The X-Files

Season 6 Episode 9

S.R. 819

Aired Monday 9:00 PM Jan 17, 1999 on FOX

Episode Fan Reviews (12)

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  • S.R. 819

    S.R. 819 was a superb episode of The X-Files. I really enjoyed watching because the story was thrilling, the character development was awesome and the ending was spectacular. It was fun watching Mulder and Scully investigate what happened to Skinner as he seemed to be poisoned. There wasn't as much substance about why things were happening the way they did but enough to make sense. I liked what Scully discovered about what was harming Skinner. The ending was really great as the mysterious man behind every thing is revealed. I look forward to watching more!!!!!!!
  • Skinner contracts a deadly virus.

    Compared to the last episode the show had to offer, this one was much more exciting. We had the show's best supporting character, Skinner, contracting a deadly virus that kills within twenty four hours and a race for Mulder and Scully to try and get the cure to it or at least figure out who is behind it. As it turns out, the episode is pretty good when everybody is looking for who is responsible and pretty lame when we find out who it is (I agree with the reviewer below me who claimed it was a 10 for the first half)

    I always like an episode that puts Skinner at the forefront and gives him proof that Mulder is telling the truth with the stuff he believes in. It's too bad that A.D Kersh is in charge of Mulder and Scully right now, because Skinner is slowly starting to realize that there's some validity to what Mulder and Scully do.

    That being said, it was pretty lame when we learn that Krycek was responsible for both infecting and healing Skinner. Krycek was intriguing when we learned that he was a bad guy in Season 2, but the path that the writers have lead him down has turned him into that random villain that shows up in drama TV shows when the writers need somebody to fall back on for a big reveal.. Krycek is interesting, but ever since he lost his arm in Russia, I've lost any hope I've had for the writers putting his character back on a correct path.
  • Skinner is about to die... again

    Well another filler episode. X-Files still not back on track and Skinner is infected with some kind of poison. Or as it turns out some nanotechnology. I sort of liked this episode as it takes you back to previous seasons. But there is one big big error made along the way.

    Previously the paranormal or unexplained phenomena were (at least according to Mulders theories) possible. There was always some kind of justification for a person to squeeze between a 2x4 or someone willing others into suicide. Here however it is said that skinner was infected with a nanotechnological device builing walls in his bloodstream.

    Well aside from the fact that they couldn't multiply as fast or that some vessels must have ruptured under the rising pressure or that organs must have been affected as well or shut down... even if you ignore all this you can't overlook that these deviced simply cannot spontaneously multiply as shown. Were are they getting their pieces from? In one picture there are 20 and in the next there are 40...

    Btw: Why did Skinners heart start up again?
  • This is the X-files as it should be. Investigating unusual phenomenon.

    This episode shows a more humane side to both agents Dana Scully and Fox Mulder. In it, they discover that their boss on the X-files has contracted a life threatening virus which they must not only seek out a cure, but also who infected him with the virus. A.D. Skinner starts of at training in a gym doing some rounds of boxing, but later gets transferred to the hospital with his life signs failing. The medics manage to revive him (at the last minute) starting a great storyline which sees a familiar old face return in this episode. I enjoyed this episode greatly and would recommend it to any new X-file viewer.
  • The series returns to form this time with Skinner poisoned and Mulder and Scully racing against time to save him.

    The series returns to form this time with Skinner poisoned and Mulder and Scully racing against time to save him.

    After four straight comedic/x-light episodes we get back to the myth arch that keeps me interested and watching.A.D.Skinner is mysteriously poisononed which turns out to be of nano-technology origin.

    This episode seems to help solidify the Skinner/Mulder/Scully triumvirate but with a twist in the end.Senator Matheson reappears for this installment but is more secretive and less helpful than before.

    Overall a good character study of Skinner and his duality of support or denouncement as regards to the X-Files and the agents Mulder and Scully.
  • After the disaster that was The Rain King, this was exactly what was needed. A partial mythology episode with a solid and serious plot, and more importantly Mulder and Scully were in character for a change.

    The backwards time concept has always worked well withing the X-files universe, and it does that this time around as well. The pre-credits scene is one of the best ever, who didn't think it was Mulder the doctors were talking about? It also raised the question what had happened to Skinner (more so than what had happened to Mulder in Triangle), not to mention the special effects with the pulsing veins, which were simply awesome.

    The great work doesn't end there. The beard and hair Krycek was sporting was a great disguise; you could tell it was him if you really looked, but I at least belong to the group who got surprised to see it was him in the end. Even the phone call he made didn't tick me off. Very observant of me, but nonetheless, it was well done.

    While it may not be crucial to the mythology or overall development of the larger plot, the fact that Skinner has nanotechnology in his body was referred to later in the series as well (if I recall correctly). While it wouldn't have been the first time the writers ignored such details, it also wouldn't have been necessary to return to later. So great attention to details.

    This also concerns the return of senator Matheson, who was last seen in season three as an ally of Mulder. Krycek's little scheme put the end to their relationship, since Mulder's trust was broken. At least the amount of trust he can ever have in anyone. Overall it wasn't necessary to understand the plot completely, since there was enough action and excitement to keep one entertained. This is also why S.R. 819 is one of those episodes you can watch several times and not get tired of it.
  • Whomp That Sucker

    Finally, we get an X-File proper, without a goofy premise, a nutty guest star or a laugh track. This one is a solid 10.0 for the first thirty minutes, full of tension, a crazy paranoid sense of fear and a well-paced momentum that drives the episode for a solid half-hour. Unfortunately, the writers then come smack up against the need to "unkill" Skinner and the episode soon falls apart like a house of cards.

    I groaned when it was revealed that everyone's favorite one-armed bandit, Krycek, was the one responsible for Skinner's condition. How convenient and, well, how tired to have Krycek again be the secret villain. How's he operate that Blackberry thingie with a hook anyway?

    Now, Skinner is not one of my favorite characters, mostly because Pileggi irritates me, but I have to say he does a great job in this episode. I was truly impressed by his nuanced performance in this episode, the way in which he was able to switch from bravado to fear smoothly and believably. The swelling veins effect was also a thing of beauty.
  • Back to normal!

    As much as I loved Dreamland and Triangle and all, it was nice to get back into the nitty gritty of the X-Files classic episodes. For a while there, I was loving the light-hearted episodes but a part of me was afraid that the 6th season was setting a wholly radical change in tone. But here we are, SR 819. In a fair comparison to other similar episodes, I don't think it's any better. But because it's the first of its kind this season, it serves as doubly welcome. I'm a bit squeamish about the gross stuff, so I found it hard to look at Skinner with all the veins pulsing and such. But it was quite a good episode, especially with the surprise character reveal at the end. They totally got me. Mulder and Scully are chafing from their onerous duties. It was nice to see Skinner again, even with the reference to the fact that they can't work with him. I was also a bit worried about the appearance of AD Kersh.. I just don't like that man, no charm, no charisma. He's no Skinner, I'll tell you that. A nice little hook they left at the end too - what are they going to use the SR 819 in Skinner to do? You're left with the thought that this cannot be good news, not just for Skinner, but also for Mulder and Scully.
  • The one where Skinner is in danger

    A very strong episode that finally gives Skinner a bigger role after being ignored for more than two years.

    The beginning of the episode shows Skinner dying and that’s what we are made to believe.

    Then the episode reveals how it all happened, at a box tournament Skinner gets knocked out, when he winds up in the hospital the doc releases him but there is something wrong, he asks Mulder and Scully for help, he got a phone number that told him that he is going to die in the next 24 hours. The best part of the episode is when Skinner tries to remember how it happened, looking back, he remembers a man touching him and he is their lead suspect, when Skinner and Mulder go to his house, the man is taken away by some men who beat down Skinner and make everything worse, he is starting to get symptoms around his neck and almost get shot in a parking lot, but instead the shooter gets killed by someone in a car.

    Meanwhile Scully investigates Skinner’s blood, it has something that multiplies itself very quickly which makes the blood a weapon against the body. Skinner keeps seeing a man with long hair and a beard, soon after that he dies and the doctors don’t even try ot bring him back, but he comes back to live when that person makes it so in a machine he has got.

    Skinner amazingly gets better, he got a touchy scene with Scully where he tells her that he wishes he would have been a bigger part in everything, but when Mulder and Scully ask Skinner to allow them to investigate the case, he declines. Turns out that he is being threatened by Krycek who can kill him now anytime he wants.

    The episode is very powerful and develops Skinner exactly in the way he needed it. It was also nice to see Krycek back.
  • Overall, this episode is something of a return to form, bringing some much needed conspiracy and mythology elements to the sixth season.

    After a long run of episodes with little or no connection to the overall series arc or the consequences of “Fight the Future”, the writers finally turned back to the subject. Oddly enough, the choice was made to turn away from Mulder and Scully and focus on Skinner. This might seem an odd choice at first, but in retrospect, it was the right move. Skinner was equally compromised by the events of the film, and the emergence of AD Kersh had changed things for Skinner. So what was the logical next step?

    The best consequence of this decision is the first example of a strong Skinner-centric episode. It may not delve into his personal life, but it directly addresses his choices and puts the character on a new path. The one drawback is that the writers left the question of his future so open-ended that it felt like an important new aspect of the character, when it was something the writers never fully grasped as a consistent element for future storytelling.

    As with most of the mythology episodes, previous interpretations regarding the goals and policies of the conspiracy and Cancer Man pertain directly to the interpretation of the current episode. Therefore, the speculation and interpretation outlined in previous reviews are assumed to be familiar to the reader. In particular, the summary of the mythology provided and given in the review for “Fight the Future” factors into the interpretation of this episode.

    First, there’s the question of why the conspiracy would take this particular direction. After all, Skinner could have been eliminated or otherwise reassigned. Why keep him around, and more importantly, why compromise him in this particular fashion? The obvious reasons are within the episode, but a deeper look at the thought process may be instructive.

    At this stage of the game, Cancer Man has manipulated the Syndicate into accepting his son, Jeffrey Spender, and Diana Fowley as the new operatives within the X-Files. This decision was two-fold. It gave the Syndicate and Cancer Man a greater control over information flow, disinformation release, and FBI operations, while also preventing Mulder and Scully from getting “off the grid”.

    In that respect, Skinner had become, from the conspiracy’s point of view, too much of an ally for Mulder and Scully. He was able to afford them the latitude required to investigate aspects of the conspiracy that they were never supposed to see, at least until Mulder had been absorbed into the effort (Cancer Man’s long-term goal). Placing Mulder and Scully under Kersh’s thumb was about directing their efforts in very specific ways, thus controlling (to a certain extent) their psychological reactions. This was something that the format and content of the early sixth season was never able to communicate in the necessary detail.

    Skinner was left in charge of Spender and Diana, who were all but stooges of the conspiracy. With Mulder pushing the limits again and again, a message had to be delivered. Going after Scully had proven foolish, and with Cancer man back in charge, any further action against them would be unlikely. Instead, why not deliver a message by staging a demonstration against their one remaining ally in the FBI?

    This situation places Skinner directly under Cancer Man’s control, at least at this point in the series’ mythology. Krycek is once again working for Cancer Man, and as such, it makes sense for him to be the one to lead this particular operation. Looking back on previous mythology episodes, there had been a growing personal vendetta between the two characters, and this was another aspect of it. (Leaving aside, of course, the question of how Krycek could operate the technology or even a standard car correctly, given his physical limitations!)

    While the events of “Two Fathers” would ultimately destroy Cancer Man’s plans, giving rise to the true conspiracy generated by Purity (see the mythology summary previously mentioned), the implication is that Cancer Man was preparing to manipulate Mulder and Scully even further. Taking out Skinner as an ally and source of strength would have been an important step. Had the Rebels not attacked within weeks of this point in the timeline, there’s no telling what Mulder would have faced in terms of personal temptation.

    So the “why” is fairly obvious, and the writers do a competent job of exploring the implications for Skinner. He regrets not being more of an ally to Mulder, for not embracing the cause, because he knew what Mulder only suspected. He was a tool of Cancer Man, and he knew what choices were being made and implemented. The wonderful irony is that the introduction of the control nanotech into his system takes what was a choice of convenience and makes it an irrevocable demand, all while leaving it a matter of survival.

    This is the essence of where Skinner should have gone, had the writers maintained consistency in his character evolution. Skinner’s choice doesn’t change; only the method of delivering consequence has changed. The choice is obedience or likely death, one way or the other. Skinner still chooses to preserve his life over the moral responsibility to fight the conspiracy.

    Compare that to Krycek. Krycek is also completely focused on his own survival, and he chooses to shift loyalties and commit acts of terrorism to achieve that end. One could conclude that his methods are in direct proportion to his knowledge of the apocalyptic events to come. He knows much about the shape of the future, and so he aligns himself with whatever power can give him the greatest assurance of survival.

    So Skinner and Krycek act out of very similar desires, but with one key difference. Krycek sees the need to survive as a viable excuse for shedding his morality. Skinner, however, still believes that he can do the right and moral thing, even while compromising his principles. The point is that Krycek is all but lost to true redemption; if he were to join Mulder and fight the future, it would always be on his own terms. Skinner has the chance to give his life, even in the most metaphorical sense, to a higher cause, if he so chooses. Skinner has the chance at redemption, even under the current circumstances.

    (Of course, it was always possible for events to change Krycek’s perspective, thus giving him a personal reason to make the right choices for the right reasons. For one possible such scenario, see the following story:

    Skinner is not the only character that receives good treatment. Here is an episode where the “iconic” versions of Mulder and Scully take a back seat to the real deal. Mulder not only remembers what happened with Skinner in “Avatar”, but he actually asks a pointed question to rule that possibility out. More to the point, Mulder demonstrated in earlier episodes that he would risk his own skin to help Skinner as a friend, and he does so again. Scully shows equal dedication and returns to analyzing evidence from a scientific point of view. In other words, this episode avoids the pitfalls of every episode since “Drive”.

    So the writers got the character continuity right, and the connections to the conspiracy make perfect sense. The only remaining question is how well the technology at the heart of the episode meshes with the mythology. On the face of it, it might feel like an intrusion, but it actually presents a simple solution to one of the big questions within the mythology itself.

    On several occasions, things repair themselves with unerring accuracy. UFOs repair themselves after crashing, going back as far as Roswell. The super-soldiers in the eighth and ninth season are able to regenerate from almost nothing. For that matter, the “hunters” are able to heal dying individuals with barely a touch. How is all of this possible? As this episode suggests, the key is nanotechnology.

    The idea is quite simple. The goal of the conspiracy, looking back on the early years, was to create a super-soldier capable of surviving the future Colonization. The ability to regenerate wounds was a big deal, and natural modifications (through grafting, radiation, etc.) could not provide the solution to that problem. But there was technology in hand from the crash at Roswell: the nanotech repair systems and the control chips that would govern their programming.

    That technology was at the heart of “Phase I”, the first step towards creating the artificially evolved humanity that would be the perfect fodder for Purity’s subsuming of the population. The initial tests would have been brutal and lethal, but the technology would have advanced, slowly but surely. The culmination around 1990 was the pretext for staging the Persian Gulf Conflict; the first batch of nanotech-enhanced super-soldiers needed a field test. (“Phase II” was the attempt to create and propagate a biological analogue to the nanotech, as evidenced in “The Erlenmeyer Flask” and “Emily”.)

    Cancer Man would know where the earlier versions of the nanotech had been stored, and he would be more than willing to use it. After all, he had approved the decision to implant Scully with one of the more modern control chip/biological nanotech systems in the second season. Using the older version was a more direct means of applying pressure to Skinner, while also ensuring that the true scope and capability of the Project would be out of sight.

    What the writers never capitalized upon, despite having plenty of time, was the inherent flaw to the older system. The nanotech was within Skinner’s system, but unlike Scully’s situation, the control chip elements were not present in his body. It took a signal from outside, originating from the control mechanism owned by Krycek, to activate the programming. This could and should have been the key to Skinner’s next step in character development.

    Skinner should have been seeking out a means of controlling the nanotech himself, especially to his own benefit. After all, if the nanotech can interfere with the body, it can be programmed to maintain the body. That is one of the functions of the nanotech within the control chip implants seen in “En Ami”, for example. If Skinner continues to be a pawn, used by others, then taking control of the nanotech within his body would be a metaphor (and would facilitate) taking control of his own destiny.

    Even if Skinner were to destroy the control mechanism, it would be a step in the right direction. Unfortunately, the writers never took advantage of the obvious storytelling opportunities. The nanotech would either be ignored or used sporadically and inconsistently, because there was little interest on the part of the writing staff to give Skinner that final step towards redemption.

    Still, that has no bearing on whether or not this episode is successful. From the perspective of the sixth season in particular, this avoids the three primary pitfalls of the “XF Lite” era (seasons 6-7): it has strong connections to the “big picture”, the main characters act according to previously established development, and there’s no “wacky, funny hook”.

    In addition, it avoids the mistakes of later mythology episodes by focusing on an element that is consistent with the mythology to date. One could even argue that this was one of the last “pure” mythology tales, written before the need to improvise plot elements from season to season. For all those reasons, this is one of the better episodes of the sixth season.
  • A little interesting

    This episode started off really boring then got a little interesting towards the end.

    This time it was all about Skinner who gets infected by a virus. It starts off with him dying, then a flashback of the events of the last 24 hours.

    Throughout the episode I actually thought he had died and actually felt sorry for him.
  • Skinner gets infected with the nano-machines, which will be important for awhile.

    Senator Matheson shows his true colors. Krychek loses any chance he ever had of being likable, but gains some cred in the manipulative bastard category, and that's just as good. There haven't been a whole lot of chances for Skinner to play a pivotal role in the mythology, so this makes a nice start.
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