X-Files mythology, TenThirteen Interviews Database, and more

S10 #4: The Lowdown

A belated rundown of this issue as the fifth and final issue in the “Believers” arc is barely days away. Lowdowns for #1, #2, #3.

This is largely an issue that is based on action and memorable scenes using the story threads that were set up in the previous issues. Essentially this issue brings both ex-agents together again (in a very dramatic fashion) in the place where the resolution of the story will take place, Yellowstone National Park — piece-moving for the grand finale.

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(Spoilers ensue…)

This issue consists, again, in principally four scenes:

  • Scully with the Deacon and the park ranger at Edith’s General Store
  • Mulder investigating the pipeline with the help of the Lone Gunmen
  • Scully with the shape-shifting park ranger
  • Mulder reaches Scully along with the mind-controlling Acolytes, and shooting ensues (includes the teaser)

The trick of having the teaser literally tease us the ending of the issue is something that was used — already! — in issue #1.

Yellowstone National Park

The Blackstone oil pipeline is the legitimate tip of the iceberg in what ultimately appears to be a circular protective barrier made of magnetite! As the Lone Gunmen find out, a certain “private contractor” servicing and maintaining the pipeline seem to have deployed a parallel system of transporting liquid magnetite along with the oil, or at least putting magnetite there without necessarily having it to flow. These private contractors subvert calls to the EPA (US Environment Protection Agency) and act faster than governmental agencies (police, rescue response) when there is an incident onsite, sending cleanup crews and maintenance. The logo on the cleanup crew Mulder sees reads “Syndchem“. The biohazard crew was there to clean whatever was left from the burned bodies of the Acolytes from the previous issue.

Thus the magnetite is there as a barrier, put there by forces that want to resist the alien take-over of the planet but it’s still unclear whether it’s protecting something inside from outside forces like the Acolytes (whom we know operate outside, from the Van de Kamps’ in Wyoming to Dr Scully/Blake’s in Virginia), or whether it’s containing some even larger threat inside (like an invasion base like the large ship in Fight the Future?).

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yellowstone-map

Additionally, this is an interesting story development on behalf of Joe Harris, not having the generic government as the conspiring bad guys, but actually having private interests that subvert government activities to their own benefit being the focus of attention. This change from anti-government to corruption of the public by private interests is a general trend that we can observe in people’s preoccupations as we move from the world of the TV series in the 1990s into today. Not to mention the recent great development of private contractors to the government, of sub-contractors and of sub-sub-contractors that make traceability and blame assignment very difficult.

The whole thing is like the private contractor that was used by the Syndicate and did R&D on biotechnologies related to the Black Oil, “Roush Technologies” (see 5X02: Redux and 6X01: The Beginning).

Mulder steals a snow vehicle, like his snowcat in Antarctica in Fight the Future, and it looks like he is hunted by unidentified black helicopters as he reaches the woods, in a scene reminiscent of the helicopter chase scene in corn fields again in Fight the Future — but these might be FBI reinforcements.

By the way, Langly’s t-shirt of the moment: a t-shirt with a key from the successful IDW comics series “Locke & Key” (which ends this month)! Talking about intertextuality!

The Deacon & The Acolytes

The Deacon summarizes what’s at stake: “You once sought to keep William Scully safe… The Acolytes… would draw him out from wherever he feels safe. They would use you… use anyone they could to discover him… to drag him out into the light…“.

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Mulder calls the Acolytes “some sort of ascendant hybrid race“, a description coming seemingly from nowhere, or perhaps from his discussion with the CSM that we might have got only partially. An alien/human hybrid race whose influence on the affairs of the planet is rising.

So far the Deacon seems to have acted to protect Scully from the Acolytes. He has brought her to Yellowstone, walking along the pipeline so that the magnetite would shield her from them, but at the same time weakening him. What follows is quite confusing and leads directly into the next issue.

A park ranger appears in Edith’s General Store. The Deacon seems to make a move on him, but it’s unclear whether the Deacon overtook him and took his shape, making the body in the back of the car the ranger’s — or whether the ranger is actually an Acolyte who successfully neutralizes the weakened Deacon, making the body in the back of the car the Deacon’s. The ranger certainly seems to behave more menacingly than how the Deacon had, taking the shape of Mulder to manipulate Scully, and attempting to control Scully’s mind (she feels dizzy and her nose bleeds). He takes several forms: the ranger, Mulder, the Deacon, another apparently random face (that could be the being’s “true” face), as we have seen elsewhere in the series with the Alien Bounty Hunter (below from 5X14: The Red and the Black). And he uses classic X-Files mysterious speak, like “denial only gets you so far in this game” and “the truth belongs to whomever shines the brightest light“.

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It could be that this is the Deacon, who is finally showing his true face, that he is not a real ally but just using Scully to his own ends.

And so we come to both the teaser and ending, where Scully is mind-controlled to shoot the real Mulder against he true will! Perhaps the healing abilities of the aliens and of certain hybrids that we have seen in the series (see 3X24: Talitha Cumi / 4X01: Herrenvolk or 8X14: This Is Not Happening) will come into play for the resolution of the story. The Acolytes appear in the dark woods in ambient whispers — a very, very atmospheric passage that is reminiscent of many scenes of the series while it was shot in Vancouver! As soon as Mulder is shot, the Acolytes seem to disappear and the shapeshifting ranger/Mulder reappears. “The Acolytes targeted you, Scully. They got to you. If you want to know why they did it… you’ll follow me…” and he vanishes as fast as he could vanish from the crashing car — leaving Scully with the realization that she shot the real Mulder.

Again, is it the Deacon? Could it be a being that is in control of the Acolytes? How do the Acolytes’ and the Deacon’s objectives differ? Could the Acolytes be attempting to gain access into the Yellowstone barrier, which might hold something significant for the resistance against colonization? Could the Deacon have access? Could William be in there?

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We might get to know in the next issue.

But it seems very difficult that everything might get resolved in 22 pages. Who are the Acolytes exactly, and how do they relate to previous hybrids, the Supersoldiers, and the alien colonists themselves? What is the being that appears to be the CSM, and who are those that seem to constitute a new resistance to colonization? Where is William? Why are the Lone Gunmen assisting the FBI? And why does Scully look like she’s much younger than 49?

If Season 10 operates like the TV series’ mythology, or indeed like any mystery series that wants to keep its audience hooked, “Believers” is setting things up and opens questions, it does not aim to answer them. That is the task of the rest of the issues. Let’s hope that answers or resolution are there, and let’s enjoy the ride.

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