Case Profile

A secret experiment consists in heightening paranoia and creating mania and violent behaviour by placing devices emitting additional signals in the poles feeding images to domestic TV sets. X tries to get Mulder to arrest the men responsible and does so using a third man as a messenger boy, in order to hide the fact that he's helping Mulder. In the end, Mulder is too late in his investigation: X has to follow his orders and execute the doctor responsible and the cable company man. CSM gets suspicious of X's involvement with Mulder.

Field Report

An episode written by Mat Beck, special effects supervisor! The much-debated issue of violence on television is tackled with an XF conspiracy touch here -- full with the short scene of young chidren watching an action/explosions movie on the TV! A well-filmed story with terrific moments of paranoia, particularly the act with Scully's progressive dementia. The secret mind control experiment in some town, with no responsible person or persons given, is in the line of 2X03: Blood.

We are only hinted at what the purpose of these experiments is: "mind control". X: "You think they'll stop at commerce and politics?" Mind control is the secret Holy Grail of any authoritative Power, and XF wants us to believe the US government secretly has the wish to become one. Wide experiments on mind control through use of subliminal messages are said to have existed by conspiracy theorists. Here, the signal emitted by the device acts on the brain of the viewer, heightening his deepest fears and inducing a state of mania with high serotonin levels. Mulder's handy color blindness renders him immune to its effects. Dr. Stroman, who was treating the first victim, Joseph Patnik,

diagnosed this was a case of amphetamines abuse. This false information led M&S to believe his behaviour was a result of both the signal device and amphetamines. Scully's condition due to exposure to the device's signal alone makes Mulder make the connection and follow Stroman. Stroman and the cable technician were the on-site executives of the experiment, with X their tie to their unnamed superiors. X executes them both; we are not told why the experiment had to be shot down. Too much public coverage as always, perhaps. Stroman is another german name in a long list of German doctors in XF (Klemper, Kurtzweil, Bronschweig...).

We encounter X again, cold and paranoid as ever. Despite all his precautions, X has started to draw suspicion that he's Mulder's informant, which will result in his execution in 4X01: Herrenvolk. Because of this he uses a messenger, who is no less cooperative or talkative. X: "I was being watched too closely. I couldn't risk compromising myself." X is unlike Deep Throat, he is no father figure and he isn't prone to go as far as to risk his stake for Mulder. We first meet X in 2X04: Sleepless, with a case of another secret experiment lead by the military. Further ties of X with the military (2X15: Fresh Bones) would place him in the Department of Defense, and this case of secret experimentation on civilians could make X an agent of the DIA (Defense Intelligence Agency), which belongs to the DoD. Such shadowy government projects with ties to the military bring to mind the famous MK-Ultra, an ensemble of projects in any kind of brain or body manipulation beginning in the 1950s. The experiment here is MK-Ultra in a later form of the 1990s.

At this point of the series, CSM is presented as pure evil (cf. Scully's visions).

Error?: Mulder says he's color blind. This is an easy solution to him being unaffected by the device and it's a trivia which won't be referred to again in the series. Apart from the fact that it's unlikely the FBI would assign somebody with such an ailment as a field agent, in 1X23: Roland for example, Mulder has no hesitation to choose a green shirt over the blue one. A one-episode ailment.

E.T.C 2004-2007