They cut out a piece of my brain…
Synopsis: Mulder teams up with Krycek to investigate a mysterious death and the pair uncovers a top secret military experiment and a man who has not slept for 24 years.
Sleepless represents the first Howard Gordon script without co-writer Alex Gansa and the finale instalment of season 2‘s early three strong grouping of MoW episodes. Just as we saw in the previous episode Blood, the science bit could only be viewed as incredible however it makes for a fun 45 minute paranormal outing, which includes the U.S government’s penchant for human testing and general disregard for life and a menacing and unpredictable killer as well as a premiere performance from the reconnoitring untrustworthy Alex Krycek and the mysterious Mr X.
First that science bit. It is all obviously tongue in cheek, to sit here and pick holes in it would be no different than being that person, who whilst watching a magicians card trick states ‘that’s not magic’ neither an endearing quality nor a beneficial one. The only thing you should do is sit back and enjoy the show ladies and gentlemen. The idea that the government was experimenting on its own troops in Vietnam to create a super soldier is actually a quite credible one and a continuation of the themes found in Deep Throat, Eve, Young at Heart, Erlenmeyer Flask and Blood and represents a just cause for Mulder to fight for.
The X-Files episodes which centred on government testing of their own troops and civilians almost always allowed for the antagonist of the story a chance of redemption as an indication to their own victimisation. Corporal Augustus ‘Preacher’ Cole is no different in fact all he wants to do is go to sleep but not without taking down his old murdering squad colleagues before he does. I feel uneasy that Mulder is so quick to sympathise with a man capable of murdering defenceless men, women and children and who also instigated two cops to shoot one and other leaving one in a coma and the other presumably dead. Mulder’s sympathy may possibly be a shroud to cover his true selfish intentions of wanting to take his man alive as hard evidence, proof to the fact that the U.S government are as underhand and callous as he says they are and thus gives more reason to the re-opening of The X-Files. Be that as it may Cole’s actions are still inexcusable and Mulders ability to simply brush over these facts irks me a little.
You will recognise war vet Cole although some may not know from where, he is played by veteran actor Tony Todd whose distinct deep reverberating voice and threatening appearance has made him somewhat of a genre favourite amongst scare fans and one of his earliest screen outings was the haunting Vietnam masterpiece Platoon, a combination of the two guises works ever so well here. Todd dose brilliantly with what screen time he is permitted. His scene in the Brooklyn apartment in which he has the Vietnam victims made up of women and children shoot dead his ex-marine comrade is chillingly conspicuous.
Sleepless sees Mr X unveil himself to Mulder for the first time. The new informant hands over a report to Mulder to help with the case. Mr X’s motivations will always remain clouded. Deep Throats intentions were seen a pure and selfless and a way of atonement for past misgivings whilst the intentions of Mr X will never be so black and white, his affirmation of the fact that he will never sacrifice his life for the information he has, dispels the idea of a crusader for truth and portrays a more narcissistic character (although in hindsight we do know differently). Mr X’s admission of having known Deep Throat personally and of his duty to Mulder and The X-Files may go some way to explaining his new position of informant, that’s just one we‘re allowed to work out for ourselves.
There is another arguably even more important character introduction in this episode. Special FBI agent and rat for the syndicate Alex Krycek makes his first appearance on The X-Files. After a rough start his all too eager to please attitude eventual begins to break down Mulder’s proverbial wall constructed of ‘trust no one’ mortar and come on admit it he fooled you as well. Krycek gave The X-Files so many twist and turns and the inception of this character was pure brilliance as was the casting of Nicholas Lea who was not only suited to the role but also gave nothing less than 100%.
Although Kryceks introduction holds high significance you may notice my establishment of the character has purposely been down played as I don’t think what the Krycek character represents to the franchise as a whole should take away from Tony Todd whose performance elevates this episode from a basic standalone MoW to a much greater one.
- I clocked Scully’s screen time at around the 2 minute mark all of which was spent devoted to Mulder, no real point to this musings except that I hadn’t mentioned her name at all during the review.
- The parallels between Blood and Sleepless are so glaring that it seems weird that they would be played back to back. Perhaps to reiterate the point of Mulders contempt for a government that runs tests on its own people without their consent or well-being in mind. The suicide by cop ending which sees Mulder trying to salvage the situation also mimics blood and maybe a good precursor to his negotiation skills in the build-up to the following episode Duane Barry.
- See what happens when you remove Gansa from the equation. Sci-Fi and the paranormal just arn't his strong points.