November 3, 2018

The X-Files 8.18, Vienen: Oil as Black as Oil Executives’ Hearts

Posted in TV tagged , , at 1:13 pm by Jenn

This is no time to comment on the cleanliness of the rig, Doggett

Summary: 158 miles off the coast of Texas, in the Gulf of Mexico, the Galpex-Orpheus Platform is full of oil workers taking some downtime from their job. They eat dinner together, watch a hockey game on TV, and, in some cases, give each other significant looks. One man leaves the festivities to find a communications officer alone in a workroom. He doesn’t want to extend a dinner invitation, though – he wants to stab him.

A worker named Bo Taylor goes looking for the officer, Ed, but instead finds the stabber, Simon, destroying all the equipment. Taylor turns over Ed’s body and sees our old buddy the black oil running under Ed’s skin. “Now you’ve gone and done it,” Taylor says to Simon, which is a weird thing to say to a guy you’ve just caught committing murder. Simon tries to run, but Taylor tackles him. His eyes glow yellow, and the rest of his body follows suit. Simon is more scared than impressed with this light show.

In D.C., Doggett finds Mulder looking through files in his office, or I guess his ex-office. He’s brought the Galpex-Orpheus death to Doggett’s attention, but Doggett doesn’t think it’s an X-File. The death they’re discussing is Simon’s, not Ed’s, though Ed is missing. Simon’s body washed ashore covered in flash burns. Doggett thinks they were caused by an explosion on the platform, which was also the cause of Ed’s disappearance. But Mulder thinks Simon’s cause of death is consistent with burns caused by black oil.

Doggett’s done his homework and knows about the whole Piper Maru thing. Of course, he thinks it’s ridiculous. Mulder taunts that Doggett must have done something pretty bad to get stuck in the X-Files. When the phone rings, Mulder makes a show of picking it up, only to hand it to Doggett. It’s Scully, who’s waiting for her partner to join her and Kersh in a meeting. There’s an executive there from the oil company; Mulder called to tell him they were taking the case.

Mulder and Doggett both go to the meeting, where Skinner is also present, which means everyone’s reuniting! Yay! The oil executive, Martin Ortega, doesn’t want the FBI to investigate the explosion, since they’ll bring attention to an oil province that Mexico might want to fight for if they learn about it. Simon was from Mexico, and since he was killed while working for a U.S. enterprise, Mexico might use his death to try to get first rights to drilling the province.

Kersh tries to dismiss Mulder, who argues that Scully can’t go out to the oil rig to investigate, since she’s pregnant and delicate and might get oil on her shoes, or something. Of course, Kersh is sending Doggett instead. He heads to the rig with Yuri Volkoff, the new communications specialist. The worker who greets them is confused, since they were told only one agent was coming. To probably no one’s surprise, Mulder has beaten Doggett to the rig.

Taylor ignores the tension between the agents as he tells them how easy it is for some men on the rig to snap after a few weeks in isolation. The Mexican workers are usually stable, but Simon clearly wasn’t. He has no explanation for why Ed was on the drilling floor, since he was a communications chief. He says no one knew Ed was even gone until the shift change. As the agents leave to go yell at each other, Taylor’s eyes turn black.

Doggett threatens to call Kersh and report Mulder’s presence on the rig. Mulder notes that the radio’s broken, but…how did the crew get word out that Simon was dead and Ed was missing? There has to be some way to communicate with the mainland. Whatever. Mulder doesn’t think Doggett will tattle on him. They’re in the same boat, paddling in the same direction. Doggett corrects that they’re going in his direction.

Mulder notes that Doggett doesn’t have anything to report back to Kersh, so he’ll need Mulder’s help. He thinks Taylor knows exactly what happened, and he’s not the only one. Doggett thinks Mulder “could find a conspiracy at a church picnic.” Someone below them is listening to this manly stand-off through a grate.

In D.C., Scully calls Skinner to the morgue where she’s done Simon’s autopsy (even though the body was supposed to be sent to Mexico intact). She found black oil in Simon’s brain. Skinner panics, thinking she’s touched it, but Scully says the alien virus in the oil is dead. Her first instinct was to believe that the radiation that killed Simon also killed the virus, but since the virus has radioactive properties, that doesn’t make sense. Skinner wants to send word to Doggett, but Scully thinks they need to tell Kersh to get the rig evacuated. Skinner disagrees – of the two dozen men on the rig, why was Simon the only one infected?

Taylor checks in on Yuri, who says their communications gear is working, but it’s receiving some sort of high-frequency signal. He wants to try that time-tested technology trick that always seems to work: turning it off and turning it on again. Taylor stops him, first verbally, then physically. Black oil seeps out of his eyes, nose, and mouth, finding a new host in Yuri’s body.

Scully is able to get through to the now-infected Yuri to relay a message to Doggett. Mulder makes his presence known, asking Scully not to tell Kersh what he’s up to. Scully agrees, telling Mulder about the dead virus in Simon’s brain. Everyone on the rig could be at risk, including Mulder and Doggett. Mulder wants to call for a quarantine, but Scully tells him to evacuate. Mulder points out that that could infect people on shore. Scully should be able to use Simon’s body to figure out what kills the virus. If she can’t, she’ll need to tell her child that Mulder “went down swinging.”

Scully asks to talk to Doggett, but Mulder hangs up just as Doggett arrives. He demands to know what Scully told Mulder about the investigation. Mulder tells him he’s free to take charge, as he’s so eager to, but he might not like what that means. They wind up calling a quarantine for a possible contagion. Mulder tells Saksa, who’s in charge of the crew, that they’re missing a deck hand named Diego. Saksa doesn’t know where he is, but he must still be on the rig.

Ortega goes to the morgue so Scully can show him exactly what the crew might be facing on the rig. Ortega doesn’t support the quarantine, since no one’s showing any signs of being sick, and also, they’ll lose money by shutting down, which you know is more important to him than anyone’s health. He wants to rotate the crew off the rig and bring in new men.

Mulder goes looking for Diego, though Doggett thinks it’s a waste of time. Mulder reminds him that Taylor said the Mexican workers were reliable; now one is dead and one’s missing. Doggett thinks Diego might want to pick up where Simon left off and try to sabotage the operation to protect Mexican oil interests. He still hasn’t gotten Mulder to tell him what he thinks is going on. If the crew is hiding something, Doggett should be informed.

Mulder says he didn’t come to the rig just to one-up Doggett (though by saying “just,” he basically admits that that was part of his motivation). Since he knows what the black oil can do, he can keep an eye out for the signs that someone’s infected. Doggett smears some oil on his fingers and asks when it’s going to kick in. He doesn’t buy that regular oil, which most of the world uses, contains a virus.

Mulder realizes that the crew got infected because they were pumping oil from the new province. Billions of barrels of that oil is going to go out to the rest of the planet and spread the infection. Diego could be hiding because he knows what’s really going on. An alarm goes off in the radio room, which is now on fire. Mulder puts it out while Doggett goes…somewhere. I don’t know. He doesn’t get very far before the eavesdropper from the grate (Diego, obviously) knocks him out.

Kersh visits Scully at the morgue, catching her as she’s about to continue examining Simon’s body. Skinner’s also there, so Kersh knows he’s being kept in the dark about something. He wants to know who gave the order to shut down the rig. Skinner says it was him. Kersh wants to lift the quarantine as soon as radio contact is reestablished. Scully thinks that’s a mistake, but Kersh says it would be a mistake not to follow his orders, and Skinner and Scully are running out of mistakes they can get away with. If Kersh didn’t know better, he’d think Mulder was involved in this stunt.

The fire is out, and Mulder finds the remains of the Molotov cocktail used to set it. He radios Doggett, who’s just now regaining consciousness in Diego’s lair. He cuts Doggett to make sure his blood is red, not black. He tells Doggett in Spanish (which Doggett only speaks a little of) that “they” killed Simon and want to kill him, too. He started the fire so they couldn’t use the radio. “Vienen,” Diego says – they’re coming. “They” are “the flying ships.”

Scully studies Simon’s blood and sees massive amounts of T-cells, which mean he was able to fight all sorts of viruses. He’s from an indigenous Mexican culture that has an undiluted gene pool. Long story short, Simon was immune to the alien virus. The infected crew members couldn’t control him, so they irradiated him. Scully thinks Simon must have known something that made him a threat. Skinner points out that even if they did know, sending word to Doggett and Mulder – assuming they had time to warn them – would put them in danger, too.

Doggett offers to help Diego get back to his family if Diego will help him. Diego says he trusts no one. Mulder would like this guy. Doggett promises to help Diego, who lets him go. But he runs into Taylor, who strangles Doggett when he won’t say where Diego is. Taylor starts to infect Doggett, but Mulder shows up and knocks him out before Doggett becomes the next black-oil host.

As they head to the communications room to try to get the radio working, the crew members gather outside their door, their eyes turning black. Mulder tries to barricade the door while Doggett fixes the radio. Mulder adds some ambiance by putting on “Flight of the Valkyries.” Doggett manages to connect to Scully, who reports that helicopters are coming to evacuate everyone. Mulder tells her not to let the choppers land on the platform.

Doggett tells Scully that he, Mulder, and Diego are all fine, though Diego might be mentally unstable since he thinks flying saucers are coming for him. The connection is lost, though, so he can’t be sure if Scully heard him. Mulder wrecks the radio, not wanting the crew members to be able to communicate (possibly with their mother ship, as Doggett suspects). The crew members have stopped banging on the door, so Mulder guesses that something’s up.

He heads up the rig while Doggett goes to get Diego, but it’s too late – he’s been burned to death like Simon. As the first chopper approaches, Mulder realizes that the crew let them go because they’ve rigged the platform to explode and kill them. The agents outrun the explosion, like this is some Michael Bay movie, catching a glimpse of the crew as they head up to meet the helicopter. Since it can’t land, the men have to jump into the ocean. They do so just as fireballs go up behind them (again, like a Michael Bay movie).

Back in D.C., Doggett is summoned to Kersh’s office to face the music. Galpex-Orpheus lost the right to drill in the province, so they’re not happy with the FBI. Mulder thinks Doggett should do everything possible to make sure the oil stays where it is. He’s taken the blame for the whole fiasco and is being fired. This means Kersh is happy, because he got rid of Mulder and has a place to put the blame. Doggett has now seen for himself what the black oil does, and he can continue Mulder’s work on the X-Files. He really is in charge now.

Thoughts: Ortega is played by Miguel Sandoval. Taylor is played by M.C. Gainey.

Gillian Anderson might as well have sat out half the season with David Duchovny, for all they let her do in these episodes. Though admittedly, they couldn’t have had her go on the rig and then jump off at the end.

I don’t know what it is, but Robert Patrick looks particularly handsome in this episode. His scenes with Duchovny are like a who’s-more-handsome contest.

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