With all our favorite shows taking their usual break in the summer months, this opens up an opportunity to watch some of our old favorites. That’s where the Multiversity Summer Binge comes in. Last year, I took a look at the entire first season of my favorite show ever, The X-Files and this summer, I’m back with a vengeance covering season two. The first season of this show was more of a prelude. It teased all the things that were to come and spent a lot of time doing the ground work. In the second season, the show really kicks into gear. Truth be told, of the 11 seasons, this is easily top three for me. I’m really excited to be writing about these episodes, particularly the middle of the season. This week I’m looking at “Dod Kalm,” a pretty solid “monster of the week” episode that puts our agents in real danger. Let’s jump into this.
1. The Premise
The episode opens up on the USS Ardent, an American ship in Norwegian Sea. We see all the crew members abandoning the ship for unknown reasons to us. Something is happening and they are scared so they leave the ship and abandon their captain Barclay. When their lifeboats reach another ship, a light is shone on them and only about 12 hours later, all the men from the ship are suddenly old…decades older than they actually are. Mulder and Scully go and visit the only person who survived and find him rapidly aged but get kicked out by the doctor before they can find out why. Mulder knows where the ship vanished and has a theory that there’s a wrinkle in time there so he convinces Scully to head out with him to investigate. “Dod Kalm” is a weird episode to talk about because there isn’t a whole lot happening in it. It’s all about the mood and the fear in Mulder and Scully. It’s a good one off story that helps put Scully in the forefront.
2. The Fear
Once they get to Norway, Mulder and Scully need to get someone and a ship to get out to the USS Ardent. No one wants to help them because everyone knows that something is wrong with that part of the sea. They know better and they know that by going, they’ll be asking for nothing but trouble. Mulder and Scully end up getting the help of Trondheim. When they get to the ship, we’re treated a really nicely done spooky breakdown of things. Everything is dark and there are no supplies of any kind. They find the ship absolutely decaying and the old crew members are all mummified. Between the people who didn’t want to help and this, “Dod Kalm” really sets up this feeling of fear that the episode needs to succeed. The uneasiness comes very naturally because of how much time is spent early on with setting the mood. The premise is so simple and straightforward that focusing on that fear and darkness works really well to build the episode as a fully formed thing.
The core drama of this episode is with Trondheim and the rapid aging. When they all start to rapidly age, Scully is left to figure out what’s going on because it all hits Mulder physically harder for some reason. He’s slipping away and Scully figures out that water can prolong things a bit. Trondheim is paranoid and distrusting and angry and he really only exists to add drama. He’s probably the weakest part of the episode because there’s nothing else to him but distrust and paranoia.
4. Scully Is The Only Sane One
Trondheim is trying to off Mulder and keep the water for himself and Mulder is basically slipping away. Despite the fact that she’s clearly scared, Scully is the only one keeping herself together. She tests the guys and herself and she puts together what’s happening. She figures out how to sort of slow it down so they can be rescued and she writes an account of everything that’s happened. It’s honestly an amazing episode for Scully because she’s just so in control while still feeling what she feels. Her narration and journal entries are excellent writing. It’s a good example of why I love the character.Continued below
5. Unexplained Phenomena
The X-Files is a funny thing because often times the endings for these kinds of episodes can feel very open ended and that doesn’t always work. With “Dod Kalm” I think it works because it’s not so open ended. Scully figures out what was causing the rapid aging because there was science behind it. This isn’t the Bermuda Triangle or some weird thing with time travel and so, once she wakes up and is going to be okay, she wants to go back for research but the ship has sunk. The research that could have been done could have had a huge impact on the world but it’s gone forever now. It’s kind of tragic but it is also the ending that works for this show. Unlike last week, something was accomplished and found but it was lost. Despite how kind of silly the whole rapid aging thing is, there was still an attempt to root it in science instead of the fantasy and it makes the ending work well.