Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Review - The X-Files Season 3 Episode 15 Piper Maru / 16 Apocrypha

 "Piper Maru"

On its own, black oil is a sick idea. Oil is as ubiquitous a substance as there is and for aliens to either be oil or use oil as a medium of transportation is very scary. In "Piper Maru" and "Apocrypha," we see just how easily aliens can slip in and out of humans without being noticed, and the aliens seem to be special abilities as well. That's the good part. Looking back on black oil, it's still a great idea that was horribly wasted as the series progressed. And it's a shame consider how great these two episodes are.

"Piper Maru" is a very ambitious episode of television, bringing back the stolen tape and the murder of Scully's sister, while introducing a new threat using a black and white format. That's a lot to handle, and the episode never feels rushed and no part gets shafted. All the plots are engaging and different--revisiting the past, learning about new things, or coming to terms with the world.

Mulder chases a woman to Hong Kong and finds Krycek, presumed to be the killer of Scully's sister, while a black oil alien is shadowing them. Scully revisits her childhood home, still dealing with the fact that her sister's murderer will likely never be found. She finds a friend of her father who recounts his tale on a submarine, and the striking effects of black oil. What was believed to be a salvage operation for a nuclear warhead became a death coffin with an unknown danger. Back in Washington, the shadowy forces send a blunt message, having Skinner shot in a restaurant for poking where he shouldn't be.

As the episode moves ahead, so does our understanding of what's going on. What used to be lights in the sky are now tangible things Mulder can clearly see. While we don't know what black oil is or how it fits in, it all seems like we're one step closer to the truth. Things are being uncovered and information is coming out, or so it seems.


Whenever there is a new threat in the X-Files, it is never localized in certain area, away from everyone else. There is always a global component to the conspiracy, that the dark, multinational entity is waiting around every corner. The episode culminates in Mulder and Scully tracking Krycek to an abandoner missile. They are finally there, about to uncover all the mysteries, and then the rug is pulled out from under them. Armed men arrive and it's over.

But even if they end up with nothing, there is a resounding echo of hope. Mulder and Scully have come farther than they ever have and make some gains. Skinner is alive and the supposed killer of Scully's sister is dead. They've made inroads, however small they are, and that is enough to fuel the hunt.

Score: 9.4/10
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