X-Files Review – “Medusa”

Once again, the X-Files review is here. It\’s as spoiler-filled as always, and can be found via the \”Read More\” link.


The bulk of this episode takes place entirely within a five-hour timeframe. Scully and Doggett are called in to investigate a murder in the Boston subway with no clear cause of death. Agent Scully spent the time coordinating the investigation from the subway control room, while Doggett led a team of investigators into the tunnel.

Three other people were on Doggett\’s team: a member of the CDC (played by an actress best known to sci-fi fans as Ben Sisko\’s love interest on DS9), a member of the transit police, and the engineer who oversaw construction of this particular tunnel. They were given five hours (until 4:00) to complete the investigation before the tunnel reopened. Communication is maintaied via a 2-way voice and 1-way video radio link between Scully and Doggett.

The team quickly located the man described as the assailant on the first victim. He had died in the same manner; large portions of his flesh had been eaten away, indicating some sort of contaminant the CDC hadn\’t found in their sweep of the area.

As the team moved further into the tunnel, the engineer found himself a victim of the contaigen, and had his arm partially eaten away by a compound that tested as sea-water in the CDC instruments.

They pressed further into the tunnel, finding an old abandoned tunnel split off from the main tube. Three corpses were found in this tunnel, wrapped in plastic as though they had been dumped here for storage. Doggett and the transit officer (Lieutenant Bianco) moved further into the tunnel, chasing the silhouette of a potential carrier.

While Doggett and Bianco pressed further, Scully had the three bodies and the engineer evacuated to a medical facility to discover the nature of the problem.

It was during this last investigation that Doggett discovered Bianco was infected with the contaigen. Doggett refused to allow Bianco to leave and risk infecting the populace, so Bianco assaulted him, and left him on the floor of another abandoned tunnel.

At this point, the CDC returned with better results, identifying the contaigen as a lifeform made primarily out of calcium.

The newly-infected Doggett took this information with him as he hunted down Bianco. He soon found the man, and a young boy who seemed to be living in the tunnels. The boy wasn\’t infected, though. The child led Doggett to the room the infection originally seeped in through. Scully compared his location to that on a grid of the system, and directed him to the nearest exit. She also determined that the contaigen was triggered by sweat, because the boy was uninfected.

Before Doggett could get Bianco and himself out of the tunnel, and subway train (from the newly re-opened system) began to approach them. Doggett took the oppportunity to set up a weapon above the track lines and electrocute the contaigen, wiping them out.

Doggett\’s Character

The more we learn about John Doggett, the more I like the guy. When the team was being assembled at the beginning of the episode, everyone had a place but him, and he described himself as \”just a good shot.\” He felt he was nothing but Scully\’s eyes and ears, but that didn\’t seem to bother him. He is a professional doing his job, and doing it well.

his relationship with Bianco also says a lot about him. At one point, he was willing to shoot Bianco to prevent the spread of the contaigen (the Medusa from the title), but later on, he acted against orders to bring Bianco out for treatment. He is cold when his job demands it, but he\’s no colder than that. I\’m actually thankful Duchovny couldn\’t settle a contract in some ways. Doggett is a great character, and Mulder wasn\’t doing anything new in the last few seasons. (Let\’s hope that changes on Feb. 25.)

Overall Impressions

This was an episode well worthy of February sweeps. We had a nice balance between Scully and Doggett, solid direction, mostly solid writing (what was the point of the kid, aside from revealing the trigger?), and some great casting. I could feel the tension in the air. I was ready to hate the head of the subway from his introduction, when it was made clear the character would be very similar to that actor\’s character in the movie Air America.

The acting, directing, and writing were all there, as were some very well-done visual effects. I give this episode 3.5 stars out of 4.

One reply

  1. Reaction to contagen
    Maybe it was just me, but I thought the whole connection to sweat was obvious from the beginning. They talked about how hot it was down there, showed everyone clearly sweating, talked about the saltwater and then showed an electrical fire on a human. I thought it looked like the sweat was providing a path for conduction.

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