The X-Files (1998) – Chinga, and Kill Switch

This week’s instalment features episodes written by two guest writers. First up is Chinga which was written by Stephen King and given an X-files polish by series creator Chris Carter. The episode first debuted on 8 February, 1998. Predominantly a Scully (Gillian Anderson) story, with a bored Mulder (David Duchovny) popping up every now and then the story finds the FBI agent on a weekend getaway to Maine, a hotbed for paranormal activity if you live in a Stephen King universe, and this time Scully has wandered into it.

She arrives in a small town just in time to become involved in a strange case that centres around a mother, Melissa (Susannah Hoffman), her daughter Polly (Jenny-Lynn Hutcheson) and Polly’s creepy doll, which was recovered from the ocean by her late father.

It’s a typical King tale (with some solid scares and unnerving moments), as we learn pretty quick that the doll is possessed by… something… and is intent on murder and violence if Polly doesn’t get her way. As incidents begin to pile up, Scully, who would never admit it to Mulder, begins to believe that there is something more going on here, something that can’t be explained scientifically, or rationally.

The doll is alive.

Scully pairs up with the local sheriff (Larry Musser – the third time he’s appeared as law enforcement on the show) and works to save Susannah, Polly, and anyone else the doll may see as a threat. And just like most King stories, there’s a hint at the end of the story that this will all happen again.

Kill Switch was written by cyberpunk legend (and creator) William Gibson with Tom Maddox and debuted on 15 February, 1998. The usual 8 day shoot for an episode grew to 22 for this episode, which was one of the most expensive of the Vancouver shoots, but won the editor, Heather MacDougall an Emmy.

The story sees our agents getting involved in a case after a massive shootout at a diner (which was orchestrated) kills a brilliant programmer, which leads them to Esther aka Invisigoth (Kristin Lehman), a fellow programmer, who reveals that she and her compatriots were working on an artificial intelligence and giving life on the internet, while also looking for a way to upload their own consciousness to the web.

But they became scared of the A.I. and have been working to destroy it. But when an intelligence has complete access to anything that is connected to the internet, how safe can you be?

The Lone Gunmen make a welcome appearance in the episode, but its the disturbing and funny virtual reality that Mulder finds himself in partway through the show that is the highlight of the episode, and gives Anderson a brilliant fight sequence.

It’s a solid tale, and maybe closer to coming true by the day, but I have to continue my journey forward the The X-Files because the truth is out there…

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