the whole issue.

II. One Son

The ending feels a bit like the end of season 5; CSM shows up and does something drastic in the the X-Files office. Curiously enough, the answer to both problems — Mulder and the X-Files; the Syndicate — is fire, though the answer to Spender is a bullet.


Spender bites a bullet, and Ms. S. was shocked.

Spender felt like a failed experiment. In-story he was his father’s failed experiment, that is clear, but narratively, too … he never gained a propulsive life of his own a-la-Krycek, and having them side-by-side, seeing how Krycek developed in his relations with both CSM and Mulder … it’s not just Mulder that Spender is a pale imitation of.

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