March 19, 2016
The X-Files 2.19, Død Kalm: Lost at Sea? Drink a Snow Globe!
Summary: This show loves the ocean, so we start out in the Norwegian Sea. A bunch of Naval officers are abandoning ship while their captain, Barclay, accuses them of mutiny. They don’t care – they’re worried for their lives. 18 hours later, a fishing boat spots something on their radar and goes up to check it out. It’s the Naval crew’s lifeboat, full of officers…all of whom now look super-old. (Okay, honestly, they don’t look old. They look like their skin is melting off. But they’re supposed to look old, and this episode is notorious for its bad makeup, so we’ll just humor them.)
Mulder and Scully meet up at the Bethesda Naval Hospital, where he tells her a Naval destroyer has been missing for the past 42 hours. Last night, 18 crew members turned up; 17 are now dead. Mulder’s been trying to speak with the only survivor, Lieutenant Richard Harper, but he can’t get clearance. He sends Scully in his place. Scully’s confused, since Harper is supposed to be 28, but the patient with his name looks much older.
Harper’s doctor questions Scully’s questioning of her decision not to do a diagnostic workup. She busts Scully for not having a valid clearance code and kicks her out. Scully meets up with Mulder and tells him that Harper looks about 90 rather than 28. He shows her the route of the Naval destroyer, which passed spots where other ships have disappeared. He thinks there’s a “wrinkle in time” at the 65th parallel.
The agents start talking about the Philadelphia Experiment, and how the scientists from it were supposed to be sent to Los Alamos but instead turned up at Roswell. So…aliens. Got it. After the Roswell crash, a ship disappeared from Philadelphia and reappeared minutes later in Norfolk. Maybe the scientists used alien technology to deal with wormholes. Maybe they used it again on this Naval destroyer.
Scully’s up to work the case, so she and Mulder go to Norway to try to get to the place where the destroyer disappeared. Scully notices that all the men they’ve asked to transport them look really scared. Finally they meet an American, Henry Trondheim, who gives them some information about clearances. The other men are scared of an evil god and want to keep their distance from him. Trondheim agrees to take the agents where they want to go, for a price.
The three set sail (or whatever the equivalent is on a trawler) with a crew, though Mulder struggles with seasickness. He thinks Scully’s avoided the same fate because she inherited her father’s sea legs. Trondheim has trouble with the trawler’s navigation system, which means he doesn’t get any warning that they’ve reached the missing ship until they’re right next to it. The Ardent looks older than it should, and Trondheim declares it a ghost ship. Mulder verifies that it was only commissioned in 1991.
The agents and crew check out the living quarters, finding a bunch of corpses. They’re so old that they’re practically mummified. Scully tries to get residue off of one of them, but the body falls apart. Suddenly she and Mulder hear yelling – Trondheim’s crew has stolen his boat to head back to land, stranding Trondheim and the agents on the Ardent. Those crew members are so fired. To make matters worse, everything on board is so corroded that they can’t turn on the Argent‘s engine or sent a distress signal.
Trondheim demands to know what’s going on, so Mulder says they may be looking at a military experiment. Specifically, “time may be speeding up.” Trondheim’s like, “Sure, totally makes sense.” The three hear a shout from somewhere else on the trawler and head in its direction. Scully finds one of Trondheim’s crew, Halverson, who’s been killed by a blow to the head. Mulder finds blood on a wall and a man hiding in a freezer. He looks old, but he says he’s Barclay.
Scully looks over the ship’s log and sees that the crew members spotted a light in the sea before they abandoned ship. Barclay says the power went out right after that, and the wind seemed to stop. Then the ship looked like it was bleeding. Trondheim says Barclay’s a drunk and killed Halverson. Barclay continues that something started happening to his crew members, and then “time got lost.” Scully promises to fix things, but Barclay doesn’t believe her. Mulder and Scully agree that Barclay’s too weak to have killed Halverson.
Trondheim gives Halverson a burial at sea, then turns to see someone attacking him with a pipe. Fortunately, Mulder’s on the scene, and his gun trumps the pipe. Trondheim wants to kill the attacker for killing Halverson, but Mulder wants answers – the attacker hasn’t aged like the rest of the crew. Trondheim IDs him as Olafsson, a pirate whaler who supplies whales on the black market. The men tie up Olafsson below deck, where Scully says that the log mentions the Ardent picking up four sailors. Too bad they can’t ask Barclay about that – he’s dead.
Scully thinks they’re dealing with more than rapid aging. The substance on the bodies appears crystalline, and it’s like the bodies have turned into pillars of salt. There’s not much they can do now, though, so Mulder sends everyone to bed while he keeps watch. After a few uneventful hours, Mulder wakes Scully for her turn and is shocked to see that she’s starting to age. She tells him he is, too. No, not their pretty faces! Anything but their pretty faces!
The others on board are also aging, and Trondheim now resembles Dennis Quaid. Scully denies that they’re in a time warp, pointing out that their hair isn’t aging along with their bodies. Also, Olafsson is still immune to the effects. Scully thinks they’re dealing with free radicals, chemicals that attack DNA proteins. Maybe the ship is heading toward a metallic source like a meteor, and the ocean is acting like a battery with the electromagnetic energy to excite the free radicals. At least I think that’s what she said. I don’t understand any of it.
Trondheim notices what looks like blood dripping on the floor. It’s coming from a pipe, the way Barclay described his ship bleeding. Mulder identifies it as rust. He takes Scully to a pipe that hasn’t corroded. Meanwhile, Olafsson tries to convince Trondheim not to trust Mulder and Scully. He claims he killed Halverson to stay alive, and Trondheim would have done the same. Olafsson will help Trondheim stay alive if Trondheim frees him from his bonds.
Mulder and Scully make their way to the sewage processing hold, which is full of rats and blankets. It seems to be the place where Olafsson and his men were hiding out. There’s running water there, which makes Mulder think the water everywhere else on the trawler has been contaminated. Barclay stayed alive because he went on a drinking binge after his crew left. The agents and Trondheim should be able to stay alive by drinking only from the sewage processing hold. Or, like Trondheim, by drinking from the toilet.
Trondheim tells the agents that Olafsson untied himself and ran off while Trondheim was asleep. Mulder doesn’t believe him, since the ropes he was tied with were obviously cut. Scully ends their argument by asking for blood and urine samples to check out Mulder’s theory about the water. 18 hours later, Scully works on a case report, writing that the three of them have high levels of salt in their bloodstreams. The untainted water has aided Scully and Trondheim, but Mulder is worse off, possibly because he became dehydrated via seasickness on the trip out.
Trondheim declares Mulder a lost cause, encouraging Scully to start looking out for herself (and Trondheim, of course). Clearly he doesn’t know Scully well, since she would never give up on her partner. In the middle of the night, Scully discovers that Trondheim is missing. She follows a noise to the bathroom and sees that the water level in the toilet is going down. By following the sounds through the uncorroded pipe, she finds Trondheim at the sewage processing hold. He thinks they should stop sharing the water – if Scully’s dead, Trondheim can survive.
Scully reminds Trondheim that the Navy’s on their way, so they’ll be rescued soon. Trondheim ignores her, locking himself in the hold. Scully goes looking for another source of liquid, finding a snow globe with very little water left and a few tins of sardines. She mixes the sardine juice and water with lemon juice and offers it to Mulder. He tells her to drink it, since she has a longer life expectancy as a woman. Honestly, though, he probably just doesn’t want to have to drink it.
The trawler starts violently shaking, making Mulder think the outer hull has corroded through, so they’re probably taking on water. The jar containing the sardine/lemonade/snow globe cocktail has shattered. The ship does indeed start taking on water, and since Trondheim has locked himself in a small hold, it doesn’t take long for him to drown. I guess he has no one but himself to blame, huh?
14 hours later, Mulder’s complaining about how he and Scully are on the worst cruise ever. He doesn’t find it fair – they still have work to do on the outside. Scully confides that when she was comatose, she experienced something she never told anyone about. She knows now that death is nothing to be afraid of.
With Mulder now unconscious, Scully continues her report, noting that she hasn’t had water for over 24 hours. She found a book of Norse legends that depicts the apocalypse as a total freezing of the world. Eventually, a wolf will consume the sun, leading to eternal darkness. “I think I hear the wolf at the door,” she writes, starting to lose consciousness herself.
But then – rescue! The Navy has arrived just in time to save Mulder and Scully from a very dehydrated death. They’re hospitalized and treated, and hopefully their skin will go back to normal. Thanks to Scully’s report, the doctors knew what treatment to give Mulder. Scully wants to go back to the trawler for more research, but that won’t be possible. Thanks to all the water, the ship is no more.
Thoughts: Barclay is played by David Cubitt, who was Scanlon on Medium. Remember Medium? He was good on that show.
Every time someone says “Ardent,” I hear “Argent,” and now I’m imagining Chris teaming up with Mulder and Scully. Season 11, anyone?
The makeup in this episode may be horrible but the artists did manage to make Gillian Anderson look unattractive, which is a feat in itself.
The lesson here is to take bottled water and seasickness medication when you go to sea.
For more cautionary tales about staying on dry land, read Sarah Lotz’s Day Four.