Case Profile

Black Oil infects oil rig workers except two. They belong to the Huichol, a genetically pure Mexican tribe that is naturally immune to the Black Oil. Mulder disobeys orders and investigates on his own with Doggett. The oil rig ends up exploding. Kersh fires Mulder from the FBI; Mulder hands in the X-Files to Doggett.

Field Report

'Vienen', spanish for 'they are coming'. Written by Steven Maeda, not a mythology regular, but successfully playing with traditional mythology elements: the Black Oil and its radioactive properties, something not touched upon since season 3! And also introducing elements of that traditional mythology that were not revealed when they were initially planned to be: the natural immunity to the Black Oil. The X-Files crew gets to play with an oil rig! Helicopters! Fires! Explosions! Mulder and Doggett jumping off the rig action movie-style!

The Orpheus oil rig

Doggett summarizes the Black Oil mythology, particularly the events of 3X15: Piper Maru / 3X16: Apocrypha, for the new viewers
: "Five years ago, [...] a sepsis was brought to the surface which you describe as a highly contagious virus of extraterrestrial origin that has radioactive properties". A sepsis is a condition caused by a viral or bacterial infection. The Black Oil surfaces again. Galplex Petroleum seems to have stumbled upon one of those underground deposits of dormant Black Oil that were left behind when the alien Colonists left last time, just like the deposit found in Blackwood, Texas (Fight the Future). This time the Black Oil seems 'diluted' or mixed with conventional oil. "Galplex Petroleum has discovered what we think may be a massive new oil province beneath the Gulf of Mexico" and a territorial war of financial and political interests is about to break over who will get to produce it. Mulder thinks the production has begun already, and that's where the Black Oil is coming from, that particular underground reservoir. "I'm not sure that it's in all oil", and indeed you wouldn't want to burn Mexican Black Oil in your SUV. The Black Oil infects the whole crew of the Orpheus Platform that produces the deposit.

Mulder theorizes that the workers want to produce and spread the Black Oil deposit so that it infects more people. Given how oil-dependent we are, that should be easy, however we know that another means of spreading the Black Oil has been designed: bees (Fight the Future). Instead, the infected workers are emitting a signal to contact the Colonist ships -- a signal interpreted as nonesense interference by the communications officer: "
there's some sort of high frequency interference that I have no idea how to get rid of [...] filtering in across a large range of channels" -- probably expecting to be picked up. In the end, the infected workers themselves blow up the oil rig, perhaps in an attempt to seal the oil deposit for good as it had attracted too much attention with Mulder and Doggett. The workers die, but the Black Oil must have survived, returning to a dormant state, waiting for the colonization. In the aftermath, "Galplex has lost the right to drill that entire Texas oil province".

On a side note, the new communications officer that arrives to replace de la Cruz is named Yuri Volkov, a most russian name. Could it be that the Russian conspiracy (4X09: Tunguska / 4X10: Terma) got wind of the situation and sent one of their own to investigate?

Immunity to the Black Oil

Not all of the crew was infected, however. The only two Mexican nationals were not. Somehow, the Black Oil that entered them died. Both of them knew what was going on, knew that "they are coming" ("ya vienen") in their "flying saucers" ("platillos voladores"). Simon de la Cruz and Diego Garza tried to resist the infected workers, by sabotaging the rig and by destroying or setting fire to the communications station that was the rig's link to the mainland. Simon was discovered and one of the infected workers, as he could not make him one of their own by infecting him, killed him with a radioactive flash ("
the crew members who were affected by the virus couldn't control him, so they killed him, by irradiating him") -- these "radioactive properties" were already seen in Piper Maru. Simon's body was thrown to the sea and Diego went into hiding.

What was so special with Simon and Diego? They were listed as Mexican nationals, as "mestizo", which is spanish for person of mixed descent ("
mixed Mexican descent"). Scully determines that they were in fact Huichol Indians (Scully actually says "Waicha" but to the best of my knowledge this is an invented term; in the subtitles, she says "Huichol", who are a very real people). "The Huichol are an indigenous Mexican culture that has a rare undiluted gene pool." Indeed, the Huichol were independent of the Aztec rule of Mexico, and later gave trouble to the newly created Mexican state with claims for independence; cross-breeding must have been scarce, and genetic traits must have survived through the generations. This is common to isolated cultures.

Scully offers the example of northern Italy, "where people are immune to certain diseases: heart disease, through a genetic mutation"; Scully chose perhaps the most inadequate example: lower incidence of
specifically heart disease has been linked to the olive oil diet in Italy and Greece. But there are other cases where hereditary genes provide immunity. Some of "these genes may have an innate immunity to infection", rendering their holder immune to the virus -- something the Russians have been trying to achieve with a vaccine and the Syndicate through hybridization! The Black Oil entered their body, started "massing in the pineal gland" (a modus operandi established in 4X10: Terma) but was attacked and successfully exterminated by their immune system: Simon's blood contains "T-cells in impossible numbers" (T-cells, or lymphocytes, are white blood cells in a body's immune system that attack virus-infected cells, exterminating them (by 'eating' them)). What was left was a black fluid devoid of the virus that gives life to it, a black fluid that is esentially conventional oil -- an organic material serving only as a medium for the intelligent being that what we call the 'Black Oil' (as in Piper Maru).

The Siberian connection part II: migration

Had this "genetic immunity" been discovered earlier by the Syndicate, the search for a successful hybrid would have been shortened by decades! By transferring just the gene in question, one could become immune. Better yet, this genetic immunity could have become the basis for providing the necessary antibodies and creating a vaccine against the Black Oil.

In fact, this might have been the
storyline that was planned all along only it never made its way onscreen. 2X25: Anasazi speaks of the Anasazi, a tribe that vanished with no reason and without a trace. 4X09: Tunguska / 4X10: Terma presents a vaccine created in Russia. 5X20: The End, about somebody presenting alien traits with potentially Filipino ascent, would have been a two-parter named "Zhigansk", a Siberian meteor crash site, and "Okhotsk", the Russian city from which Bering sailed away the Strait that took his name and crossed to the American continent, the same way Siberian tribes emigrated and populated the Americas some 40,000 years ago. 9X19-20: The Truth says that magnetite that arrived from meteors is lethal to aliens. From there, one could elaborate a theory that may correspond to Carter's plans. Magnetite and/or Black Oil in a meteorite that fell on Earth a long time ago caused a mutation on a tribe of people (through the shock of the fall? through long-term exposure?). These people eventually spread and their descendants found their way to Siberia (Tunguska), the Philippines (Gibson), Mexico (the Huichol) and New Mexico (the Anasazi). From those in Tunguska, the Russians were able to develop their vaccine. See 5X20: The End and 9X19-20: The Truth for more.

Mulder passes the torch

This is the only episode where Mulder and Doggett are teamed in an investigation (one could count 8X19: Alone as well). For much of the episode, Mulder is a hinderance slash pain-in-the-neck to Doggett. Mulder is not assigned to the X-Files so he acts on his own, like his old obsessive self, in order to investigate 'his' Files. Doggett tries to be in charge, to control Mulder ("We're going in one direction. My direction.") but he quickly learns that's impossible. This trial by fire (literally) will allow for Doggett to gain Mulder's trust. He has now seen the enemy, he knows what to fight against: "
you have seen it now, out on that platform. You saw it for yourself." Mulder's fate in the Bureau was dangling by a thread already; this last case, where he abused his authority as an FBI agent to investigate without clearance, allowed Kersh to finally give him the final blow ("the blame has been properly assigned"). Mulder is taken off the X-Files and is taken off the FBI altogether. Mulder shakes Doggett's hand and leaves the X-Files office, the office he's had for ten years, for good. "You're in charge here now."

Surveillance Recodings
Doggett: "Five years ago, you and Agent Scully investigated a case of a World War Two plane salvaged from the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, where a sepsis was brought to the surface which you describe as a highly contagious virus of extraterrestrial origin that has radioactive properties and can take over a man's body and it's part of an alien conspiracy to colonise the planet, if I'm not mistaken."
Mulder: "And you'd love to help, but you left your lightsaber at home. (pause) How'd you get stuck down here, Agent Doggett? Did Kersh catch you peeing in his cornflakes?"

Doggett: "I never would have believed it. These stories about you."
Mulder: "Really? What stories are those?"
Doggett: "That you can find a conspiracy at a church picnic."
Mulder (promptly): "What church?"

Scully: "And what if I can't?"
Mulder: "When he's old enough, tell the kid I went down swinging."

Diego Garza: "Confio en nadie." [I trust no one]

Mulder: "You're all the credibility this office has left. You have Kersh's ear and you have seen it now. Out on that platform. You saw it for yourself. (phone rings, it's Kersh) Answer the phone, Agent Doggett. You're in charge here now." (Mulder shakes Doggett's hand and walks out the X-Files office for good; the phone keeps ringing as Doggett looks at it)

E.T.C 2004-2008