Season 2, Episode 16: “Colony”
Ah, it’s high time we had another mythology episode.
“Colony” opens with what I like to call the Pretentious Monologue, in which we hear either Mulder or Scully babbling in Chris Carter’s purple prose over a series of images and scenes that may or may not be related to the episode. Not all of them are necessarily pretentious, but they can be a little…hokey. Some are definitely worse than others, and depending on my mood I actually don’t mind them all that much, but sometimes they can be ridiculous.
The one at the beginning of “Colony” doesn’t sound pretentious so much as it states things we already know.
Insert rest of scene here, and then the monologue continues, and then reveals everything that happens in the episode. Oh, it does it vaguely, but still, I wish they’d revealed it a little more gradually. That’s a lot to shove down our throats in the teaser.
As it turns out, though, we won’t return to the events in the teaser until much, much later. Maybe the teaser in this episode isn’t the best, but it does establish two things: that Mulder is about to be in some serious shit, and that this is going to be a Samantha episode.
Well, it’s about time. We haven’t had one of those in a while. And get ready, because we’ve got more at stake here than ever before.
First, we see the return of the alien virus, something that will remain constant throughout The X-Files but will take many forms. The virus was first mentioned in “The Erlenmeyer Flask” and hasn’t been brought up since (okay, technically it was in “Red Museum”, but c’mon, who’s counting that one?). We’re also introduced to the clones, and clones are another thing we’ll be seeing a lot of in the future.
Then, perhaps most significantly, we’re introduced to the alien Bounty Hunter.
This guy is bad, and I mean that in a good way. Whenever you see him shapeshift from another character, you automatically think, “Oh, shit.” In fact, that might as well be the character’s name, since we’ll never know him as anything else but the alien Bounty Hunter. In any case, Mulder is no match for him.
Speaking of Mulder, I feel very sorry for him in this episode. He thinks he gets his sister back, has to reunite with his dysfunctional family, and his blamed for the death of Agent Weiss, when he couldn’t have possibly known about the alien Bounty Hunter. Things are about to get a whole lot worse, but not before we see Scully doing what she does best, which is – well, being Scully.
These two episodes are Mulder-centric, but unlike some of the other Mulder/Samantha episodes, Scully is extremely active. She investigates the scientists in the warehouse and sees things that are much more helpful to the situation than Mulder mishandling the incident with his sister, but we’ll get to that in the next review. When she dresses up in that hoodie, she manages to pull off badass and adorable at the same time.
Since the meat – and the flaws – of these two episodes exist almost entirely in the second half, I really have nothing left to say about this one except that it’s extremely engaging and really a good mythology installment. Unfortunately, we won’t be so lucky with part two.
Also, I applaud the writers for coming up with an absolutely ingenious cliffhanger. When I discovered this was a two-parter, I thought the writers might have written themselves into a corner by making the beginning the end. But I will confess I did not see the end of “Colony” coming. I felt a mixture of chills and thrills when “Mulder” walked through that door. Definitely the show’s best cliffhanger so far. It almost reminded me of the greatest cliffhanger in science fiction, the end of Star Trek: TNG’s “The Best of Both Worlds”. Good cliffhangers can be so effective when used correctly.
But the payoff is much harder to write, and more often than not is rather disappointing. You’ll see what I mean…
Final score for “Colony” is 7/10. Very engaging, and introduces several key aspects of the mythology, like the alien Bounty Hunter, the clones, Mulder’s family, and more. ‘Tis an episode rich with substance.
- Why the hell would one of the doctors be working in Washington, D.C.? Isn’t that a little like being in the belly of the beast?
- It’s certainly notable that Mulder doesn’t tell Scully about Samantha. Was he afraid he would be overheard on the phone? Did he not think Scully would believe him? Was he unsure of himself?
- If you think about it, the misfortune that befalls Scully at the end of this episode is almost entirely due to the fact that she and Mulder have a serious communication issue. Seriously, guys, answer your phones, won’t you?