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Wanting to Believe - Three extracts from Rob Shearman's book

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  • Elders (Admins)

Following Matta2k's question about this book, I offered to type up one episode of his choice from each show. Having heard nothing further either in the shoutbox or in response to my PM, I've made my own choices.

"Walkabout" was an obvious choice, obviously wiggle.gifnotworthy.gif . Then I flipped through the pages of the book and there was season 5 of the X-Files and there was the 17th episode, which fitted in with "Walkabout" being the 17th episode of Millennium. The Lone Gunmen couldn't follow the same pattern, so I opted for the 7th episode instead.

But I think I should issue a warning – XF 5.17 "All Souls" might well be a challenging episode for some people, not least because of the religious aspect.

I wanted to post each one separately, to make it easier if anyone wants to quote something from the text, but the board software doesn't allow me to do that - if I "reply", that just gets added on to my first post. So I'll post "Walkabout", and all it needs is someone to reply (even if it's just an "OK"), then I'll be able to post the next one, and so on. Confused - you bet, so am I. head_hurts_kr.gif



1.17 Walkabout

Summary: Frank is found at a bus station with no memory of recent events, save for a lingering sense that someone died. It's gradually revealed that he took part in a clinical trial of an antidepressant drug called ProLoft – possibly because it affects the temporal lobe, and thus might cure his empathic talents. The test subjects in the drug trial became increasingly savage until one of them perished. Dr Daniel Miller, a man who experiences visions similar to Frank, is run over by a car after a meeting with Hans Ingram, the man who oversaw the clinical trial. Frank deduces that a drug called Smooth Time was administered during the ProLoft trial, which had an enraging rather than calming effect. Ingram is arrested for distributing the drug, as part of his goal to counteract the nation of "zombies" his drug company helped to create. Frank tells Catherine that he entered the trial because Jordan might have his empathic talents, but that he'll guide her if that's the case.

Critique: This must have entered production a little before the X-Files episode Demons. In both stories, our heroes have amnesia of events which are violent and shocking, and discover to their horror that they've been seeking treatment from unethical doctors using controversial methods to tap into their brain powers. Demons is a rather muddled and unrevelatory affair at best, and Walkabout is the superior story. For a start, it's a greater contrast to see Frank Black losing his reserves of emotional sang froid: within the first ten minutes we witness him not only try to smash down a glass door with his bleeding fists but also – and in some ways more shockingly – collapse dumbly into Catherine's arms when she finds him in hospital.

But those ten minutes still make the most interesting part of the episode. After that, and despite a bravura performance from Henriksen which really tries to find new areas of Frank Black to explore, this is a curiously passionless affair. To its credit it lacks the pretensions of Demons. But the mystery surrounding the trials of experimental antidepressants isn't nearly as exciting as the mystery of why Frank Black was involved in such trials in the first place. The episode sets the idea that these two puzzles are somehow connected, and that Frank will find that connection when he investigates – but, as it turns out, the solution is offered only as an epilogue, Frank admitting to Catherine that he was worried about Jordan's burgeoning psychic ability. The remedy – that they'll keep an eye on her and make sure she's all right – is especially pat and unsatisfying after the extreme ways Frank tried to confront the issue at the beginning of the story.

There's an interesting idea at the heart of this, about the way America is anaesthetising its population into zombies. But Gregory Itzin plays the doctor who wants to wake everybody up from their medicated cheer as a two dimensional madman; similarly Zeljko Ivanek's performance as the discredited doctor who suffers from visions lacks the subtlety that would make the comparisons between him and Frank Black especially meaningful. What begins as intriguing becomes rather plodding and formulaic, before descending into silliness. The opening sequence of trial patients freaking out to their drugs is disturbing and bizarre – the later ones, with whole armies of extras flapping about like geese, are laugh out loud funny.

It's nice to see an attempt to do something different with Franks character – even if it doesn't generate the domestic drama that it might have done: poor Megan Gallagher, on learning that her husband is keeping secrets from her under an alias, remains stubbornly supportive of him. (Just wait until next season, love – oh, how the sparks will fly!) It does at least give Terry O'Quinn, who's being doing a fine job as Peter Watts in a largely expository role up to now, a chance to ruffle his feathers a bit. (**)


"Humans need fantasy to be human. To be the place where the falling angel meets the rising ape." Terry Pratchett

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • Elders (Admins)

Hi Libby,

Great post!

RE: "if I "reply", that just gets added on to my first post" If you post within so many seconds (I forget what we set it to, the posts are merged.It was a feature added a few years back. If you post after the time limit, your post appears as a fresh reply. Feel free to delete my/this post after reading.


PS. Ah, found it...

Set to 4 minutes. Have changed it to 1

Merge member's concurrent posts

"When a member posts twice within n minutes, once after the other in a topic they will be merged into one post. Enter the number of minutes to capture concurrent posts. Enter 0 to not use"

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