This is the essence of science: you ask an impertinent question and you’re on your way to a pertinent answer.
Four episodes in and The X-Files still has a solid batting average when it comes to good episodes. (This will change in the next couple of installments).
“Conduit” is another episode centering around aliens but this time out the story is a far more personal one to Mulder than the last two. If “The Pilot” established what happened (or at least what Mulder believes happened) to his sister, “Conduit” gives us some insight into the impact it had on Mulder and how it can make him a bit short-sighted if a case is similar.
In this case, it’s the story of Rudy Morris, a young woman who is supposedly taken by aliens, though the local authorities (and to some extent Scully) believe the explanation may be that she’s run off with her biker boyfriend. But that doesn’t explain some of the things going on — like just how is her younger brother getting coded transmissions via the television set and that Ruby was allegedly abducted once before.
Mulder is eager and ready to believe just about everything can be chalked up to aliens (though we get continued hints that the government knows more than they’re telling) while Scully is in full on skeptic mode and even has to remind Mulder at one point that solving this case won’t bring his sister back. I can’t help but wonder if Mulder believes that if he can find out where Ruby went, he might get a clue as to where his sister was taken and has been all this time.
In the end, Mulder and Scully run up against the same wall of non-information (or circling of the wagons as it were) that they got in the end of “Deep Throat.” But this time, their mysterious benefactor isn’t on hand to provide some motivation to stay the course or to confirm that they were even on the right track.
Instead, evidence is destroyed and Mulder is left with nothing more than recordings of his sessions with a therapist.
“Conduit” is built around a couple of memorable scenes and moments. One is the final scene of Mulder breaking down in the church, while the tapes of his therapy session plays. It’s one of the first really great moments of Duchovny as Mulder and it brings a different side to the character and makes us realize just how personal and painful this quest has been — and it gives us hints of how painful it will be in episodes to come. (Not to mention the personal price Mulder will have to pay as the series goes along).
Another memorable scene is the reveal that what Kevin has been writing down isn’t just random ones and zeros, but instead a large picture of his sister. Put the pieces together on the floor and you’ve got her face. I realize that in the long-run it doesn’t necessarily make that much sense (why are the satellites transmitting this data or are they?) but it’s still a nice reveal into a commercial break and one of those memorable early moments in the series’ run.
This is also the first episode written by Howard Gordan and Alex Gansa. Two more creative minds from The X-Files incubator that went on to other great things in the television world once their time with Mulder and Scully was through.