February 18, 2017
The X-Files 4.18, Max: Flight Risks
Summary: The lights Mulder has encountered underwater are from other divers, so he quickly surfaces and flees. Back on land, he tries to outrun a Jeep full of soldiers who capture him. Back in D.C., Scully tends to Pendrell, but it doesn’t look good. She goes after NTSB guy, who’s wounded but still able to run. When she returns to Pendrell, she orders him to stay alive so they can celebrate her birthday together. While paramedics tend to him, Scully realizes her nose is bleeding.
Frisch doesn’t think his phone call to his girlfriend tipped anyone off, since he didn’t say where he was, so Scully thinks someone on the inside has turned on them. Skinner arrives, having been told about Frisch’s transfer into protective custody; he’s now being arrested for providing false testimony. Scully argues that his life is in danger because he’s blowing the whistle on the military.
Skinner tells her that the Joint Chiefs of Staff are overruling that decision. They’re also on the hunt for Mulder for interfering with the investigation into the plane crash. The military admits they were responsible for the crash, but they don’t back up Frisch’s version of events. Skinner notices that something’s off with Scully and tells her he’s not going to let her stay in the field if it’s not safe. Scully insists, as always, that she’s fine.
Mulder’s taken to Von Drehle Air Force Reserve Installation, where Scully gets him released and tells him the military had no choice but to confess their part in the plane crash. They’re saying that the air-traffic controllers gave bad coordinates, which makes Scully think that Frisch and his partner didn’t see the second plane, a fighter jet, until it was too late to keep it from crashing into the first plane. The partner allegedly killed himself because he felt so guilty. The military claims that Frisch is trying to blame them for his mistake.
Scully admits that she’s not sure she believes that the second plane was a military jet. Mulder shows her some burns he got from the crash site in the lake, possibly the beginning stages of the burns suffered by some of the crash victims. Scully says that there’s no proof that the plane crashed into anything, at least according to Millar. She doesn’t think he’s lying, since he had no reason to volunteer anything – especially about how he found Sharon. And it turns out Sharon isn’t Max’s sister after all; she’s a former aeronautics engineer who met Max in a psychiatric facility.
It also turns out that Pendrell being loaded into an ambulance was the last glimpse we’ll get of him: He’s dead. Scully’s upset that innocent people are dying, and they’re not yet sure if it’s “for the truth or for the lies.” Mulder vows to find the truth, because why else would they be fighting?
The agents go to Max’s old trailer, which looks the same as it did the last time they were there. Scully compares him to Mulder, as they both led “Spartan lives” in order to leave room for their passions. Mulder’s interested in finding out why Max wanted to see him (which he figures is what Max was doing, since he had Mulder’s card on him). He was taking a big risk, so it had to have been for a major reason.
Mulder puts on a video of Max talking about his life. He always wanted to be left alone, but as an abductee, he’s never alone, since he’s always wondering if the aliens will come back for him. He wants to prove to the public that aliens exist, and that only a few members of the government, FBI, and military know about them. They’re using some of the aliens’ technology in U.S. military operations, and someone needs to confront them and make them admit it. Meanwhile, divers, one with radiation burns, pull aliens and their aircraft from the lake. NTSB guy arrives, pleased that their mission was successful.
The search for the crash victims is almost complete, and Millar thanks everyone involved for their work. Mulder can tell that he’s not convinced of what he’s been told about the crash. He shares his theory that Max knew about the crash ahead of time but got on the flight anyway. He was probably followed by someone who wanted the proof of alien life that he carried with him. This was the guy with the gun, who was unable to kill Max and take the proof before aliens intercepted the plane.
Max would have known what was happening, that he was going to be taken, but Mulder thinks the military plane got involved and screwed up the aliens’ plans. Frisch and his partner couldn’t see the alien craft on radar, so they couldn’t stop whatever happened. Mulder imagines Max being pulled outside the plane as the other passengers watch in awe. He thinks that if the military jet hadn’t been there, Max would have been abducted and returned without anyone knowing.
Next Mulder thinks that the jet intercepted the plane and the alien craft on orders of taking down the aliens. Max was returned to the plane, but the crash ensued and everyone was killed instead of just having their memories erased and losing nine minutes of their lives. Millar doesn’t exactly believe Mulder’s story, but even if he did, he can’t sell it to the government. Scully notes that the door and seats contain traces of radioactivity, which Mulder hasn’t been able to explain. Millar thinks he knows the reason, and it’s inside Max’s carry-on bag.
Millar promises to include the contents of the bag in his official report, though he can’t credit them with the cause of the crash. Scully tells Mulder that they might not ever get all the answers, which means Max and Pendrell’s deaths might never be explained. Mulder wants to go talk to Sharon, whether or not she’s mentally stable.
Well, really, he wants Scully to go talk to Sharon while he goes back to Max’s trailer, which is now trashed. He runs into the trailer park manager, who mentions that he has some of Max’s mail. While he gets it, Mulder pauses Max’s video, seeing Sharon in the background. He sees that the return address on one of Max’s letters is Paul Gidney, Max’s alias. Inside is a claim ticket.
Scully visits Sharon, who admits that she lied about being Max’s sister. Scully asks her to spill anything about what Max was up to. Sharon hesitates, worrying that it could get her into trouble. Scully sees blisters on Sharon’s face and asks what she was exposed to. Sharon says she stole something, and Scully realizes it was from whoever she worked for when she was in aeronautics. Max had her take something that he claimed was alien technology. It was in three parts, and each of them had one, but they were taken. Scully asks about the third part.
Mulder figures out that the claim ticket is for a piece of luggage at the Syracuse Hancock International Airport. Men in suits watch from a distance as he gets it, then asks for a security entrance to a tunnel. As he escapes, Scully calls (“Mulder, it’s me”) and tells him he has the third part, though she doesn’t know what it is. She warns him not to take it out of its container, but mid-’90s cell service was pretty bad, and static on the line keeps Mulder from hearing her.
Even without hearing Scully’s warning, Mulder doesn’t open the bag. Instead, he puts it through an x-ray machine. Scully thinks they’re dealing with some industrial espionage. Mulder gets on a flight to D.C., because that worked out so well for Max when he took his part on a plane. Apparently Mulder’s FBI skills are on the fritz because he doesn’t see that NTSB guy is on the same flight.
After some time in the air, NTSB guy sits down with Mulder and starts a conversation. But Mulder’s FBI skills are back in full force, and he warns that he has a gun on NTSB guy. NTSB guy doesn’t think Mulder will shoot, since he could cause a crash. NTSB guy has come prepared with a parachute and is sure he’ll be able to escape. He’s also willing to sacrifice himself to continue the cover-up. There are dozens of lights on outside, and no one would notice if one went out. Does Mulder think it’s worth it to sacrifice millions of lives just to keep some lights on?
Mulder asks what the thing in the bag is, guessing it’s an alien source of energy. NTSB guy sticks to the story that the plane crash was caused by human error. Mulder orders him to go to the bathroom so Mulder can keep him contained for the rest of the flight and ensure he pays for the crash. He then calls Scully (“Scully, it’s me”) to tell her he’s captured Pendrell’s killer. He checks the time and realizes his watch has stopped.
Mulder warns a flight attendant that the plane is going to be intercepted, so the pilot needs to be ready. NTSB guy emerges from the bathroom with a gun, because I guess Mulder didn’t consider checking him for weapons. Mulder gives up Max’s bag just moments before the plane begins to shape. Looks like it’s time for another abduction, y’all! NTSB guy keeps his eye and weapon on Mulder, who pulls out his own gun and demands the bag.
The emergency door gets suck out of the plane, and Mulder tells NTSB to let go of the bag so the aliens can have it. A light fills the plane, and we skip forward to it landing in D.C. Scully and Skinner are among the agents there to get NTSB guy, but he’s no longer on the flight. Everyone on the plane is fine, and no one seems to have gone through any trauma. Also, Mulder’s watch is nine minutes slow. Skinner asks after NTSB guy, and Mulder replies, “I think he got the connecting flight.”
Later, the agents and Sharon watches the rest of Max’s video, where he talks about alien technology that the U.S. could use for things like space travel. He doesn’t get why the government wants to keep them quiet. Sharon asks to keep Max’s things, which Mulder thinks could be very important one day. Scully thinks Max would want her to have them.
Scully steps outside the trailer to look up at the sky and think about Pendrell; she notes to Mulder that she didn’t even know his first name. She has Mulder’s birthday gift with her, and she thinks he gave it to her to help her remember that people can achieve anything they can imagine as long as they dream and work hard. They also need to work together “because no one gets there alone.” We can praise those who do the work, but we also need to remember those who sacrifice their lives in the process. “I just thought it was a pretty cool keychain,” Mulder quips.
Thoughts: Way to not do anything to try to help Pendrell, everyone else in the bar.
’90s music alert: “Unmarked Helicopters” by Soul Coughing. Wow, remember Soul Coughing? I barely do.
Farewell, Agent Pendrell. (Aw, that rhymes.) As the kids would say, you were a beautiful cinnamon roll, too pure for this world.