The X-Files

Season 3 Episode 10

731 (2)

Aired Monday 9:00 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.)

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