The X-Files (1998) – The Red and the Black, and Travelers

“Resist or Serve”

Series creator, Chris Carter, serves as a director of this mythology episode which he co-wrote with Frank Spotnitz. It debuted on 8 March, 1998.

While Mulder (David Duchovny) struggles with his belief, and is convinced his life has been wasted pursuing a lie covering a government agenda, Scully (Gillian Anderson) undergoes hypnosis (there’s a great moment while she’s recalling the events when she reaches out blindly to take Mulder’s hand, it’s a great character moment) to recall what happened on the bridge, last seen at the end of the previous episode when the faceless men were setting people alight.

The Syndicate, through Krycek (Nicholas Lea), have learned that there is a vaccine to the black oil infection, which means that, should the vaccine truly work, they may be able to resist the purported alien colonisation that is coming. An invasion that will see humanity either resisting or serving.

Krycek delivers this same information to a disbelieving Mulder, while Marita Covarrubias (Laurie Holden) lays in state, infected by the black oil.

Connections are made to reveal that the faceless attackers are possibly alien rebels fighting against the colonisation of Earth, and could be a new ally for the Syndicate.

So now that they can resist, does that make the Syndicate the good guys? Aren’t they now able to fight for the protection of the planet (admittedly for their own power gain) or is there more going on here? Mulder’s encounter at the end of the episode leaves him with more questions than answers.

And with the disappearance of Cassandra Spender (Veronica Cartwright), possibly taken by aliens, or as Mulder believes, a staged result of a government test, Agent Jeffrey Spender (Chris Owens) is drawn closer to the investigative circle of the X-files, something he doesn’t believe in, while also delivering a gut punch reveal at the close of the episode as to a family connection revealed (which makes sense considering who Owens has played in the past).

Travelers was written by John Shiban and Frank Spotnitz and first aired on 29 March, 1998. It’s a double flashback episode, as the bookend parts of the episode take place in 1990, while the bulk of the episode occurs during 1952, and features a guest appearance by Darren McGavin as Special Agent Arthur Dales, the man who discovered The X-Files, while McGavin is Mulder’s metaphorical father, having starred in The Night Stalker, a similar television show.

Mulder in the 90s had bad hair, poor glasses, and on occasion, smoked (and wore a wedding ring), and a case has led him to Dales, who has a connection to Mulder’s father, William (Dean Aylesworth) in 1952. Fredric Lehne plays Dales in ’52, an FBI agent who is working to bust ‘reds’ at Hoover’s behest, but a suspect, who should be dead, reappears, and sets Dales on a mystery that connects with William Mulder, and influenced Mulder’s work.

It seems there’s something out there, something murderous, and maybe something even more frightening than that. And the government may know about it…

What Mulder learns, not just what Dales did, but what his own father’s involvement was. It’s an interesting story, created by the fact that Anderson and Duchovny were needed for reshoots for the debut feature film, so it doesn’t tie directly into the mythology arc, but does deliver an interesting tale using McCarthyism as its backdrop.

Next week, the hunt continues, because the truth is out there…

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