Season 4, Episode 8: “Tunguska”
The next round of mythology episodes, “Tunguska” and its follow-up, “Terma,” are some action packed suspense pieces that feature a lot of running, a lot of black oil, and a lot (lot) of punching Krycek in the face.
Speaking of Krycek…it’s been too long, buddy.
Alex Krycek is a deeply underrated villain who always, no matter who he’s helping, seems to get the short end of the stick. He’s jerked around by the Syndicate, he’s jerked around by the FBI, and he’s jerked around by his own country of origin (or his arm his sawed off; either way, it still sucks for him). You always get the sense that no matter what Krycek does, it’s going to end up badly. In this way he provides an interesting foil to Mulder, who we always want to see succeed but rarely does. We always want Krycek to fail, and he pretty much delivers every time.
This makes Krycek a rather pitiful character, but also a deliciously enjoyable one. You always get the sense that he’s teetering on the edge of insanity, that one more failure is going to make him crack. He’s a fuse ready to go off, Krycek. He’s so much fun.
Honestly, Krycek is what really makes this episode enjoyable for me (that, and seeing Skinner in his boxers). Seeing him get pushed around by everyone, especially Mulder and Skinner, you can’t help but feel just a little bit bad for him. And also, let’s face it: he’s kind of a badass. Anyone who can kill a man while hanging off a 17th-story balcony by a handcuff immediately gets the Badass Medal in my book. Mulder and Skinner’s treatment of Krycek is also fun to watch, since they have the upper hand for once. And it’s nice to see that Skinner pretty much has the same reaction to Krycek as Mulder does. Skinner’s “think warm thoughts” comment is incredibly similar to Mulder telling Krycek he’ll tell Agent Scully to bring him a bowl of water. Ouch.
As much as I’d love to talk about Krycek, though, we must also turn our attention to other parts of this episode, namely the black oil, which makes its first appearance here since “Piper Maru”/”Apocrypha” if I’m not mistaken. And this is where the episode loses me a little bit. We aren’t really given a proper explanation about several things: 1. How Krycek got out of North Dakota and how he survived the black oil, 2. What the black oil actually does. Recall in “Piper Maru”/”Apocrypha” that the black oil takes over its host and makes them do sinister, awful things. But in “Tunguska” the black oil seems to send you into this comatose state. Is it the same stuff? It certainly looks the same, and it doesn’t really make sense that it wouldn’t be. But then why this change? How come it does something different from what it did before?
Sadly, we’ll never really get an explanation for this, and although there’s a little voice in the back of my head whispering “inconsistent writing,” I’d rather assume Chris Carter & co. knew what they were doing and that this form of the black oil is just…I don’t know, mutated or evolved or something. It would certainly explain how Mulder seems to recover from it so quickly, as we’ll see in the follow-up episode, “Terma.”
Stay tuned for the next episode, in which we’ll discuss the Well-Manicured Man, the believability of escape scenes, euthanasia, and hugs with two arms.
Final score for “Tunguska” is 7/10. This is another one of those mythology episodes that serves to further (or further confuse) the mythology plot, but it’s not bad by any means. It’s certainly very entertaining, and we all need a dose of some kick-ass action.
Notable Nuggets (And Nitpicks)
- I only noticed during this rewatch how sexual Mulder’s talk with Marita is. Watch closely, you’ll notice that they take great care in letting us know that Mulder was only there three minutes after he looked at his watch. In other words, the writers have to assure us that they didn’t have sex.
- You’d think Mulder would be cool with roaches by now.
- Pendrell is still the most adorable thing ever.