October 11, 2015
The X-Files 1.20, Darkness Falls: Mulder, Mulder, Why Ya Buggin’?
Summary: In Olympic National Forest in Washington State, two loggers are fighting. One thinks they should try to make it out of the forest, but the other thinks they should stay put and wait for help. A bunch of loggers make a break for it. After the sun goes down, a logger falls and hurts his ankle, so another one tries to help him keep going. Thousands of bugs descend on them from the trees.
In D.C., Mulder tells Scully that the 30 loggers all disappeared. A couple weeks ago, two mischief-making environmentalists were reported for causing trouble for the loggers. No one has heard from the loggers since then. The FBI has been asked to step in and find out if anything criminal happened. Mulder grabbed the case because a group of men disappeared in the same area in 1934. Scully jokes that they could be looking for Bigfoot.
The two head to Washington State and meet up with Sheriff Larry Moore. His windshield has been shattered by a gunshot, and he thinks one of the environmentalists/ecoterrorists is to blame. They’re joined by Steve Humphreys, who’s the head of security for the loggers’ lumber company. Scully feels like they’ve walked into the middle of a war.
Everyone drives to the forest, talking about the ecoterrorists. The sheriff’s truck gets a flat from spikes put down by the ecoterrorists, so the group has to hike the rest of the way. Eventually they come across the loggers’ camp, which looks like it was abandoned while people were in the middle of everyday tasks. They even left their pot behind! Also, their radio has been destroyed.
Moore finds rice in the loggers’ radiators and sugar or sand in their gas tanks, which explains why they didn’t drive out of the forest. Scully guesses they’re not dealing with Bigfoot. The group keeps looking around, finding what looks like a huge cocoon in a tree. Scully starts to cut it down but sees that there’s no insect inside – the cocoon holds a human body.
Moore and Scully cut open the cocoon, and Scully sees that the body inside has been preserved, in a way. Moore thinks an insect is responsible. Humphreys hears something and investigates, finding Doug Spinney, one of the ecoterrorists. He tells Humphreys that he doesn’t know what happened to the loggers.
Spinney helps get the cabin’s generator back up and running, warning that “darkness is our enemy.” At night, something comes from the sky – something capable of pulling a person off the ground. Maybe something also capable of spinning a huge cocoon? Spinney tells the group that he saw a man eaten alive. Moore and Humphreys point out that Spinney is a felon and should be arrested. Spinney and Humphreys start fighting about the environment, and Spinney reveals that the loggers were taking trees they weren’t supposed to. Humphreys denies knowledge of that.
Humphreys starts to go back outside, ignoring Spinney when he warns him not to go out in the dark alone. Humphreys thinks this is all an elaborate scheme to stop the loggers from cutting down trees. Everyone else stands on the porch as Humphreys goes out and summons whatever’s supposed to come devour him. The only noise the group hears is from a bug zapper.
The next day, Spinney takes the group to the trees the loggers cut down illegally. They were super-old, and at least one has a weird ring. Humphreys thinks Scully and Mulder should arrest Spinney before his fellow ecoterrorists come along and cause more trouble. When they ignore him, Humphreys announces that he’s going to Moore’s truck to call for deputies.
The others take a piece of the tree back to the cabin and study it. It has bugs crawling all over it. Mulder thinks the bugs could have been living in the trees for hundreds of years. Moore doesn’t think that’s possible, but he’s a sheriff, not a scientist, so whatever. Spinney says that one of the loggers died just after the tree was cut down, and the others disappeared shortly after. Scully wonders if the bugs killed the men. “Maybe they woke up hungry,” Spinney says.
Humphreys gets to Moore’s truck, but he doesn’t have keys, so he has to try to hotwire it. He hears noises in the woods and thinks the ecoterrorists are there. Nope, just bugs. Lots of bugs. Humphreys gets the car started and out of a hole, but promptly drives it into a big rock. The bugs come in through the vents and attack him. ‘Bye, Humphreys! You should have listened to the ecoterrorist.
Back at the cabin, Mulder runs his fingers on various surfaces while Spinney tells Scully that the bugs are afraid of light – odd, since bugs are usually attracted to light. Mulder thinks the trees in this area were affected by radiation from a volcanic eruption. This happened at Mount St. Helens. Scully argues that a mutation would take millions of years to evolve. Mulder wonders if they’re dealing with ancient insects awoken when the trees were cut down.
The night passes without incident, and in the morning, Spinney sneaks out, stealing a can of gas. Mulder catches him as he’s trying to fix up a car and go help the other ecoterrorists. Spinney promises to get a battery for the ecoterrorists’ Jeep, then drive back to the cabin and rescue Mulder, Scully, and Moore. Mulder lets him go.
Later, Mulder gets the radio up and running, but the generator goes out before he can relay their location. There’s only a little gas left, thanks to Spinney. Moore is upset that Mulder let him go, taking the word of a known saboteur. Scully thinks they should use what little gas they have left to radio for emergency help, but Moore doesn’t think that’s a good use of their resources.
Scully and Mulder bicker over his bad decision, though he admits that he made a mistake. He decides that they should make sure the cabin is secure so the bugs can’t get in. Moore warns Scully to be careful with their only remaining lightbulb. I’m sure nothing bad will happen to it! Lightbulbs almost never break or burn out!
Everyone mopes around the cabin in the dark until Scully sees bugs coming through the wall. She thinks she feels them on her and starts flailing around, a totally reasonable response. She almost breaks the lightbulb, but Moore rescues it. Mulder tells her that the bugs are everywhere – he keeps finding a greasy residue. If they stay near the light, they should be fine; it seems to keep them from swarming.
Scully calms down and talks about the bugs oxidizing enzymes like fireflies do. The generator just has to last another hour and a half until sunrise. Scully wonders if they’ll be able to get out of the forest before the next sunset. Mulder tries to be optimistic that someone heard their distress call, or that Spinney will keep his promise to come rescue them.
The generator is on its last legs and eventually sputters out, taking the only light in the cabin with it. As soon as the sun is up, Mulder takes a tire from one of the loggers’ trucks so they can swap out Moore’s flat tire. But when they get to Moore’s truck, they find Humphreys dead and cocooned inside it. Seconds later, Spinney arrives in a Jeep. He reports that the other ecoterrorists didn’t make it.
Everyone heads out of the forest, trying to beat the sunset, because I guess there are only three hours of daylight there. Spinney gets them stuck by driving over his own spikes, which Moore can’t help but laugh at. Spinney makes the mistake of getting out to look at the tires, and the bugs get him, then invade the car.
The next morning, a helicopter flies over the forest, trailed by people in hazmat suits. Mulder, Scully, and Moore have been cocooned inside the Jeep. They’re taking to a high containment facility and treated for exposure to the enzymes found in bioluminescent insects like fireflies. Scully’s worse off than Mulder, who laments, “I told her it was going to be a nice trip to the forest.” I assume Moore is okay, but Mulder doesn’t care about him.
Mulder asks how the bugs will be contained to the forest. A doctor tells him that the government will get rid of them with pesticides and controlled burning. Mulder asks what happens if they’re not successful. “That is not an option,” the doctor replies. And then I guess the forest is destroyed and the bugs are all killed and we never have to worry about deadly fireflies ever again.
“People disappeared after cutting down trees and angering bugs? We should totally stick around with no means of escape!” Yes. A brilliant plan. A much better idea than formulating an escape.
I’m interested to know how mulder knew how to fix a busted radio.