The X-Files: 731 (Part 2/2)   Rewatch 
April 25, 2020 6:42 PM - Season 3, Episode 10 - Subscribe

Mulder explores a railway car used for secret experiments. Scully investigates the purpose and history of her alien implant.
posted by orange swan (3 comments total)
Hansen's/ leprosy is interesting. It's caused by a Mycobacterium, the same genus of bacteria as which causes tuberculosis. Mycobacterium in general is a really odd duck; it is extraordinarily slow growing (leprae even moreso than tuberculosis) and has a super tough cell wall with the help of mycolic acid. leprae's genome is even more odd than tuberculosis' and is missing a lot of genes. Culturing it in vitro is fruitless (it needs a lot of help - the missing a lot of genes thing); to grow it, you either have to use the footpads of living mice or the undersides of living armadillos (low body temp). TB, itself, is also a very odd; it recruits host white blood cells to it and it basically outlasts the cells. More and more WBCs gather and glom onto the TB microbe and dies and basically becomes armour against further attack. Sometimes, for some reason, that microbe will reactivate and burst out of it's armour and begin replicating more rapidly again.

Transmissibility of leprae is very low, symptom onset is very slow, and multi-drug antibiotic treatment takes a very very long time. I'm surprised that in 1995 that there could be so many people with such advanced symptoms being kept in "colonies" in a jurisdiction where such antibiotics are available.

The train conductor was so bad at acting, I couldn't tell if they were a plot point or just... inept? But good on them to trap the NSA agent in, in the end.

In the closer shots, Mulder's mid-90's leather jacket was quality. Amazing grain, very large panels. Thick but supple. Quality hardware and stitching, too. I'm wondering if it's a 'The Leather Ranch' (Vancouver local) or a 'Roots' (Canadian) or something nicer?*

I really feel for Pendrell (young science dude Scully consults who has a massive crush on her - although the actor's only 2 years younger than Anderson((; her pat on his wrist is devastating).

The "circular neuronal activity in the brain" is complete nonsense, though. It's ever so much more complicated than the next few sentences, but you'd want something to read every synaptic transmission (in the hypothalamus at the very least, being in the neck/ spine area is nonsense) but would also need to know the extraordinarily complex state of each neuron as it responds to the pattern of transmissions that it receives and sends, then coordinate the responses of all of the other neurons in the hypothalamus (at the very least).

A realistic response in 1995 would be "this shit if fucked up and I don't understand any of it" even if it could be conclusively determined that it was reading and storing brain activity (- what kind of brain activity?!) and that if it could manipulate (erase, write) memory, it would need very fine tuned methods of changing very specific parts of individual neuron's biochemistry.

Memory manipulation at this scale is not believable. Sure, there are (much much much cruder) methods of memory manipulation but those recruit other gross areas of the brain to make those changes, rather than making those changes at a cellular level.

Very refreshing that the "cabal" is showing Scully some respect.

Holy Cow! Scully's acceptance of the "official account."

Liked Mulder admitting that he's not the best shot ("and when I miss, I tend to miss low").

Nice comeuppance. X becomes much more interesting.

The translator reading right-left is valid.

As a mytharc, it's kind of a let down, but does fuel the paranoiac conspiracy theorist angle of a bait-and-switch with something plausible yet still monsterous.

Interesting that they are talking about people with Hansen's deformities without the disease (ie., actual Greys who look like humans with severe Hansen's).

Tangentially, the vaccine for TB is pretty conspiracy-theory-ey; it isn't commonly used on people who live in low TB areas, outside of high risk circumstances. Some jurisdictions use TB antibody reactivity to bar people from entering - because of how latent TB can be. Having antibodies against TB could mean one was vaccinating and never developed it, had it and cleared it, or equally that they have it and still haven't cleared it and remain infectuous (now or in the future). The vaccine (derived from M. bovis) isn't all that effective in the first place anyway.

*I have a rare-ly worn second hand one from TLR from the 80's that's absolutely lovely, but very 80s; a 3/4 trench I bought in '00 and wore daily and hard, and desperately needs a refresh and a re-line; a moto from Roots I got 6 months ago that broke-in wonderfully

*Holy F! Gillian Anderson is playing Margaret Thatcher in 'The Crown' ?!
posted by porpoise at 10:16 PM on April 25, 2020

If nothing else, I have to give The X-Files mytharc credit for coming back to "holy shit, we hired all these unethical fascist scientists after WWII?? REALLY???" for story ideas. Because, holy shit, we hired all these unethical fascist scientists after WWII.
posted by tobascodagama at 9:34 AM on April 26, 2020 [1 favorite]

I'm surprised that in 1995 that there could be so many people with such advanced symptoms being kept in "colonies" in a jurisdiction where such antibiotics are available.

I was wondering if it had been a case of the government deliberately withholding treatment from them, like the horrifying real life Tuskegee syphilis experiment, in which a large group of black men with syphilis was deliberately left untreated for 40 years in order to study the progression of the disease.

Liked Mulder admitting that he's not the best shot ("and when I miss, I tend to miss low").

I think he was just fucking with the Red-Haired Man, because Mulder seems to be a good shot. Have we ever seen him miss? Hit the wrong thing? Remember "Young at Heart", when Barnett had Scully's cellist friend hostage and Mulder took Barnett out without hurting the woman? Mulder certainly wouldn't have had problems hitting his target at that range.

When that truck burst through the gates of the leper colony, I thought, oh damn, that mass execution scene is in this episode. That was some Nazi-level atrocity shit. Those poor men. However, it's odd that there were any survivors. Surely the death squad would have been given a list of names, or at least a head count, and made sure they got all the patients.

Couldn't they get a bomb squad expert on the phone with Mulder in one hour and forty minutes?

Props to X for being able to carry Mulder without any apparent strain. It seems that with all his intrigue he finds some time to lift.

Scully: [patting Pendrell on the arm] Well done, Agent Pendrell. Keep up the good work.
Pendrell: Hey, thanks. Keep it up yourself.
[Scully looks bemused by this solecism, then takes her coat and leaves. He sighs.]
Pendrell: "Keep it up yourself." What a doof.

Poor Agent Pendrell, who is clearly so enamoured with Scully that he can't manage a non-awkward compliment. I wish I could assure him that things will get better for him, but they won't.
posted by orange swan at 11:54 AM on April 28, 2020 [1 favorite]

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