Season 4, Episode 18: “Max”
SCREW THIS EPISODE. SCREW IT AND THE ONE BEFORE IT. LET IT ROT AND DIE AND SUFFER WHILE ROTTING AND DYING.
Okay, okay, okay. For those of you that didn’t pick up on the ending of my last review, in which I said that there was absolutely nothing in this mythology duo that pissed me off, I hope you picked up on my sarcasm. If you didn’t, by the way, there was sarcasm.
I should also clarify. I don’t actually hate these two. I mean, they’re good. But they have one of the most soul-crushingly painful character deaths in the entire series, and it kills me every time I watch it.
Oh, you can laugh. You can sneer. You can roll your eyes and say, “Come on, Knife Ink, really?” Yes, really. Pendrell was a perfect little ginger gerbil and he didn’t deserve to die. Certainly not in this cruel, horrible, much-too-quick way.
More than that, Pendrell is me. And Pendrell is you. Send your judgment to the garbage disposal. There is not one person on the planet who is familiar with Scully and doesn’t have a crush on her. His fierce and adorable enthusiasm is something I have seen in every X-Phile I’ve ever met. His death was cruel and rotten and unfair. Shame on you, Chris Carter. SHAME.
Sigh. Now that we’re over that massively awful bridge, we have the rest of the episode to discuss.
Unlike some mythology episodes, this one picks up immediately where we left off, to the second. “Tempus Fugit” and “Max” are really the same episode, spliced into two. That sounds obvious, but there are some mythology two-parters where one half is definitely stronger than the other. I don’t really get that with these because it doesn’t feel like two halves, it feels like one long episode. I could probably use my crappy video editing software to take out the opening credits of “Max” and put the two together and it would work fine.
Now that I think about it, maybe the reason these two don’t have a tremendous impact on the mythology is because, well, the sinister force here is unclear. It’s either aliens or the military, something like that, but there’s no CSM, no Syndicate, and no informants. It’s just Mulder and Scully following the trail left behind by Max Fenig.
Oh – and Scully still has cancer. Just in case you forgot. I confess I really like the way they handle the cancer after “Memento Mori.” It isn’t this big emotional thing for Mulder and Scully every episode. We’re still allowed to have our typical X-Files investigations and even our major laughs, as we’ll soon see. But the cancer isn’t absent, either. It doesn’t show up at convenient dramatic moments – well, it does, but it’s always a little out of place and random. And I like that. In real life that’s exactly how it would be. You see the nosebleed, and your heart pangs with the painful reminder that your redheaded angel of science is dying. It comes when you don’t expect it to. I wish, though, that they’d been a little more creative with reminding us Scully has cancer than by just giving her the Random Nosebleed of Doom, which is basically the only symptom we’ll ever see Scully suffer. However, for the most part I like how it’s handled.
The mythology part of this episode returns to the early season formula of Mulder vs. the military. You know, I’ve just got to ask: with so many people in the military participating in this giant cover-up, zipping up little gray alien corpses in bags and everything, how is it possible that not a single person in the military has managed a big-time screw up? Like, how do they cover up everything so well? I know this episode is supposed to be about the one time the military actually did mess up, but I could never get my head around the fact that Mulder and Scully could turn up no better evidence than whatever they had at the end of this episode. There was no rambunctious little private who couldn’t keep his mouth shut about aliens to his girlfriend? Nobody’s dog found an alien body before the army came rushing in? These are nitpicks, but for what it’s worth I think Mulder and Scully would have wondered the same thing. Oh well. Let’s wrap this up.
We end with a very touching speech from Scully, which really is the highlight of these two episodes and gives them a much-needed quiet, contemplative moment. This speech is about hard work, sacrifice, and makes a nice motivational poster. I don’t mean that in a bad way necessarily.
I’m still a bit bitter.
Final score for “Max” is 8/10, just like “Tempus Fugit.” Because they really are the same episode. Although I was majorly tempted to drop a star because of Pendrell. You jerks.
- What even is Pendrell’s first name? *rushes to Google* Apparently, it’s Sean. Now we know.
- Anybody catch that part where Scully turns around as Mulder’s undressing? I mean, really? He didn’t even take off his underwear. You already put him to bed in “Anasazi.”
- Max’s videos are sweet, and reminded me of how much I liked him as a character. It reminded Mulder and Scully, too, which is even sweeter.