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Pilot

Posted in X-Files

First the obligatory “what is this” intro that I’ll probably have to repeat a few times: somewhat related to Black Stars Rise I’m rewatching The X-Files from the beginning. These posts (there will be more) take each episode and retell the same events from the point of view of the normal (or ‘normal’) folks Mulder and Scully end up investigating and helping.

It all starts with the students of Bellefleur, Organ, parttying like it’s (let’s say) 1990, celebrating their graduation in the woods. Aliens show up and abduct the lot of them. Someone drives back to town1 to get detective Miles while everyone else tries to wake up Billy Miles, the detective’s son. Out of all the abductees, only Billy is comatose—everyone else returns more or less unharmed. At least for now.

Detective Miles calls in an ambulance. Billy is rushed to the hospital where the docs tell Mr. Miles that his son is comatose, they have no idea when (if ever) he’ll wake up.

Billy was Mr. Miles’ whole life. He’s crushed. He starts taking extra shifts to cover medical care for his son. His life slowly shifts into the shape left by his son as grief overtakes him.

The whole incident isn’t talked about much. None of the students seem to know exactly what happened, they just recall whiteness and then waking up in the rainy forest. The rumor is someone spiked the drinks with something and an investigation is started by Detective Miles.

As Detective Miles starts looking into what happened at that party, one of Billy’s classmates is found dead—frozen to death on a warm summer night. Detective Miles isn’t one to miss a coincidence and redoubles his efforts to find out what happened that night. His theory is that whomever spiked the drinks is now covering their tracks.

Well, not literally covering their tracks. There’s clear barefoot prints around where the classmate is found. Not much of a clue, until Detective Miles visits his son (as he regularly does) and finds his son’s feet covered in broken pine needles and dirt. Being a rational person, he justifies this to himself—a careless nurse, maybe. It’s not until a few months later, when another classmate is found dead and a nearby camera shows Billy carrying him to where he was found.

Detective Miles cracks. He has proof that his son can wake up, somehow, but no idea what’s causing it. He goes to Dr. Nemman, an old friend, and shows him the evidence. Nemman pieces together what he can, based on the dead students and Billy, and builds a theory that maybe these kids were abducted. By aliens.

Of course they’re both keenly aware of just how crazy this is.2 They keep it on the down low, not wanting to endanger their positions. Detective Miles knows that sharing his theory broadly would mean losing his ability to cover for his son, so he trades the hope that someday the reawakening will be permanent for his integrity.

Over the next few years it happens twice more: Billy carries off his classmates to strange deaths. Detective Miles watches his son like a hawk, attempting to someday catch him awake. When Karen Swenson is carried off Detective Miles manages to catch up to his son and attempt to talk to him. Billy responds to the intervention with violence and superhuman strength, shoving his father back and saying he has to do this, it’s the only way, &etc.

In desperation to find out what’s been done to his son, detective Miles gets Dr. Nemman to replace her body with an orangutan they somehow get.3 Dr. Nemman has found small metal implants in each dead Class of ‘90 student so far and presumes they’re some kind of tracking device. Theorizing that whomever is implanting these trackers may track them after death as well, he carefully removes Karen’s tracker and puts it into the orangutan.4

Meanwhile the rest of the Class of ‘90 is slowly breaking down. The pattern isn’t hard to see. At first there are jokes about Scream, etc. But after it becomes a real pattern people start to change. Several of Billy’s classmates join him at the psychiatric hospital.

This brings up pretty much to where Mulder and Scully show up: Dr. Nemman and Detective Miles are covering up what’s really going on out of a desperate hope that Billy can be saved. This is kind of chillingly cold—they have to know that they’re trading the lives of every other student in the class for Billy.

  1. The scarcity of cell phones is pretty much essential to half these early episodes. Give Mulder a portable device that can record video, audio, and Google stuff and this could be a half hour episode. They’d also have to ditch all the dramatic shots of Scully typing notes in what appears to be VIM. 

  2. It actually seems like if Mulder showed up and just told these people he believed them they might be on his side. Maybe Mulder would actually be better off without the FBI? 

  3. Yeah, I know, right? It gets worse. 

  4. This is the best I can make of it. Someone decided to put one of these apparently alien devices into an orangutan and put the primate in the coffin. It probably wasn’t the aliens—they don’t appear to care about covering their tracks that much. It could be some shadowy government organization, but Dr. Nemman seems to already know what’s in the coffin, so at least he’s in on it. I’ve opted for the least crazy option: a small town doctor implanted alien technology in an orangutan corpse because he needed the body. 

Sage LaTorra is a game designer and senior test engineer at Google. You may know him from Dungeon World.

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