The X-Files (2001) – Salvage, and Badlaa

These two entries in The X-Files, while solid, failed to engage me as the previous stories of the season, and the series did. It’s not for lack of performances, I just wasn’t captivated by them, and they both seemed to circle around concepts of revenge.

Salvage was written by Jeffrey Bell, and first aired on 14 January, 2001. Agents Scully (Gillian Anderson) and Doggett (Robert Patrick) investigate a strange murder that involves a complete destroyed car, and the reveal that the driver was still alive, and pulled from the car violently via holes in his skull.

As the pair investigate their investigation leads them to a research company that is developing smart metal, which can be encoded to hold their form, in the hopes of making cars, tools and the like stronger. But a number of the debris cans from the research, ended up (on purpose? deliberately?) in a salvage yard where it infects Ray Pearce (Wade Williams), who was supposedly killed for finding out what was going on.

But he’s apparently back, and wreaking his vengeance on those who took his life, while slowly continuing his transformation into a metallic being.

The effects work on Pearce is cool, and I do like how both Scully and Doggett approach the case. She’s not a believer like Mulder, she is still very fact-based, but is much more open-minded than Doggett (something that comes up in the next episode). And while the characters are enjoyable, I just couldn’t get into this one.

Badlaa was written by John Shiban and features Deep Roy as its silent, creepy and deadly guest star. First airing on 21 January, 2001, the story sees Scully and Doggett investigating a number of strange deaths, that lead to questions about how open-minded Scully really is.

It seems an Indian Beggar Man is wreaking vengeance on the world, but he’s also a fakir mystic, with the ability to project illusion, and control people from within (via a disgusting entrance and exit path). As bodies begin to pile up, Scully is unsure of what they are investigating and reaches out to Mulder’s old friend, Chuck (Bill Down in his final appearance in the series), who puts them on the path of the fakir theory.

It seems this fakir, who rolls his tiny form around on a creepy, creaking cart, is set on claiming as many lives as he can, for almost any perceived wrongs against him, and he seems unstoppable, and his illusions are inseparable from reality which forces Scully to make a horrifying choice at the climax of the episode.

There aren’t a lot of answers to be had, and if you stop and think about the fakir’s way of getting inside people, and we are spared a visual of that, but see all the results, it truly is horrifying, and arguably, one of the most horrific forms of death we’ve seen in the show.

Scully argues that Mulder wouldn’t have been troubled by the choice she had to make during the episode’s finale, because he would have seen things as they really are, because of his open mind. And that bothers her, and makes her really confront how much she misses him.

But they still have a long road to go before things are resolved, because the truth is out there…

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