The X-Files: Patient X (Part 1/2)   Rewatch 
June 15, 2020 8:23 PM - Season 5, Episode 13 - Subscribe

Groups of former alien abductees feel strangely compelled to gather and are burned alive by faceless men when they do, and Mulder and Scully meet Cassandra Spender, multiple abductee, who says she is certain she is about to be summoned.
posted by orange swan (5 comments total)
This is actually a decent episode, horror-wise. The faceless men, all those charred bodies, the panic and terror of the abductees that are being torched, literally every scene involving that poor boy Dimitri, Scully's growing feeling that she needs to gather with the rest of the people... it's all really horrifying.

I absolutely can't bear Cassandra Spender's character. There's something about her "I talk to angels and I am batshit crazy" affect that annoys the living shit out of me whether she's calm or freaking out.

When Cassandra Spender was watching the first American abductee BBQ news coverage, she cries and says something like, "I knew these people" even though Scully had already said the bodies were too severely burned to be identifiable.

I am not buying that Mulder would have gone completely agnostic as to his alien beliefs. He's seen too much to believe it could all be faked.

The makeout scene between Alex Krycek and Marita Covarrubias is the least convincing one I have ever seen. They have zero chemistry and it's all just mechanics.

I did enjoy Krycek's "batphone" line. The Well-Manicured Man is a bit like Albert in the 60s series.
posted by orange swan at 11:31 AM on June 16, 2020 [1 favorite]

Definitely body horror; the faceless aliens were a great design and got a lot of bang for a relatively economic effect. I still have no idea if there was a given reason why the Alien Bounty Hunters/ faceless aliens had a limited but not singular set of physical "templates" other than as shorthand to indicate that they're ETs through the medium of TV. I wonder if budgeting reasons gave us more templates in the end scene than multiple copies of the square-jawed ABH that we've come to know?

Agreed about Cassandra Spender, for me I think it might be the smugness in her batshit beliefs - which may or may not be completely batshit but the audience knows that she's being misled and her performative optimism is likely unfounded.

Also, having a mother who's way into woo, the character just irks the shit out of me in a bitch-eating-crackers kind of way.

One thing, though, her leaving her fingerprints on the window. I sort of sympathize, like, a futile and minuscule action to leave proof that you once existed/ were there. But still super infuriating.

Her "I knew these people" - she recognized the names she read flashing down the TV screen? No idea how The News got the names of the subjects. Cut scene where the park warden takes down the names of everyone who pays for a ticket?

Finally Chris Owens debuting in the Spender role. I kind of like the soap opera angle (Bill Mulder, CSM) but mostly because it allows exploring different responses to different facets of the same condition.

Writers did a terrible job of showing Mulder's descent into bitterness and this felt far too abrupt. It felt like "business as usual" for Mulder after whisteblowing the section chief.

The only real professional angst was unrelated - Mulder had just terminally staked some kid in the chest.

I feel at this point that Mulder knows that Greys are real, but can't be sure if they're real extraterrestrial aliens or a syndicate/ bioweapon thing.

Which, I think, sets up Mulder to 'regain the faith' as the audience got a huge tell-not-show /s reveal.

The "looking for a mountain" thing - homage to 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind'?

Krycek and Covarrubias was terribad. Headcannon: she's "leveling up/ grinding" him for her own purposes. To torture the gaming analogy, he probably thought he got a reward sexytimes cutscene and a new plot chapter (unbeknownst to him, with probably a betrayal end sequence).

It felt to me like they were cramming far too much into this episode, yet the tell-not-show made this episode feel overlong. I'm sure I sponged this up thirstily on first viewing, though.

Others in this rewatch have commented that The X Files jumped the shark previously, this is the episode (and the next) - the mass abduction on the bridge - that is my personal bookmark. I recall that much of what happens afterwards felt like an echo, lacking much of that darkly phosphorescent energy of peak X Files.
posted by porpoise at 8:09 PM on June 16, 2020 [1 favorite]

Yeah, there's something about Cassandra Spender that's off-putting in a way that none of the other abductees up to this point have been. I honestly can't put a finger on it, exactly, is it the writing? the performance? No clue, but I just can't form any sympathy for her, despite the show being built on the audience forming sympathetic bonds with people traumatized by paranormal experiences.

I said before that I think "Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man" was the last time the mytharc worked for me, but of course that was in retrospect. This season's whole "what if the existence of aliens IS the hoax?" plot combined with, yeah, this specific two-parter is what actually soured me on it while watching the first time through.
posted by tobascodagama at 7:30 AM on June 17, 2020

I've seen Veronica Cartwright in a few other things, and I find she tends to grate on me in her other roles as well, so maybe I just don't like her style of acting or affect or something. My word, the woman has had a long and incredible career though. I'm stunned by the number of iconic shows and movies she's been in.
posted by orange swan at 9:17 AM on June 17, 2020 [1 favorite]

Amazing career. I had zero problems with her character in 'Alien' - she was cool (until she wasn't).

I don't think we ever see Teena Mulder interacting with Cassandra Spender? Both women are lookers.
posted by porpoise at 9:32 AM on June 17, 2020

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