Tony Black continues the alphabetical breakdown of The X-Files by looking at the myriad conspiracies that exist within…
When we think of ‘conspiracy’ in The X-Files, our minds naturally go straight to the labyrinthian mytharc surrounding alien colonization the show continues to weave as we prepare for Season 11 (fingers crossed), but the word itself has a larger term, defined as such:
the activity of secretly planning with other people to do something bad or illegal
Looking at that definition, conspiracy can be applied in all manner of ways beyond simply the mythology of the series. A major recurring theme is the abuse of power within government or the military-industrial complex on all manner of sinister projects – the human cloning in ‘Eve’, inspiring innocents to murder via subliminal messaging in ‘Blood’, the sleep deprivation experiments on Vietnam veterans in ‘Sleepless’, covering up infection tests of a killer virus in ‘F. Emasculata’ or the similar manipulation of domestic terror cells for a similar purpose in ‘The Pine Bluff Variant’.
Corporate or business conspiracies often circle around paranormal plots; take the illicit business practices of Robert Dorland avenged from beyond the grave in ‘Shadows’, or the bizarre murderous machinations of the cryo-frozen Arthur Grable in ‘Roland’. Then there’s the illegal tobacco testing in ‘Brand-X’ which saw TXF do their version of Michael Mann’s The Insider, with the company being none other than Morley no less! Police or law enforcement corruption and conspiracy.
Police or law enforcement corruption provides a different element of conspiracy, as witnessed in episodes such as ‘Born Again’ which, much like ‘Shadows’, sees an avenging angel in Detective Charlie Morris seek justice from beyond the grave against his corrupt former partner on the take. The late, great JT Walsh perhaps serves as one of the best X-Files villains in ‘The List’ as the vicious prison Warden, who happily covers up and commits murders inside his prison linked to the titular death list by executed killer Neech Manley, while in ‘Unrequited’ invisible assassin Nathaniel Teager exposes military collusion in Vietnam POW’s who never came home.
Then there are the strange, occult conspiracies perpetrated often by communities, such as the cult of Satanist teachers in ‘Die Hand Die Verletzt’, who in their zeal to commune with the dark lord end up bringing upon themselves a demon they can’t control. Walter Chaco, the long lived boss of Chaco Chicken in ‘Our Town’, rules over pretty much an entire small town of conspirators covering up cannibalistic tendencies, which almost sees Scully quite literally become grist for the mill! Mulder & Scully, in the legendary ‘Arcadia’, pose as a married couple to expose the dark underbelly of a picture perfect community under the spectre of a conjured monster, while ‘Signs & Wonders’ sees a religious conspiracy cutting to the heart of Biblical scripture.
The conspiracy everyone remembers in The X-Files, of course, is naturally the alien mythology, the mytharc, and the conspiracy of men known as the Syndicate (or Consortium), seeking no less than to aid an alien power to bring on the colonization of planet Earth and the destruction of mankind. Exemplified by the creeping, quiet menace of the un-named Cigarette-Smoking Man, they are the ultimate ‘men in black’ involved in the ultimate conspiracy Mulder & Scully over the series seek to expose, against not just the American people but the entire world.
Conspiracy, therefore, remains the very heart of The X-Files, both in its inspiration and thematic resonance. Even with all the monsters and paranormal forces, the show is only ever as good as the conspiracies lurking within…
Next week… D is for DOGGETT…
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