"Travelers" just didn't do it for me. The characters weren't all the
interesting, the plot line was a bit too Red Scare for me and that spider
alien deal looked a little too much like the facehuggers from the "Alien"
Before I get to the synopsis, I've got an open question -- does anyone
actually care about Mulder's Dad? Over the last five years we've learned
that he was in the State Department, knew Cancer Man and most likely had
some funky alien-human hybrid project at his disposal. Oh yeah, he's dead
too. But does anyone really want to know more about this guy?
Okay, time for the review:
It's 1990 and some old guy is about to be evicted from his dilapidated
home. A sheriff and the landlord stop by the really nasty residence of
Edward Skur, where they find a leathery remnant of a corpse. The wimpy
landlord streaks from the house, arms flailing about, but the sheriff takes
a closer look and decides this is all a little too weird. Before he can
turn to leave ol' Eddie Skur jumps out, but the sheriff is a quick draw and
pops a couple caps in the foul-smelling old guy. Eddie's dying word (said
with much drama and a whole lotta mouth froth) is "Mulder."
Back in D.C. Fox Mulder, then a profiler in the violent crimes division,
knocks on the door of former FBI agent Arthur Dales. Mulder is clutching a
forty-year-old file that has something to do with Edward Skur.
Unfortunately, he can't gleen too much from the contents because they've
been blackened-out. Mulder hopes the former agent on the case, Art, can give
him a little background on this rank old guy and his dying word.
But Art (played by Darren McGavin) isn't too keen in dredging up the
alien-infested past of Eddie Skur and turns the young profiler away. Since
it's 1990 and Mulder isn't possessed by "The Truth" he walks away. But
Mulder is Mulder so he comes back the next morning and pleads with Art to
spill the beans. Art agrees and we go into full flashback mode (complete
with antique cars and fedoras).
The scene shifts to 1952 -- Arty and his partner are FBI agents on the
lookout for scheming communists. They're directed to bring in a State
Department employee named Edward Skur -- a suspected communist. Edward is
arrested for being a commie but he commits suicide in his cell -- causing
Art to feel real guilty about all this, especially since he knows Edward
was framed. He takes it upon himself to tell Edward's family about his
death, but he only makes it as far as the front curb. There he waits, and
he drinks, and waits, then drinks some more. When he's good and liquored up
he sees a man walk across the Skur's front lawn, which in itself isn't all
that interesting, but since it's Skur doing the walking Art takes notice.
Art barks Skur's name, causing the previously dead non-communist to bolt.
Art pursues but Skur blindsides him, pins him down and begins to let some
really big spider-alien-sucker thing crawl from his mouth. Before the alien
arachnid can do its tissue removal, a neighbor calls out and Skur scampers
away, leaving Art to wonder why he drank so much.
So now Art's got a predicament: Everyone believes Skur is dead, especially
since the feds have pictures, but Art knows the bandit is alive. What to
do, what to do. Art files a report, which garners the attention of the
justice department and its head commie-hunter lawyer. Art is reprimanded
and given a stern lecture about the evils of communism, which leaves him
wondering what the hell this has to do with the alien spider thing.
Fortunately, another tissue-less body turns up and Art finds a coaster at
the crime scene telling him to "come alone." Usually this might be
perceived as some funky sex thing, but this is the X-Files and sex doesn't
Good thing too because the person summoning Art is Mulder's Dad. The
shifty-eyed and all-around butt ugly Bill Mulder tells Art that Skur was
actually one of three State Department employees involved in an alien-human
xenotransplantation (good SAT word). The other two men are now dead, but
Skur is out for revenge and unfortunately he thinks Art and his partner are
part of the conspiracy to get him. Art tries to get in touch with his
partner (who looked a lot like the big desk clerk from ER), but Skur gets
him with that spider and Art's partner dies a nasty death.
So Art's angry, confused and hurting for some information -- who do you
turn to in these situations? That's right -- the coroner. During an autopsy
of one of the dead State Department xenotransplantees Art discovers that
the spider alien was surgically inserted into the patient. Art then travels
back to the Skur household where he appeals to Mrs. Skur to let him see her
husband so he can help him. Mrs. Skur feigns innocence, but the minute Art
leaves she runs to the family bomb shelter to tell her fugitive husband
that help is coming. Too bad for her she catches Eddie during a
particularly nasty spider-alien-dry-heave. Skur gets mad and kills the poor
Meanwhile, Art is hauled into the office of the Big J. (J. Edgar Hoover)
where he gets another very stern lecture on the evils of communism (which
is pretty funny coming from a transvestite). The Director tells him he has
one chance to prove his patriotism or it's Red Scare time for Arty.
Enter Bill Mulder and his fedora-wearing cronies. They arrange an
after-hours meeting with Skur at a local bar, where Art is supposed to
bring the guy in. Too bad the real plan is to let Skur drop the spider on
Art. But during the expected fight scene, Art manages to slap his handcuffs
on the alien implant killer and the murder is foiled. Bill Mulder enters
looking quite disturbed and Art gives him a good long stare.
Finally we come back to 1990 where Mulder is busy brushing his hair aside
with his wedding-ring-wearing left hand. The old Art sums it all up by
saying he figured Skur had died a long time ago, or perhaps there was the
off-chance that someone with a conscience let him go in the hopes the truth
would eventually come out. During the final voice over, we see Bill Mulder
drive Skur out to an abandoned field and hand him the keys. Wow. That's
Note: This review originally appeared at Ontap.com. It's reprinted here for archival purposes.