Season 3, Episode 9: “Nisei”
Sometimes the mythology episodes are hard to analyze because they’re necessary. I can easily judge a Monster-of-the-week because it’s (usually) on its own and there are other episodes to compare it to. But mythology episodes aren’t so easy, because, well, we need them. They’re how we track the growth of the characters and the development of the continuing storyline. How can you really argue against that?
True, some mythology episodes are obviously better than others. I would watch “Anasazi” over “Little Green Men” any day. But for the most part, they’re pretty consistent in quality because…well, let’s just say there’s a reason there are boxed sets of just the mythology episodes on Amazon. You can watch them one right after the other and get the whole story.
That being said, with “Nisei” we have as basic a mythology episode as it gets in terms of the formula and the story itself. Content is where this episode and its follow-up, “731,” really shine, perhaps underratedly (that’s totally a word) so, and add a Mulder dressed in black leather and, well, I’m there.
“Nisei” and “731” are squished in between the beginning of the season and the beloved “Piper Maru”/”Apocrypha” pair, so they’re the oft-forgotten mythology couple of Season 3. But they’re enjoyable too, particularly because they mark the return of Mr. X, the most badass of all informants, and a giant leap forward plot-wise for our dear Scully. But I won’t say too much.
In “Nisei” we open with Mulder and Scully viewing an alien autopsy video that Mulder famously bought for $29.95, plus shipping, and we have a funny exchange between the two, with Scully making witty remarks and Mulder being his usual dorky self and OH MY GOD THERE’S HUMOR. HALLE-FREAKING-LUIA.
I’m not saying the writers purposefully put this in to make up for what we the audience recently experienced, but the witty repartee goes on for a little bit longer than usual and I’m not so sure it was completely an accident, seeing as we’ve just experienced the comedic wonders (that was sarcastic) that are “Oubliette,” “The Walk,” and “The List.” Even “2Shy,” enjoyable though it is, doesn’t have much in the way of humor. It’s so nice to see Mulder and Scully having a small amount of fun for once, and it feels good cracking a smile when these two are on screen.
Mulder tries to track down the guy who sold the autopsy tape, but instead comes across a Japanese guy with a briefcase. A chase ensues and Skinner interferes before Mulder can do any more digging on the Japanese guy, as he is part of the Japanese Embassy, although Mulder does “forget to turn in” the briefcase. Mulder sends Scully to do some digging on the MUFON group the video guy was a part of, while he goes to Senator Matheson to find out more about the Japanese guy and the autopsy video.
Scully’s interaction with the MUFON group is an important scene, and for first time viewers I will refrain from saying exactly why as it would require much spoilage. Let’s just say this isn’t the last time we’ll be seeing some of these characters in the MUFON group, and it’s certainly not the last time this issue will be brought up, despite how quickly Mulder dismisses it (see the quote box). I’m not saying Mulder doesn’t think it’s important; I’m saying that the writers are brushing it aside to move the plot forward.
Speaking of moving the plot forward, let’s revisit Mr. X. We haven’t seen him in a while, and I always thought it was strange that, for all his epicness, he was not part of the Trilogy of Wonders, “Anasazi,” “The Blessing Way,” and “Paper Clip,” nor will he be a part of the Pair of Plenty, “Piper Maru” and “Apocrypha.” He shows up in this episode for a specific reason: to tell Scully to tell Mulder not to get on the secret train.
But, in typical Mulder fashion, he’s already started getting on. And, in even more typical Mulder fashion, he loses his cell phone the second he does.
Well, at least he didn’t lapse into catatonic schizophrenia. (See Season 4 for that joke to make sense.)
Final score for “Nisei” is 8/10. More than anything, this episode is just kind of fun, and it’s certainly a more enjoyable experience watching after the last few downers. In “Nisei” and “731” both, we are given hints of information rather than totally new information, but hints that will become extremely important to the rest of the series. “Nisei” and “731” may not be the first episodes that come to mind when you think of the mythology, but don’t be fooled. They’re more important than they seem.
- Mulder peeking into warehouses, dodging in between traincars, all in his black leather jacket…um, yes.
- The MUFON group does come across as a little creepy, and I think I would have freaked out even more if I were Scully.
- Does Senator Matheson even have a use in the mythology arc anymore? We won’t be seeing him for a while after this if I’m not mistaken, and he certainly isn’t as interesting as Mr. X or the other informants.