Fenig for your thoughts

1×09 Fallen Angel

Episode summary:
On a tip from Deepthroat, Mulder books to Wisconsin to investigate the crash of a mysterious flying something-or-other, gets arrested by the army, and meets UFO conspiracy wonk/epileptic Max Fenig. Scully tries to take Mulder back to DC in time for the “should we close the X-Files” hearing, but hijinks ensue which culminate in the apparent abduction of Max by aliens. Probably. And then the X-Files don’t get closed after all!

Wood you like to hear what happened?

We open in the woods, in Wisconsin. A fire! Deputy Rike, from the sheriff’s office investigates the situation.

And then a cut to US Space Surveillance Center in Colorado! They’ve spotted a bogey.

Bogey on my six!

It was flying around like no known aircraft could; also, it was an object. Additionally: not identified.

Quantum Flightpath

But the ornery military officer dude guy, Henderson, declares that it was “a meteor”, and that the official report damn well better say as much. Then he secetly sneaks off to make a phone call about a “confirmed fallen angel” and mobilizes Project Falcon.

Now back to Wisconsin, where Deputy Rike gets rushed by something totally invisible.

More like Deathuty, am I correct in my analysis?

And then come the strobelights of doom.

This doesn’t make much sense. Roll titles!
It totally makes sense. He just got killed by whatever crashed to earth. What doesn’t make sense is you saying “roll titles”.
Yeah, but the strobelight thing is weird.
The lesson is don’t mess around with anything you see in the woods. If you see a “forest fire”, don’t tell anyone–
I don’t think that’s what you’re supposed to do if you see a forest fire–
Or else: the strobelights.


A motel in Townsend, WI. The text crawl say this is just after midnight on Day 1.

Apparently this episode will have more than one day. It’s nice of them to warn us.

TV is blaming the evacuation of Townsend on an undisclosed chemical spill. We know this because Mulder is watching TV while gearing up Buffy-style (leather jacket, flashlight, serious looks) while having a flashback to a conversation with Deepthroat.

Unlike Buffy, Mulder’s stake in this is not wooden but emotional.
meow SNAP!

The thrust of the flashback: Operation Falcon is the reclamation of a crashed aerial vehicle. Deepthroat tells Mulder that he has, oh, maybe…

dun dun DUUNNNNN

…TWENTY FOUR HOURS. Ish. To get to the crashed whatever before it’s as if nothing ever happened.

And so we find Mulder running through the woods, where he encounters a cheesy laser security fence:

It took an Amiga 500 over three hours to render this scene.

And then: military guys going all “GRUFF RUFF OOF GRR” like military guys do, but what is this? Something is detaching from below the vehicle…

This truck is made of man!
Camo green is people!

No, it’s just Mulder being all Solid Snake and sneaking inside the perimeter by riding underneath a truck.

That’s…really convenient.
Would you say it’s truckin’ awesome?

Night in the woods

Mulder sneaks toward lights!

I’d call these fakeout glowy lights but I don’t think we’re supposed to think they’re anything but like actual army camp lights.

Mulder hasn’t been this excited since prom night.

He gets to the camp, and boy is he excited by whatever the hell it is he sees. Which seems mostly to be guys in hazmat suits firing off fire extinguishers. Ffff, whoooosh. He takes a bunch of pictures, which means someone pretty much has to fuck that up for him, which a soldier does by sneaking up on him and braining him with the butt of a rifle.


Next thing we know, someone is exposing all of his film.


It’s Henderson, who gets all chappy with Mulder:

I have my orders, and the license to execute them as I see fit.
He also has a license to ill.
I suggest you forget what you saw…
Confirmation! Mulder totally saw something! He–
…or what you think you saw.
Oh. Bother.

And then the army guys throw Mulder in a chain-link holding cell and subject him to Torture By Conversation With A UFO Nut.

[blank stare]
Uh, do you mind if I sit down? Oh, let me guess, you’re with that new group, CSICOP, right?
[ignoring him so hard]
Say no more, you’re a cautious man, trust no one–
–very wise. After what happened to JFK, I understand completely. Oh, let me introduce myself. My name’s Max Fenig, I’m with the National Investigative Committee of Aerial Phenomena. NICAP! [giggling]

So that’s Max Fenig, folks.

Scully decides to be in this episode.

Scully shows up to kind of chew Mulder out about his UFO-chasing and bring on some serious drama:

Try explaining that to section chief McGraff. He stepped over Blevins, ordering a full inquiry with a recommendation — Mulder, he wants to shut down the X-Files–
Apparently, Section Chief McGraff works for FOX Television.
–and he wants you out of the bureau.

Mulder does not seem either surprised or particularly cheery about any of this.

What else is new.
I don’t understand you, Mulder. Why you’re always defying protocol. Ignoring jurisdiction.
Mulder is very rarely ignoring, uh, your his dick. Shun?
That didn’t really work. At all.

More arguing:

Because I know what I saw, Scully. There weren’t train tracks anywhere near that site, so how could it have been a derailed container?
Because it wasn’t. What you saw was not a toxic spill.
But it wasn’t a UFO either.

Scully tells Mulder it was a Libyan jet with a nuke, but doesn’t sound super confident about the whole thing.


Back to the woods and the cheesy laser fence, where we watch the invisible pilot thingy angel whatever get kind of flirty with the fence for a while before just streaking out through it and across the forest road.

This thing moves a lot like Mars Face.

And then Mulder and Scully head back to Mulder’s motel room and find it totally trashed. There’s something there! They pull their guns! They confront…a pair of flailing legs!

Pin the tail on the NICAP.

Max commences with the creepiness:

My apologies, forgive me, please, I–I–I’m a curious man, I had to know.
Know what?
Fenig butt!
If it was really you.
But you don’t know me. Last night was the first time we laid eyes on each other.
Not true. We at NICAP have been following your career really closely. Ever since you became involved with the X-Files.
Following my career? How.
With the Freedom of Information Act. Your travel expenses are a matter of public record. So, uh, this must be the enigmatic Agent Scully.
[prepares to kill Max Fenig with her mind.]

More Muldercore: Max read Mulder’s pseudonymous OMNI article (“M. F. Luder”). Helpful hint for Mulder: huge nerds like doing anagrams.


Max shows the agents to the Fenigcave — a silver airstream trailer full of UFO books and radio equipment.

Excuse the mess.

Max shows off crop circle photos to Mulder…

More like “crap circles”, amirite?
That’s really kind of wrong.
What, I’m just saying they aren’t very goo–oh. Oh! Ew.

…while Dr. Scully checks out his medicine cabinet.

Let’s see, if I take a few of these and a hand-full of those, maybe I can see UFOs too!

Max plays them a recording of the opening night, where the unfortunate Deputy Rike was found by local firefighters who then apparently freaked the hell out as well. Creepy.

Day 2, school cafeteria

Mulder and Scully go to the local evacuation center to ask Mrs. Dead Deputy Rike about her husband. The government is apparently strong-arming the hell out of her not to talk about anything. And: high piercing noise makes everybody go “ow!” Movement! They’ve spotted “it”! Our man Henderson gives the order:

Search and destroy. I repeat: search and destroy.

The secret to searching and destroying is stupid little lights on your hat.

And then the invisible strobe light monster completely fucks these army guys up.

Lights on your hat apparently not such a great idea after all.


The agents guilt-trip the doctor who won’t tell them squat into telling them some squat after all. Key point: the deputy, and the firemen who found him, were suffering from mysterious fifth- and sixth-degree burns.

Also, the doctor hates fascists. Mulder does that thing where he asks a really specific question out of nowhere:

Doctor Oppenheim, in your opinion could those burns have been caused by IONIZING radiation?

And then the pwned soldiers get rushed into the hospital followed by Henderson, who gives Mulder a REALLY MEAN LOOK. Mulder and Henderson growl at each other a bit, and then Dr. Antifascist suddenly stands up to Henderson and says that Dr. Scully stays or else, which is kind of awesome. Except that Mulder isn’t a doctor and doesn’t get to stay. Apparently the cameraman is also not a doctor, so he goes with Mulder to visit Max.

Chez Fenig

Mulder finds him — having a seizure! He grabs him and holds him- aww. Max is epileptic, and has been ever since he was 10. And now he needs a nap, which gives Mulder a chance to notice his CRAZY EAR SCAR.

What’s a pirate’s favorite disfigurement? A scarrrrrrr!

Mulder, never one to forget a juicy scar, digs out some similar scar photos, and is going over them when Scully comes back to remind him that they have to catch a plane for Mulder’s not-shutting-down-the-x-files hearing. But wait!

I want you to take a look at something first.

The scars? From people who claimed to have been abductees. But, Dr. Scully points out, Max’s meds include a powerful antipsychotic used to treat schizophrenia.

You don’t seem to understand, Scully. Max doesn’t believe he was abducted by aliens, I believe he was.
[thousand-yard stare]


Now there’s a bigger “meteor”, and it’s hovering over Townsend. Okay!


Invisible Thing POV cam is on top of Max’s airstream, looking around, and then it…flies through the roof into the trailer?

So is this thing an alien? It’s invisible, it moves really fast, and it can walk through walls?
Whatever. Also, it looks at everything through a fisheye lens.
Aliens really respect fish.

Anyway, it sneaks up on sleeping post-seizure Max and…his ear starts bleeding.

It’s like that dog in Alaska except blood and no dog or worms.

Max, go figure, wakes up and stares at Captain Fisheye, and then–


And then a commercial break. (Except we’re watching it on DVD. But still.)


When we come back, the agents are in his trailer, where there’s earblood on the sheets but no Max. But Max’s radio mentions a trespasser on the waterfront! Mulder wants to go find him, and to HELL with making their flight. Scully…acquiesces.

Like a pivotal scene in an after school special about drunk driving.


Some army guys find Max. Max kind of warns them off. Scully and Mulder find the army guys dead and smoking at their jeep!

Surgeon General warned you guys.

And then they chase down some yelling in a nearby abandoned warehouse/factory type building. It’s Max, who is pointing out loudly that It Hurts and that They’re Coming For Me. Army guys close in — Scully goes out for a look while Mulder stays with Max.

Hey, Scully? Could you go hold off the entire military?
Sure, Mulder. I’ll just use my magical unicorn rifle.

Scully holds them off by putting her arms up and being immediately apprehended; the army guys decide to forgo Plan A (“walk through unlocked door”) in favor of Plan B (“use C4 to blow wall open”). Guy with a heat scope spots THREE people in the warehouse.


The very same! He sneaks up on Mulder and Max, and then Max yells and there’s a zappy noise and Mulder goes FLYING THROUGH THE AIR.

I think he leapt. Awesome!
This is not the Six Million Dollar Man, honey.

And then a flash of invisible guy, and some yelling of Max’s name, and then, well, holy crap:

My Mulder, my Mulder, why hast thou forsaken me?

And big flashing lights! And twitching floaty Max! And then army thermal scope guy reports there’s only ONE person in the building now. (That person is Mulder.)

And once again, Mulder has witnessed something profoundly unusual and Scully has missed it.


What the hell is that? They’re just making stuff up now.
You know, I pretty much lost track of Day 3.
Lost Time! Mysterious Interference! Alien Abduction!
Yeah, maybe it’s more like Inattentive Viewer.

A serious looking guy in a suit — that McGraff fellow who wants to can Mulder, apparently — asks Scully some pointed questions about Mulder. Scully responds by sitting at the end of a very long table.

Kubrick does the X-Files

The thrust of the questions seems to be that Mulder just went to Wisconsin of his own accord, and that’s totally not cool. After she’s done, she tags in Mulder (who is on crutches — broke his leg in the fall?), who seems less than optimistic about not getting canned. He proceeds to have a shouting match with McGraff, who, amusingly enough, accuses him of “exposing yourself and possibly others”.

Oh my!
A coverup was underway!
He was trying to put his pants back on!

But seriously, big speech from Mulder here:

You can deny all the things I’ve seen, all the things I’ve discovered, but not for much longer. Because too many others know what’s happening out there. And no one, no government agency, has jurisdiction over the truth.

BAM, motherfucker.

That whole scene was really kind of heavy compared to everything else we’ve seen so far on the show.
I think this might be the first really notable FBI conspiracy head-butting stuff we’ve seen in the show.

Cut to a still-frothing McGraff out on the FBI lawn, asking SOMEONE why they countermanded the decision to terminate Mulder. The someone? Deepthroat! The reasoning: Mulder out of the bureau is more dangerous than Mulder in the bureau where he can be kept track of. (Or at least that’s what he’s telling FBI dudely.)

Always keep your friends close, Mr. McGraff. But keep your enemies closer.



  1. Esmeralda aka BAM, motherfucker. Said,

    July 27, 2008 @ 6:30 pm

    You know, I really loved this show when it was on and I understood science only as an amorphous blob of truth. This all seemed fairly plausible at the time, and I was- if not paranoid, then at least paranoid-in-training.
    Now, I poke holes in sci-fi when I see it. In a very grown-up sort of way, much of it has lost it’s sheen of possible truth, and I find that tragic.
    I enjoy this blog as much or possibly MORE than I enjoyed watching the X-Files the first time around.
    It’s like now- I can take all the science and astronomy and biology whatnot, and this absurd show with lasers and fisheye aliens and crypto-zoology, and add them together- and they DON’T explode- they create an *however long it takes me to read the entry* of pure hysterical laughter, all thanks to you.

    Did you guys get my shameless self promotion, btw?

  2. Calraigh Said,

    July 27, 2008 @ 6:42 pm

    Sigh. Don’t stOp doing this guys, it’s so very,very excellent. It’s an oasis of X-Filey goodness in a sea of snark these days with the movie doing so ”well” and all. *eyeroll* For what it’s worth, I still can’t wait.It’s not out on my end til next Friday. Are you guys gonna keep pumpin out the little uber-posts? Please say yes! And-DON’T.GIVE.UP!

  3. The Proprietors Said,

    July 27, 2008 @ 8:00 pm

    [Angela] Well, we watched the x-movie on Friday, and have a few things to say about it, in a fairly non-spoilerific way. That will probably be a little uber-post soon. Further uber-posts are expected to follow, as the unknown and unexplainable occurs.

    Esmeralda: Self-promotion received. We’ve been on vacation- it’s that sort of thing where before vacation, you just can’t imagine or plan anything happening after vacation, because vacation is the time-landmark. We’ll take a look at the dates and let you know. It’s exciting that you have something to be shamelessly self-promotional about!

  4. Mister Z Said,

    July 27, 2008 @ 8:51 pm

    Would you say it’s truckin’ awesome?

  5. Shalora Said,

    July 28, 2008 @ 12:45 am

    You guys are brilliant as always! I actually read this one at my friend’s house (since my computer sucks and I can’t view the images, and knowing who’s saying what is half the fun!), and I think she was either amused or just bored by my random outbursts of laughter… :) I’m praying you keep this up through the whole series, it’s absolutely priceless!

  6. That's what she Said,

    July 28, 2008 @ 10:15 am

    I love this blog and loved the random strobe light video.

    I liked the movie but I can see why others didn’t.

    Anyways an astronaut on an Apollo mission said that he saw extraterrestrials this week….maybe it is Colonel Belt.

  7. It's Raining Florence Henderson Said,

    July 28, 2008 @ 10:26 pm

    Anybody want a peanut?

  8. LilRed Said,

    July 29, 2008 @ 12:16 pm

    Your blog is awesome! I can’t wait for you two to go over clunkers like “3″ and “Gender Bender” (I can’t wait to see what you have to say about Scully getting all hot and bothered for the Amish-looking dude) and favorites like “Humbug” , “Die Hand Die Verletz”, and “Syzygy”. Your comments about “supplemental butt” and a “suit diary” still make me giggle months after reading them for the first time. And I hope you get to Season 4, because “Home” is perhaps the most disturbing yet entertaining episode EVER.

    And, as a fellow Portlander, I went and saw the movie on Saturday night, and there were FOUR other people in the entire theater besides my group. That made me a little sad. I can’t wait to see your post about it, I don’t want to be a spoiler, but let’sjust say I didn’t like it and leave it at that.

  9. Heather Said,

    July 29, 2008 @ 10:00 pm

    Just for future reference, I intend to use the phrase “truckin’ awesome” at the end of every post from now until you guys have finished. I LOVE this blog and will never stop reading.

    Thanks so much for the labor of love (which is pretty much what it is, right?)

    Truckin’ awesome!

  10. Chel Said,

    August 1, 2008 @ 2:55 pm

    –just GET IN YOUR CAR AND DRIVE AS FAST AS YOU CAN. That gets my vote. If Smokey is so worried, that bear can put it out himself. (Side, completely unrelated note: Does Smokey’s voice scare anyone else other than me?) And a bear…wanting to prevent forest fires…named Smokey? Isn’t that like bad advertising or something?

    Mulder’s emotional stake is always getting him into trouble.

    Um…did that sound dirty? Completely unintentional. Completely…unintentional there…*clears throat*

    Anway-military guys like exposing Mulder’s film a lot, don’t they? Alas, no digital.

    WHA BUH UFOS I can’t decided whether Mulder’s or Josh’s picture being there would’ve been more appropriate. Honestly.

    Why didn’t Scully ever kill anyone with her mind? That would’ve been a neat trick. She had that look on her face quite a few times…but I never saw anyone’s brain start bleeding out their ears or anything. Hmm…

    Future reference for army men: Lights on your hat? Great for search and rescue – I mean, “destroy.” Also great for alerting freaky invisible thing to exactly where you are so you can join the ranks of Rike in…well….death.

    Oppenheim? I repeat, “Oppenheim?” Is that supposed to be like…a joke or something? He must’ve been teased a lot in school.

    Magical unicorn rifle? Hmm…I have a feeling Josh is enjoying this “Captain Fisheye” thing a bit too much. Okay, I’m not going to be the one to tell another grown man that comic book-esque superheroes/supervillians don’t exist. I’ve already done it enough, and it’s never easy. A grown man crying? Never cool.

    Would you both agree that Mulder leapt like…a flying squirrel? Why am I having the strange feeling of deja vu? Odd. Can’t seem to place it but…

    I’m sorry–”magical unicorn rifle?” How do you guys even come up with this stuff?

    Scully always misses it, doesn’t she? I half-expect to hear another lame line like from the pilot, “Scully: THERE WERE LIGHTS.”

    Mulder: O O

    Heh…I never noticed how Kubrick-esque (hey, it’s a word) that appeared. Sharp eyes.

    Ahhh! A Mulder Monologue! Gotta’ love it. He sure likes wasting his breath, doesn’t he? No one listens. I’m experiencing that deja vu feeling again.

    I did quite enjoy that lil Deep Throat quote at the end. Oh, Deep Throat, you always know just what to say.

    Haha, if you couldn’t tell by my lengthy ramblings in response, you both (your blog included, so I guess that makes you three) rock. Keep on keepin’ on (whatever that means.)

  11. Chel Said,

    August 1, 2008 @ 2:58 pm

    Correction: I suppose that the dog and well, Max…do count on the “brain bleeding out their ear” list. I don’t think either of those were Scully-related though. But who knows. Maybe she doesn’t like dogs that aren’t furry little yippers?

  12. Nate Said,

    August 3, 2008 @ 6:01 pm

    Eddie Vedder is assumed into Rock ‘n Roll Heaven.

  13. Nate Said,

    August 3, 2008 @ 6:01 pm

    Beyond that, all I can say is :D

  14. Parry Normal Said,

    August 6, 2008 @ 12:17 am

    Pure genius! I’ve laughed myself silly (a rare occurance, I assure you). So, if my memory serves me, next up is Eve. I can’t wait!

  15. Adam Said,

    August 15, 2008 @ 12:21 pm

    Where are the damn updates!?

  16. Cristina Said,

    August 15, 2008 @ 1:04 pm

    I’ve been following the blog for a while now, but it’s my first time commenting. Just wanna say I love it so much, you guys make me laugh so damn hard! The first season seems sooooo crappy now that we watch it again, it’s good to see it with such humor to counterbalance that! Please keep up the great work!!

  17. deborah Said,

    February 26, 2009 @ 8:01 pm

    Got the whole series at corte ..er.. Josh’s instance last December. The mister and I watched this last night.


    At least the flashy thingie in MiB didn’t kill people.

    Am I the only one who noticed a passing resemblance between Max and Josh? Or is it just a generic hippy thing (long hair, beard, slacker attitude, etc.)?

    The part with the guys with the lights on their hats (which I totally missed) and other bits were filmed at Simon Fraser University in BC. I’ve told the mister to keep his eyes open for little bits like that and let me know. He’s lived in the Vancouver area a long time.

    It’s a good thing Scully got a chance to practice that thousand yard stare. She’s gonna use it a lot.

    I liked the little smirk the radar op gave when she said the “meteor” (you could hear the scare quotes) was hovering over Wisconsin.

    Can’t wait to watch the next one and read your recap!

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