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Patient X

Instead of trying to fully explain this week's episode (a task on par with untying the Gordian Knot), I'm going to wait for next week's conclusion before examining the detailed plot of this very juicy two-episode conspiracy arc. So now that I've got a little breathing room, I figured this would be a good time to help less-obsessed x-files fans understand just what's going on. Hopefully this little synopsis of characters and places will fill in the gaps and allow you to enjoy next weeks's conclusion for all the glory it will likely convey.

Here's a couple things seen in "Patient X" that relate directly to past events:

  • The Chip: Scully, along with all those now-burned-to-death alien abductees, has a subcutaneous chip planted at the base of her neck. The chip appeared after her abduction, and throughout the seasons she has come in contact with other abductees who also have a collection of very expensive homing devices. Ironically, removal of the chip leads to death; Scully's cancer was attributed to the extraction of her chip, and when it was reinserted, her previously grave cancer went into full remission (this prompted the biggest smile Mulder has ever delivered). It now seems that the chip is causing great distress again for those in possesion of the Pentium III are now awakened by a tingle, hear wind chimes (at least Scully did) and find themselves drawn to remote, wilderness outposts where they are promptly burned by eyeless alien assassins. I think I'll pass on the subcutaneous addition.

  • Skyland Mountain, Virginia: Had Gillian Anderson not become pregnant at the end of season one, the intricacies of the mythology may have never been developed to the extent we're witnessing. To incorporate her pregnancy, the writers created her abduction through the tremendous three-episode arc of "Duane Barry," "Ascension" and "One Breath" ("One Breath" is my favorite episode ever). Scully's abduction occurred at Skyland Mountain, which makes the revisiting of the site, seen in this episode, particularly interesting.

  • Duane Barry: A former FBI agent who was abducted one too many times, Duane Barry is the reason for most of Scully's problems over the last season and a half. In the course of two episodes ("Duane Barry" and "Ascension") this guy managed to take hostages at a travel agency in Richmond, Virginia, break out of a mental hospital, kidnap Scully and then promptly die under very suspicious circumstances. He used Scully as a decoy -- the aliens took her instead of him. Apparently, Mulder made headlines for his work on the case as Casandra -- Patient X -- said she originally found the strength to confront her own abductions after hearing about the Dwayne Barry situation. On a sidenote: the next time a former law-enforcement officer comes up to you, sweating and spouting about himself in the third person, make sure you run far, far away less you want a subcutaneous chip at the nape of your neck.

  • Dr. Max Verber: That guy you saw who at first glance looks like Cancer Man is actually far more important in Mulder's life (well, sorta). The story goes that five years ago, Mulder subjected himself to deep hypnosis therapy under the supervision of Dr. Verber. The treatment was a way for Mulder to understand the disappearance of his sister, Samantha, and the ultimate result was Mulder's fervent belief that his sister was abducted by aliens. Along with this belief came his dedication to the X-files. Apparently, the realizations he faced at the beginning of this season in "Redux"/"Redux II" have caused him to do a 180. His fervent beliefs now focus on the conspiracy, not the existence of extraterrestrials (and it appears he'll soon have to reevaluate once again).

  • Black Oil (aka "Black Cancer"): In the middle of last season Mulder and Scully intercepted a funky rock that contained a new form of alien life -- a gooey black oil. This little bugger seeps below the skin, creeps into the eyeballs and causes its host to lapse into a coma. In the depths of the former Soviet Union, Mulder, accompanied by Rat Boy (Alex Krycek), stumbles upon a fishy Russian gulag where scientists just happen to be experimenting with the Black Oil ("Tunguska"). They're in search of an antidote, and lucky for Mulder, they seem to have found something that works well enough to keep an American FBI agent alive. It's through this whole Black Oil mess we learn of the Soviet/Russian/Whatever they are now equivalent to the Syndicate. Turns out the conspiracy is national, not worldwide, and once again the U.S. and the Soviets are at odds.

  • Alex Krycek: Krycek has made a career of being a smarmy guy who continually gets the crap kicked out of him by Mulder. Krycek originally worked for the Syndicate, but after botching an assassination attempt on Scully (her sister Melissa was killed by mistake) the Syndicate unsuccessfully tried to off this little bastard. But like all rodents, he found a way to live. Krycek may have also been responsible for the murder of Mulder's dad -- which makes Mulder's repeated beatings acceptable. Rat Boy now sports a prosthetic arm thanks to a little incident in the depths of a Siberian forest.

    And finally, we come to that angry little UN assistant herself...

  • Marita Covarrubias (where do they get these names?): Marita, aka UNBlonde, follows in a very dead tradition of Mulder informants. The torch began with Deep Throat, but he died, then it went to X, and he died, now Marita has it, but who knows what she's up to. Based on her alliance with the Syndicate, her shmecking with Krycek (what was up with that?) and the apparent orchestration of a double-cross against the conspiracy, it appears a lot has been left in the dark regarding the bottle-blonde lady with the lisp.

    So there's a refresher on who's involved and what they're doing. This appears to be one of the most complicated storylines in series history, so if you're lost, don't be afraid to speak up -- I'll be happy to try to fit the pieces together for you. But then again, it could all change next week with "The Red and the Black"

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

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