by Michelle Erica Green

The Killer In Me Is the Killer In You

"Tunguska" Plot Summary:

Krycek turns up in North Dakota, telling Mulder he wants to bring the Cancer Man down. He leads Mulder and Scully to a courier bringing a Mars rock from Russia. Its intended destination is Dr. Carns-Semme, a virologist living in Charlottesville who happens to be the personal physician of the Well-Manicured Man.

Inside the rock, which is believed to come from Mars, is black oil that organizes itself into worms when exposed to air and seeks human flesh to burrow into. When it enters a human being, the host's eyes cloud over with a black film.

Scully risks being charged with contempt of Congress via her refusal to discuss Mulder's activities with a Senate subcommittee; meanwhile, Mulder winds up in a Russian prison camp as an experimental subject for an extraterrestrial poison. Well, Mulder did always want closer contact with aliens...


As with most X Files episodes, a plot summary does not begin to do justice to the real drama. "Tunguska" will be celebrated for the return of Alex Krycek, last seen rotting away in a missle silo after being betrayed by Cigarette-Smoking Man. Krycek, whom Mulder holds responsible for his father's murder, claims to have been freed by a right-wing militia group and promises to help Mulder expose CSM's culpability in his father's death. Mulder finds Krycek's story too plausible to dismiss, and allows Krycek to lead himself and Scully to a Russian diplomatic pouch carrying an ancient rock of extraterrestrial origin.

While Scully and another agent investigate the scientific implications of the rock and learn that deadly black worms can emerge from the material, Mulder traces the rock's origins and heads to Siberia with the charismatic Krycek--who's conveniently fluent in all the languages Mulder can't speak. Upon arriving, they discover a prison camp near Tunguska, Siberia, where the rock was found and where a cataclysmic meteorite struck the earth almost a century earlier. Before they can learn anything more, they are captured, imprisoned, and infected with the black worms from the rock.

I prefer episodes where Mulder and Scully work together, or at least where it seems that their work is of equal consequence; Scully sort of vanished early in this one behind Mulder and Agent Pendrell. This is the first of two parts, and, as with most multi-episode arcs, the most dramatic segment; the buildup in this episode is tense and thrilling, leaving both scientific and political problems for the audience to chew on during the intervening week.

The conspiracy's most interesting to me when it concerns alien invasions less than government manipulation of its citizens. The show seems increasingly to be suggesting that the actual presence of extraterrestrials, even malevolent ones, shouldn't be as much of a concern for people as the far greater damage done by administrators and governors in the name of science. I was glad to see the smallpox scars pop up as an issue again, as well as the ongoing suggestion that whether or not there were nasty alien worms in Siberia, they didn't cause much of a problem until various ruling bodies took an interest in them.

So the question of whether there were really extraterrestrial worms in a rock interested me less than the likelihood that the U.S. government had learned of some secret Russian biotoxin, possibly of non-Terran origin, but that wasn't the primary concern. The Senate, the U.N., and various other bodies could have been exposed by Mulder's singleminded pursuit of the answer to the only question which interests him, namely: did it come from out there?

If this show's condemnation of politicians were a little less rigid--that is, if there were a possibility that the Senate was really trying to protect American citizens, rather than just trying to maintain power--this might have been the beginning of an interesting arc about whether it even matters if there are aliens on Earth. The season finale touched on those themes to great effect. "Tunguska" would probably have worked better as the first episode in a much longer arc, but it's still highly enjoyable on its own merits.

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