November 15, 2015
The X-Files 2.1, Little Green Men: Message Received
Summary: Gaze! Gaze at the cosmos while Mulder tells us about two spacecrafts being launched from Florida in 1977. One, Voyager 1, carried a message of greeting and music. 13 years later, it passed Neptune’s orbit and was never seen again. No messages were received back from the universe, and no further messages have been sent since.
In 1992, NASA launched a project in Arecibo, Puerto Rico, sending out microwaves. A senator terminated the project the next year. “I wanted to believe, but the tools have been taken away,” Mulder says – the X-Files sector has been shut down. In Puerto Rico, a printer starts printing, and the message from Voyager 1 plays. Message received.
In a hotel in D.C., Mulder listens to wiretap surveillance. If the pile of sunflower-seed shells on the floor is any indication, he’s been there a while. Scully’s at the FBI Academy in Quantico, showing students how to perform autopsies. She takes a moment to think about the man she’s about to cut open, and how many mysteries are left in his brain. One of the students notes that she sounds “spooky.”
The former partners run into each other at FBI headquarters, but Mulder doesn’t want to talk to Scully. He has a new desk now, and notices that a picture of Samantha has been turned face-down. As he leaves the office that night, Scully meets him at his car, telling him that, from a distance, he looked like Deep Throat. Mulder tells her that Deep Throat is definitely dead. He’s come to meet her because the picture’s position was an indication that she wanted to talk.
Mulder thinks it’s dangerous for them to chat, but Scully doesn’t think anyone’s watching them. She only used their secret protocol to summon him because she knew he wouldn’t come otherwise. She wants to make sure he’s all right. Mulder complains about the boring cases he’s been assigned. Scully reminds him that he said before that he would keep investigating, but now he’s given up.
Mulder asks if she’s ever been to the Palomar Observatory in San Diego. George Hale, the man who provided the telescope there, claimed he got the idea from an elf. Scully realizes that Mulder thinks he’s only been seeing elves all his life. “In my case, little green men,” he replies. “Seeing is not enough. I should have something to hold on to.” Without evidence, he has nothing – he learned that from Scully.
Scully thinks Samantha’s abduction should be enough to hold on to. But Mulder is no longer sure that really happened. Scully points out that the telescope was built, elves or not. He can’t give up. Next time they meet, it’ll be out in the open. As she leaves, Mulder sees a sign over a parking space, reserving it for staff of the Watergate Hotel.
In Chilmark, Massachusetts, a little over 20 years earlier, Fox and Samantha Mulder play a game while watching a news report about Watergate. He’s in charge while their parents are next door. Samantha changes the channel on the TV, and Fox yells at her to get out of his life. The lights go out, the house starts to shake, and multicolored lights shine through the windows. The front door slowly opens, illuminating what looks like an alien.
Samantha screams, and Fox sees that she’s levitating in the middle of the room. He rushes to grab a gun but gets distracted by the alien outside. Samantha’s pulled out of the house and everything goes slow-motion as Fox helplessly repeats his sister’s name, unable to help her. In the present, Mulder wakes up from his nightmare. Moments later, someone opens his door and tells him, “We’re going to the Hill.”
Mulder’s taken to see Senator Richard Matheson, who’s listening to the Brandenburg Concerto No. 2. It’s the same piece that was sent out with the Voyager 1. In four-and-a-half billion years, this music will still be traveling out in the universe. Matheson thinks that any other civilization that hears that music will think Earth is a wonderful place. It’s a great choice for first contact.
Mulder apologizes for letting Matheson down after all his support. He thinks they were getting close to something when the X-Files section was shut down, though he doesn’t know what that something was. Matheson starts the music over, writing a note letting Mulder know that someone may be listening. Using the music as a cover, he tells Mulder that he needs to go to Arecibo. He’ll only have 24 hours before “they” come after him.
The next morning, having learned that Mulder has gone off the radar, Skinner asks Scully what she knows. He plays CSM a recording of Scully saying she isn’t up on Mulder’s plans, but she’d be happy to help find him. Skinner thinks she’s telling the truth about not knowing where Mulder is – otherwise, she wouldn’t be so worried about him. CSM offers Skinner a cigarette, which he declines.
In Puerto Rico, Mulder gets a ride to the National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center. He breaks into the control room, which appears to have been abandoned a while ago. But the recording equipment is still working. Scully checks Mulder’s home answering machine, hearing a message from a woman he was supposed to have lunch with. She tries out his computer, guessing his password on the third try. (It’s not SPOOKY or SAMANTHA, but TRUSTNO1.)
As Scully prints out something Mulder was looking at regarding galactic latitude, two agents let themselves in. Scully’s unable to retrieve the printout before they see her. She claims she’s there to feed Mulder’s fish. The agents see the printout but think it’s a computer self-test. Scully spills fish food and uses the discarded printout to clean it up, then slips it into her sleeve.
In Puerto Rico, Mulder heads to the bathroom and is surprised to find a man hiding there. His name is Jorge, and he tells Mulder he saw multicolored lights in the sky. Then my high-school-level Spanish craps out and I don’t catch anything else. Mulder can only figure out that he saw men. Jorge draws him a picture of an alien face.
Scully takes the printout to the Naval Observatory, where a tech tells her that it shows a “wow signal.” In the ’70s, a colleague of his received a signal so strong, he wrote “wow” in the margins. It was intermittent, like Morse code, and seemed to turn itself on. This one is even stronger. It may be from a SETI facility, since some are still active.
Scully checks some flight manifests for the cities that house SETI facilities and finds a George Hale listed on a flight to Arecibo. Jorge checks out the machines in the control room, pressing a red one. “Nojo on the rojo!” Mulder warns. Suddenly the Voyager 1 message starts playing and Jorge panics. He wants to leave, but there’s a storm outside. Mulder turns off the recording and tells Jorge not to be afraid. But Jorge runs outside, and Mulder finds him dead, clearly having seen something frightening.
Scully goes to the airport, where two people are obviously watching her and doing a very bad job of hiding it. She calls Mulder’s home answering machine and recites some letters and numbers, which an agent writes down. She uses the reflective surface on the phone to keep an eye on her stalkers, then slips away when they’re not watching. It doesn’t matter anyway – they think she’s going to St. Croix, not Puerto Rico.
Mulder makes Scully a recording to document his observations of Jorge’s body. He doesn’t see any evidence of lightning strikes or any indications that aliens were responsible for Jorge’s death. All he can tell is that it looks like Jorge was scared to death. “Again, Scully, nothing but evidence, and again, no evidence at all,” Mulder says.
He wonders if the transmissions are coming from aliens or if they’re just part of a hoax. He’s trying to remember what Deep Throat said, to trust no one, but it’s exhausting. Scully’s the only person he can trust, but they’ve been separated. His whole life, he’s only wanted to see Samantha again, and to see the aliens. But he doesn’t know what he would do if that happened.
The building begins to shake, and Mulder sees lights outside. The printer keeps printing the transmission over and over. The audio message is distorted now, as if a tape is slowing down. Mulder replays his recording for Scully, hearing himself say that he should trust no one. “Trust no one,” the audio transmission repeats.
A door blows open and Mulder closes it, moving supplies in front of it. He looks outside and is blinded by a bright light. The door opens and Mulder goes for his gun. He fires over and over, but no bullets come out. When he looks up, he sees the same alien creature he saw in his childhood.
In the morning, Scully finds Mulder unconscious in the control room. “They came,” he says. He thinks he was contacted by the aliens that took Samantha. The printouts and transmissions are proof of contact. They hear noises outside and realize that a retrieval team has arrived. Mulder wants to take Jorge’s body with them, but Scully doesn’t think they can get it out of the country. She wants him to leave the evidence behind and save himself.
Eventually, Mulder has no choice but to take off with Scully and no printouts or recordings. Soldiers shoot at them but miss their getaway vehicle. There’s a crazy car chase, and the agents are able to get away. Scully sees a tape reel on the floor of the car.
Back in D.C., Mulder’s in a lot of trouble. He’s upset that Skinner left him on a surveillance case days after he had enough evidence. Also, Skinner was out of line putting a tap on his phone. CSM informs Mulder that his time is up. Skinner orders him to get out…but he means CSM, not Mulder. Instead of firing Mulder, Skinner sends him back to his surveillance assignment.
Mulder and Scully play the tape reel she found in the car, but there’s nothing on it. Scully thinks a surge during the storm could have erased it. Mulder’s back on the horse, though – even without evidence or the X-Files, he has his work, and he has Scully, and he has himself. She leaves him to complete his surveillance assignment alone.
Thoughts: Nice casting on the younger version of Mulder – he looks a lot like David Duchovny.
Sweaty, Puerto-Rican-temperature hair is not a good look for Mulder. His casual clothes are kind of nice, though.
How has no one gotten sick from CSM’s secondhand smoke? That should be a plot in the revival – a big lawsuit against CSM.