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TV Review: The X-Files - Season 11 Episode 7 "Rm9sbG93ZXJz"

Episode: "Rm9sbG93ZXJz"

Synopsis: In a world of ever-increasing automation and artificial intelligence, Mulder and Scully find themselves targets in a deadly game of cat and mouse.

The X-Files, Rm9sbG93ZXJz, TV Review, FOX, David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson

REVIEW: Between The X-Files going off the air after season 9 and it's return in 2016, the mantle of prescient science fiction television was bestowed upon Black Mirror. The British export has become the defacto successor to the legacy of The X-Files and The Twilight Zone's distinct brand of technological paranoia. With this season of The X-Files firmly entrenched in the mythology the show has become known for, the few standalone episodes have been good but ultimately designed to serve the overatching storyline of Season 11. Tonight's episode, a true standalone hour titled "Rm9sbG93ZXJz" (aka "They Know Everything"), is by far the best Monster of the Week episode in a long time and easily one of the finest episodes in the entire run of The X-Files.

Told virtually without dialogue, "Rm9sbG93ZXJz" is set in a slightly exagerrated version of our reality where technology has become an interconnected element of our daily lives. Restaurants are run without humans, driverless cars take us to our destinations, and deliveries are made by drone. Everything portrayed in this hour exists in the real world and is not far from reaching the slightly over-the-top appearance it has here. When Mulder and Scully get the wrong dish at a local sushi restaurant, Mulder tries to complain to the staff but only finds robots in the kitchen whose glowing red sensors appear like malicious eyes. When Mulder elects not to tip them due to their error, it begins a hunt where the machines band together to try and kill their stingy customers.

It may seem ridiculous, but this episode never feels like a comedy. Instead, Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny get to have fun playing their roles while delivering less than twelve lines of dialogue each. After playing their iconic roles for twenty years, neither of them misses a beat and are actually better here than they have been all season. In deviating from the expected format of the series, "Rm9sbG93ZXJz" takes a risk like the single take episode "Triangle" and the COPS themed episode. But, where those episodes feel dated are too reliant on their gimmicks, this hour is a stunning satire on our over-reliance of personal electronic devices. In fact, this episode succeeds by instilling dread and fear in the aspects of our modern daily lives that we so take for granted like predictive advertising and online ordering that knows when we have run out of something.

Mulder and Scully each face their own opponents in this episode before banding together and exploring the source of the robotic menace hunting them down. Eventually, a 3D printer begins spewing bullets at them as the robotic dogs that we have all seen on our Facebook feeds try to murder the FBI agents. Eventually, a robot with human-like facial features brings Mulder his phone which gives him one final chance to tip the sushi chef robots. Mulder does so begrudgingly before being greeted by a message telling him the robots learn from the behavior of humans. Mulder than touts that we need to be better teachers. It is a great message and one that doesn't feel overy saccharine in execution.

The X-Files, Rm9sbG93ZXJz, TV Review, FOX, David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson

Scripted by actress Kristin Cloke (Space Above and Beyond, Millennium, FINAL DESTINATION with Sharon Hamblin and directed by X-Files veteran Glen Morgan, "Rm9sbG93ZXJz" ends with Mulder and Scully visiting an actual restaurant run by an all human staff. When they each turn to their smartphones to fall into an electronic stupor, Scully puts her phone down and embraces Mulder. He puts his phone down as well and they enjoy each other's company while surrounded by the cacophony of the restaurant. It is a great ending to an episode that works on multiple levels. The gimmick aspect of a near dialogue-free hour coupled with a story that feels ripped from our current world makes this one heck of a horrifying prospect for the future. It also ranks as the best episode of this season (so far) and definitely cracks the best episodes of the entire series. After the lackluster sixth episode "KItten", The X-Files comes roaring back this week which kicks off the consecutive run of four episodes to round out the season. I highly recommend you find a way to stream this episode if you didn't watch it.

 
Next on The X-Files: "Familiar" airs March 7th - Mulder and Scully investigate the brutal animal attack of a little boy in Connecticut, while suspecting darker forces are at play.
 
Source: JoBlo.com

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