The X-Files (1993) – Ghost in the Machine, and Ice

Alex Gansa and Howard Gordon pen the first kind of ‘iffy’ episode with Ghost in the Machine. First airing on 29 October, 1993, it’s Halloween and Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) find themselves investigating a murder which may have been committed by a smart building.

They are called into investigate the case by Mulder’s old partner, Jerry Lamana (Wayne Duvall), who knows how the agent works. It’s a high profile case, and is centred around the dead CEO of Eurisko, a computer company, that has its international headquarters in Virginia..

There’s a suspect, in the CEO’s founding partner, and computer wizard, Brad Wilczek (Rob LaBelle) but Mulder suspect’s that it may in fact have been the building’s artificial intelligence operating system that committed the crime.

For more help, Mulder turns to Deep Throat (Jerry Hardin) for some additional information. It doesn’t help that Lamana needs a win, and isn’t above stealing Mulder’s profile notes to bolster his own image at the Bureau, a move that in the end has horrible consequences.

So, of course, the pair of agents have to investigate the building, and encounter some strange occurrences. Surprise, surprise, the pair get separated and things really start to happen.

The wonderful character actor Blu Mankuma has a guest role in the episode, but even he can’t make this one of my preferred episodes of the season, and despite the strength of the first season, and the series in general, there are some clunkers. There has to be, and this is the first.

Ice continues the Monster of the Week trend of the past few episodes. An exemplary story (and a bottle episode at that!), this one riffs on the classic The Thing From Another World (remade by Carpenter as The Thing – one of my faves!). Written by James Wong and Glen Morgan, this story first debuted on 5 November, 1993.

Mulder and Scully head off to Nome, Alaska with a bunch of geophysicists, who are involved in the Arctic Ice Core project to investigate a series of strange deaths.

It seems the original station members slowly went crazy and killed one another, perhaps from an infection. As Mulder and Scully investigate they discover a parasitic life form in the thawing ice samples, one Mulder believes may be extraterrestrial in nature, that infected the team, and drove them against one another.

And now, the new group, including the FBI agents may be infected. Who to trust? The paranoia and the tension gets ratcheted up as everyone seems ready to turn on one another. Will Scully be able to use her scientific know-how to save the day, and will Mulder be able to make the intuitive leaps necessary to find an answer?

A solid episode bolstered wonderfully by a guest appearance by another fave character actor, Xander Berkley. It also features Jeff Kober, and Felicity Huffman.

More casework next week as I explore the paranormal, to discover the truth is out there with The X-Files.

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