Monday, December 27, 2010

X-Files--"Død Kalm"

I haave reviewed a ton of Star Trek episodes over the last couple years which featured the dreaed reset button. You know what i mean--some sort of seemingly irreversible disaster or otherwise continuity busting event happens, but the last five minutes or so reverses it all? "Død Kalm" is one of the few X-Files reset button episodes. For me, the reset was awfully flimsy.

An American ship becomes stranded in the North Sea when the crew abandons it and the captain. They are discovered drifting in a lifeboat with the appearance they have all aged decades in a matter of hours. Mulder learns of the incident, even though the fate of the crew is being kept under wraps. He suspects the rapid aging is a remnant of the Philadelphia Experiment, an alleged government project which sent matter through time and space. He skips off to Norway to investigate. Scully, having her medical curiosity piqued, goes, too.

They hire a local sea captain to take them to the abandoned ship. They discover it adrift and covered with what looks like centuries of rust even though the ship was commissioned only four years prior. They discover the rest of the crew’s corpses scattered about. They appear to have been dead for years. The discover scares off the captain’s crew. They strand the agents and the captain on ship.

Sure enough, they begin rapidly aging. They have nothing to go on until they discover packs of rats, apparently unaffected, living off the water in the sewage system. Scully discovers the aging has been caused by the drinking water. There is some sort of contaminant that causes cellular deterioration. The three off them have to survive off clean water is in the toilet bowls until help arrives. As well, but does not save the episode ultimately.

Scully keeps notes on the cellular degradation while the the three of them begin arguing over how best to conserve the clean water. General health and life expectancy become point of contention. Neither of the agents is willing to sacrifice anyone. The captain is not so humanitarian. He locks himself in with the rest of the water, then gets himself drowned when the ship begins taking on water.

The agents only have the water from a broken snow globe left. Neither of them get to drink it before it is broken in the jarring of the ship as it takes on water. They pass out, but wake up normal aged in a Virginia hospital. Thanks to Scully’s notes, the doctor knew to use hormone therapy to save them.

There is your reset button. The episode falls apart with it. Certainbly, the miracle cure which returns the agents to normal is bad enough, but how did they get from Norway to Virginia in time for the doctor to study Scully notes and find a cure when everyone else died from the illness in a far shorter time than Mulder and Scully? Because they are the stars of the show, I guess. The resolution is illogical and a cop out.

I am not a fan of the episode, obviously, but I will give some credit for the make up job. It is quite good. Far less rubbery than many I have seen. The claustrophobic, Lifeboat feel to much of the episode is intense . But neither of those two points save the bad ending. At least is was not all a dream, no?

Rating: ** (out of 5)

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