X-Files Flashback: ‘Herrenvolk’


Season 4, Episode 1
Director: R.W. Goodwin
Writer: Chris Carter

The X-Files opens Season Four by completing the 2-part mythology arc initiated at the close of Season Three. Even though this is my first jaunt into the mythology of the series, some things are starting to sound familiar – namely the infamous bees that appeared in the first film. For a reason unbeknownst to me, “Herrenvolk” appealed to me more than the prior episode, partly because it’s a wild, wacky road trip/chase outing that never stops too long on any one sequence to allow the audience to become wise to the outlandish plotting.

The episode opens with a telephone repairman climbing up to make some sort of repairs when he is stung by a seemingly innocent bee. Seconds later, he begins to convulse from the sting while a group of what appear to be quintuplet boys gather beneath him to watch. Being The X-Files, we know these kids are some sort of alien clones. When he falls to the ground dead, the boys callously observe him and wander away into the distance. Returning to Mulder and Scully, the two are attempting to protect Jeremiah Smith from the hulking assassin of Season One. After eluding him briefly, Mulder manages to stab him in the back of the neck with that evil icepick and escapes with Smith. Mulder didn’t stab him correctly, though, as he wakens to take Scully hostage and uses her to find Mulder’s whereabouts.

Smith leads Mulder to a mysterious farm in Canada, conveniently near the dead body of the telephone repairman, where little boy and girl clones silently tend a massive farm swarming with the same bees. The girls are all clones of his sister, Samantha. Mulder takes a Samantha and attempts to escape the omnipresent assassin by hiding out with Jeremiah in a bee apiary as Smith and “Samantha” are immune to the bee’s stings. Scully, meanwhile, has stumbled upon some information at Jeremiah Smith’s day job and determines they are records of children who received a particular smallpox vaccination. She attempts to contact X who advises her to stay away from the path the vaccination data will lead her down.

X, himself, is in trouble as the Smoking Man discovers he has been playing a double agent by assisting Mulder (the photos X took of Smoking Man and Mulder’s mother surface). The episode ends when the assassin finally tracks down Mulder, Smith, and the Samantha and supposedly kill all but Mulder. The Smoking Man sets a trap for X in Mulder’s apartment, and he is killed by the Gray-Haired Man (I hate these names). X writes “SRSG” in blood on the floor, leading Mulder to the Special Representative of the Secretary General of the United Nations who shows Mulder a picture of the children tending the fields. Mulder’s mother is saved by the Smoking Man and the assassin when they decide a grief-stricken Mulder is something they want no part of.

The intricate plotting of “Herrenvolk” is actually something I’m fairly comforting tuning out. It’s not the chase scenes or the constant threat of the mysterious alien assassin, of course. It’s more the gradual, extremely gradual, revelation of information in the overall mythology of the series. Bees and black oil and aliens aside, The X-Files is at its best when it focuses on the human elements of Mulder and Scully, something not particularly in focus this episode. Still, it was fun watching Mulder run all over the country to escape a man who appears to have zero difficulty finding them at any given moment. The chase scenes here are fun and engaging, and it makes a better overall episode than its pretentious precursor.

And just when I needed another reason to fear killer bees…

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