February 28, 2018
The X-Files Season 11 Episode 7 - Rm9sbG93ZXJz was another interesting twist on reality and the future ... almost in Mr. Robot fashion that makes you think outside the box. The experimental episode pitted Mulder and Scully against modern technology in what appears to be the future.
The pre-credits sequence took me to the opening of Person of Interest - man vs machine in today's world - that machine an AI before we spoke about AI as often as we do today.
There are those who look forward to life with AI and robots and others who fear - or are uncomfortable with them. Duality 101 - both apply. If you're Elon Musk or Stephen Hawking it's more of the latter. Actually in the beginning of the episode we see Scully looking at her cell phone and scrolling past an article mentioning Elon Musk and artificial intelligence.
The episode title, "Rm9sbG93ZXJz," is Base64 code translating to the word "Followers." This also corresponds with the name of the sushi restaurant Mulder and Scully eat at called "Forowa" the Japanese Anglicized pronunciation for "Follower."
During the opening credits we see more Base64 code - "VGhlIFRydXRoIGlzIE91dCBUaGVyZQ=", which does, in fact, translate to "The Truth is Out There." Every episode of Season 11 has featured some clever twist on the show's classic slogan.
With that aside ... The human part of the episode begins with Mulder and Scully seated alone at a fancy high-tech sushi restaurant where robots make and serve the food but sometimes confuse the commands given. When Mulder's order comes out wrong (funny blue/blow fish), he gets annoyed, and decides not to tip the sushi robots. I knew at that moment the rest of the episode would center around his not tipping and pissed off robots. FYI - He was right not to tip. Okay ... it's about human-robot interaction and misunderstanding. Lots of layers to this episode. Exit Mulder and Scully.
The crazy trip home for each of them starts off oay but once again everything goes seriously wrong. It makes you wonder what you would do in their situations. How bad does it get? Scary bad as expected.
A self-driving car takes Scully on a nail-biting ride. Her home security system starts spewing existential messages - the password “Queequeg” another reference to Scully’s long-lost pet dog (cause of death: lake monster). Over at Mulder's house he is chased by drones. Together in a warehouse, a gas explosion has our intrepid duo running from all the technology that surrounds them in the modern world ... until, finally, Mulder pushes the button on his cell phone giving the robots a 10 percent tip on the sushi dinner.
The episode ends with Mulder and Scully seated at the counter of a diner eating breakfast [there's always a diner - in UFO episodes too] - and unlike the night before when they spent more time looking at their phones than each other - they hold hands and glance at each other in knowing silence.
Alas the human element ... Time for them to move in together, get their son back in their lives as a permanent fixture, and kill off Smoking Man who to date deals with cancer and was blown up a few seasons ago in a Pueblo in NM ... but this is Sci-fi and with three episodes remaining let's see where the writers take us.
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