Theatre of the Mind ~ The Erlenmeyer Flask

It's appropriate, fitting, and downright spooky that we should reach the end of Season 1 in the CTP just as all this debate, speculation, and downright paranoia about Season 9 hits the proverbial fan. Because I think it's a good reminder for us that this episode could have been the end of the X-Files, and we might not have had any additional seasons to be debating, speculating, or paranoid about. Cause at the end of Season 1, the XF was rated 113th out of 132 primetime series. Had it been on any other network, we'd all be sitting around nitpicking the scientific inaccuracies of Earth 2 right now. But FOX had nothing but this quirky little show that had a quirky little following of quirky and devoted little fanatics who had dubbed themselves "X-Philes." And the rest, as they say, is history. So let's be thankful that we can cherish the past, that we still have our beloved show in the present, and let's not worry about the future.

1. Erlenmeyer Flask - A conical laboratory flask with a narrow neck and flat, broad bottom. Named for Richard August Carl Emil Erlenmeyer (1925 - 1909), German chemist.

2. A good old fashioned car chase! Is this an XF first? I thought I was watching Bullitt for a minute!

3. The police are chasing a man who seems to have inordinate strength, is able to withstand the jolt of a taser shot, and can still flee even with a bullet in the back.

4. Oh, and he has green blood too.

5. The credits roll and we're treated to another XF first: first time the tagline is changed (to the Chris Carter credo): "Trust no one." Especially not Chris Carter since now we have to pay attention during the credits! Dern it, this was primo potty or fridge time!

6. I thought Mulder told Scully he had a life? It's Sunday night and he's home reading X-Files. Must have been one heck of a weekend!

7. Gee, I love Journey to the Center of the Earth. Pat Boone, Gertrude the duck . . . but I digress.

8. TWC: This episode deserves lots of TWC, but I'll try to keep it to a minimum. Just let me say that Sleepyhead Mulder gets a big woo-hoo!

9. Guess one X-File is solved: Mulder can program his VCR.

10. Skeptical Scully wonders why all this cloak and dagger stuff is necessary. Why does Mulder let Deep Throat "yank his chain"?

11. M&S go to study the fugitive's car and find it is registered to a rental agency in Gaithersburg.**

12. Of course, old eagle-eye Mulder determines it's not the same car thanks to a handy caduceus decal.

13. You only got three numbers of the license plate? Who you gonna call? Danny, of course!

14. Did anyone have a Biogenesis flashforward when they saw all the monkeys? (And I don't mean of the Fowl One takin' off her top!)

15. Scully decides it's time to finally just say no. No more chasing cryptic clues and half-hunches.

16. "Do you think he does it because he gets off on it?" "No. I think he does it because you do."

17. If you want yucks at this point, see Blooper Reel.

18. As usual, Mulder argues with Scully about her claims, but we see that he takes them to heart.

19. Deep Throat is waiting up for Mulder, who admits that "My mother usually likes me home before the streelights come on."

20. With Scully's words echoing in his ears, Mulder confronts Deep Throat and tries to cut the apron strings (or the yankable chain, as it were). He's been the dutiful son, but can't be Luke to DT's Obi Wan anymore.

21. DT has a different spin than Scully: "I fear you've become too dependent on me." "Maybe it's YOU who's become too dependent on me, on my willingness to play your games."

22. DT decides he still likes the Obi-Wan Kenobi crap: "You've never been closer." I second Mulder's emotion: "Closer to what?"

23. It must be fun being an actor auditioning for a role on the XF. "Um, can you tell me a little bit about my role? What's my motivation? " "You're Crew Cut Man."

24. Don't worry, Dr. Berube. You'll be back for War of the Coprophages.

25. Mulder only had to say "Greg Louganis" and I'm reminded of TWC and red Speedos.

26. Mulder stumbles upon the Erlenmeyer Flask labeled Purity Control.

27. Scully gets to utter the immortal line: "Okay, Mulder, but I'm warning you. If this is monkey pee, you're on your own."

28. Scully analyzes the monkey pee while Mulder does a B&E and commits larceny.

29. He also finds a bigger X-File: Dr. Berube has a 6-digit zip code (149376).

30. The secret is revealed: Mulder is able to contact Danny by dialing Mary Had a Little Lamb on the phone.

31. I think I have figured out what happened to our guy Danny. He finally got out of the car. I mean, here it's almost 8 p.m. and he's at Mulder's beck and call. He must still be at the office since he has all the information Mulder needs at his fingertips. Yes, Danny, get a life. You deserve it.

32. But it's another XF first and last: Danny speaks!

33. I'm not sure why Dr. Secare's oozing green goo didn't affect the paramedics until they stuck him with the needle, but why quibble over little details.

34. Scully calls to tell Mulder she has the evidence in her hot little hands, but for some reason Mulder still wants to find Dr. Secare. If Scully told me that she may be understating the strangeness of this, I think I'd be hightailing it back to the laboratory at Georgetown.

35. Love the juxtaposition of Greek mythology with XF mythology: Pandora's Box (1616 Pandora St.) and Prometheus (Zeus Storage).

36. And of course the Chris Carter mythology: Key No. 1056.

37. Love the scene where Mulder is walking down the hallway, and then opens the door to the image of men in their amniotic-like fluid just like full grown fetuses awaiting rebirth. And then one moves. My gasp was much greater than Mulder's.

38. The big moment of Dr. Carpenter telling Scully about her discovery is ruined for me as she sounds like Barbwa WaWa: "It would have to be by definition extrwatewestwial."

39. Okay, I can't restrain this TWC; Running!Mulder. 'Nuff said.

40. Okay, one more. He had me at "hullo." I just love the way he says that word!

41. "Mulder, where on God's earth have you been?" Given this news about wittle gway men, does Scully need to reaffirm her faith?

42. In a scene that will be played out many times in the next 6 years, Moose & Squirrel try to one-up each other with what they have found.

43. Scully feels the need to tell Mulder she was wrong. "I should know by now to trust your instincts."

44. Our boy has come a long way from the somewhat cocky but insecure most unwanted in the basement: "Why? Nobody else does." And a smile. He's not used to having someone who believes him (and in him).

45. Scully says for the first time she doesn't know what to believe. Unfortunately, it won't be the last.

46. Curses, foiled again. The research tanks and their human occupants are gone.

47. Deep Throat shows up to explain it all: Dr. Secare was once an occupant of one of these tanks and M&S must piece together the evidence that will expose experimentation in creating alien/human hybrids.

48. Too bad Deep Throat didn't come clean about the "groups within groups" a little earlier. Now M really has to find Dr. Secare and S has to return to the lab to protect the proof that she didn't know was in jeopardy.

49. Obviously Mulder doesn't really want to cut the Obi-Wan Kenobi crap either. He's going to trust his instincts. "Use the force, Luke!"

50. Scully finds that Deep Throat wasn't just whistling Dixie and that these people play for keeps: Dr. Carpenter is dead.

51. Mulder drops his gun but promises to protect Dr. Secare, who is then shot on the spot. Next time, get it in writing!

52. Only a shot in the base of the neck manages to kill Dr. Secare. I'll file that info away. That could be important later.

53. "I'm a popular guy." Somehow, I think there was only one person trying to call Mulder's number.

54. Scully comes in search of Mulder and we get a nice view of the outside of his apartment building. But Mulder has a buzz-in system? Have we ever seen this before or since?

55. Deep Throat knows just a little too much here for me to feel comfortable. He knows they have Mulder and he knows what they'll trade Mulder for. And he knows how Scully can get it.

56. Scully is off to Fort Marlene. Now, we have a Fort Detrich here in Maryland. Marlene. Detrich. Get it?

57. Do you think that our Scully, good little Catholic girl and military brat, would have ever thought she'd be breaking into a top-secret military installation with a forged ID to steal Mulder's ransom?

58. Mark Snow's score is a wonderful addition that builds tension to Scully's venture into the unknown.

59. Somehow, I did expect a little more reaction from Scully as she holds this tangible scientific proof in her hands. I wasn't expecting "holy flaming cow," or anything, but at least a little more than we got.

60. Just one question, though. How did Scully get that fetus out of the facility? Surely not in that briefcase (what an unsightly bulge that would be!) Under her trench coat, perhaps? Maybe the guard didn't notice that she wasn't pregnant when she came in. (Or maybe she was, but I digress.)

61. Scully still doesn't trust Deep Throat and she makes no bones about it. Her head argues the advisability of risking so many other lives for the sake of one man, but her heart wants Mulder back. Root beer or no, it must be love.

62. Scully gets a good look at Crew Cut Man which will come in handy in Red Museum in Season 2.

63. Did any of us really think that Deep Throat would be killed? What a shocker. Guess this episode's tag line should have read "Everyone is Expendable."

64. We thought Requiem brought us back to the Pilot, but in reality, this episode brought us full circle. The phone call still comes at 11:21, but the difference now is that there is a connection, as Scully awakens with a start just before the phone rings. She can sense that Mulder is in trouble and she is his lifeline.

65. Mulder's heartbreaking call, his voice choked with anger, shed and unshed tears, and perhaps a little whiskey, betraying his cool exterior. The X-Files have been shut down. M&S are being split up and reassigned. It's over for the two of them. I think that news is just as devastating for Mulder as the news that the X-Files are being closed.

66. But Mulder vows not to give up. Not as long as the truth is out there.

67. And with a final tip of the hat to the Pilot, the mysterious CSM stores the fetus in the Raiders of the Lost Ark warehouse . . . which we find out is located in the Pentagon! Our tax dollars at work.

68. One LOL moment: At the military facility, the fetus was stored in liquid nitrogen, but now it seems to be okay just pickled in an old Mason jar!

69. The human genome project, mapping of all human genes, a bacteria that contains a virus, bacteria that may not have existed for millions of years, not since our ancestors first crawled out of the sea, cloning a virus, experiments in alien/human hybridization, going on since Roswell, ET gene therapy, hybrids with a blood chemistry that is alien and very likely toxic . . . I guess CC really did have a plan from the very beginning. Back then, I'll be the first to say that I didn't quite understand it; I'm not sure I understand it today. If this had been the final episode of the XF, I think it would have been a pretty satisfying conclusion, a self-contained cliffhanger (how does CC do it?); lots of questions, but we would have been left with the assurance that Agent Mulder is not going to give up, that he is still out there looking for the truth, protecting us from enemies that are probably a lot closer than a galaxy far, far away.

70. So that wraps up Season 1. We don't know what the future will hold for Season 8, or Season 9, or the movie franchise, or anything else for that matter. So discuss, debate, speculate, and be paranoid all you want. But just remember what we learned tonight: Trust No One.

**Just had to share that my fondest memory of this episode is when Scully said her line about the rental car agency in Gaithersburg. You see, I work for the municipal government of Gaithersburg; and at the time this ep first aired, there were about 6 of us at work who were X-Philes to the core and always had a confab about the Friday night episode on Monday morning. It was the funniest thing I ever saw when we all met to discuss this episode; everyone was giddy - "Did you see we were on the X-Files!!!" At about the end of Season 2 the Washington Post published a map showing famous X-Files sites in the Washington area, and on that map it said that a bridge in Gaithersburg was where Deep Throat met his demise. Now, I'm not sure how they came to that conclusion, but it made us Gburg X-Philes (as we called ourselves) proud at the time, and we always referred to the old railroad bridge as the Deep Throat bridge thereafter. That map produced by the Post, though yellowed with age, still hangs behind my office door on a bulletin board which has become my X-Files shrine and everyone always marvels at how The X-Files put Gaithersburg on the map (so to speak).

Well, hope this TOTM provided at least a little diversion from the Season 9 pandelerium! Go ahead and flame away. Season 1 is done and so am I. Let's have another volunteer for Season 2 (until Paula can return).

Lovin' you all!