Martin Carr review the fifth episode of The X-Files season 10…
There is a confidence and swagger to ‘Babylon’ which can only signal the return of Chris Carter. Creator, writer and guru of all things Mulder and Scully. Known to raise a contentious issue or two in his time, Carter stokes the fire to great effect in this penultimate episode. Giving Duchovny and Anderson more than their fair share of fun. Whilst addressing a firebrand topic with typical subtlety.
In an amusing twist Carter has both actors look in a metaphorical mirror. Encountering their own generational equivalent. A combination of overly eager and boldly sceptical. What Anderson and Duchovny do is pass the flag in a sense. But the real point beyond all that line dancing, MRI semaphore and substance abuse is more far-reaching. What this writer and creator has done is tried to address the issue of terrorism fifteen years after those twin towers fell.
Just as bureaucracy and unnecessary intervention were explored last week. So we find ourselves knee-deep in muddier waters this time round. Where the definition of an extremist either religious or otherwise is challenged. That Carter explores this topic by portraying Homeland Security as inherently biased against immigrants rings alarm bells. In my limited view this department was set up to protect the public interest. Not label everybody with different beliefs as would be terrorists in waiting.
Obviously the argument is not merely about what a person believes and how that defines them. But goes one further in attacking the classification of substances. And the idea that these have nothing but detrimental effects. It is a Bill Hicks philosophy writ large that certain drugs are mind enhancing in nature. A contention which is given flesh by Carter this week in a memorable five-minute scene with Mulder. That he is able to combine both arguments simultaneously, whilst fleshing out Mulder and Scully further, is evidence of the skill on display.
Taking images of the River Styx, a carefully selected Tom Waits sample and some Christian imagery. ‘Babylon’ carves off a slice in entertainment terms and rides the rest home. However beyond the visual showboating is a lesson to take away. In a time when information is so readily available across multi media outlets. It could be suggested that words have lost their power. Information is no longer hard to find. And there is no effort needed to attain knowledge.
What ‘Babylon’ and by extension Chris Carter are suggesting is simple. Words remain as powerful today as they ever were. Bombs may kill people and lives may be lost. But they need someone behind them who passionately believe. And belief comes from scripture whatever your book is and whoever your God. Without one there can’t be another. His suggestion as voiced by Mulder is a plea of sorts. We live in a time of extreme emotions. It is perhaps time for someone to step up and occupy the sacred middle ground.