Thursday 10 September 2015 marked the 22nd anniversary of the premiere of a show that was going to change television forever. Yes, smarty pants, I’m referring to The X-Files. In celebration, I put back up my top ten posts from The X-Files Facebook Project, and found it à propos to post Apt. 42 Revisited’s review of the first season’s finale, which marked in many ways the beginning the new, darker X-Files.
Apt 42 Revisited’s review of season 1, episode 24: ‘The Erlenmeyer Flask’
“Don’t give up on this one. Trust me. You’ve never been closer.” – Deep Throat
“Closer to what?” – Fox Mulder
After we glimpse a car chase that would later be shown on World’s Wildest Police Videos with Sheriff John Bunnell, our heroes get entangled in their most dangerous case yet…
Max: With a cold open of a high speed pursuit, you can feel that things are coming to a head in this episode. “The Erlenmeyer Flask,” our first season finale, does not disappoint and sets things in motion that will ripple throughout the entire series. I’ve spoken before of how the The X-Files‘ mythology starts out as a series of disparate puzzle pieces. In this episode, we don’t get to put any of those pieces together. But more importantly, we are provided the frame onto which we will be able to begin to attach these pieces.
The man on the run is one Dr. William Secare, who has a longtime friend and colleague named Dr. Terrance Berube. Prompted by Deep Throat to investigate the chase after it appears on the nightly news, Mulder and Scully find a hostile and terse Dr. Berube (a member of the then-new Human Genome Project, which just began in 1990 and completed in 2003). Berube is later confronted by a man in black with a crew cut, and killed, his demise made to look like a suicide. At the crime scene, Mulder finds a titular Erlenmeyer flask labeled “PURITY CONTROL” and asks Scully to have it analyzed. What she discovers with a Georgetown scientist is startling: a bacterium with an additional base pair found nowhere in nature, something wholly extraterrestrial.
Deep Throat eventually tells the agents about Dr. Berube’s research, which involved experimenting with extraterrestrial viruses in human hosts. This becomes the viewers’ introduction to the world of alien-human hybrids, and we learn that Dr. Secare happens to be one. Mulder eventually finds Secare, right before he’s killed by the aforementioned Crew Cut Man. Toxins from Secare’s now-green blood cause Mulder to pass out and get captured.
To save Mulder, Deep Throat has Scully access a high containment facility in Maryland, from where she will remove what will become her bargaining chip, an original alien fetus. The whole sequence of her passing through multiple security checkpoints, leading up to this reveal is momentous and well-executed. With the “PURITY CONTROL” sample and this fetus, we see her coming face to face with the first truly concrete evidence of what Mulder has been proclaiming ever since the pilot. These recent events are reshaping her world, like she says to Mulder: “And what I saw last night… for the first time in my life, I don’t know what to believe.”
Read the rest of the review here.