The X-Files - S01E04 - "Conduit"
He said it! He said "I want to believe!"
Original air date: October 1, 1993
I think it’s cool that as viewers, we’re starting to notice the paranormal signs around us because Mulder’s bled into us a bit. The stuff like the oven mitt, the light, the heat — we do the Leonardo DiCaprio point and go “HEY we’ve seen that before!”
Gotta give props to Carrie Snodgress for looking absolutely destroyed in this scene; we’ll see more why, but I always notice when actors can make parents look completely dismantled by something happening to their children.
Every time we open an episode with bureaucracy I feel very uneasy.
I’m just realizing how unhinged Scully looks in this screencap. First real look at Samantha Mulder, and well, again, we feel like Scully’s loyalties are being tested. We actually see her stand up for Mulder in that kind of “I know he’s kind of crazy, but…”
That “but…” is how you wear em’ down. And it’s cool to see Scully slowwwwwly starting to believe. The “he must have more evidence” wants Mulder to not be wasting higher-ups’ time.
A bit more standoffish Mulder here; he’s not giving Scully the opportunity to be wrong, or dissuade him. “This is a disagreement, but I’m not entertaining the possibility I’m wrong.”
You just keep… hittin’ those witty lines, writers!
Every time Mulder invades Scully’s personal space I’m looking at her expressions and mannerisms. Duchovny probably had a lot of fun saying “Okobogee.”
We’ve established a link, and I kind of like how Mulder sets Scully up to make it click for herself. So, we’re off to Iowa, land of Slipknot and… that’s all I know about Iowa.
“… just like the look you’ve got right now.”
I like this episode so far because Mulder’s portrayed in a much more sympathetic-to-the-boy light, and we kind of get to shift gears between him doing the mystery procedural work while also trying to detangle his own, personal ball of yarn. I feel for the mother, too, because it’s clear that she’s just tired in the same way that the wife from Episode 2 is.
I think these episodes are really similar in their premises and setups; the “arrive at the house with the skeptical wife/parent” thing repeats.
There’s some stuff to gloss over for me in this episode because I don’t find the mystery element particularly compelling. I’m also coming off watching the first two seasons of Twin Peaks, and at this point I don’t have the attachment to the characters like I do Agent Cooper.
The classic “it was the jilted lover” kinda just phases through me.
No, it’s Donald Gibb.I wonder if the audience picked up on the SS logo on one of the bikers outside before this 🤔.
This scene feels weird because I expected some kind of fight to break out; a biker bartender is suprisingly willing to help out the feds, and his buddies don’t seem to care that he is, either. But that’s not what we’re here for.
I like this prosthetic because it’s not just a burn; it honestly looks like there’s some kind of alien embryo in there. I also like how Mulder provokes him by being a non-believer; I really would’ve liked to see some kind of comedy shot of them nerding out, though.
Love Scully’s expression here, because it’s a process of becoming increasingly more exasparated/disgusted.
Also, we’re robbed of “Scully with a gun” part three. She looks comfy as hell though.
It’s David Duchovny’s turn for eye candy, this time, though.
Great hair, Fox.
Also, again, this is Scully having faith in the system, or at least taking the involvement of competing agents/agencies at face value. We’re still in the realm of trusting the FBI as “the good guys”, and every time a new three-letter agency glows their way onto the screen, that should lessen a little.
Again, actors portraying parents being destroyed at what’s happening to their kids, in turn, destroys me. Also, this is another parallel of S01E02, where the agents want to do what they feel is right, then end up affecting the lives of the people they’re trying to help. This jades those people; the mother notices the agents standing there and make the connection — “this is what I get for speaking up.”
Mulder handling the piggy bank with care was a nice touch; part of why he’s attached to this case is that he wants the boy to not have to deal with the same guilt, loss of innocence, and issues he went through. He’s chastising the whole system, here: they’ve shattered a family further who were just trying to exist.
Cool to see this role not just being another white guy in an office.
It’s 1993. Explaining binary to the audience probably needed to happen.
This is somber, especially after the mother reject’s Mulder’s further help. Scully’s trying to dissuade him to protect him, just as much as she’s being a sceptic. She can tell this case is extremely personal for Mulder, even from the opening, and it’s starting to weigh on her because it’s starting to weigh on him. She offers a really weak excuse:
CHEF’S KISS. She knows she doesn’t even believe it. “Okay. Maybe that was a bit weak.”
I wonder if they’re trying to annoy us. That would make sense, considering what happens next.
Oh hi pack of white wolves.
Feasting on a corpse.
(This was fun, to hunt for the one frame that the muzzle flash was visible.)
I’m not sure if they really explain why those wolves are white? Stress response? Related to the heat? The aliens? Symbolism?
(It’s obviously not about disturbing a crime scene). Also, not sure if it’s intentional, but Ms. Scully is lookin’ pretty intently at Mr. Mulder’s lips, here.
The “I need to know” is just delivered so painfully because we can sense his pain. The “Are you okay?” “I’m fine.” in the next scene builds the wall back up again. It was momentarily dropped for Scully, but we’re wearing it down more as the audience.
I also like how Mulder puts on gloves to examine the wallet, mostly because of Scully’s prior concern.
Oh hey, procedure!
Again, I’m kinda zoned out from the whole love triangle murder mystery. But what happens next is kinda sweet.
You can tell how in pain Scully is, and it really ties the episode together.
She tried to skeptic her way out
She tried to broach this topic by alluding to it, saving Mulder’s dignity
She tried to be more direct, but still subtle (about “the crime scene”)
Now she needs to be blunt, and she also needs to inject how she feels, as well; she’s known Mulder for a brief time, but she can see how the pain is tearing at him, and there’s this almost… “Do it for me.” sentiment here.
“Come with me, or don’t come with me, but until they find a body, I’m not giving up on that girl.”
This very much echoes the:
“Do it or don’t, but I’m doing this regardless.” This also closes Mulder back up and re-tangles the altruism for Kevin and Mulder’s personal feelings.
No lie, that’s kind of… lame. Or at least cheap looking. Like the aliens… digitized a photo of her? And that’s what they’re using for the binary code?
I wonder if Mulder’s ever opened up like this to someone else before. But we’re getting key context that’s going to follow us for the rest of the season. We need that nuance, because it’s easy for Mulder to just be a mad scientist that drags us into premise after premise: the obsession is based on hurt, and solving the hurt happens to help other people, justifying it to Mulder.
Very creepy. And a weird subversion with the bikers showing up. Ruby’s back, somewhat… anticlimactically?
Again, as if we need more evidence that Mulder’s read every single case that could potentially lead to clues about abductions, how to identify them, and how to prove that an abduction has taken place. His method of getting this info is pretty interesting too, since astonauts’ health issues probably don’t raise any red flags.
Again, this is like episode 2, but without the army/conspiracy covering it up. This time, it’s a parent that’s just lost faith in anyone around her, from both her own experiences and from the ones that’ve affected her children.
To her, any attempt to contribute to an outer cause is only going to get them more hurt. I can understand the perspective, and it speaks to the scale of what the Agents are dealing with. To a small family of three in Iowa, things out of their control have just led to pain. “Leave us alone” seems like an adequate response.
“It’s important that you let her [tell her story].”
That “what’s important to who, and how much?” is the running throughline of the episode, and this seems there just to make sure “Hey, you get it? Mulder’s obsession affects other people.”
The pause after “Important to who?” is Mulder screaming, internally, “ME.”
“All my life I have been ridiculed, for speaking my mind.”
Fox is probably used to this, but we aren’t. Trying to force the common folk to make the sacrifices that Mulder is so zealous to make himself is just… part of the problem. It’s part of the inertia that allows these kind of situations to take place (obviously without the paranormal involved).
But how do you ask someone to keep inviting that pain, especially when they might never see the benefit?
That’s the line of the episode, to be honest. It’s as applicable to Mulder as it is to this family.
Mulder mentioned his hypnotic regression therapy earlier in a previous episode, and I think it’s cool we actually get to hear it.
It also signals something that Scully’s been building to: she’s learning more about Mulder (even only to write her report) and getting more sucked in and invested at the same time. She gets to hear Mulder’s experience, and his feeling of helplessness.
In the end, we learn that Mulder’s voice in his head is telling him to “not be afraid” and trust that Samantha will return and not be harmed. We can see that that fearlessness and trust is part of Mulder today, but I found this scene in the church pretty interesting, considering Mulder hasn’t been particularly religious.
Not sure how I feel about Duchovny’s crying, but we at least get the kicker “I want to believe” quote to end a very solid episode.
Who plays my favourite side character from Bloodsport, and apparently also did some gaming voiceovers (for Rage and Mafia II). Cool!