Season 4, Episode 1: “Herrenvolk”
After the strange opening scene of “Herrenvolk,” we jump right in where we left off. I think “Talitha Cumi” might have benefitted a little more if they had gone a little further into the opening events of “Herrenvolk” – maybe end “Talitha Cumi” with Scully in the car with the bounty hunter, which I think would have been a much better cliffhanger. It’s a very well shot scene, as the audience is also unaware of the bounty hunter’s presence at first, and it would have made for a great deal of suspense as a season closer. But I digress.
Usually – I don’t want to say always, but usually – the second part of a mythology two-parter is the stronger. That’s certainly the case with “Herrenvolk,” which gives Mulder a much-needed focus. Season 3 was very Scully-centric, which I don’t have a problem with, but it’s about time the writers gave Mulder some more trouble, to balance out Scully’s losses. Season 4 will have many, many great moments for Mulder’s character, and I feel that’s much due to the tone set in “Herrenvolk,” which sees Mulder at the most vulnerable he’s been in a long, long time, since “Ascension” and “One Breath” (Season 2).
“Herrenvolk” doesn’t really stick out in my mind as a particularly landmark episode – in fact, as far as the mythology goes, it’s rather uneventful – but it is an emotional one, and more than any other episode it sets the stage for the upcoming film, Fight the Future, which chronologically takes place two years later. It’s not necessarily that Fight the Future is about any of the events that take place in “Herrenvolk,” but many key settings and plot devices are actually very similar. So “Herrenvolk” ties in with the upcoming mythology very well, as we’ll eventually see.
In terms of the episode itself, I can’t say I’m particularly attached to it, but after giving it another watch, I found that there’s a lot to be enjoyed in it. First of all, the episode is engaging, much more so than “Talitha Cumi.” There’s a high-speed chase at the beginning of the episode and the action is tense and gripping throughout the whole thing. However, the episode is given many moments to sit back and breathe, making it extremely well-paced. There are even some great lines, such as Scully when she says “Nothing happens in contradiction to nature – only in contradiction to what we know of it. And that’s a place to start. That’s where the hope is.” Scully, the wise philosopher.
The big thing that happens in this episode is the shooting of Mr. X, whose days as an informant, I’m sorry to say, are over. Actually, his days on the planet are over, too. Unfortunately Mr. X will be replaced with a less-than-worthy replacement. Yes, it’s the woman at the end, in case you didn’t catch that. No, she’s not terrible, but she’ll never be as intriguing or mysterious (or badass) as Mr. X.
Honestly, my biggest complaint about Mr. X is that I wanted more of him. He was mysterious, yes, but I felt like he could have been used more and I wanted his character to be better explored. He’s a fascinating figure, and unfortunately they just didn’t go anywhere with him, at least not as much as I would have hoped.
So…in conclusion, I think this episode’s great. Much, much better than I remembered it, which is always nice. And it does feature quite a bit of Mulder’s puppy dog face, which I will provide below as this review’s Notable Nuggets. You’re welcome.
Final score for “Herrenvolk” is 8/10. While it may not be the most memorable of season openers, it’s a good episode, much better than I remembered it. It’s well written, it’s well paced, it’s well acted, it’s just…well. A great start to Season 4, and a much-needed change of focus to Mulder.
Notable Nuggets (Or, the Many Faces of the Mulder-Puppy)