The X-Files: Gender Bender   Rewatch 
March 10, 2020 9:01 PM - Season 1, Episode 14 - Subscribe

A string of deaths of those who have just had sex with a gender changing stranger lead Mulder and Scully to Massachusetts, where they investigate a reclusive Amish-like sect known as the Kindred.
posted by orange swan (6 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
This episode has not aged well.
posted by potrzebie at 10:45 PM on March 10, 2020 [1 favorite]

posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 6:18 AM on March 11, 2020

This episode has not aged well.


But, hey, we got a cameo from Nicholas Lea! So there's that.
posted by tobascodagama at 9:09 AM on March 11, 2020 [2 favorites]

This episode has aged poorly in that, while Marty's activities are definitely seen as a crime, the crime is generally considered to be murder rather than rape and murder. Even when Mulder finds Scully underneath Brother Andrew and gets her out of the room, he seems to look upon it as having saved her from dying rather than being raped -- as he puts it, "You were about to do the wild thing." That would be because she was physically unable to resist Brother Andrew's advances, although to be fair perhaps Mulder didn't quite understand that at that point.

Michael, meanwhile, seems to have been so much affected by his interrupted encounter with Marty that he later changes his name to Alex Krycek and joins the FBI. I mean, this Kindred sex shit is seriously scarring.

I'd say they really overegged the pudding in this episode. We have a Luddite Christian sect that has lived in the same region for 60 years, but no one has noticed that they are still exactly same individuals who aren't reproducing and aren't taking in any converts. They can change genders at will, are incredibly strong, can transport themselves in a way that involves appearing and then vanishing into thin air in an instant, and they perform rituals with some sort of magical clay. Oh, and they're aliens who are preparing to take off in their spaceship any day, but they're not in any way related to any of the other aliens in The X-Files mythology. (Well, it is a big universe, I suppose, and the aliens don't all know each other any more than I know your friend Karen who lives in Toronto.) There are elements of this story that are really intriguing, but taken all together it's simply too much and doesn't make much sense.
posted by orange swan at 6:12 PM on March 11, 2020 [4 favorites]

While a pheromone-based last-victim physical mimicry cryptid could be interesting, this did a really poor job of it.

The "pheromones with human DNA" is complete bs, it's DNA that would code for the enzymes that would produce the pheromones.

It's 1993, so I forgive Scully for thinking that pheromones are purely an "animal" thing, but the human data is still really weak - but intriguing. The difficulty is controls; there almost certainly isn't one "universal" pheromone mix that works on everyone like "type O" universally donateable blood.

Might have been early 2000s, I was on a bus and there was some teen boy was looking super uncomfortable - and smelled strongly of goat. Something clicked, and as I was getting off the bus, I caught his eye and quietly asked, "Pheromones?" - he turned bright red, and did a small sad nod.

It's also 1993 so figuring out there's human DNA associated with the "pheromone" (that isn't a contaminant that came from the deceased) would be nigh impossible to determine in 1993, not without months of work with a big enough specimen. Maybe years. People were sequencing with 4 lane slab polyacrylamide with silver staining back then.

Later on, X Files starts getting a bit better with bench science. Notably the one where Scully does a Southern blot on a deadline (to submit evidence) where she just might have been able to do it if that's something she did every other day, and did it in her own lab and knew where everything was.

But the way she did it might not actually have bern admissible as evidence (chain of custody, validated and verified SOPs, QC-ed reagent lots, etc.).
posted by porpoise at 8:39 PM on March 24, 2020

Ok, the gross part is really gross. But they underexplored whether Marty preferred one (alien-to-them?) gender or whether Marty was indifferent.

Pheromones (mixes) are likely sex specific, in addition to potentially acting as a display of one's MHC for a partner to decide if it'll be a good recombination for their offspring.

Strange seeing Nicholas Lea (to be Krycek) in an unrelated extras role.
posted by porpoise at 9:50 PM on March 24, 2020

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