July 9, 2016
The X-Files 3.10, 731: Speed 3: Strangers on a Train
Summary: In Perkey, West Virginia, a military convoy has arrived at Hansen’s Disease Research Facility and is moving its residents outside. Either those residents all have giant heads and deformed fingers, or they’re aliens. One of them hides under the floor and is able to stay back when the others are taken to a field and executed.
Elsewhere, Mulder has just done the most Mulder thing imaginable and is train-surfing. Scully demands to know what’s on the train, but Mr. X won’t tell her how the Japanese government and World War II doctors are involved. When she struggles with him, he asks if she’s going to shoot him like the men who shot Melissa. Mr. X tells her to look to her neck implant to figure out who’s behind everything. In fact, it could answer all her questions.
Mulder makes it inside the train and tries to access an area marked as quarantined. A conductor he talks to is no help but suggests that Mulder talk to a doctor on board, Shiro Zama. When Zama doesn’t answer his door, the conductor helps Mulder break in. No one’s inside, but Mulder finds and confiscates Zama’s things. He gives the conductor an unloaded gun and asks him to detain Zama if he returns.
Scully goes back to FBI headquarters to talk to Pendrell about the implant. He first thought it was placed to record neural impulses, but now he thinks it was replicating memory formation. Basically, it was a hard drive collecting Scully’s memories. Pendrell accidentally destroyed the chip while working on it, but he was able to determine that the technology came from Japan. The contact person on the shipment carrying that technology? Shiro Zama. Scully leaves while Pendrell beats himself up for being doofy in front of her.
On the train, the American airport killer from the previous episode follows Zama, cornering him in a bathroom just before Mulder passes by. (The killer never gets a name, but we’ll call him Stephen, after the actor who plays him.) Following the information Pendrell found on Zama, Scully heads to Perkey and finds the abandoned research facility. She sees some people (aliens?) running around and finds them hiding under the floor. They’re scared, thinking Scully’s going to hurt them.
Mulder continues searching the train for Zama, who, of course, is dead. Back in Perkey, Scully questions the people at the facility, who explain that they’ve lived there their whole lives. She determines that Hansen’s is basically a leper colony. The whole medical staff left just before “death squads” started coming to execute the residents.
Scully doesn’t get why so many people were kept at the facility when leprosy is treatable. The group’s spokesperson tells her that their disfigurements forced them into “camps” instead of treatment. Other patients arrived with similar deformities, but were burned by Zama’s treatments. The spokesperson takes Scully to the mass grave that holds all of the patients/aliens killed by the death squads.
A helicopter arrives, so Scully and the spokesperson run into the woods to hide. Scully’s captured by a group of men and hears a gunshot. Mulder returns to Zama’s car and tells the conductor that Zama’s dead. He wants to keep the train from making any stops until he finds the murderer. Mulder goes back to the quarantine area, this time spotting its patient. But before he can do anything, Stephen grabs him and tries to garotte him like he killed Zama.
The conductor comes to Mulder’s rescue, pulling the unloaded gun on Stephen to get him to drop Mulder. Stephen claims he’s in law enforcement; when he pulls his badge, the conductor runs, locking Stephen and Mulder in the car together. Mulder still has his weapon, so now he has the upper hand on his would-be killer.
Stephen announces that he’s with the NSA, and what he’s after isn’t an alien – it’s a bomb. Entering the car triggered the explosive, which could be wired to anything. Stephen claims that he killed Zama so Zama couldn’t kill his cargo. Mulder doesn’t believe him, so he’ll keep holding his gun on Mr. NSA, thank you. Stephen notes that firing could set off the bomb, but Mulder will take his chances.
In Perkey, Scully’s taken to a man from the Syndicate (known as the Elder) who waxes poetic about the facility. The patients were exposed to Zama’s treatments. Scully corrects that the Elder means Ishimaru, accusing the government of hiding him after the war. The Elder says that Ishimaru went rogue and exposed the patients to horrible things. He won’t tell Scully if she’s been exposed, too, but he tells her he has answers for her.
The conductor offers to try prying the door open, but Stephen warns against that. He gives up his access card but says it won’t work. Mulder figures out that there’s a code, which Stephen got from Zama before he died. Stephen confirms this, but says using the code to enter the car triggered the bomb. They’ll need a different code to leave the car. Mulder thinks the bomb is on their car, but Stephen says he doesn’t know where it is.
Mulder decides to call his bluff and use the entry code to get out. Just before he finishes inputting the code, Stephen gets a phone call…for Mulder. It’s the Elder, and he has Scully on the line. We get a “Mulder, it’s me” before she warns Mulder that they’re involved in something very different from what they thought. The alien on the train isn’t an alien; he’s one of Zima’s human guinea pigs and has been exposed to radiation and diseases.
Mulder doesn’t know why Scully believes what the Elder has told her. Scully says she believes what she’s seeing – she’s on a train car just like the one from the autopsy video, and she knows she’s been there before. It’s where she was taken when she was abducted. Zama used a secret railroad to conduct his tests, and Scully and the MUFON women were among his patients. The UFO Mulder went looking for was part of a Russian sub.
Scully continues that the president recently made a public apology to citizens affected by radiation tests before 1974. The tests continued after, including on the person in quarantine. Scully warns that there’s a bomb on the train, and if it goes off, thousands will develop hemorrhagic fever, since that’s what the quarantined patient was exposed to. Mulder tells her that it’s a little late not to enter the car. She tells him the bomb is on a timer, but at least she knows it’s inside a vent.
Mulder gets Stephen to open a vent in the car, exposing the bomb’s timer. Fortunately, they have over an hour and a half to deal with it. Scully tells Mulder to get the train stopped, but he pretends they’re losing their connection and he can’t hear her. Instead, he tells the conductor to inform the engineer to reroute the train to an unpopulated area and unhook the car. As he does so, Stephen warns Mulder that “they” won’t reach the car in time to save them.
So now it’s just Mulder, Stephen, and the patient in Middle of Nowhere, Iowa. Stephen spots an unguarded scalpel, so Mulder should probably do a better job of securing him. Also, half an hour has passed, so…maybe do something? Mulder calls Scully to tell her he plans to wait and see what happens. Good plan!
Once the timer is down to 38 minutes, Mulder finally realizes that no one’s going to come rescue him. He starts interrogating Stephen, asking who he’s protecting, and what his orders were after he killed Zama. He thinks Stephen knows what the alien really is. Stephen won’t answer, so Mulder threatens to shoot him in the stomach so he dies slowly. Well, more specifically, he threatens to “miss” Stephen’s stomach and shoot him somewhere a little farther down.
Stephen finally reveals that the patient is a weapon. What could be more valuable than a biological weapon or atomic bomb? An army immune to biological weapons and atomic bombs. Mulder realizes that Zama was testing those immunities on civilians, as well as on alien-human hybrids. Stephen taunts that if the patient were one of those hybrids, someone would have come to save him by now, right?
Scully heads to Mulder’s apartment and tries to call Senator Matheson, then puts an X on the window. While she’s waiting for Mr. X, she puts on the autopsy video. Sometime later, she calls Mulder to tell him that the video shows Zama punching in the code to leave the train car. It takes some work, but she’s able to get five of the six numbers and make a confident guess about the sixth.
The code is right, but before Mulder can leave the car, Stephen attacks and beats him up. However, as he’s exiting the train, he takes a bullet courtesy of Mr. X. With less than a minute left on the timer, Mr. X heads to the quarantine area, then carries an unconscious Mulder off the train. The car explodes, with just one fatality.
A week later, the fate of the train car is unknown. Matheson won’t return Mulder’s calls. Scully says that someone called a hospital to alert them to Mulder’s location, which means Mr. X vanished and Mulder doesn’t know he was there. Scully managed to get Zama’s briefcase back, but Mulder says the journals inside aren’t the ones he found in Zama’s car – they’ve been rewritten. The bodies at Hansen’s have all been removed.
Mulder argues that he knows what he saw, and everything’s being covered up again. Scully says she knows what she saw, and they’re not going to get anything beyond the cover-up and apologies. Mulder doesn’t want apologies, he wants the people who are responsible to be held accountable: “I want an apology for the truth.” Elsewhere, CSM looks on as someone translates Zama’s journals from Japanese to English.
Thoughts: It’s not explained in the episode, but it’s called “731” after a real Japanese army unit that experimented on POWs and Chinese civilians.
Stephen: “You’re gonna die. You know that?” Mulder: “What do you care? You were trying to kill me anyway.” Heh. Point Mulder.
Mulder, don’t call the patient a “thing.” Aliens have feelings, too.
For those of you who like TV Easter eggs, part of the exit code is Chris Carter’s favorite number, 1013.