Another fun weekend for Mulder. He spends his off-time the same way he spends work time: chasing aliens. Receiving a tip from Deep Throat, he is in Townsend, Wisconsin, hunting a crashed UFO when he crosses into restricted government territory and gets himself arrested. He winds up in a cell next to Max, a nerdy, paranoid paranormal junkie whose similarities to Mulder become more or less obvious, especially when Max says, “trust no one.” Still, Mulder initially writes Max off as cuckoo. Max tells him they’re witnessing a cover up, just like Roswell.
Max would fit in well with the Lone Gunmen.
When Scully shows up at the Townsend prison to bail Mulder out a stream of light falls floods his cell, much like it did in The Truth when Skinner and Scully first see the imprisoned Mulder. There are no kisses this time. The FBI has threatened to close down the X-Files, they have to show up at a hearing in the morning and now Mulder pulls this stunt? He greets her by saying, “I didn’t order room service,” but doesn’t otherwise respond to her scolding. He scoffs at the government explanation she was given: that they found a downed Libyan warcraft and is not anxious to return for the all-important hearing. He doesn’t care about protocol even if his job is the only thing that allows him to continue tracking conspiracies, even if the limited access it affords him is the only thing that separates him from Max. And Scully wants to follow the rules and save their jobs, even if she doesn’t believe in their work as much as Mulder does.
She believes in what’s “right” as much as he believes in “the truth” but their values converge because her “right” isn’t a hypocritical one. She doesn’t let the people in power define what justice is. She may not share Mulder’s beliefs, but she’s witnesses the dishonesty he’s encountered and that’s what keeps her on his side.
When they arrive at his hotel, it’s in disarray and he guesses housekeeping hasn’t been there yet. They hear noise and he gestures for her to take out her gun. He enters the bathroom and finds Max trying to escape from the window. It turns out, Max is a fan of Mulder’s and just couldn’t resist the urge to snoop around his things. Mulder wonders how Max even knows who he is. They only met in prison hours ago.
Mulder learns that his reputation has proceeded him. There are people watching everything he does (more than one set of people, actually). They know what he’s investigating. Through the Freedom of Information Act, they access his expense reports and know where he goes. Now, I didn’t remember this little tracking detail, but it’s similar to what Mulder and Scully find out later in Alone when we meet Leyla Harrison, who has followed everything that Mulder and Scully have done and to Requiem too, when an auditor questions Mulder about their expenses.
Max not only knows Mulder’s exploits, but is pleased to meet “the enigmatic Dr. Scully” as well. He rises to shake her hand and, before he can, Mulder slams him back into his seat with a firm hand on his shoulder. It doesn’t seem like a protective gesture, but throughout the series, Mulder often places himself between Scully and a third party (he does this at the hospital in Kaddish, for example) and I appreciate the silent, almost unnoticeable, displays of his concern for her even more than the express ones.
Mulder teases Scully about being the enigmatic doctor. Max says he has something amazing to show them and takes them to his RV outside. Looking at the trappings within, Max seems to be nothing but a tin foil nut, but after some rambling he plays a tape for them in which the government is actually looking for the fallen angel that they would have Mulder believe doesn’t even exist. Mulder gains respect for Max, while Scully looks at the prescription pills on his shelf and concludes that he is schizophrenic.
While the government denies there was a crash, there are burn victims who were in the proximity at the time. An officer orders Mulder and Scully away from the hospital where they are being treated, but a doctor declares that he’s in charge when it comes to health and he wants Scully to stay to help. She does. Mulder returns to the hotel and when he checks in on Max’s RV, he finds Max convulsing on the floor. I don’t know why Mulder doesn’t call 911 immediately. For all he knows the guy could be dying, unless Mulder is an epilepsy expert of some kind and knows the seizure is not life-threatening.
Mulder tries to hold Max’s mouth and body, but I’ve always thought you were supposed to make sure people don’t swallow their tongue as well. Mulder’s not helping on that score. When the seizure is over, Max doesn’t remember what happened. As Mulder helps him into bed, he sees a crescent-shaped scar behind his ears.
Mulder’s at the computer in his motel room when Scully arrives back hours later. She’s exhausted, but still determined to head return to DC in time for their hearing. He tells her about Max’s scar and theorizes that Max has been abducted. As usual, she thinks Mulder is crazy and tells him that Max is on anti-psychotic medicine, but agrees to look in on Max to give her medical opinion on the scar, before they head to the airport.
When they enter the RV, Max is missing. They hear on his scanner that he has invaded a government restricted area and Mulder wants to run off after him. He pats his pocket for his car keys. Scully argues with him that they don’t have time to go running after Max. They have to get to the hearing or The X-Files will be closed and Mulder won’t be in a position to prove anything to anyone.
Finally, he asks her if she has the car keys and she reluctantly gives them to him. I love the little act of passive aggression. She knew she had them all along and didn’t divulge that information, because she didn’t want him to go. I like this small attempt at control from her. It also reminds me of HTGSC and the accusation that Mulder stole Scully’s car keys to keep her from leaving the haunted house on Christmas Eve.
They find Max in some abandoned building. When they hear the military approaching, I think Mulder tells Scully to go out and keep them at bay. At any rate, she doesn’t do anything to try to bar their entrance into the facility. Even though she rolls her eyes when they take away her gun, she doesn’t even vocally protest much and she’s not as alarmed as I would expect her to be at the prospect of them invading a structure that Mulder is in with their guns and explosives. I’d expect her to be frantic about Mulder (and Max’s) safety and she’s not, especially.
The military censors say that THREE people are in the building and this perplexes Scully, who only left two inside. She’s even more puzzled when an update finds only ONE person in the building. Inside, an amazed Mulder sees Max levitate into the air and disappear before his eyes, taken by the invisible alien presence that entered the structure. Wonder suffuses Mulder’s face. It’s an amazement akin to pleasure. Despite his sister’s abduction, whatever pain she suffered and the guilt that destroyed his family afterwards, Mulder is a little boy at heart. He wants to believe in aliens, like other children want to believe in superheroes. Heh, I suppose this is not a revelation, given the omnipresent “I Want to Believe” poster, but from here to Field Trip to Requiem, Mulder wants to see aliens, even if it means physical torture or mental destruction. Yes, he’d protect Scully, but has no sense of self-preservation. Eventually though, he’s got to realize that by not saving himself, he is endangering her. Love is … taking others down the perilous roads you choose for yourself, even if you tell them not to follow.
By the time the military explodes into the building, Max is gone. Back in D.C. Scully is speaking at the hearing. She incriminates Mulder by saying that to her knowledge, they were not assigned to investigate the fallen angel. Yes, Mulder was driving the rental car that invaded government territory. She tries to put in a good word for him, but is cut off. She doesn’t seem too torn up with guilt about it, though. When it’s his turn to testify, she reads the paper and learns that, as usual, the government has concealed everything that happened in Townsend, in the press.
When he testifies at the hearing, Mulder learns that Max’s body was found in a crate and leaves, angry and disheartened. The committee’s recommendation is to close the X-Files, but the head agent, section Chief McGrath, finds that this decision is countermanded by his superior, who turns out to be Deep Throat.
The agent wants to know why Deep Throat isn’t taking this opportunity to be rid of Mulder forever. We get the first of many excuses as to why they can’t just disappear Mulder. He knows too much. Deep Throat says keep your friends close and your enemies closer – and we know that by “enemies” Deep Throat means McGrath, not Mulder.