September 2013 saw the 20th anniversary of the first airing of The X-Files . To celebrate this on The Hex Dimension, I’m providing you with retrospectives on episodes and I’ll also be covering the films at the points that they fit into the series’ chronology. So, without further ado… welcome to “Fallen Angel”.
Townsend, Wisconsin. There’s a bang, fire burning in the woods. Meanwhile a military run surveillance centre the personnel are told to report it as a meteor, but the brass know it’s a “Fallen Angel”. Bright lights, lots of screaming. We’re in ET land.
In terms of understanding the key, continuing plots of the series, this episode is one of those, as Mulder takes to Wisconsin by himself and encounters a full blown military operation. This is not about a crashed train with dangerous cargo, Deep Throat’s tip-off is solid.
“That’s a lot of firepower to protect just Mother Nature,” Mulder is certain that the military are in the process of trying to cover-up something of extra-terrestrial origin.
Fenig’s introduction to Mulder in the military’s temporary holding cells draws doubt over what Mulder has just seen in the forest clearing. He’s your over-the-top, media spun, UFO nut. He’s a member of NICAP – which is the name of an actual organisation that has existed in some form or other for many decades.
He’s the least credible person imaginable in terms of relaying anything about UFOs. And it’s fantastic how Alex Gansa and Howard Gordon play off of this, with Mulder being far more forgiving of the guy’s mental state and Scully far less once she’s picked-up Mulder from his temporary incarceration and they look into Fenig more.
This is the first episode in the series where Mulder’s actions have caused a genuine threat to the continued investigation of X-Files and Mulder’s career in the FBI. Scully’s frustration with him his palpable, you can tell that she has grown attached to working on the cases they work on together – bringing order to the chaos.
The questioning of Mulder by Scully as he still sits in his military cage, further demonstrates Mulder’s determination to believe in the face of conflicting theories. While the top secret story of a downed Libyan jet with a nuke has Mulder for a moment, Duchonvy makes this moment of doubt linger just the right amount.
The subsequent scene, however, leaves the audience firmly believing that no Libyans are involved.
One of the themes explored in this episode is the fragility of humans. From what happens to those who get too close to the ET that’s crash landed there, to Max’s epilepsy, to the career challenges facing Mulder and Scully. Everyone seems quite vulnerable in this episode.
The physical manifestations of vulnerability in this episode reflect the shifting positions of the episode’s main players. Everyone’s beliefs are on the line and some are probably going to walk away more burned than others.
This is one of those episodes whereby the audience is presented with a lot of evidence in the favour of supporting the existence of aliens. Yet for most of it, both Scully and Mulder are not in the presence of it.
In their world, who’s right is still up for debate. But the evidence is piling up and while Scully doesn’t mention the Libyan pilot again, she still doubts Mulder. Mulder’s belief in this episode, despite what it is costing him, is reaffirmed.
The committee that is formed to pass judgement on Mulder’s recent activities, while without guns, are shown to be more threatening in character than any of the military personnel that are encountered in the episode. “No government agency has jurisdiction over the truth,” Mulder says as he passes final judgement of the men who would shut him down.
At the end of the episode, one of the season’s biggest reveals is met out and there are no little green men, just bureaucrats.
What did you think of this episode? Let us know in the comments below.