Saturday, December 4, 2010

X-Files--"Darkness Falls"

X-Files is one of those rarest of show in which budget saving minimalism is usually a strength. “Darkness Falls” is one of the many examples. Our heroes are trapped in a log cabin deep in the woods, facing impending death by a swarm of deadly, supposed to be extinct fireflies. Belive it or not, it is all good.

Mulder and Scully head to Washington state in order to investigate the disappearance of thirty miners and two Department of the Interior agents who went looking for them. Unbeknownst at tyhe time, all but one of a group of ecoterrorists has perished as well. The logging company official accompanying them and a local sheriff suspects fould plasy from ecoterrorists who have been steadily sabotaging the logging operation. His mind is not even changed when they discover a dried out corpse in a giant cocoon hanging from a tree.

A nest of supposed extinct fireflies has been exposed by chopping down trees. The huge swarm is apparently the cause of death for everyone currently missing. They attack and kill the panicked logging representative when he opts to go for help. It is a particularly gruesome scene that had me slapping at some tingling sensations while I was watching. That is what I get for turning the lights out before turning on the episode.

The fireflies have an aversion to light, so the surviving members of the group huddle in a log cabin with only one light bulb to ward the swarm away. Mulder thinks he got off a message to the outside world, but they have no idea. The only real hope they have is an ecoterrorist Mulder unwisely let go in order to find his jeep. It is a long night. Fortunately, the ecoterrorist does return, but no one gets to escape.

The swarm attack the jeep with everyone inside. This climax certainly makes up for the dud of yesterday’s episode. No one has survived the swarm attack so far, but obviously the main characters do. It turns out Mulder did get the SOS out. They are rescued by a biohazard unit, but are encased in the some type of cocoon in which the earlier corpse was discovered. Talk about claustrophobia. Everyone survives, but wind up in quarantined and severely dehydrated. The forest is torched. Whether the fireflies survive is left open ended.

What I really like about “Darkness Falls,” aside from its high entertainment value in general, is there is no preachy environmental lesson. While it is logging that releases the fireflies and the logging rep dies horrifically, it is a booby trap set by the ecoterrorist that strands the jeep, thereby allowed the swarm to attack. The ecoterrorist is trapped outside the jeep when he is surveying the damage, so he dies, too. Both sides made mistakes that got them and their associates killed. Neither side comes off looking completely at fault or heroic. The moral of the story is crap happens. Deal with it.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

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