20 Year Anniversary: Revisiting X-Files – Season 1, Episode 9: ”Fallen Angel” Review

To commemorate the 20 years since the X-Files saw the light of day I decided to rewatch all the episodes (with a very leisurely pace, I might add) and share my opinions and thoughts the episodes provoke.

Fallen Angel Ending shot

Season 1, Episode 9: “Fallen Angel”

Director: Larry Shaw

Writers: Howard Gordon & Alex Gansa

“Fallen Angel” is a term used by military personnel to signify a downed aircraft, and as it is the case in this episode, an unidentified downed aircraft. And where there are Unidentified Flying Objects, you can bet your ass Fox Mulder’s there also.

When Mulder receives top secret information from the mysterious Deep Throat (Jerry Hardin) about a crashed mystery aircraft, he immediately goes to Wisconsin to investigate. And since he is gone rogue, he is not taking Scully along for the ride.

Mulder’s presence does not go unnoticed, however. Commander Henderson (Marshall Bell, you know, from Total Recall and Starship Troopers!) quickly stops Mulder from snooping around and incarcerates him. Mulder’s superiors are fed up with Mulder’s maverick ways, so they send Dana Scully to retrieve Mulder in order to bring him to a special hearing, where Mulder’s career is at stake.

copyright: 20th Century Fox

So, if he’s a commander, what rank does that little guy on his chest hold?

But as usual, Mulder’s passion to uncover the truth is too powerful for him to just walk away from an open case, and when he gets support from a fellow conspiracy theorist (Scott Bellis) he willfully ignores Scully’s pleas to attend in the hearing. An invisible creature wreaks havoc around the crash site, which makes Mulder suspect that an alien from another world might be involved. Mulder gets very close to the truth, but as usual, he gets no solid evidence concerning the aliens and the mystery creature gets away uncaptured.

After the events in Wisconsin, Mulder’s hearing don’t go so well for Mulder. His sacking is almost a sure thing, until Deep Throat steps in and manages to keep Fox in the Bureau. Deep Throat says to the chief: “Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer”, making him seem more dangerous and ambiguous than ever before. Which one is Mulder to him?

Okay, after the abysmal episode “Space”, “Fallen Angel” feels like the show gets back on track. Conspiracy theories, shadowy government figures and aliens, those are the building blocks for a solid X-Files episode. However, it’s not all shiny and flawless. The alien, with its camo-suit in this episode feels a bit too “Predator” for my taste. Also the details of the electric radiation-murders feel murky and feel out of place. Also, the way the director chooses to show the alien’s POV and kill-view are quite honestly laughable in today’s standards. The fish-eye lens feels like they were shooting a skateboarding video and the strobe effects with the blue-tinted over-lighting seem lazy. The show tends to use these subpar techniques a lot, especially in the earlier episodes. I know some effects lack for budgetary reasons, but I wish some cleverness would be utilized from time to time.

copyright: 20th Century Fox

Thanks for stating the obvious, costume designer.

Also, Dana Scully is incredibly underutilized in this episode. She’s mostly just there, standing in the sidelines, periodically reminding that they have a plane to catch. The banter between Scully and Mulder works well, so the makers of the show needed to use this more here. Marshall Bell is fun here, looking nervous as usual. Mulder berating his superiors in the hearing and angrily telling them that he will not stop searching the truth is a definite highlight of the episode. Such passion.

Overall “Fallen Angel” was good, but not great. Still after “Space”, it was a relief to get a decent episode. What’s next?

Best Scene: Mulder’s hearing at the end.

Most memorable bit: Scott Bellis levitating mid-air, glowing blue. That’s the X-files stuff I adore.

Rating: +++

Mulder: That’s a quarantine? Is that what you call this?

Commander Henderson: We’re trying to contain an ecological disaster.

Mulder: That’s a lot of firepower just to protect Mother Nature.

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