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X-Files Episode Guide: Colony

A critical point
A critical point
Photo by Rob Kim/Getty Images

X-Files: Season 2, Episode 16

Rating:
Star4
Star
Star
Star
Star

Teleplay by Chris Carter; Story by David Duchovny & Chris Carter
Directed by Nick Marck

Depending on who you ask the mythology was either The X-Files signature or its Achilles heel.. By now, the universal conclusion is that it didn't work, but nobody in the community can agree exactly when, where or why. And as a result, in retrospect, the mythology episodes are the hardest ones to rank. Do we evaluate them as part of the overarching storyline of the series, or as single parts of a greater piece? Even now, nearly twenty years after the fact, it is difficult for any fan of the series--- myself included--- to speak with confidence.
This may not be the best introduction for Colony, the first in what would officially be considered the two-parters, but it does indicate the fundamental problem of the average critic. One gets the impression that, after almost an entire season where the aliens were either only spoken of or hallucinations, Carter seems to be trying to do way too much and all at once. It certainly seems to be a bit too much for Mulder and Scully at times, and you can almost be amazed at their own incredulity at times, which seems to be matching the viewing audience
For the first time, we finally see the aliens that will be at the center of the mythos for the next four years. The aliens have already demonstrated themselves to be tremendously strong and bleed green when they are shot or kill. But now we get the feeling that there happens to be a revolt between the aliens themselves. There appear to be the clones (the once, and then never seen again 'Gregors') who seem to be involved in the production of fetal tissue in order to clone themselves, and what will become known as the Alien Bounty Hunter, the only character in the entire mytharc who we know isn't human. This kind of alien (or aliens, we're never entirely sure that this Bounty Hunter is the only one) also bleeds green, but has greater strength, and the ability to morph his face into anybody else at all.
For half the episode, Mulder and Scully find themselves trying to chase down these Gregor clones before they are killed. How the Bounty Hunter seems to be finding them without being told is something that is never made clear: it's possible there's some kind of telepathy between the aliens going on, or the Conspiracy (who is notably absent in this two-parter) is telling them where to look. In any case, it doesn't seem to matter much this time --- the Gregors are slaughtered one right after the other, and the Bounty Hunter manages to walk among Mulder and Scully without either of them seeming to know it.. There are equal measures of futility and revelation in these episodes--- we seem to be getting all this new information, but as will frustratingly be the case for much of the series, we have no idea how much of this we can trust.
There's so much new information in this episode that the mind boggles at time, which is why perhaps the most critical information actually comes on the personal side. Halfway through the episode, Mulder receives a phone call from his father, and we learn for the first time--- perhaps not surprisingly--- we see how badly shattered the Mulder family was shattered . Fox clearly has no comfortable relationship with his father, and his mother he treats with more fragility than she needs (or, as we will find out in future episodes, deserves) but all of that pales when we find who they've come to meet with--- Samantha. There are those who say that Mulder should have let a little more skepticism in his approach, but how would you react if your sister, missing since she was abducted at the age of 8, reappeared in your home, with a story that seemed to answer all the questions that have been plaguing you for all of your life? Mulder may want to proof aliens are real, but he wants his sister back, and Duchovny's performance features more emotion than we've seen in awhile.
There is a glut of information on display, and having even the illusion of answers is more satisfying than you'd expect, even though none of this explains how this leads to the teaser, where Mulder ends up in the Arctic in a state of hypothermia. And you do get the kind of signs that the series is a bit more archaic than usual (How much of this episode could've been avoided if they'd just answered their cell phones?) But I do give the series credit--- it is trying for the first time to tie up the mythology into a big heap. It may not be possible to succeed--- I am of the opinion that at this point, it still was--- but we should give Carter a certain amount of credit for at least trying. It is certainly absent of the loud pontification--- even the narrative at the beginning seemed a little less pompous than we'll be used to getting, and for trying to focus more on action rather than talk is a step in the right direction--- for now.
My score: 3.75 Stars