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Kill Switch

Unlike last week's pathetic excuse for a plot, Kill Switch, co-written by cyber god William Gibson and sci-fi writer Tom Maddox, aimed significantly higher and had a somewhat better result.

Here's a rundown on what happened:

At a small diner on the outskirts of D.C. famed computer geek Donald Gelman (a previously unnamed "father of the internet") is killed during a suspicious gang hit. Why a taller version of Bill Gates would be dead amidst a pile of crack-peddlers and gangsters prompts Mulder and Scully to investigate. Mulder finds Gelman's juiced-up laptop and detains it for questioning.

Since this is a computer issue Mulder and Scully stop by the Lone Gunmen's lair for help. As always, they manage to decipher this cryptic piece of hardware, and somehow Mulder determines that a number listed in an email to the dead-Gelman is a cataloguing number used on a shipping container. Mulder and Scully drive to the docks where the come across a rocking container. Busting in, they're met by the female Marilyn Manson, who greets both agents with a high-powered stun gun. But her escape is foiled when Scully hits her with an impressive open-field tackle. Meanwhile, a Department of Defense (DOD) satellite zooms in on the shipping container and promptly fires a rocket straight into the goth-chick's hard-drive. Mulder, Scully and the pasty girl escape and retreat to the Lone Gunmen's hangout.

The Gunmen know exactly who this girl is -- she's Invisigoth (aka "Esther"); a hacker extraordinaire. Slowly Mulder and Scully learn that Esther was involved in an artificial intelligence project that spawned a living life form; but this life form resides on the Internet and now it's hunting it's creators. Since it already picked off Gelman, that means it's now gunning for Esther and her cyber-lover David Markham. The only way to stop the beast is to physically drop the Kill Switch (the CD-Rom Mulder found on Gelman) into its sadistic little hard drive.

Because the being requires massive bandwidth, it could only be feeding itself through a T3 internet connection.Mulder searches the backwoods of Fairfax, Virginia and stumbles upon a dilapidated double-wide that just happens to have a T3 hookup. When he approaches he's met with blaring horns and spotlights, but Mulder uses his spidey-sense and finds a way into the RV through the floor. Inside he finds David Markham, or what used be David Markham. Turns out the former computer-genius has taken the idea of "uploading" to a whole new level; he's transferred his mind into the mainframe and now he's riding electrons. Mulder stares at the withered face, takes a few steps back and is engulfed by a net of wires and circuitry.

We then watch as paramedics tend to Mulder, who has seemingly suffered severe burns on his wrists. At a wacked-out hospital a doctor, who looks like a cast-member from "Marathon Man," tends to Mulder's wounds with a radial saw, while buxom nurses hold the squirmy federal agent to the bed. Mulder awakens to find nubs where his arms used to be, but Scully busts down the door to save him. In one of the greatest scenes in the history of the series, Scully delivers a series of side-chops and round-house kicks to the busty-nurses. But when she threatens Mulder he musters the strength to propel her across the room with his still-intact legs. Scully, and the rest of the room, morph into 3D wire frames and we see that the whole thing is a product of virtual reality.

Back in reality, Scully and Goth Girl find their way to the double-wide and Scully squirms her way into the mainframe after disarming a robot with a few shots from her glock. They drop the Kill Switch on the artificial life form, and Scully drags Mulder from the trailer. Invisigoth decides she's going to join her lover in cyberspace, so she hacks into the mainframe and uploads her being to the nearest FTP site. The DOD satellite once again zeroes in and another space rocket blows a perfectly good RV into oblivion.

But Invisigoth seems to have successfully made the leap into a pixellated world, so the question remains: Is it live, or is it Memorex?

"Kill Switch" doesn't rank in the pantheon of great episodes, but it easily beats out last weeks' poor effort from Stephen King.

Note: This review originally appeared at Ontap.com. It's reprinted here for archival purposes.



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