Anasazi (Part 1 of 3)
Anyone who follows this forum knows I prefer mythology episodes, so it was a joy to rewatch "Anasazi" -- one of the best myth episodes in series history. Rarely have we been treated to such an important episode. In the span of one hour we see the infamous digital tape, alien corpses, Bill Mulder's murder and a host of other developments that will be chronicled below. The writing was great, the acting was great and "Anasazi" certainly deserves its spot amongst classic X-files.
So here's what happens in this superb Season-two finale:
Early on April 9 in Two Grey Hills, New Mexico a teenaged Navajo boy named Eric is rudely awoken by tremors from an angry earth. The earthquake doesn't cause much damage and when breakfast rolls around things are fairly normal. Eric's grandfather -- a Navajo elder named Albert Hoosteen -- warns Eric not to disturb the snakes today. This makes sense -- when the Earth buckles and boulders rain on your head, it's likely to put the most affable of creatures in a foul mood. Eric acknowledges Albert's warning, then jumps on his souped-up dirtbike and heads for the scorched hills to do a little hotdogging in the sand.
Eric zips over hill and dale, training to become the next Evel Knievel, but his trip ends abruptly when he encounters a large pile of rocks in his path. Eric walks around the pile and stands at the edge of a small cliff -- and that's when things get interesting.
Emerging from the red, barren sands at the bottom of the cliff is the roof of a railroad boxcar. Eric investigates and finds a souvenir that would send any anthropologist into a dance of joy. He brings his memento home and sprawls it on his front lawn so all the neighbors can see. Eric's father and grandfather gaze at their new lawn ornament and Albert somberly mutters something in Navajo. Whenever a wise elder mutters something in his native tongue, you know bad things are going to happen. Eric's father translates Albert's warning and tells his son to return his keepsake to its rightful place -- someone, or something, will be looking for it. Now that the identity of this "thing" has been properly hyped, the camera pans down and we see that Eric's archeological find is the withered corpse of a grey alien.
With alien bodies appearing in the New Mexico desert, it's only a matter of time before the Syndicate gets their conspiratorial undies in a bundle. But the next day things get a whole lot worse for the old bandits. A hacker known as "The Thinker" uses his glorified Macintosh to achieve the holy grail of hacks -- The Department of Defense. Upon accessing this mecca of secrets, The Thinker downloads a host of super-top-secret files to a digital cassette (in future episodes it'll be known simply as "The Tape").
The Thinker's entrance into the DOD database is the catalyst for an international domino effect. Uppity-ups from powerful countries call one another on their Red Phones and discuss this horrific hack. Within minutes the Cigarette-Smoking Man's telephone rings and he curtly tells a German conspirator that he's already taking care of the mishap. CSM calmly drops the receiver into the cradle and announces "That was the phone call I never wanted to get."
The next morning, April 11, the Lone Gunmen visit Mulder at his apartment. Mulder is under the weather -- way, way under the weather -- but the Gunmen don't have time to baby their buddy. The boys are more paranoid than usual, but that's because one of their friends -- The Thinker -- just hacked the DOD and the government is probably looking for anyone linked to him. Mulder isn't a direct acquaintance of The Thinker, but he's going to be. The Hacker-On-The-Run asked the Gunmen to arrange a meeting with Mulder so he could turn over his ultra-valuable goods.
Before the boys can fully explain the importance of The Thinker's hack, a gunshot rings through the hallway. Each of the Gunmen duck for cover, but Mulder grabs his gun and rushes out. A crowd is assembled outside the apartment of an elderly couple and a bystander tells Mulder that the woman just shot her husband. This explanation elicits a classic Frohike response -- "Weirdness." Weirdness indeed.
Three hours later, Mulder meets The Thinker in the U.S. Botanical Garden in D.C. The moppy-haired hacker (who resembles one of the Hanson brothers after puberty has struck) tells Mulder that the files he's stolen detail every bit of UFO intelligence the DOD has. He hands Mulder a manilla envelope and says the only thing he wants in return is the truth. The Thinker walks away and Mulder stands there, dumfounded by the revelation that there are others who think exactly like he does. Who knew?
The next day, Mulder is entrenched in his basement office, preparing to take his first peek at The Tape. Scully walks in just as he's booting up his system and Mulder giddily tells her that he's finally found hard evidence proving the government knows about the existence of extraterrestrials. His build-up is for naught because a quick scan through the files shows they're all written in gibberish. Paragraph upon paragraph is lined with phrases like "des-di-nit-cha-noopie" and "zip-a-dee-do-da." If this were "Star Wars" it would make perfect sense, but Mulder is no Han Solo so intergalactic languages are all Greek to him. Mulder throws a fit, tossing pencils across the room and expressing the frustration of ALWAYS being thwarted. Scully ignores his tirade and plants herself in front of the screen. Unlike her hot-headed partner, she sees that the files aren't in gibberish -- they're in Navajo. She explains that during World War II Navajo was used as a form of encryption. Mulder orders her to find someone who can decipher the files, then he storms out the door.
Mulder runs into Skinner in the hallway and the big A.D. inquires about a nasty rumor going around concerning Mulder, a digital tape and naked pictures of J. Edgar Hoover (the thing about the pictures was edited out, but it's in the original script -- I swear). Mulder gets a crazed expression and mouths off to his boss. He turns to walk away but Skinner grabs his shoulder and Mulder puts his anger-management skills to work by cracking Skinner across the chin with a powerful sucker punch. Skinner reels around, wraps the lanky agent in a chokehold and shows Mulder why he's the boss. Mulder squirms but he's no match for Skinner's super-human strength. Skinner, disgusted and thoroughly peeved, tosses Mulder away and declares their meeting/prize fight over.
The next morning Scully is called into Skinner's office to answers questions from an FBI review board. The board wants to know why Mulder is hitting superiors and causing mayhem in the Bureau's hallways. Scully tries her best to defend Mulder, but a series of questions -- particularly one from an agent with a striking resemblance to Chris Carter -- digs her into a deep hole. The angry board members tell Scully that if she's holding back information about Mulder they'll kick her to the curb. They're alluding to The Tape, but she doesn't bite.
Scully's predicament is nothing compared to the one Bill Mulder is facing. Fox's Dad is visited by the Cigarette-Smoking Man at his home on Martha's Vineyard. Bill is alarmed to see his Morley-sucking comrade, but the two temporarily put aside their differences and talk about old times over a couple of drinks. The men engage in a verbal chess match where CSM obviously has the upper hand. CSM knows Mulder has the tape and, without directly saying it, he wants Bill to get it back. Bill is concerned because the files contain his name and he has yet to explain to Mulder exactly what he did all those years while working for the "State Department" (wink-wink, nudge-nudge). CSM tells him to toe the party line and deny everything. The cancer-dodging bandit takes a long drag on his cigarette, rises from his chair and calmly touches Bill on the shoulder. "You look well," he says as a chill shoots from the television and runs down the spine of anyone watching. With that, he's gone.
Scully drops by Mulder's apartment and finds her partner asleep on his couch. She startles him awake and Mulder's desperate grab for his gun sends an assortment of objects scattering across the floor. Once he sees that his visitor isn't there to dispatch him to the hereafter, he calms down and explains to Scully that he ditched work because he feels like cow dung on a hot day. Scully is upset because she was forced to lie for him at the Bureau meeting. She wants to know if protecting The Tape is worth putting their careers on the line, and of course, Mulder doesn't have answers. But X does. Mulder sticks a masking-tape "X" to his apartment window in the hope that his perpetually-sweating informant will turn up. Before Scully leaves she asks Mulder why he hit Skinner and Mulder pensively says he doesn't know.
Now that her career is in jeopardy and her partner has become a violent lunatic, Scully doubles her investigative efforts by visiting the Office of the Navajo Nation in D.C. Josephine Doane, a Navajo official, tells Scully she'll need to find a "Code Talker" to completely decipher the encrypted files. Doane is able to discern two words: "merchandise" and "vaccination." Neither word lends itself to shiny, happy subjects, so the plot thickens...
Night falls and Mulder is still camped on his couch, drinking glass-upon-glass of water and waiting for X to contact him. The phone rings but it's his father. Bill has a lot on his mind and he needs to see his son, so Mulder, sick and weak, gathers himself and tromps off to Martha's Vineyard to meet with his alien-cloning sister-abducting father.
In getting to the Vineyard, Mulder performs another space-time miracle, but this time I think I have an explanation. He must have called the Hackett brothers at the airport on Nantucket. Lowell finally fixed the plane, so the boys fueled it up and darted off to D.C. to pick up Mulder and drop him at his Dad's place on the Vineyard. It's the only logical explanation of how he got from D.C. to the Vineyard so quickly.
But I digress...
Upon arriving at Bill Mulder's comfortable island home, Mulder takes a seat in the living room and listens as his father half-heartedly spills the beans. He mutters things about "choices" and "politics" and Mulder has no idea what he's talking about. Bill cryptically tells Mulder that he's going to run across the phrase "the merchandise" and in time it will make sense. With that, he retires to the bathroom to take some medication. In the reflection of a mirrored cabinet we clearly see Alex Krycek hiding in the shower. The scene shifts back to the living room and a gunshot rings out. Mulder rushes to the bathroom and finds his father. Bill Mulder's final words are "forgive me." Talk about your tough reunions.
Scully visits Mulder's apartment after he's left for the Vineyard. She notices that the desk light is on, so she approaches. As she shuffles through a stack of papers a bullet whizzes through the window and skims across her forehead. She dives to the floor as an unseen car screeches away outside. Scully props herself up and feels blood trickling from her hairline. She's fine, but the look on her face obviously asks: "What in THE-HELL is going on here?"
Sometime later that night, Mulder calls Scully to tell her the bad news about his father. Since her head is far clearer than his, she sees that he's being framed for Bill Mulder's murder. His erratic, violent behavior makes him the prime suspect, so Scully convinces him to meet her at her apartment. He arrives, disheveled and feverish and Scully goes into doctor mode. She sets him up in a guest bedroom (contrary to popular belief it isn't HER bedroom) and he soon passes out.
Mulder wakes up the next day and he's wearing considerably less than when he arrived (fortunately there isn't a Speedo in sight). He appears to be feeling better, but his mood changes when he sees that Scully has taken his gun and left the apartment. He calls his partner and reaches her via cellphone at the Bureau's Firearm unit. Just as he suspected, she's having his gun tested to see if it was the weapon used in Bill Mulder's murder. Mulder's physical health is better, but he's still thinking wacky thoughts because he accuses Scully of betraying him. He does his best at hurting her feelings by belligerently declaring: "You've been making reports on me from the beginning Scully! Taking your LITTLE NOTES!" Scully is unphased and tries to reason with her partner, but she realizes that his gourd is officially lost.
Given Mulder's enhanced paranoia, Scully knows something is obviously amiss. She returns to Mulder's apartment and performs surgery on a bullet hole in the wall. While she's playing "Forensic Drywaller" she notices a mysterious white van parked outside. A delivery man has just replaced a water device in the basement, so Scully goes downstairs to investigate. One of the canisters is connected with sparkling new piping, which seems odd to Scully. When things seem odd to Scully it's only a matter of time before she has a revelation.
Later that night Mulder takes a cab to his apartment. As he stumbles toward the front door he notices someone creeping through the bushes. Mulder sneaks around the building and surprises Krycek as he rounds a corner. The two do a good job of bloodying one another up, but Mulder gets the upper-hand when he grabs Krycek's gun. While pointing the gun at his nemesis, Mulder shouts all sorts of hurtful things: "You're a rodent!", "You were a sucky FBI agent!", "You'll never be in the movie!", "You killed my father!" Scully appears just as Mulder is about to pull the trigger, but she prevents her partner from following through by planting a bullet in his shoulder. Mulder crumples to the ground, shot and unconscious. Krycek bolts -- escaping death yet again.
Days later, on April 16, Mulder wakes up in a New Mexico motel room. While he's been unconscious, Scully has been busy driving him across the country while also piecing together the fragments of this mystery. Albert Hoosteen -- the wise Navajo man seen in the opening scenes -- has joined them in the motel room. Scully was put in touch with Hoosteen through the Office of the Navajo Nation, and Hoosteen is now diligently decoding the DOD files. While Hoosteen does his thing, Scully fills Mulder in on her findings:
First: Scully tells her partner that she shot him because he was holding Krycek's gun -- the same gun most likely used in Bill Mulder's murder. If Mulder had pulled the trigger, there would have been no way to prove that he didn't kill his father.
Second: Scully found a dialysis filter in a soft-water tank in Mulder's basement. She figures the filter was used to transmit a mind-altering substance into the water supply of Mulder's building. Someone was trying to screw with Mulder because The Tape was getting him much too close to "the truth."
Third: Hoosteen has made a connection between the encrypted files and the buried boxcar, and he's ready to show Mulder the goods as soon as he's feeling up to it.
And Fourth: Scully has learned that her name is in the DOD files and it has something to do with her abduction and a test.
Scully's information has done wonders for Mulder's health, so he sets out with Hoosteen to investigate the alien tomb/boxcar. While traveling back to Hoosteen's home, Hoosteen tells Mulder the story of the Anasazi -- an ancient tribe that lived in the same area more than 600 years ago. Evidence of the tribe's demise has never been found, leading some scientists to declare that they simply vanished. But nothing vanishes without a trace. Hoosteen believes the Anasazi were abducted "by visitors who come here still." Mulder's UFO juices are now flowing at full speed.
Hoosteen's grandson, Eric, takes Mulder to the boxcar on his dirtbike. The two reach the site and Mulder begins making his way down the cliff. Half-way down his cellphone rings and the caller is CSM. The two exchange a number of barbed comments, most notably Mulder's quip about CSM being a "black-lunged son of a bitch." Mulder vows to expose CSM and his cronies. CSM warns that exposing him will also expose Mulder's father. Mulder's weary state has affected his comeback ability, and since he's out of zingers he hangs up. Unfortunately, CSM's call served a second purpose -- it used Mulder's cellphone signal to determine where he was located.
While CSM speeds toward Mulder on a military helicopter, Mulder drops into the boxcar. Packed in a dark corner is a huge pile of alien corpses stacked floor to ceiling. Realizing he's in an alien tomb, Mulder uses his remarkable cellphone service to call Scully from his seemingly unserviceable locale. The signal is crystal clear, but the agents are unphased by this technological marvel. Instead they discuss the matter at hand. Scully has found references in the DOD files referring to experiments done on humans by Axis scientists. The subjects were called "the merchandise." Hearing this, Mulder takes a closer look at the alien corpses. He checks the decayed shoulder of one body and finds a smallpox vaccination scar. Either aliens suffer from the same diseases as humans or those scientists were doing some funky things with cross-breeding.
As important as this revelation is, Mulder is unable to pursue it because CSM's helicopter swoops onto the scene. Eric, being a smart kid, closes the boxcar and refuses to answer questions. He's carted off at gunpoint. Heavily armed soldiers jump into the boxcar, but Mulder's no where to be seen. CSM has lost his cool exterior and issues a vindictive order that will forever contradict the argument that he's Mulder's father. Knowing Mulder is probably hidden in the boxcar he shouts, "Burn it!"
The helicopter lifts, the boxcar burns and season two ends with a stellar cliffhanger.
During the next round of repeats I'll write a review for the second episode in this three-story arc -- "The Blessing Way." Down the road I'll also put together a synopsis for the finale -- "Paper Clip."
Note: This review originally appeared at Ontap.com. It's reprinted here for archival purposes.