The X-Files (1998) – The Pine Bluff Variant, and Folie a Deux

The Pine Bluff Variant, the first of the two episodes this week, is more of a conspiracy thriller, and gives us an X-Files episode without any supernatural or paranormal leanings. Written by John Shiban, the episode first hit the airwaves on 3 May, 1998.

Scully (Gillian Anderson) is suspicious of Mulder’s (David Duchovny) behaviour, especially after he lets a suspect, Jacob Steven Haley (Daniel von Bargen) escape. But she soon learns from Skinner (Mitch Pileggi) and another agent, Leamus (Sam Anderson) that Mulder is actually working undercover.

He’s been assigned to infiltrate an extremist militia group fun by August Bremer (Michael MacRae) that has somehow got its hands on a aerosol pathogen that is extremely deadly. Unfortunately there are wheels within wheels on this assignment, and Mulder may be walking to his death as no one, and nothing is what it seems.

As Scully investigates on her own, she learns that the pathogen has ties to the American government, despite a national statement, and order that the U.S. doesn’t develop biological weapons. But that means that someone besides Mulder may be working for the government, but with their own agenda.

While it makes a great thriller of an episode, it also has its basis in reality, as the government has tested substances on its citizens before planning for their use against their enemies. But will Mulder and Scully be able to stop this pathogen before it finds its way to the public?

Who can be trusted? And how high does this go?

Folie a Deux gives us a great monster of the week episode and Roger Cross makes another appearance!! The penultimate episode of season five was written by Vince Gilligan, and first aired on 10 May, 1998.

At Skinner’s request, Mulder is off to Illinois to investigate a telemarketing company from which a strange tape has been released of one of its employees, Gary Lambert (Brian Markinson) who believes there is a monster hiding in the light. He can see it, and the effect it has on some of his fellow employees.

Mulder believes it’s just a go-nowhere assignment until he catches a glimpse of what Lambert says he’s seen during a hostage situation. And now that it knows that Mulder has seen it, it sets him as its next target.

But no one believes Mulder, Scully is increasingly sceptical, until she comes across some unusual results in her autopsy of one of the dead hostages, but is it enough to convince her of what Mulder has seen, or will the two simply share an unusual madness?

This is a great, and truly spooky episode, and the keep the creature in enough shadow so that even the glimpses we are afforded aren’t as clear as we would like, leaving the true dimensions to our imagination. And there are a few moments, where you believe that Mulder is in true jeopardy, something that is executed very well.

While Mulder is able to offer some theories about the creature, we don’t learn anything more about it than what we can guess at, and the terrifying realisation that it may still be out there.

Next time we come to the conclusion of the fifth season, check out the first feature film, and prepare for the series production to shift from Vancouver to Los Angeles because the Truth is Out There…

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