The X-Files A to Z – B is for… BEES

Carl Sweeney continues the alphabetical breakdown of The X-Files by looking at the importance of bees to The X-Files and its mythology…

Bees were, for a while, an important ingredient in the mythology mix. They don’t appear that often, and I’d argue that they were never used as well as something like the Black Oil. Chris Carter liked to keep introducing new elements to the conspiracy storyline, which may partially explain why bees fell by the wayside. The creatures also apparently presented considerable production challenges, probably meaning the creative team didn’t miss them too much. They gave us a few memorable moments though and played a key part in Mulder and Scully’s first big-screen outing.

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‘Herrenvolk’, the Season 4 opener, begins with a workman in Canada being stung while up a telephone pole. Shortly after, while being observed by a group of identical boys, he has an intense allergic reaction and falls to his death. Mulder and Jeremiah Smith discover the man’s body while travelling to an area of farmland tended by clones, some of whom are apparently doubles of Mulder’s sister, Samantha. Mulder, Smith and a Samantha clone hide from the Alien Bounty Hunter in an apiary, a sequence during which the young actress playing Samantha was stung.

In ‘Zero Sum’, Skinner has to make good on a promise he made to the Cigarette-Smoking Man in ‘Memento Mori’. His task is to cover up the death of a woman stung to death by bees in a workplace bathroom, in exchange for CSM doing a good deed for the cancer-stricken Agent Scully. Skinner does the dirty work while assuming Mulder’s identity, a risky strategy which proves difficult to maintain. We learn a bit more about how bees relate to the Syndicate’s grand plan when a swarm of killer bees are unleashed on primary school children in South Carolina, spreading the smallpox virus to all who get stung. This appears to be a trial run for a similar event that will take place when aliens return to colonise Earth.

Shippers everywhere were given reason to curse the Africanised Honey Bee when ‘Fight the Future’ hit cinemas. Mulder and Scully’s adventure in pursuit of an alien virus through Texas takes them to a domed tent in a cornfield. When the agents enter they are assailed by thousands of bees released from vents above them, in a nice set piece that makes good use of the switch from small to big-screen. Unbeknownst to Scully, a stowaway bee hitches a ride in her collar back to Washington DC. It sits through an FBI hearing before deciding to strike seconds before Mulder and Scully can kiss for the first time. This interruption puts the prospect of romance on the backburner for the next two seasons, not least because the bee sting infects Scully with the alien virus and causes her to collapse almost instantly.

Unbeknownst to Scully, a stowaway bee hitches a ride in her collar back to Washington DC. It sits through an FBI hearing before deciding to strike seconds before Mulder and Scully can kiss for the first time. This interruption puts the prospect of romance on the backburner for the next two seasons, not least because the bee sting infects Scully with the alien virus and causes her to collapse almost instantly.

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‘Fight the Future’ was the last time we saw bees in The X-Files. The plans to use them during colonisation were presumably destroyed along with the Syndicate in ‘One Son’. There was no sign in Season 10 that Carter intends to revisit this aspect of the mythology, which may be for the best.

Next week… C is for CONSPIRACY

You can follow Carl on Twitter @csweeney758.

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