The X-Files: Redux (Part 2/3)   Rewatch 
June 3, 2020 7:30 PM - Season 5, Episode 1 - Subscribe

Scully helps Mulder to fake his own death in an effort to discover which members of the FBI they can trust, while the agents individually search for an answer to Scully's cancer.
posted by orange swan (9 comments total)
Was this the one where there's a mysterious organization called "Roush" that Skinner finds is somehow involved in everything?

At the time it originally aired, I remember the camera showing Skinner writing down "" in big letters, and because of that lots of fans scrambled to their computers as soon as the episode was over to find that web site.

And by an extreme fluke, they found that Roush was an internal brand name for an esoteric side project of the Pillsbury company, and this project had its own web site - so these fans were all completely baffled to pull up the web site for and find that waiting for them on the page was a drawing of the Pillsbury Dough Boy.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:50 PM on June 3 [3 favorites]

I don't remember that, but then I've never been the kind of person to randomly type in web addresses from TV shows and hope something comes up. (Or, worse, call phone numbers in TV shows.) That's very funny, though.
posted by tobascodagama at 8:09 AM on June 4

Apologies, the Roush thing was the next episode, Redux II. But I found confirmation of the incident and a funny added detail from a fan site:
-- The name Roush is probably a reference to TV Guide writer Matt Roush, who wrote many, many favorable articles on the X-Files. It is also interesting to note that "Rouche" is German for "revenge" and "Rauch" is German for "smoke".
-- When this episode first aired, many X-Philes attempted to go to in an attempt to see if this would shed any light on where Carter got the name "Roush." The address took folks to the Pillsbury Home page. A few days later, Pillsbury replaced their original front page with a new one -- one with an X-Files-ish font that read "Believe the Pie" (a take off on the X-Files tagline "Believe the Lie")! A few days later, the page returned to its original format.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:58 AM on June 4 [3 favorites]

First broadcast date was Nov 2, 1997. I saw this in the first half of my undergrad, and remember that this was a pretty big event in my dorms/ new friendsgroups.

Let the truth be known though the heavens fall. The web of lies entangling us can now be connected back to the very institution which brought us together. The facts supported by a byzantine plot executed by someone inside the FBI who, if named, could be tied to the hoax meant to destroy me and to the terminal disease inflicted on Scully.

In four years, I have shared my partner's passionate search for the truth. And if my part has been a deception, I have never seen her integrity waver or her honor compromised. But now I ask her to lie... to the people lying to us - a dangerous lie to find the truth, to find the men who would be revealed as its enemy, as our enemy, as the enemy within.

Huh. There really is a school called 'American University,' in DC. And it's super prestigious. Had no idea.

I think the real X Files for this episode is the 'antiquated filing system'/ recordkeeping allegedly kept on all those index cards.

A bit unbelievable that Mulder's able to find exactly what he needed just by wandering around. Also deus ex cigarette.

Neat seeing Season 1 Scully hair compared to Season 5 Scully hair.
posted by porpoise at 1:44 PM on June 6

The need for fetal bovine serum for the cells to culture is a thing. FBS has tons of easy to use proteins and has a whole bunch of growth factors both protein- and steroid- based. It isn't fully defined and making synthetic is cost prohibitive, and is a major barrier to fully "vegan" "vat grown meat."

So the electron microscope work pays off, they detected virus-like structures - so criticism from the last episode withdrawn.

So the problem with the Southern blot is that there probably not enough material to probe. I guess they could extract DNA from the cultures, but that's a destructive process. That's also assuming that the virus keeps replicating in the ... embryos.

She wants to see if there are any nucleic acid sequences in common between the embryos/ virus and herself. The problem here is, they don't know what the sequence is to make a probe against. I can't see a good way of labelling Scully's DNA to use as the probe that would result in what's shown on the radiograph in the end. This assumes that the virus is a retrovirus and integrated into at least her haematopoietic cells or a significant proportion of her extant white blood cells (to show up in the WBCs from the blood draw, as the source of her DNA).

Timeline-wise, she starts after 2pm with a blood draw and needs to have the results by 7.

Again, I like that the scientist tells Scully that that's not going to happen. Then he spoils it by mentioning 'blazing hot probe' which wouldn't help much. Some, but if you hope that your probe is hot, you'd want to run different dilutions in parallel in case it's too hot and you ruin the experiment and have to do it again. Which Scully doesn't remotely do.

The 15mL falcon that she spins down; that probably a DNA extraction with trizol rather than a vial of blood. At least a half hour including the precipitation step to get to the subsequent thing she does, which is old school even for the time, and that's definitely not enough DNA in that blood draw for this. Typically you'd get a tiny spec of condensed DNA at the bottom of the tube, that you'd wash (much more gently) and then dry and resuspend, not pick up with a spreader (for use in streaking bacterial/ fungal culture plates) and stick directly into another eppendorf with resuspension solvent (water, basically, and not that much). For the amounts involved, you'd precipitate, wash, and resuspend in a single eppendorf tube. The half hour is assuming using an eppendorf which can support higher centrifugal gravities that decrease the time it takes to precipitate DNA.

The blue stuff in the clear jello looking stuff - that's probably an agarose gel electrophoresis. Depending on resolution required, could go either way with agar or acrylamide. Agarose is much lower resolution. Electricity pulls the DNA through the gel, smaller bits move faster than larger bits.

There are a number of missing steps before this - likely restriction digestions (takes at least an hour, especially back then - not to mention setup time). That's a very PlayMobile gel pour and unsophisticated experimental design, though, but in a really fancy rig. Not enough lanes and... no marker lanes? Something that big, it'll take at least an hour to run, and to run it that fast, you'll get smeary bands.

But stuff can be done during these wait times such as preparing the probe. Probably a labeled random primer amplification of Scully's DNA. It's a PCR procedure and could take hours (back then), plus setup and reaction cleanup time.

At we're at 4:30 at the earliest, lets say 5pm.

Scully rolling up that sheet of paper (some kind of membrane) is after transferring the DNA on the gel to the membrane she's rolling up. Traditionally, this is an overnighter, but ultra fast transfers are not impossible. Makes for unreliable results and lower sensitivity.

The roll gets put into a hybridization bottle, and the labeled probe is added. It gets agitated for a while to the probe to stick to something. Then there are the washes afterwards. This takes hours. Longer than the less than 2 Scully has for the results she gets.

The radiograph suggests radiolabeled probe. No problem. That there are only two bands is extraordinary. If one of the lanes is control DNA, it would be one huge smear, not a single band if Scully's DNA was used as a probe prepared by the above method and one of the lanes was Scully's DNA as a control. Again, this is a crap gel - no markers, bands are too nice, and an unbelievable lack of background.

So, extremely improbable but not strictly impossible. But it's been a while since I was doing that stuff - 20 years ago - but the most likely results from such a condensation of procedures is ... no result.

Claiming "proof undeniable" is a bit bold.

Not entirely sure what the Lone Gunmen had, but it measures mass in log-scale and all masses simultaneously. Not familiar with anything that does so, but I'm pretty certain deionized water wouldn't read out that way on any machine? I'd probably start with spectrography to figure out what the solvent is, possible tell if there's something(s) dissolved in it, then mass spec and/ or HPLC as appropriate.

posted by porpoise at 2:05 PM on June 6 [1 favorite]

A few things;

1) Roche is a Swiss multinational that makes pharmaceuticals and develops diagnostic tests of all kinds.

Current market cap is just shy of $300B (who's stock took a 20-25% nosedive in mid March of this year, but started recovering in April and is on trajectory to pass all-time highs).

Their stock started taking off BIG in the mid '90s, tanked in 2000, recovered in mid 00's, tanked in late 00s, rapidly recovering in the 10's and stayed steady, dipped in 2018, and is taking off again as fast as in the mid '90s.

2) The growth factors in BSA - that's strictly mammalian growth factors. Plants need their own kinds. Who knows with "chimera" cells - especially extraterrestrial ones. Only mention because it was implied that the science guy couldn't see cell growth/ division without adding it.

Come to think of it, the microscope shots of something growing - that reminds me a lot of zooplankton (and could very well be video of a zooplankton); did a second-year undergrad research project collecting and identifying them from different ponds with and without algae blooms.

Zooplankton aren't that far from phytoplankton that relies on photosynthesis. Zookplankton feed on phytoplankton - so it's not uncommon to see phytoplankton inside of a zooplankton.

BSA is not required to keep zooplanton alive/ induce multiplication.

Zooplanton (and phytoplanton) are ubiquitous. Hooke's popularized his magnifiers and microscopes back in the mid 1650s by letting people see plankton in drops of pond (and otherwise) water.

Zooplankton are eukaryote Kingdom Animalia but are anthropoda crustaceans.

3) Radiolabeled probe? Yeah, add in a bunch more time getting into the appropriate PPE; going to a dedicated radionuclide work area; cleaning, testing, (possibly re-cleaning), and logging that she didn't leave any radiation behind. It was/ is a PITA to work with them, hence the explosion of research into fluorescent dye tagging instead of radiation.

Radionuclides can be extraordinarily sensitive, so it's still used today but fluorescent labels and laser excitation dominates today and sensitivity and specificity are almost as good as radio back then with the bonus that they're available in lots of wavelengths so multiplexing is totally a thing (look at multiple different things all at the same time).

4) They detected an unknown that resembled a virus - that they suspected infects chimera cells as well as human cells - and there's no biosafety/ viral containment concerns?

I can't believe that slipped past my plausibility detector.

Throw in putting on virus-specific PPE, going to a dedicated BSL2+/3 (minimum) area, then a thorough antiviral decontamination procedure all adding a bunch of extra time to the procedure.

5) Rauch/ blood - isn't there an episode where someone writes that with their blood, in their dying moments?
posted by porpoise at 7:10 PM on June 6 [1 favorite]

You may be thinking of Sherlock, where a dying woman writes "Rache" by clawing it into a wooden floor.
posted by Mogur at 7:38 PM on June 6 [1 favorite]

Rauch/ blood - isn't there an episode where someone writes that with their blood, in their dying moments?

The Sherlock instance is a reference to the original Conan Doyle "A Study in Scarlet.":

I have remarked that the paper had fallen away in parts. In this particular corner of the room a large piece had peeled off, leaving a yellow square of coarse plastering. Across this bare space there was scrawled in blood-red letters a single word—


“What do you think of that?” cried the detective, with the air of a showman exhibiting his show. “This was overlooked because it was in the darkest corner of the room, and no one thought of looking there. The murderer has written it with his or her own blood. See this smear where it has trickled down the wall! That disposes of the idea of suicide anyhow. Why was that corner chosen to write it on? I will tell you. See that candle on the mantelpiece. It was lit at the time, and if it was lit this corner would be the brightest instead of the darkest portion of the wall.”

posted by pykrete jungle at 7:30 AM on June 7 [1 favorite]

Someone as paranoid as Mulder took two months to notice his apartment was under surveillance?

I'm not convinced Mulder could get away with killing Ostlehoff. The shooting occurred after Mulder had just burst into an apartment not his own -- even if the guy was spying on him, I doubt that would be considered self-defense. And how did he carry a dead body down to his own apartment without being seen at all?

What on earth is the government going to do with all those fake alien corpses? And what's the point of them anyway? How is planting alien corpses going to distract anyone from the government's conspiracy with alien forces?

Mulder saw a number of probably abducted and pregnant women in one of those government rooms and didn't ever do anything to rescue them.

The government has access to all the state of the art, cutting edge technology there is for its conspiracy efforts, yet is still using index cards for its filing system, in 1997. The Toronto Public Library had computerized their catalogue long before then.

Holly sighting! I suppose that the whole "kicking Skinner in the face" thing has been forgiven and forgotten.

Members of the conspiracy have been shown to be around horses several times now -- stables, the track. I suppose it's meant to indicate their wealth/members only network?

CSM is the first of the conspiracy to figure out that Mulder isn't dead, so score one for him, I guess.
posted by orange swan at 5:06 PM on June 7

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