Unsafe Traveling At the Speed of Sound
"Drive" Plot Summary:
Nevada's Fox 11 News breaks in with a breaking bulletin about a police chase. An unidentified man in a blue car with a woman in the back seat races along an interstate as cars, motorcycles, and helicopters converge on the scene. The car is finally stopped with spiked chains, but while the driver struggles screaming on the ground, his "hostage" bangs her head repeatedly into the window of the rescue vehicle. Then her head explodes.
Meanwhile, in Idaho, Mulder and Scully are on the domestic terrorism beat, interrogating farmers who buy a lot of fertilizer. Mulder sees the Nevada incident on TV and tells Scully he wants to go investigate, though she thinks they should stick to their jobs. When they arrive, Scully goes to autopsy the body while Mulder stays at jail to question the driver, Richard Crump. But Crumb has had a nosebleed and is taken out by ambulance, forcing Mulder to follow in his car. When the ambulance pulls over, Mulder is taken hostage by Crump, who orders him to drive.
Scully, who puts herself in voluntary quarantine after Vicky Crump's blood sprays on her, warns Mulder that whatever the Crumps suffer from could be contagious. Mulder decides that Crump is not delusional, just in great pain, and realizes when the man passes out at a light that he has to keep moving or he'll die. Crump throws Mulder's phone out the window, expresses his opinion that Jews in the government like Mulder "did this" to him and his wife, and insists that they go west. Assistant Director Kirsch at the F.B.I. contacts Scully to let her know he knows they're not in Iowa anymore and to offer the services of the Nevada F.B.I. office to assist them.
Scully leads a team in environmental suits to the Crumps' trailer, where they find a dog with a similar condition which suffers a massive aneurysm when they hold it down to sedate it. The house shows no infectious agents on their scans, but in the trailer next door they find two dead birds. Scully terrifies an old woman in that trailer who couldn't hear her approach because she's completely deaf; once she realizes this, the agent wonders whether it might have been a sound which affected all the other living things in the area, since the victims seem to have suffered massive damage to the inner ear. She finds an electrical plate marker in the ground identifying the contents as the property of the U.S. government.
Meanwhile, Mulder has learned from a resentful Crump that his wife had a nosebleed and then became frantic to keep moving, just like Crump is now. Mulder warns him that they must stop for gas, but when Crump begins to collapse while Mulder waits for the pump, he drags Crump to a station wagon and drives it away. When Scully gets a report that Mulder has stolen a car, she insists that local police should let him through. As they cross into California, Scully goes to a Naval research station in Nevada which put the wires in the ground by the Crumps' trailer. The lieutenant there tells her that they conducted a test that morning which disrupted TV reception, but refuses to tell her anything else, since all information is classified.
The police pursue Mulder with a cell phone and toss it through the window; it's Scully, who has a theory that low radio transmission waves from the Seafarer project on the Crumps' property somehow matched the resonance frequency of their skulls, and that driving westward offers some electrical or magnetic relief from the building pressure. She offers to meet Mulder to try to help Crump, but warns him that he won't like the treatment: she needs to insert a needle into his inner ear quickly, with no anesthetic, which will likely leave him deaf. Crump says that's better than dead and agrees, begging Mulder to drive faster.
Scully waits with a needle, but when Mulder arrives, Crump is dead, his blood spattered on the window of the station wagon. Later, Kirsch meets with the agents to complain about the large bills they ran up for taking on this case. He tells Mulder to quit the agency if Mulder doesn't like researching manure, and Mulder walks out. Scully warns Kirsch that Mulder has had a hard time, but when Kirsch suggests that she apologizes for him too often, she says she wasn't apologizing at all - they got the Navy project shut down and saved lives. Kirsch says that no matter who they saved, they must stop working on X-Files and had better stop trying. Scully says, "Large piles of manure," and leaves.
Let me start by saying that my positive feelings about this episode were overwhelmed by my extreme anger at all the Jew-bashing in which the writers indulged. Oh, I know they were just supposed to be representing the general redneck militia-style Middle American perspective on Jews, not their own beliefs, but that is no excuse particularly on a show like this. Thing is, everything else Crumb said about the government is TRUE in the context of X-Files: there ARE conspiracies at work, innocent Americans ARE the victims of unethical experiments, etc., and Mulder didn't bother to rebut the latter charges. But as a result, he couldn't or wouldn't say a thing about all the anti-Semitic remarks. And since the rest of the nonsense is true in the context of this series, it's all too easy to believe that Chris Carter and his cronies are drawing a direct parallel - that there's not only a cabal of evil men abusing innocent Americans, but a cabal of evil JEWISH men abusing innocent Americans.
Crump's a very sympathetic character, and despite his scruffy, narrow existence, we were never given any reason to question most of what he said to Mulder. I don't think we were supposed to take his ranting seriously but neither is it easy to discount, especially considering that the agnostic Mulder remained silent. I wasn't amused by Mulder's crack at Jehovah's Witnesses at the beginning, either. I'm trying to imagine the writers thinking they could get away with suggesting the same about Catholics or even Muslims, who seem to be Hollywood's all-purpose villain these days in movies like The Siege. It's disgusting, and it's beneath this series, which has writing that doesn't need to resort to this. The X-Files has aliens, for heaven's sakes; it doesn not need obnoxious prejudicial comments in the name of realism.
With that off my chest, this was a real nail-biter, though the non-explanation at the end was rather a letdown. I had no idea at the halfway point where Mulder was going, literally or figuratively, and it was nice to see Scully solving the mystery pretty much by herself - at least as much of it as got solved. Now we know that Kirsch is not a force for good even if he does have a decent sense of humor, and now we know that even under threat of death, Mulder worries more about having to pee. He also had one great line in the midst of Crump's rantings about Jews, the government, and Agent Orange: "On behalf of the conspiracy, I have to tell you that we're almost out of gas."
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