The X-Files

Season 3 Episode 10

731 (2)

Aired Wednesday 8:00 PM Dec 01, 1995 on FOX

Episode Fan Reviews (11)

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  • A lot of chasing

    Alas, a bit of a step down from the preceding episode, "731" seems to largely consist of Mulder running up and down train corridors, something that's only interesting up to a point. Sure, he can take a beating from the NSA agent but if you examine his actions within the context of the episode, he actually does very little. He doesn't locate Dr Zama, let alone save him. He doesn't gain access to the mysterious boxcar, it's already open. He doesn't make contact with the creature, a bomb takes care of that. And he would never have gotten off the train if it hadn't been for the surprising (and frankly unlikely) intervention of X. Given that this character has gone out of his way to hide in the shadows, isn't it bizarre that he should not only step out into the daylight but also do it on a train car in the middle of nowhere? God knows what connections he had to pull to locate the train car in the first place. No wonder Mulder ends the episode railing at the injustices of it all. It's probably anger directed more at his own frustration at having failed quite so badly on all scores in this particular quest. No, I'm afraid our hero here is Scully who once again gets the much more interesting journey. Agent Pendrell's continued investigation of her implanted chip tells us little new from "Nisei" (we already knew that it could read thoughts), other than the link to the Hansens facility in Perkey. Here, Scully discovers a secret leper colony, which the teaser sequence rather cunningly tries to trick us into believing was actually peopled with aliens. Her compassion at the death pit is all too clear. And a fresh mass grave of murdered victims is not something she expected to see on American soil. On a sidenote, there's some deeply inherent criticism of the US military here, as we see them ruthlessly gun down dozens of helpless victims. So, does she come any closer to the truth? Her encounter with the First Elder from the consortium (John Neville presumably being unavailable for filming) would seem to indicate that. But don't be too sure. This programme thrives on misinformation. Bear in mind the final scene where we see that the Cigarette Smoking Man is clearly behind the events that have taken place, and also recall the antagonistic relationship he had with the consortium in the Anasazi trilogy over the missing digital tape, and we can only surmise that strings are being pulled all over the place. As the opening tagline of the episode succinctly say "Apology is Policy". Frankly though, "731" can probably go down as being the first run-of-the-mill mythology episode. Mulder's general inactivity and particularly the tired old plot device of a bomb on board would seem to indicate that this particular episode is running on tired old tracks. (It would be quite refreshing just once in a movie or programme when someone uncovers a bomb for them to see that they have plenty of time left, rather than the inevitable few minutes. And do all these bombs come equipped with LED countdown read-outs?) Apart from the amusing revelation that Agent Pendrell has the hots for Scully, the one nice thing about it all is that Scully really does save Mulder's bacon by reading him the exit code for the box car. Now that is a good partnership (and rather typically, barely acknowledged by Mulder too.)

  • great episode, with a good story and some good acting.

    “731” is the concluding part of “Nisel”. It see’s Skully take Mr X’s advice and investigate more into the implant she had removed from her neck. Mulder, having ignored the advice given him, finds himself trapped on the train with a murderer and a bomb. This is another great episode, with a great intro to. There is a lot of tension in this episode due to the whole bomb issue and what is on the train exactly. Mr X (the black deep throat) saves the day- which I thought was nice. But anyway a great episode, with a good story and some good acting.
  • More Trains

    I found this episode to be less exciting and less interesting than the previous one, probably because the action inside the train seemed a bit dull to me. The whole bomb thing felt contrived and I wanted to see more of the alien thingy locked in the back.

    The extensive use of trains was interesting as it evoked the concentration camps of World War II. Surely this was intentional, given the title of this episode and the mass burial site discovered by Scully.

    It seemed a bit farfetched that X himself would risk exposure by coming to save Mulder from Piano-Wire Guy personally but hey, this is the X-Files and a certain willing suspension of disbelief is sometimes necessary.
  • The resolution of Mulder being on the train and Scully looking for the origin of her micro-chip.

    In a somewhat disappointing but equally intriguing conclusion to the little story the show was telling here, we see Mulder getting no closer to the truth but also we find Mulder's friend/foe, the man known as "X," ultimately choosing to save Mulder's life over the alien life-form's, a clear cut sign that he is better than we might expect.

    The action of the train wasn't nearly as interesting as the action in the previous episode, but it was still fun to watch Mulder try to track down the scientist and slowly, methodically try to find his way into the room with the "alien" in it.

    Except I'm not sure if I should say alien at all.. Scully's plot found her tracking down a leper colony where the Japanese scientists had been experimenting on humans with leprosy and other awful diseases. She becomes convinced that there is no such thing as alien abductions and that it has all been an elaborate scheme of the U.S and Japanese government. This puts us all, including Mulder, in a delicate situation: do we believe Scully in thinking that it's all a hoax or do we trust Mulder and the government? Honestly, I think Scully's excuse is a misleading piece of information, one that will put Mulder off of the path for the truth. However, it should be interesting to see what happens. There's been too much that has happened to make me believe that the alien experimentation has just been experiments on lepers and other diseases.
  • Very exciting episode, however...

    It was funny - or weird - how Mulder, being so paranoid most of the time and in a case that could've involved a conspiracy on covering one of the best kept secrets and revealing evidence, could trust the conductor of the train so easily. But hey, not every guy is a bad guy and Mulder definitely needed so help or he would've died.

    Scully finally gets her proof and she learns a sad truth. But at least she now knows what really happened to her. One thing that struck me is how she didn't force the Elder to tell her more.

    I love the interaction between Mulder and Scully in this episode, at a point that they guess their thoughts and looking for evidence that could help each other without asking.
  • I love this episode. Both of the storylines are great and it is one of the most exhilarating 45 mintutes ever.

    We left off with Mulder jumping onto a train carrying what he believes is an alien human hybrid, but is actually a bomb. Scully goes looking for answers about the train car and how to save Mulder and stumbles upon a horrifying secret. She discovers more about the abducted women from the last episode, but cannot save Mulder. Mulder, meanwhile is stuck in a train car wired to a bomb with an assassin who attempts to make sure Mulder doesn't survive his train ride. His plan fails though when X appears and saves Mulder from the exploding train car. This episode developed the character of X in a way [showing that he will help Mulder at times, but that he does have his own agenda, and is willing to sacrifice his own personal ambitions at times.] All in all this episode is gripping and can't be missed by any fan. The shows mythology at its best.
  • Full speed episode

    Another awesome continuation of a two parter, these stories that tie into the bigger plot throughout the show are the real highlights. Keeping things interesting is the speeding train which is a great change of enviroment, even for a show with constantly different sets and locations. Steven Williams returns from the dark to lend his caution.... and a helping hand too. Have to mention that fantastic explosion at the end, really shows of the production quality and care the series has (and deserves). To end it all of course is another moment of uncertainty with the cancer man smoking away, nothing is finished yet.
  • The one with the train

    A very great follow up, of Nisei. Much superior

    The good thing about Nisei was definitely the Scully abduction thing that hardly got explored in the second part. The weak part was the Mulder thing which got powerful and added a lot to the mythology in the second part.

    731, was mostly about exploring to what they did to the aliens. They killed them just like in world war 2 (this story line was sort of used of WW2) And it worked perfectly, also we were made to believe at first that the abductions by aliens weren’t real, it were humans experimenting on humans. The place that Scully found was a place where they send homeless or crazy people and that mad Japanese doctor experimented on them and gave them lepra for example.

    Anyway, the best part was Mulder on the train. I really loved the guy who helped Mulder with everything, I am unsure if he died or not. Anyway, the mad doctor was killed by a weird guy who was later killed by X (the first time I liked X, ever) There was an alien, Scully told Mulder that it wasn’t but Mulder doesn’t fully believe. The other guy says that he was used as a weapon and taken by the scientist back to his country.

    Meanwhile there is a bomb on the train, X was able to save Mulder this time but the government got away with the entire thing.

    Anyway, the goodness of this episode is that it made you believe to things. I still believe that the aliens exist, but not that they are the ones who experiment on humans…or do they? I don’t get that part. Maybe they work with the governor?
  • 731 was awesome!

    731 was a perfect episode of The X-Files. I really enjoyed watching because the character and plot development were phenomenal. It was interesting to see the different sides of the story and to learn what "they" don't want us to know. I liked how both Mulder and Scully could be right in their assumptions of the truth. The scenes were great and a lot of fun to watch. I liked how the story played out and answered questions while asking many more. The ending was great as the Cigarette Smoking Man was revealed to have some role in the events. I certainly look forward to watching what happens next!!!!!!!!!
  • great

    731 is the first complete episode I saw of the X-Files. It's as good today as when I saw it for the first time. Wonderfully written by Frank Spotnitz and directed by Rob Bowman, this episode is a rip-roaring adventure. The suspense is kept at a maximum throughout the entire episode as Mulder is aboard a train with a bomb on it. The music by Mark Snow in 731 is excellent, especially when Scully views the pit of bodies at the research facility. With Bowman's superb direction, you feel as if you are on a moving train with Mulder. A great guest star appearance is given by Stephen McHattie as the assassin Red Haired Man. Ruthlessness exudes from him. Stephen Williams as X, Don S. Williams as First Elder, & Brendan Beiser as Agent Pendrell are all worthy of mention here. The first hints of Agent Pendrell's crush on Scully are shown in this episode. The show keeps you guessing whether Mulder and Scully are seeing aliens or just lepers being used as test subjects. When I saw Nisei, I knew I had to see the continuation of that episode 731, to find out what happens. But after viewing 731, I was officially hooked on the x-files and the rest is history.
  • "My name is Mulder. Fox Mulder"


    What's cunning about the "Nisei/731" story is not so much the 'answers' revealed but the way that it brings us back around almost to where we began two years ago--Mulder believes in the alien abduction story, Scully does not. It's more like a spiral, which does not quite return to its point of origin, than a circle: while Scully is still a skeptic she is a skeptic in a more plausible way. She no longer rejects the 'evidence' before her out of hand, but tries to fit it into her own theory of medical experimentation and research atrocities. I am glad to see that we must not return to Scully as Spock ("Mulder, that is so illogical."); she retains not only integrity as a character but her own unique voice. To make her a believer seeking only the evidence to bring an alien into court would make her an echo of Mulder, and she deserves better. Season One told the stories pretty much through Scully's eyes. Season Two told them through Mulder's eyes. Now we are reaching a point of equilibrium where both characters carry plausibility.

    The scariest thing in "Nisei/731", however, is not the pitiful lepers or the alien bodies piled in a pit, in a scene reminiscent of "Schindler's List". No, the scariest monster in this story is Dr. Ishimaru, the Japanese version of Dr. Mengele, the counterpart to the Dr. Klemper we saw in "Paper Clip". The ultimate abstraction of the scientific principle, with no soul, no heart, and no mercy, he embodies the fears of a society that has yet to come to grips with the technological wonders in its hands. In any case, we are treated in "Nisei/731" to a peek over the edge of that abyss opening before our feet with the advent of genetic engineering. Our fears are not so much of the technology but of the men who wield it: Dr. Ishimaru, Dr. Klemper.

    Stephen McHattie acquitted himself more than admirably as the relentless, arrogant assassin sent to kill Ishimaru and the quarantined passenger. It's a shame he dies as I believe he could have been a great recurring character. His lean, skull-like face lends itself automatically to menace, and he can deliver a truth in such a way as to convince you it is a lie. The little conductor was absolutely wonderful in his rabbity way, and having Gillian Barber playing Penny Northern so she could say "She is one" was hilarious (Barber played Beth Kane in "Red Museum"; "He is one" was a catch phrase for that episode. I wonder if I'm the only one who caught that reference).
    David Nutter, who directed "Nisei", uses closeups better than anyone else on this series. His painterly and intimate portraits bring the viewer right into the character's emotions.

    Rob Bowman, who directed "731", set up some wonderful shots: the low angle on the leper dormitory hideout room, the death squad truck bursting the gate, the heartbreaking open grave in the leper colony. Both directors used reflections in interesting ways: I liked the scene in "Nisei" when the Japanese diplomat's face is reflected in the interrogation room window against Walter Skinner, the television reflecting the whole living room in "731". Bowman even combined both techniques by having the alien passenger in the boxcar reflected in an extreme close-up of Mulder's eye, a shot that took us right into Mulder's head.

    I have to mention Mark Snow's mournful and poignant score, particularly in the scene where Scully discovers the bodies of the leper colony victims. Once again so much of the mood and atmosphere that help suspend our disbelief depends on a score that keeps us on the edge of emotion.

    In the final analysis, this is a well put together execution of a top-notch story. The ground for "Nisei/731" was pretty well laid in "Anasazi/Blessing Way/Paper Clip". The only minor flaw in this story arc for me was that Mulder and Scully were separated too much by the plot.