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Travelers

"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" movies.

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 figure in.

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 woman.

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 drama.

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



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