And so it happened: The X-Files 10X13!
More after the jump:
The issue is split between Scully’s and Mulder’s stories:
- Teaser: Krycek and Scully land at Arlington National Cemetery
- Al-Ahsa, Saudi Arabia: Mulder hitch-hikes
- The Lone Gunnmen HQ: Krycek is examined; and Krycek and Scully discuss
- Al-Ahsa: Mulder’s driver reveals her secret, truck crashes; then truck explodes
- Crystal City: Scully takes Krycek to Skinner’s
- Riyadh Airport: Mulder onboard airplane, CSM too
- Spotsylvania: At the “Blakes”, Scully writes her report/diary; and Mulder returns, infected
At this point if you haven’t a good memory of the show’s mythology episodes and a fresh knowledge of Season 10, I have no clue how you could begin to understand the unfolding story arc! Harris has managed to mix new mysteries with very old situations to form riddles that only long-time fans, I think, would be able to decipher. As for the new mysteries, one can only hope that this is leading to a coherent somewhere! — but how was that any different from any mythology episode back in the day?
Many staples from the show in this issue: the opening teaser with a voice-over narration; the closing with the writing of a report on a laptop; Scully raising an eyebrow. Both Harris and Smith have studied the show well! Smith really hits his stride with this issue and it’s now difficult to imagine Season 10 without him.
Randomly Abductee Accessed Memory
The “Pilgrims” arc adds a new layer to the complexity of the mytharc with presenting us with what appears to be manipulation of space and time on behalf of alien forces: the aliens using teleportation and memory manipulation and possibly time travel to move around abductees such as Krycek and Scully. “To be taken, to be accessed, for lack of a better term, then returned when my abductors are finished with me“.
If Krycek is indeed telling the truth — you never know! — the last thing he remembers is from 1996, when the Black Oil he was infected with and controlled by was leaving his body and moving inside the UFO, inside a silo in North Dakota (3X16: Apocrypha). The recreated panels from that episode are haunting and the spiral shape on the UFO beings back eerie memories.
This Krycek is dressed like he was in season 3, and is surprised to learn he’s labelled as dead for over ten years; this is not the same Krycek that Mulder saw in Saudi Arabia in the two previous issues. This Krycek could very well be a re-creation of the 1996 Krycek based on the memories collected by the Black Oil when it infected him, in the same way the “new” CSM is a reconstructed CSM from blood samples enriched with a Black Oil derivative (see #10). The Saudi Arabia Krycek could be another, different recreation — or even the future of this Arlington Krycek that is traveling time and space.
The Lone Gunmen’s recordings of Krycek’s brain activity show activity “similar to those observed during epileptic seizures”; epilepsy would be a result of multiple abductions, as seen on Max Fenig (1X09: Fallen Angel). The other elements are delta wave activity “like he’s dreaming while he’s awake” which could be “a repressed memory or a post-hypnotic suggestion” and the decoding of “SHELTE” (far-fetched! and I can’t find any anagrams that make any sense, à la 3X24: Talitha Cumi): these elements don’t have any explanation yet.
Scully then takes Krycek to Skinner’s apartment, who hasn’t moved in nearly 20 years — in a very obvious fan service exact recreation of the same fan-favourite scene from 4X09: Tunguska: Skinner’s (lack of) attire, Krycek’s cap, Skinner punching him… Krycek says he remembers being there before, which would contradict with him being a recreation from the 3X16: Apocrypha Black Oil.
The Foresaken Ones
What is the purpose of all this? Abductees taken, information taken from them, or orders given to them, and returned. This new Krycek could be as confused as he is saying he is, or he could have been sent by the aliens with a precise purpose: when he lands at Arlington, à la “The Terminator“, he again uses phrases we heard from the Acolytes in the “Believers” arc (#1-5), “I have to find it! The cradle is empty.”
The Arabian truck driver infected by the Black Oil tells Mulder that the aliens send Krycek “to hunt the Foresaken Ones. This is his imperative. They are using him.” She further speaks a lot in mysterious phrases that don’t help much to make things clearer, like “you know who I mean” and “for what they wish to be, of course” and “the same thing they are always after“!… The aliens are following Mulder, studying him, and once sent forth Krycek is drawn to Mulder to use him in his plans. Who these Foresaken Ones could be is not clear; they could be the alien Colonists left behind underground, i.e. the Black Oil in oil deposits, that are to come back out to the surface for the colonization.
As Dr. Krause was warning in the last issue, the aliens made their escape on Al-Ahsa: Mulder was purposefully taken by the driver, was infected by the Black Oil, and thanks to his US governmental papers was able to move out of the country easily by plane and teach the USA for a purpose still unknown. He is followed closely by the CSM, most likely sent by the Glasses-Wearing Man (#5, #10), whose stake in all this we still don’t know quite well: is he there to make sure Mulder moves safely, and is thus on the aliens’ side, or is he following Mulder to stop him at the correct moment, and thus against acting the aliens?
And all this leads to a dramatic last page with panels shippers should be glad about (some panels are derived from shots in 9X19/20: The Truth), and the big reveal that Mulder is infected by the Black Oil — incidentally making the previous kiss not a genuine one, just like in #5 with the shapeshifting Deacon. The big reveal is like the one at the end of 3X15: Piper Maru, with Krycek being infected, or like in the X-Files Game from 1998 (3X79: Agrippa), with Mulder being infected.
We are at the midpoint of “Pilgrims” and many basic things are still a mystery: who is working for who, and what for? With the exception of relying a bit too much on the series’ glorious past, there’s lots to enjoy: lots of drama, lots of mystery and a confused fan that asks for more! It’s true that monthly issues still feel short compared to the length of an episode but Harris does try very hard to build a complex mystery in few pages. Despite that, the wait between issues is long and there’s enough time to be excited, lose interest, and then get excited again for the next issue — something long-time comics fans must be fully accustomed with — the alternative being following the collected volumes only, but at the risk of spending too little time on the intricacies that make lowdowns such as this possible and enjoyable. #14 comes out in just a few days!