The X-Files (S11E4): “The Lost Art Of Forehead Sweat”

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What would a good season of our favorite show be without our beloved monsters? This time: Marsians. This season’s long-awaited monster episode came with a pleasing twist and a lot of laughter.

Unlike other monster episodes, this one didn’t follow one monster in particular and in the way we all would define a ‘monster’. Very early on the character of Reggie is introduced to us. A man who believes his memories are slowly being erased and that he used to know Mulder and Scully. And, even better, used to be their partner. He also seems to know things about both, Fox and Dana, that no one knows but them. While both Mulder and Scully are very confused by his theories and what he has to say, they do still make time to follow up on some things Reggie explains to them. Some more involuntarily than others.

Making him sound like a conspirator by always using the pronoun ‘they’, Reggie ends up being told by Mulder that at one point he’ll have to “explain who ‘they’ are”. Which leads to the realisation that ‘They’ isn’t being used as a pronoun by Reggie but is the actual name of the professor responsible for erasing or placing memories in people’s minds. Or at least, that is what Reggie and They believe is the truth.

While Scully is rather unimpressed with Reggie’s theories, Mulder follows up on a call he gets from professor They. This leads to a face-to-face conversation between them in which They also tells Mulder, that he is able to erase or plant memories into people’s minds. He even implies the quote “He who controls the past controls the future” might not really be a quote from Orwell but of someone else. People are only meant to believe that and therefore do. He goes on to explain that our age is not one of conspiracies anymore. That people believe what they are told to believe. And that humanity doesn’t know what the truth is anymore. They says that it only takes a few people to believe something and that it only takes them telling other people for humanity to start questioning something. But that even if they do, it doesn’t mean they will believe that it is the real truth. Because no-one knows what the truth really is anymore.

As Mulder and Scully meet up with Reggie again, Scully has found out that Reggie worked for the NASA and therefore overheard a large number of their conversations. This explains him knowing so much about them. After leaving the NASA he became a patient at a mental institute and that is why he started theorizing about They and possible memory loss. However, after he’s taken away Skinner appears and asks where Reggie is being taken to, making us question whether or not Reggie ever really worked for the FBI or had any sort of connection to it.

Although the episode starts and ends with a ‘monster scene’, the episode itself revolves more about the truth as we know it and the human mind playing tricks on us, leaving us to believe one thing is true although it might not be. Even Scully realises at the end that some things are better left in the past to be remembered the way they used to be – maybe that is the best way to remember some things.

 

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