The X-Files

Season 2 Episode 9

Firewalker

4
Aired Sunday 9:00 PM Nov 18, 1994 on FOX
7.8
out of 10
User Rating
347 votes
15

EPISODE REVIEWS
By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

EDIT
Mulder and Scully, reunited at last, head for an active volcano under a geological study and find a deadly life form that can survive in the searing heat of the crater and is killing the scientists to avoid being discovered.

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • Silicon-based life form

    6.0
    The idea of having a monster-of-the-week based on volcanos was cool, however the episode was fairly flat. There's nothing more to say.
  • Fire walker vs Ice

    7.5
    I thought this episode was set very similar to ice because Mulder and Scully go to MT Avalon in some kind of lab and the people working on the project was all exposed to some spore that dies straight after it comes out of someone and this could put Mulder and Scully in danger.Ice was similar to this but you can't compare this episode to Ice because that was one of the best episodes of the X files and this was nothing compared to that episode.moreless
  • Firewalker

    8.0
    Firewalker was a great episode of The X-Files. I really enjoyed watching because the story reminded me of John Carpenter's "The Thing" and there was lots of action and intrigue. This wasn't the best episode but it wasn't horrible either. It was nice to see Mulder trying to ease Scully back in by suggesting she take more time. I loved how she replied letting him know she's not going anywhere. There were some scary moments and some that were more sentimental. I liked the ending and look forward to watching what happens next!!!!!moreless
  • "Alien" meets "Ice" meets "Darkness Falls".

    3.5
    Mulder and Scully find themselves involuntarily quarantined, exposed to a deadly biological menace, locked in with a killer in a remote location with a lot of nervous people. Do we get Mulder and Scully next week chasing a liver-eating sleepless UFO abductee who claims his toaster is talking to him? How incestuous can we get? I don't want to be too harsh on "The X-Files", because I have an inkling of the impossible demands of writing for television. But if the writers for Ten Thirteen are getting so desperate for ideas that they are recycling last season already, they would be better off locking the company lawyers in a closet and logging onto alt.tv.x-files.creative.

    I don't want to be too overly critical of Chris Carter, as I don't know what could follow the splendid "One Breath" without being anti-climactic, but I was honestly disappointed with this episode.

    It was about some other agents. Mulder and Scully were so far out of character in this one I wondered how much the ransom would be to bring them back. Mulder simply walks away from his murder suspect to save Scully? Doctor Scully callously locks a patient in severe medical distress in an observation room to save her own hide? Mulder lies to protect a murderer and Scully goes along with it? While we all act "out of character" from time to time, we also have certain consistent traits that define us, and when we break from them, I want a good reason for it.

    If I wanted to get rich, I would acquire the battery concession for "The X-Files". Director David Nutter continues to give us the exquisite close-ups and tight pacing that mark his work, but he was working against the script. There was far too much wandering-around-in-the-dark-with-flashlights. Although I like the film-noir twilight of most of "The X-Files", we need some light and air now and then. And we have returned to the splatter effects. While the cheesy exploding-neck device was not quite as viciously bloody as the one in "Alien", it was so disturbing it overbalanced the rest of the scene. It was ludicrous. It was like smashing us over the head with a sledgehammer: it left us too dazed to appreciate much afterwards for a while. Finesse, guys, finesse. Use the stilleto of menace, not the blunt object of revulsion.

    "Firewalker" had good points. It was well-researched: has Mulder memorized the periodic table of elements or what? Scully's lab work was believable, her narration crisp. The art direction was fair--Mulder's manly five o'clock shadow is back and Scully's suits are better. I am *very* glad the costumers have ditched the damned trench coats for a while. I would like to see this show move out of Vancouver. Enough already with forest/fog/rain: send the agents to Florida or Arizona or Hawaii (now there are some volcanoes!)

    I liked the scenes between the main characters very much. It's not the same taut chemistry Mulder and Scully had last season, but something quieter. Trust, maybe, and deep affection. The sexual teasing is toned down, and I'm not surprised. Mulder and Scully are past that stage, and have evolved a real partnership, where Mulder is not afraid to show his concern for his friend and Scully--although still skeptical--is more willing to listen to Mulder and trust his instincts. The acting is as good as ever, with David Duchovny opening up Fox Mulder more, giving us a more physical law enforcement officer (with a shorter temper!). Gillian Anderson further strengthened the diamond intellect that is Dana Scully with more of her understated finesse. The looks these two actors exchange substitutes for a great deal of dialogue: they ought to patent this stuff.

    The chief joy of "Firewalker" was the return of Dana Scully. While I have no complaints about Mulder on his own, to see The Team working together like the two halves of one mind again is a special pleasure. Gillian Anderson slipped right back into her role seamlessly. And we missed her.moreless
  • Ice by any other name

    2.6
    No matter how jubilant we might be at the prospect of Scully returning to work, that emotion is heavily diluted by the fact it’s on one of the dullest X Files ever. Rehashing “Ice”, with its captive group of suspects all possibly acting as hosts to some strange contagion, “Firewalker” starts off dull and gets progressively worse from then on in. (Though as an aside, I should say that motherhood clearly agrees with Anderson, for despite the dumpy clothes, she looks positively radiant here). So as the agents head out into a volcano to find out why one of the scientific party has wigged out to murderous effect, we are left to ponder one of the programme’s largest plot holes. In the teaser, the Firewalker device is in the depths of the volcano when it captures on film some kind of large presence. And, er, that’s it. The presence doesn’t rate a mention after that, for the more pressing problem is those darned spores that keep erupting out of people’s throats.



    Certainly the make-up men did pretty good with their gross phallus type object forcing its way through the neck of those luckless individuals who last that long to fall victim to it. This is one biological entity that would make body-horror specialist David Cronenberg proud. And the agents quickly fall back into their old routine. Apart from Mulder briefly wondering if Scully should be tackling something like this (he’s not the only one), and Scully reassuring him that she wants to get back to work, it’s like the old alien abduction thing never happened. Mulder gets excited about this scientific search for the truth (he is briefly and ineffectively mirrored to the Trepkos character), and Scully is there to disprove him at every turn. Given that we haven’t had this scenario for quite some time – this is actually the first case the 2 have physically worked together on properly since “The Erlenmeyer Flask” at the end of Season 1 – it’s actually quite odd to find that it’s extremely tiresome. The best scene here is when Scully realises that the girl student O’Neil is about to infect her with the killer spore, having handcuffed them together. Scully hits on the ingenious combination of a closed door and a window to separate them. Gone are her Hippocratic sensitivities, and the need to preserve life. No, it’s every FBI agent for themselves when there’s a spore-spewing phallus about to go off.



    Ultimately Mulder lets the manic Trebkos go off, claiming that he and O’Neil are unaccounted for, presumed missing, to the powers that be. That’s a very Mulder thing to do, but one wonders what Scully actually thinks of this, given that she is being party to a huge lie. However, at the end of this episode she is probably in a similar position to us, and decided not to care. We’ve had a terrific run with Season 2’s first 8 episodes all being outstanding. It was inevitable that an episode would come along and put a stop to that. “Firewalker”, alas, is the one to stop that excellent run in its tracks.



    2/10moreless
Bradley Whitford

Bradley Whitford

Dr Daniel Trepkos

Guest Star

Tuck Milligan

Tuck Milligan

Dr Adam Pierce

Guest Star

Leland Orser

Leland Orser

Jason Ludwig

Guest Star

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

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  • TRIVIA (4)

    • The organism in the episode is referred to as "silicon-based", yet it is capable of growing within a carbon-based human body.

    • The theme of this episode was inspired by the real life NASA, NSF sponsored Carnegie Mellon Robotics Institute project Dante I (a six legged 'spider-like' robot designed and implemented by CMU robotics team in 1990 to explore an active volcano- Mt Erebus). There is a scene in this episode that shows an image of the 'Firewalker' robot. The (prop) robot in this scene is a close representation of the real machine down to the six legs, body, laser scanner and sensor mast.

    • Plot Hole: While looking at the microscope, Scully says that she's not a botanist but she's quite sure the fungus is unknown to science. Fungi are not plants, they belong to a whole different kingdom and are the object of study of mycologists, not botanists.

    • Not a goof, but some creative editing: After Mulder, Scully and Dr. Pierce are dropped off at the volcano research site, the shot of the helicopter flying away is the same shot as when it was arriving, but flipped around so the copter is now flying from screen right to screen left - you can tell by looking at the mountain formations in the back ground.

  • QUOTES (12)

    • Mulder: I'm going to go find Trepkos.
      Scully: What if he's already dead?
      Mulder: Then he'll have a tough time answering my questions.

    • Scully: I'm back, and I'm not going anywhere.

    • Mulder: (voice-over) Scully and I are in the third day of a month-long quarantine, undergoing level 4 decon procedures. We are so far without symptoms of fungal contamination. All our specimens and field notes were confiscated by the military biohazard corps prior to our evacuation. Their presence has delayed for an indefinite period the arrival of the USGS data retrieval team. I suspect, though, that there will be little left for them to retrieve. There are no plans at present to explore further any of the hundreds of volcanically active mountains in the Cascade Range, including Mount Avalon. All access points to that volcano have been sealed off by army engineers.... Of the members of the Firewalker descent team, only Trepkos and O'Neil remain unaccounted for. They are presumed dead, and the search for them has been abandoned. Firewalker, however, was recovered, though its sensory and locomotive systems were found to be irreparably damaged. The data it collected from the earth's interior will never be known. And of the events that occurred at Mount Avalon between the 11th and 13th of November, 1994, mine stands as the only record.

    • Trepkos: You still believe you can petition heaven and get some penetrating answer. If you found that answer, what would you do with it?

    • Mulder: What went wrong, Trepkos? Firewalker carried something back to the surface.
      Trepkos: Firewalker brought up an elephant. The truth is an elephant described by three blind men. The first man touches the tail and says it's a rope. The second man feels the rough leg and says it's a tree. The third man feels the trunk and says it's a snake.
      Mulder: What about you? What do you say it is?

    • Mulder: Why are you doing this, Trepkos? He's already dead. How many times do you have to kill him?
      Trepkos: It's not him I'm trying to kill.

    • Mulder: So what is it, Scully? What are we dealing with?
      Scully: Without better imaging equipment, I can't say for sure.
      Mulder: I'll take any theory you've got.
      Scully: It appears to be some kind of a fungus.
      Mulder: Anything you recognize?
      Scully: Well, I'm not a botanist, but I think it's fair to guess that it's an unknown genus.
      Mulder: What am I looking at here?
      Scully: Spores. I scraped them off the tip of the fungus. It appears as if one of the spores grew inside of Tanaka until it reached reproductive maturity ... essentially outgrowing its host. But by then, it had already caused massive tissue damage, particularly to the respiratory tract.
      Mulder: That would account for the sand in his lungs.
      Ludwig: You found sand in his lungs?
      Mulder: Silicon dioxide, the waste product of a silicon-based organism.

    • O'Neil: I'm scared. I don't want to die here.
      Scully: What are you so afraid of, Jesse?
      O'Neil: Daniel. The only reason I even came here was because of him. He promised me that this would be an adventure...and that it would change my life. But eight months is a long time, and I just want to go home now.
      Scully: Where is home?
      O'Neil: Anywhere but here.

    • Mulder: I found several references to a subterranean organism.
      Scully: What are you talking about?
      Mulder: An unknown organism, existing within the volcano. I haven't found anything yet that describes it in specific terms but ...
      Scully: Mulder, nothing can live in a volcanic interior, not only because of the intense heat but the gases would be toxic to any organism.
      Mulder: What does this say?
      Scully: It describes the metabolism from hydrogen sulfide into silicon dioxide.
      Mulder: Doesn't that suggest a silicon-based life form?
      Scully: But the fundamental building block for every organism known to man is carbon, from the smallest bacterium to the largest redwood tree.
      Mulder: Yes, but silicon is the closest element to carbon. It reacts almost identically with other elements, the way it combines to form complex molecules. A silicon-based lifeform in the deep biosphere has been one of the Holy Grails of modern science.

    • Mulder: He just about took my head off!
      Ludwig: I told you I made a mistake, OK? I'm sorry, all right?
      Mulder: Well, who the hell are you?
      Ludwig: I'm Ludwig. I'm Jason Ludwig. I'm the robotics engineer for the descent team.
      Mulder: You always greet people this way?

    • Mulder: Scully? I don't think it's a good idea for you to go.
      Scully: Mulder, I appreciate your concern - but I'm ready. I want to work.
      Mulder: Well, maybe you should take some time off.
      Scully: I've already lost too much time.

    • Trepkos: (on video) Scientific data? We're talking about revisiting the very origin of the earth, peering into the fire where it all began - a human endeavor more important even than man's exploration of space.

  • NOTES (1)

    • Hiro Kanagawa, who plays Peter Tanaka in this episode also appears in a different role in fourth season's episode "Synchrony"

  • ALLUSIONS (0)

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