Boss! Da Plane! Da Plane!
"Max" Plot Summary:
Mulder meets aliens in the light from the UFO...but no, they're really frogmen equipped with an amphibious military craft who place Mulder under military arrest. Meanwhile, as Agent Pendrell's killer flees, the air traffic controller who suspected a military conspiracy is arrested under suspicion of murder.
Inevitably released from confinement, Mulder tells Scully that, based on his sighting of the UFO at the bottom of the lake, he believes that Max Fenig's plane crashed into a UFO that the military shot down. A search of Fenig's home reveals a videotape in which Fenig alleges that the government has been using parts recovered from a UFO for military experiments. Mulder hypothesizes that Max boarded the plane carrying proof of the existence of extraterrestrial life, and the flight was intercepted by a UFO searching for the object. When the Air Force shot down the alien craft, the plane was caught in its beam and destroyed as well.
Mulder obtains a piece of the object Max was carrying and boards a plane with it, but is followed by Pendrell's killer, whom Mulder traps in the bathroom. But he suddenly realizes that his watch has stopped, and a UFO approaches the aircraft. In the ensuing bedlam, the killer escapes, taking Mulder's backpack containing the supposed alien artifact; when he refuses to put down the pack, the aliens abduct him, leading Mulder to joke to Skinner that the man "caught a connecting flight."
This episode cracked me up because at the end, I kept expecting Mulder to turn into William Shatner from The Twilight Zone, and look out the window and scream when he saw an alien on the plane's wing. The pace is quick and the action exciting, but the layers of conspiracy aren't as exciting as in other episodes, and actually seeing the UFO makes the episode a real letdown.
It would have been much more interesting if Mulder came back with a stopped watch and a story about a man pulled out of the plane in midair if the audience had not been treated to a scene which would seem to confirm independently that everything happened the way Mulder said. This is the closest the series has come to giving us "proof" of alien interference - no Air Force craft could stop a commercial jetliner in midair, remove a person and his belongings, and let the plane go on unharmed, all while time has been stopped. But "proof" is the last thing this show needs.
The Air Force almost seems to be taking sensible precautions, refusing to let the public know about possible extraterrestrial interference with commercial flights. If you think that TWA explosion hurt the airline industry, imagine what alien invaders could do to it. Scully's role seems decidedly inferior to Mulder's, since it's clear he's on to something substantial - she tries to inject the human element, pointing out that Agent Pendrell died over this secret, but her self-absorption is as frustrating as Mulder's singleminded pursuit of The Truth, which is most definitely out there this time around.
I'm going to miss Max Fenig. I can't decide whether to be glad that his beliefs were vindicated, after a life of mental institutions and trailer parks, or just to be sorry we won't have him around anymore.
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