Season 2, Episode 1: “Little Green Men”
Season 1 ended on a very sour note, with the X-Files closed and Mulder and Scully split up. In typical Chris Carter fashion, the show’s in no hurry to put things right again. We’re going to have to slug through several episodes of Mulder and Scully operating outside of their beloved office in the basement.
It seems that a considerable amount of time has passed since the events in “The Erlenmeyer Flask”, and when we check in on our agents, we see that they’re just as miserable as we are. Well, Mulder is, at least. Instead of continuing with his work, as he said he’d do in the Season 1 finale, he’s spending most of his time…pouting.
It’s kind of pathetic, actually. Scully goes back to teaching doctor stuff at Quantico, but Mulder does nothing but pop sunflower seeds and look all self-pitying while sitting through hours of surveillance tapes. Granted, that’s not anyone’s dream job, but Mulder doesn’t even say hi to Scully in the hallway. Jerk. He explains later that he’s afraid to be seen talking with her, but paranoia, I think, is only part of it. Mulder is, essentially, acting like a little kid who’s been put in time-out.
So, like a lot of little kids do when they don’t get what they want, Mulder runs to his patron, Sen. Richard Matheson, who helped Mulder open the X-Files in the first place. Now, Mulder acts like a dog with his tail between his legs – essentially begging the Senator for forgiveness for screwing up by getting booted off the X-Files. The Senator, however, doesn’t appear to be too angry, and he tells Mulder conversationally about the golden record put on the space project Voyager.
No, not that Voyager.
No, not that Voyager either.
No, not Vger, although that’s closer…
There’s the one!
Actually, the project the Senator is referring to is only partially related to NASA’s Voyager project. Included on the Voyager spacecraft was a golden record which contained images, sounds, and information regarding the inhabitants of earth. The record was put on Voyager as a sort of “time capsule” – a little piece of earth will be out in space for a long, long time. It was really put there as more of a symbolic thing than anything else. But the other aim, of course, is that if an alien being finds the record, they will know about earth.
The X-Files, of course, focuses on that aspect of the record, and if you’re not careful and aren’t paying attention, like me, you’re going to greatly confuse the “facts” in this episode. The information at the beginning of the episode during Mulder’s monologue, as well as the Senator’s speech about the golden record, refers to the Voyager project. But the rest of the episode has to do with what is called the Arecibo message, which is unrelated, as I discovered only when doing research for this review. For the sake of this review I’m not going into specific detail about Arecibo, but if you’re curious, you can read all about it here.
The Senator gives Mulder the news that the abandoned project at Arecibo has received a signal from…something. Mulder has to get down there and get the information before the government does, but since he’s no longer on the X-Files, doing so could, let’s say it together, risk his life and career.
He has the conscience not to tell Scully about it, probably because he doesn’t want her getting fired. What Mulder doesn’t seem to realize throughout this entire episode is that Scully really cares about him, and she’s worried. If he flies off to Puerto Rico in search for the truth, she’s going to fly right after him. This is going to happen a lot.
This is most clearly demonstrated by their conversation in the parking lot of the Watergate Hotel (great choice, Mulder) in which Scully confronts Mulder about his recent aloofness and expresses her genuine worry and affection for him. Mulder tries to avoid her affection by acting hyper-paranoid, claiming that his reasons for avoiding her were because he was afraid “they” would be watching, and that it’s dangerous for the two of them to even meet.
If you ask me, and I think Scully agrees, that’s a lot of BS. Mulder may be hiding his feelings behind paranoia, but the truth of the matter is, he’s more ashamed than he is afraid. He’s ashamed of losing the X-Files, and he’s ashamed of losing Scully. Also – and I think this might be the episode’s strongest point – Mulder simply misses Scully.
The problem I have with “Little Green Men” is that it, like Mulder, tries to turn its focus away from all this great characterization and instead focuses on Mulder’s beliefs, motivations, and quest for the truth. For example, we get his flashback to his sister’s abduction, but it feels out of place since “Little Green Men” is not a Samantha episode and they never bring her back up. Mulder’s little trip to Puerto Rico grows a little ridiculous rather quickly when Jorge draws the face on the wall. In fact, the best parts of this episode are Scully’s, as she tries to hunt down Mulder by hacking into his computer, snooping around in his apartment, and feeding his fish. Her little trick with the fish food is nothing short of brilliant, and her evasion of the people in the airport is also fun to watch.
Then there’s also the great scene where Skinner kicks CSM out, indicating to the audience that Skinner’s not a bad guy, slowly transforming him from a prickly boss to Mulder and Scully’s caretaker, in effect. It’s a great scene, but still feels out of place.
And that’s this episode’s biggest fault. It has a lot of great scenes, but they feel disjointed and try to do too much without resolving practically any of them. As far as mythology episodes go, it’s…okay. But it lacks the fluidity of “The Erlenmeyer Flask” and, worse, makes Mulder look downright pathetic. His little pity-party is going to last for a while, though, so get used to it. Trust me, it brings both good and gut-wrenching awfulness along with it.
Final score for “Little Green Men” is 6/10. It has many good elements, but it’s sloppy and disjointed. The good parts are really good, though.
- How exactly did Scully guess Mulder’s password, anyway? I mean, it does sound like something Mulder would say, but she got the exact password on her third try. Hmmm.
- Mulder in the blue shirt. ❤
- Awesome Mulderism Award for “Noho on the rojo.”