If FOX had wanted to reboot The X-Files with younger agents while still keeping the same Mulder/Scully dynamic, they could have done so with Agents Miller and Einstein from this episode, “Babylon,” the profiler who believes in the paranormal and the redheaded doctor. And as the two sets of partners first meet, I find myself thinking about season 7’s “Fight Club.”
Miller is the one to bring the case to Mulder and Scully. After two men enter an art gallery wearing suicide vests, he believes that there’s a way for them to communicate with the bomber, barely alive in the hospital, using some sort of practitioner. Einstein is the skeptic, but she does find herself questioning things by the time the case comes to a close. It’s Mulder and Scully 2.0!
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It’s Like Looking in a Mirror
It feels like old times down in the basement office when we first see Mulder and Scully. There have been reports from all over, from “ear-witnesses,” as Mulder calls them, of trumpets playing from no apparent source “as if from the heavens themselves, as if God himself was making music,” an apparent herald of end times.
When someone knocks on the door and asks if anyone’s in there, Scully replies, “Nobody but the FBI’s most unwanted,” before admitting to Mulder, “I’ve been waiting 23 years to say that.” (And it feels good.) It’s officially one of my favorite moments from the entire revival series (along with the mention of Scully’s dissertation on Einstein’s twin paradox). Here’s why:
Enter Miller and Einstein (aka Mulder and Scully 2.0). He’s a profiler obsessed with the paranormal; she’s a medical doctor. One of the bombers responsible for the attack in Texas is still medically alive, in a persistent vegetative state, and Mulder already knows why they’re there: hoping to find a way to talk to him to find out what he knows about future attacks. However, Mulder tells Miller he has no one who can help him. After they leave, Scully notes how Einstein calls her partner “Miller.”
“You think anyone takes the X-Files seriously? That’s why they got them stuck down in that basement office,” Einstein comments to her partner at the airport. (The first thought that pops into my head after that? That they’re going to be the next ones in that office.) “It’s like my dream assignment,” Miller replies, probably already looking up where to get his own I Want to Believe poster if he doesn’t already own one.
In Einstein’s mind, the only reason a scientist like Scully could have dedicated her career to this assignment is that she’s in love with Mulder, but Miller suggests Mulder “values her open mind.” Einstein argues, “Maybe she challenges his BS” Again, Mulder and Scully 2.0.
Then Mulder and Scully reach out to Einstein and Miller separately, each with a way to communicate with the bomber. That leads to Scully on a plane to Texas and Einstein delaying her flight to catch the “crazy train.”
Mulder Has Quite the Experience
Scully admits to Miller that this is a personal quest for her; she hadn’t been able to communicate with her mother when she was in a coma, meaning her mystery will go unsolved, but they may be able to reach this man — through science. Her theory boils down to prompting his brain with a series of questions that will trigger electroactivity, using an electroencephalogram. Their attempts, however, are halted first by men claiming jurisdiction as Homeland Security and then by a bomb threat called into the hospital.
Meanwhile, Mulder tests Einstein’s belief system. Does she believe that ideas can have weight like a desk does? No, because “when I stand on a scale and think of ice cream, my ass doesn’t grow,” she tells him. But doesn’t she believe that words can influence people to kill? Words can incite people to kill, yes, she allows, but they’re not lethal. Neo-Darwinists believe that every word spoken, every thought, every perception, is a step in evolution of mankind, Mulder argues.
What’s Mulder’s plan? Well, it involves magic mushrooms and a study by respected medical practitioners. Test subjects reported experiences that transcended space and time, seeing the dead and touching the face of God. He wants her to give him shrooms so he can communicate with the terrorist because he believes he can be reached on whatever plane of existence he’s on. Nope, she refuses, promising to never darken his basement door again. Really, she should have just given in because it’s so obvious she’s going to.
Which she does, once she sees Scully with Miller in Texas. Einstein calls Mulder and meets him at the airport with pills. She can’t speak to the dosage, but she doesn’t recommend that he take both. She does anticipate results, she tells him, and gets them into the hospital room despite the threat on the building. However, when she turns her back on him, he takes the pills and then takes off.
What follows is … quite the experience for Mulder. In his haze, he wanders through the hospital hallway, out into the road, into a bar (where he dances; sees, among other things, the Lone Gunmen — RIP — and wears mushroom bling) and ends up shirtless on a table, with Einstein dressed as a dominatrix over him.
And then suddenly he’s on a boat with people dressed in black, and the Cigarette Smoking Man whips him, telling him he came to the right place for the truth. At the other end of the boat is the terrorist in the arms of a woman, and Mulder leans in to try to hear what he’s saying.
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Words Can Be Powerful
When Mulder awakens, he’s in the hospital, with Skinner over him telling him the rodeo’s over. No, he wasn’t “on fire”; he was an embarrassment to pretty much everyone. Einstein informs him that she gave him niacin capsules (behold the placebo effect and the power of suggestion). No, he was under the influence of something, Mulder insists, and Skinner was there and the Lone Gunmen and Einstein was “50 shades of bad.” He also spoke to the terrorist, he says, but he can’t tell them what he said because it was in Arabic.
Furthermore, as Einstein wheels Mulder through the hospital, he hears a woman trying to get past the agents outside. She’s the woman he saw with the terrorist: his mother. He brings her to his room, and as she stands at his side, she says that he couldn’t kill anyone. That’s not how she raised him, and she sees that he lost his nerve, that he couldn’t go through with it. How does she know that? He told her in her dreams and in prayers. Unfortunately, she can’t tell them anything about who else is involved.
But it seems that crazy experience of Mulder’s is key to stopping a future attack. When he repeats what the man was trying to tell him, Miller translates it: Babylon the hotel. The FBI finds the terrorist cell at the motel.
Einstein finds Miller at the airport, and while she acknowledges the role he played in taking down the terrorist cell, he doesn’t, instead saying it was all her and Mulder. But she can’t explain how she did nothing and it worked. “Maybe some things are unexplainable, Agent Einstein,” her partner suggests. She may say she’s never going to hop on the “crazy train” again (yeah, right), but she is convinced that words and ideas do have the weight to move people to do the most psychotic things, she admits. Like giving someone magic mushrooms, he suggests, but she insists she’s talking about Mulder. Right.
Scully visits Mulder at the house, both wondering how Einstein’s placebo worked on him. “Wonders never cease with you,” Scully comments. They both saw things — him, deep and unconditional love, and her, unqualified hate that appears to have no end. Perhaps the question is reconciling those two extremes.
The recent events have gotten him thinking about God, Mulder admits, the angry God of the Bible who punished man for hubris. These boys had swallowed the pill, fallen prey to the power of suggestion, to strap on suicide vests, but something seemed to trump all that hatred: the love of a mother. Maybe what they need to do is open their hearts and truly listen. And so Mulder does … hearing trumpets?
The X-Files airs Mondays at 8pm on FOX.
(Images courtesy of FOX)