Commentary on "Max"

Essay by Anthony Leong © Copyright 1997

SCULLY: Actually, I was just thinking about this gift that you gave me for my birthday... you never got to tell me why you got it for me or what it means... but I think I know. I think that you appreciate that there are extraordinary men and women... and extraordinary moments when history leaps forward on the backs of these individuals. That what can be imagined can be achieved, that you must dare to dream, but that there is no substitute for perseverance and hard work... and teamwork, because no one gets there alone. And that while we commemorate the greatness of these events and the individuals who achieve them, we cannot forget the sacrifice of those who make these achievements possible.
MULDER: I just thought it was a pretty cool key chain.

It's moments like these which is why I watch The X-Files.

"Max" was another two-part mythology episode, that was on average, pretty good. The above conversation at the end of part two, that contextualizes the Apollo 11 keychain into the situation in which Mulder and Scully find themselves, a never-ending search for the truth and justice, ranks up there with some of the best pieces of dramatic writing of the series.

The X-Files has this incredible knack for keeping you on your toes, by throwing unexpected curves, creating a dynamic series mythology where nothing can be taken for granted. In the past we have seen the execution of Deep Throat and the subsequent shutting-down of the X-Files, the abduction of Scully, the murders of Bill Mulder and Melissa Scully, the assassination of Mr. X, and the recent discovery of a brain tumor in Scully. In "Max", we witness the death of Pendleton, the lab tech who had a crush on Scully, and popped up once in a while to fill in some technobabble. Even though he was a minor character, it suits the theme expressed in this episode. That sometimes it is the unknown or the unimportant who bridge the gap between the possible and the impossible.

The effects work was top notch (they always get to spend money for a two-parter!) with a terrifying portrayal of cabin pressure loss on the doomed plane.

However, there were some unanswered questions posed by this episode:

When did Max Fenig return from his abduction in "Fallen Angel?" No explanation was ever given.

How did the Shadow government and the Greys know exactly where two of the alien technology components (carried by Max and Sharon) were and that Mulder was going to board a certain plane, and still miss the component that was being kept in the airport baggage check? Judging by the relative ease of extraction of the component and the omniscience of the guys in suits, I find it hard to believe that the component would have stayed in the baggage check for so long.

How did Max even get the component past security? Wouldn't the operator of the baggage X-Ray have been curious as to the oddly-shaped object in Max's luggage that might be a bomb? But then again, if we are to believe the latest studies on airport security, then we shouldn't be surprised.

But despite these shortcomings, "Max" was pretty good. By the way, Scully was born on February 23, 1964.

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