The X-Files: First Person Shooter   Rewatch 
July 28, 2020 8:33 PM - Season 7, Episode 13 - Subscribe

When a player of an about-to-be released virtual reality video game the Lone Gunmen have been involved in developing winds up dead, Langly, Frohike, and Byers ask Mulder and Scully to investigate.
posted by orange swan (6 comments total)
This one was just plain tiresome. We're being asked to believe that this virtual reality game is lifelike that it's taken on a life of its own, to the extent that it's added a character from what Phoebe describes as "her own" computer, which wouldn't likely be on the same network as her work computer, and that people can get physically impacted or even "lost" in the game. It reminds me of the line from the "Kill Switch" episode in which Esther Nairn talks about letting a series of viruses "loose" on the internet so "it could evolve in its natural environment". This show really should have been better about doing technical consultation on its scripts. When the science/math/tech makes no sense, it really hurts the suspension of belief. I mean, scare us with something that sounds possible and plays on our actual fears rather than spinning a bunch of nonsense that has no basis in reality and expecting us to buy it.

Would FBI agents be asked to sign NDAs? Or sign them?

Since when is Mulder a video game enthusiast? In six and a half years, we have never seen him play a game or even mention playing one, nor have we ever seen any video equipment at his apartment.

The men acting like testosterone-driven teen boys and the women rolling their eyes over it and either doing what they have to do to cope or saving the day was annoyingly simplistic. This show needed female writers.

The lasciviousness over Jade Blue Afterglow was atypical for this show, and felt contrived. Would all of the cops at a precinct really act that way over a stripper? Even if, as I am forced in all honesty to admit, the woman had a body like death?

In the closing scene, when Ivan sees the new computer character composed of Scully's head on Jade Blue Afterglow's body, it looked weird. I wish they'd made the body look more like Scully's own.

There were some good moments, as there always are:

-- Darryl Musashi holding up his bloody stumps and screaming in horror and agony.
-- Scully's leaning into Mulder's line of sight as he tries to check out Jade Blue Afterglow's posterior when she's leaving the interview room.
-- Scully taking down the multiple Maitreyas.
posted by orange swan at 8:47 AM on July 29, 2020

It reminds me of the line from the "Kill Switch" episode in which Esther Nairn talks about letting a series of viruses "loose" on the internet so "it could evolve in its natural environment". This show really should have been better about doing technical consultation on its scripts. When the science/math/tech makes no sense, it really hurts the suspension of belief.

Not surprising! This episode was written by guest writers, cyberpunk novelists William Gibson and Tom Maddox, same as "Kill Switch". The scripts both had a very 80s/early 90s SF feel that was dated by 2000.
posted by Pryde at 1:44 PM on July 29, 2020

Everything about this episode felt off, like it was a bad fanfic mashup of X-Files and Gibson. The characters were unrecognizable and the dialogue was laughably wrong, with the Lone Gunmen actors looking visibly uncomfortable while they had to babble like teenage gamer boys. (They were always kind of immature, but they weren't that kind of immature.) It was genuinely embarrassing to watch.

Seeing the episodes for this season come up on Fanfare reminds me of just how badly this show lost its way. I'd forgotten just how many disappointments were packed into this era. I remember I'd see the promos for the next episode and it'd be some stunt or yet another self-parody and I'd just sigh. There was this feeling, like, "Christ, show, could you just knock it off and be The X-Files? Stop sending yourself up, stop doing endless stunt episodes, and just have Mulder and Scully go out and investigate a scary monster already!"
posted by Ursula Hitler at 3:18 PM on July 29, 2020 [1 favorite]

I kind of blame Gibson and the production teams that work with him - Johnny Mnemonic translated terribly to the big screen. 'Kill Switch' was a bomb, this episode is a terrible mess. On paper, his "day after tomorrow" brand of scifi is fine left to the imagination of the reader, but live action translations just don't seem to work.

"The future is already here, it's just unevenly distributed." - William Gibson

In a mass market visual medium, the day after tomorrow is already dated.

Also, don't try to do something your budget obviously can't remotely support.

Whoever directed this clearly had no idea what they were doing.

But yeah, I agree, even with a blue sky budget, the plot is weak and a mess. All of the technological aspect is laughable - an agent wouldn't let someone "scan" their ID (which involves making a high resolution copy) and why does a game company have access to a database with Mulder's retinal scan in it? And if not, why would Mulder let someone make a high resolution copy of his retina? Unless it's all theatre and the staff are cosplaying (LARPing, using era appropriate language).

The look and feel of Esther Nairn and Atrea (and the gamer geeks) are stupid, but unfortunately Atrea is straight out of videogames. But the response from grown assed men is assinine.

But to give credit, Atrea's other period costumes are less provocative than the catsuit or Jade Blue Afterglow's adult entertainer outfit.

IMDB trivia said that the actress had a hard time just walking in those stiletto boots. In the closeup shot of her walking down the stairs, she's visibly wobbling.

For all my praise of 'The X Files' casting, they evidently suck at casting young adults (time and time again). The opening scene was cheeseball as hell, and not in a good way. The husky lad was particularly annoying.

All of the "gamer" dialogue is cringingly bad, even at the time. Not only the script, but the delivery was painful - like no-one believed in their lines.

Mulder's actually kind of terrible at the game. Scully's better than him (learning faster, being more intuitive). He's no gamer, and saying so is just another failure. Scully being a scold before getting into the game feels cheap.

When does Scully wear leather?! Nice. But that's a cheap-ish jacket.

Those are the dumbest sunglasses that I've seen on Mulder. I had a pair like those from a gas station in Iowa in the mid 90s.

(Yeah, Anderson's head on JBA's body in render is simply a terrible terrible mapping of a poor texture on a budget wireframe. The proportion of her head to height likely contributes to weirdness.)
posted by porpoise at 7:38 PM on July 29, 2020

I’m actually a fan of “Kill Switch”, which may be implausible twaddle but is at least coherent, implausible twaddle. A big part of why it works is that the AI is always kept off screen—as in all great horror, the unseen is scarier—and the attacks from a satellite at least make sense within the fiction.

Here there’s a ridiculous avatar that manages to have physical impacts on the real world through, what, magic? Aren’t people somehow decapitated at some point?

Pretty sure this was the last episode I watched as part of the original broadcast.
posted by thecaddy at 9:45 AM on August 2, 2020

I like this episode. I like how dumb it is.
posted by Television Name at 1:49 PM on August 2, 2020

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