Mulder: Come on in.
Scully: What are you watching?
Mulder: Something that just came in the mail.
Scully: That’s not your usual brand of entertainment… What is it?
Mulder: According to the magazine ad I answered, it’s an alien autopsy. Guaranteed authentic.
Scully: You spent money for this?
Mulder: $29.95… plus shipping.
Scully: Mulder, this is even hokier than the one they aired on the Fox network, you can’t even see what they’re operating on!
After a string of decent but not great stand-alone episodes, it’s nice to see the X-Files get a bit of its swagger back with this two part mythology episode. It’s also a reminder of just how cool the mythology episodes could be this early in the run when you got the feeling that the creators had some idea of where this all might be heading and were slowly introducing threads that would later all come together into some kind of tapestry.
I will also admit that part of my love for “Nisei” when it first aired was that the location we see in the teaser is Knoxville, Tennessee — a place I lived at the time. Yes, I knew that the show was filmed in Vancouver and there were no train crossings in Knoxville that I could even use my imagination to suppose were the actual footage seen in the show. But it was still cool to see my town referenced in the show.
While looking into the origins of an alleged alien autopsy video that Mulder purchased in the back of a magazine (I can’t help but think these days it would be a YouTube video), Mulder and Scully stumble into a larger conspiracy taking place within our country but one that has ties to the global alien conspiracy. Seems that Japanese nationals are using the trains as a mobile operating theater to create alien human hybrids — well, at least that is what Mulder believes. Scully is led to believe that the government is creating new forms of weaponized viruses, including leprosy that it’s exposing members of the populace to and then apologizing if word gets out.
Of course, I clearly recall that most of part one leads up to the cliffhanger of Mulder jumping on top of the train that is taking the box-car across our country. There is so much that is memorable about that cliffhanger — from Mark Snow’s score as Mulder makes his decision and jumps to the direction of the scene to Scully being on the other end of the phone with Mr. X and pleading with Mulder not to do something stupid like jump on the train.
But beyond that memorable cliffhanger, the episode also had a lot of moments that I’d put in other episodes and not these two. It’s here that Scully’s world opens up a bit and she discovers there is a network of fellow women with similar stories to hers. And they’ve also got the implants that have been removed. We also get the first seeds of the Scully has cancer arc when we find out that one of the survivors has contracted cancer and is undergoing treatment. We also see that Scully has some memories coming back to her and that the same men who are working on these viruses now also operated on her in a similar train car during her abduction.
We also see the seeds sewn for Mr. X’s eventual fate. I have a feeling that the powers that be may not be happy with him for his actions in this two-part installment. From his coming to Scully with answers and trying to avert Mulder’s boarding the train to his saving Mulder and killing the red haired guy on the train, I can imagine that X has cast his lot in with Mulder and this is part of what leads to his eventual fate in the start of season four.
In many respects, this two-part installment may be the last time the mythology of the show is straight forward and makes sense. I love that these episodes reference things that have happened before — but not in such a way that you feel lost if you missed them. The show fills in just enough details so that you can follow the story but it hasn’t become so dense yet that you’ll feel lost if you haven’t seen everything that leads up to this.