Published Saturday, June 27, 1998, in the Pioneer Press.
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Veteran fans of ``The X-Files'' dissect the new movie's plot like, well, an alien's corpse.
Warning! If you have not seen ``The X-Files'' movie, stop now. What follows, a discussion of plot holes, gaps in logic and general opinionizing by ``X-Files'' fans, is nothing but one long spoiler.
UFOs, little green men and evil shadow governments aside, what many ``X-Files'' fans enjoy about the series, soon to begin its sixth and likely final season on TV, is its uniquely complex and labyrinthine plot. (Its ``mythology,'' as they somewhat grandly refer to it.)
And as pop culture goes, ``The X-Files'' has set the bar higher and played consistently truer to its own sprawling, convoluted internal logic than almost anything network TV has ever attempted. It is certainly a lot smarter than ``Star Trek,'' where time warps, holodecks and worm holes routinely solve too many plot problems.
And don't get us started on ``Twin Peaks,'' which completely derailed in terms of logic and coherence after the first eight episodes.
But nothing's perfect. In general, ``X-philes'' seem to have enjoyed the new $60 million movie, recognizing it for being both bigger and dumber than the best TV episodes, but entertaining nonetheless.
But those same ardent fans have an eerie, shared experience. A few hours after leaving the theater, they start picking the movie apart. They begin to notice that some things don't fit all that well.
We contacted a number of ``X-Files'' fans, some of whom had won passes to the movie locally in a WFTC-TV (Channel 29, local home of ``the X-Files'')-sponsored contest, others who were recommended to us and a few via the Internet, where ``X-philes'' congregate and communicate in startling numbers. Much of what goes on the Net is, as usual, adolescent gibberish, but there are a couple of gems out there.
We found one in Anthony Leong, a 29-year-old pharmacist/aspiring ``X-Files'' screenwriter in Toronto. His artfully designed Web site (users.aol.com/aleong1631/conspiracy.html) offers an unusually coherent analysis, ``Cracking the Conspiracy: Making Sense of `The X-Files' Mythology Arc.''
We put several basic questions to Leong and the others.
``Who blew up the building in Dallas? And what purpose was served if the bodies of the firemen and young boy were recovered anyway?''
Leong: I believe it was the consortium [Cigarette Smoking Man and his old, male buddies], and it was their attempt to cover-up this new mutation [of aliens]. But it is kind of messy, actually. There's no conceivable reason why the consortium would want to blow up the building, because they would only draw attention to themselves.
They say they've disposed of other bodies [by incineration], so you wonder why they didn't use that method again? And then the bomb threat was called in, which brought in the FBI, which makes no sense.
Pat Gonzalez (former Twin Cities resident, now living in Kentucky): It was the consortium, using one of their contacts. And the idea was to disguise the condition of the bodies. They didn't want them to arbitrarily disappear. If they disappeared someone would go looking. They wanted them accounted for.
Adam Ward, 16-year-old Blake High School student, Minneapolis: It was FEMA, in cahoots with the syndicate [i.e., the consortium]. But why didn't they just dispose of them some other way? That's a very good question.
Does Cigarette Smoking Man already know that the aliens are mutating into a whole new life form?
Jason Young, 17, Spring Lake Park: Well, he certainly seemed least-surprised, didn't he? And he's running that thing in Antarctica.
Leong: In the movie, he seems to already know about the Black Oil and what it could do, plus we've seen his ability to cut a deal with the Black Oil Aliens in [the TV episode] ``Apocrypha.'' That leads me to believe he's working for the Black Oil Aliens and is somehow setting up his own place in the new order that is about to come.
Leong sees an ongoing conflict between multiple species of aliens, and suggests one group of ETs may lack an immunity to the Black Oil of the movie.
And if Cigarette Smoking Man is playing one alien group against another, what possible leverage does he have on any of them that protects him? Has there been a sign of anything like that?
Stephanie Hasley, 27, Minneapolis: I think he just thinks he can handle everything.
Leong: I haven't been able to figure that out. There's no evidence of anything like that in the movie or any episode. And honestly, in my opinion, I think [``X-Files'' creator] Chris Carter is making this up as he goes along. I've thought that ever since the third season. Since then, each season seems to have a mythology arc of its own. But when you go to the next season that mythology is violated.
Is the Well-Manicured Man really dead?
Adam Ward: No way. No one like him ever dies in these movies. We didn't see the body.
Leong: Oh yeah, he's dead. It makes sense in the mini-arc they provided for his character. Of the supporting characters, only he had a half-decent character arc. You see him at home with his family. He shows concern for his family. That motivates him to help Mulder, and like everyone who helps Mulder, he ends up dead.
In the series, it seemed clear that the consortium had attempted to kill Cigarette Smoking Man. He spent most of the season hiding out in a cabin in Quebec. Now, in the movie, they're all together again. What's going on?
Leong: It was never explained why [the consortium] took him back. They did try to kill him, but now they're all chummy again. And in the movie, Cigarette Smoking Man seems to out rank Well-Manicured Man. It's not very consistent.
Are the bees and the corn both delivery systems for the Black Oil virus?
Leong: Well, they've genetically engineered the corn in such a way that the Black Oil is contained in the pollen, and the bees pick it up and introduce it into humans with their venom. We know that much. And we've seen the bees used as a delivery system for smallpox in [the TV episode ``Zero Sum''], but I think the smallpox virus is being used as a vector to contain the Black Oil virus.
What are the biggest questions that need answering in this next TV season?
Leong: Who are the colonists and who is the resistance? Is the Black Oil the colonist or the resistance?
But if you listen to ``The X-Files'' soundtrack for the movie, Chris Carter does a spoken-word thing and alludes to the colonists not being able to colonize the Earth because they don't have a resistance to the Black Oil. So that means the Black Oil and the colonists are in opposition.
But then you watch the movie, and it seems the Black Oil is the colonizing force, and the consortium wasn't expecting it to mutate into this new form.
So I say, let's make clear who the stakeholders are. Who's colonizing and who's against the colonizing? And, obviously, this would clear up Cigarette Smoking Man's role.
``Yeah,'' Leong laughs, ``I've been trying to wrap my head around this since I saw the movie. And the more I think about it the less sense it makes.''
Which, of course, is half the fun.