Running On Ice
"Synchrony" Plot Summary:
Two researchers from M.I.T., Jason Nichols and Lucas Menand, are warned by an old man that Menand will be run over by a bus at 11:46 that night. Menand complains to a police officer, who arrests the old man and drives off just as Menand is hit by a bus. Nichols is arrested when the driver claims the men were arguing and Nichols pushed Menand in front of the bus. Meanwhile, the officer who took the old man into custody is found frozen to death via an unknown chemical. The old man then kills a research doctor named Yonechi by injecting him with the same compound.
When Mulder questions him, Nichols admits that he and Menand were arguing because Menand threatened to claim that he had falsified research data, but says he was trying to save his friend. The agents approach Nichols' girlfriend, Lisa Ianelli, another scientist, who recognizes the rapid freezing agent as something Nichols had been working on, but had not yet completed at the time of his death. Ianelli says that Yonechi may not be dead, and she and Scully try to revive him by warming his body. But his temperature suddenly surges, and he bursts into flame.
Ianelli confesses that she falsified the data to get a research grant, and that Nichols was covering for her. The only people who could have figured out the truth, Menand and Yonechi, are dead. But when police track the old man home, they find a color photograph picturing Nichols, Yonechi and Ianelli toasting one another in cryology lab. Mulder figures out that the photo was taken in the future, when the researchers successfully created the freezing agent. The old man trying to alter that future, who killed Yonechi because he couldn't save Menand, can only be Jason Nichols.
Lisa locates the older Nichols and confronts him, but he injects her with the compound. Scully resuscitates her and remembers to keep her body cool enough to stop it from spontaneous combustion. Meanwhile, the two Nichols confront one another at the lab, where the elder has deleted the younger's work from the computer. Telling his younger self that it would be better if they had never lived, the elder Nichols grabs the younger one and bursts into flames. When Lisa returns to work, she sets out to recreate the freezing agent.
This episode completely lost me around the time the elder Nichols started explaining how time travel destroyed the future. I'm not clear what the relationship is between his compound, being able to live in the future, and losing Ianelli, so I am mystified as to what motivated him. The plot of this episode was well-paced and exciting but I have no idea what the point is.
Nor was the compound well-explained; I understand the point of a freezing compound, instant cryogenics so that the injected person can be brought back at any point in the future, but why build in a self-destruct mechanism so that if the reviving body isn't immediately submerged in coolant, it will burst into flames? I'm not very clear on what they were developing the freezing agent for, nor what's at stake in their success other than money and all the usual trappings. And I'm really unclear on how this became a case for the F.B.I., let alone the X Files, before it was evident that time travel was involved.
I liked seeing the two women working together, though I didn't like the fact that Nichols had to lie to cover up for his girlfriend, and Mulder had nice intensity. But that's about it. I wasn't bored, but I was left feeling like I'd just watched an empty episode afterwards...which I suppose is a tribute to how good this show usually is.
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