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The Blood is the Life - "3"

"I take the blood of others inside me...into my blood."

Blood tastes...dangerous. It's sweet and thick.

Leave it to me to return to vampires even when reviewing The X Files. It has its significance, though. A couple weeks ago, I was up watching The X Files while going through another bout of insomnia, and the double feature of Duane Barry and Ascension were on, leading to Scully’s disappearance (she was pregnant and left to have her daughter, Piper), as Mulder goes through a separation crisis. Without the X Files and Scully, Mulder was just lost. Mulder had been aware of a series of vampire cult murders, a trio of deaths left in both Portland and Memphis (three people dead in each city, their body drained of blood, certain writing in blood on the walls near their corpses, both bite and hypodermic marks on the bodies), traveling to Los Angeles when it appears this city is the next stop. A wealthy businessman (father of three, whose family is on a mini-vacation) was involved with a young woman, not expecting to be bitten on the arm and then attacked by two other males (with hypodermics in their hands as weapons) in his swimming pool.

It is mentioned and often re-elaborated that Malibu Canyon is currently under fire…literally. Mulder uses his instincts to determine that it is possible one of the “unholy trinity” (each vampire of the “3” considers himself/herself the Father, Son, and Unholy Spirit) is working at a local bloodbank, and sure enough John (Frank Military), representing the Son, is feasting on a blood bag. Taken to an interrogation room at a LA precinct (the police consider Mulder a welcome FBI agent, mainly because he knows his shit and they don’t have the manpower to devote completely to the current investigation), Mulder turns on a “red light” so that the space can be “mood lit” and John won’t wig out. Not taking his claims of vampirism seriously, Mulder uses his fears against him, hoping to identify his other two accomplices. When sunlight beams in on John, it fries his flesh! Four degree burns seem to kill him and a stamp (Club Tepes, go figure) to a club leads Mulder to Kristen (the seductive Perrey Reeves), a potential Unholy Spirit suspect. She winds up being prey not predator, as the 3 aim to come for her, with Mulder serving as a type of protector…but eventually the question asked is “who is protecting who?”

Although watching 3 again to review it for the blog (it was on Chiller Tv two weeks ago bringing it back to my attention) didn’t leave me all that impressed, I remember it with great regard due to its value as a nostalgic viewing when I was a teenager. I had wondered back then if The X Files would eventually do a vampire episode (as they eventually did their own version of a werewolf episode), recalling my particular interest in seeing 3, especially as Mulder was on his own, derelict in a career (previously Skinner had re-opened the X Files, telling Mulder he could return to his basement) that left him unfulfilled and wounded. The opening of the episode has Mulder storing away Scully’s file as an X File, including her badge and glasses in a storage baggie. She’s just gone. He rushes right into darkness, into danger, finding attraction to the alluring Kristen, even allowing her to shave his neck/face, despite knowing she likes the taste of blood, linked to “blood sports” (her free admission to him). Implausible as that might be, it could make sense, I reckon, within the context of his descent into the vampire world, seemingly unconcerned of what might could happen to him if consorting with the wrong company.

I think this is a fascinating Mulder episode. It was still early in the show’s run, and with disappointment in such resistance in the pursuit of the “truth that is out there” and the loss/absence of his ally, Scully, the character was cast adrift. 3 doesn’t exactly feature anything all that complex nor does it give any insight into Scully’s condition. It is truly a “simple case” episode where Mulder looks for serial killers, finds a person of interest he is drawn to, later determining her to be pursued by those he is after. Carelessly allowing himself to fall for her, knowingly concealing the discovery of bread containing blood from the LA police, and awaiting her return to the house she lived; Mulder places himself in harm’s way.

I noticed there had been criticisms towards Duchovny and Reeves’ chemistry, but I thought they had enough to produce some sparks. I think the episode seemed to lack enough time to develop their “dark romance” so when they do embrace it kind of feels a bit premature. And to just accept her as harmless after only a brief encounter seemed to indicate that Mulder wasn’t operating with complete control, perhaps also indicating (in the writing of the screenplay) that he was working without a net, voluntarily accepting risk. Still Mulder isn’t always so gullible. Some might say it is the allure of Kristen.

She mentions how victimized she always has been. Beaten by her father and later John (once meeting him in Chicago), Kristen developed a taste for blood during injuries/attacks. So Mulder listens and expects them at any moment. He does let his guard down and if Kristen hadn’t intervened he would have been human cattle.

The development of John returning from the dead, it seems, left me rather taken aback. He fries and then he’s shown with some sores and spots on his face. Right before Kristen blows up her home with a lighter as he is bound inside, his face is almost completely clear. How did he return and his body recover?

I thought the episode, regarded as trash by some critics, was quite mood-lit in erotic tones and thematically gothic in nature. The lighting of faces, the dark of "club cult LA", and the vampiric activity certainly offers a different kind of X Files, taking us into a subculture following Mulder. Not bad to look at but I felt this go-around that there was potential in the premise unrealized. And the Unholy Trinity never quite takes off as a sinister trio due to a lack of real focus on them. 

All that said, Mulder has the presence of mind to not take Kristen's blood when offered (HIV), and follows her in suspicion when she initiates a rendezvous with a restauranteur at his place. So he doesn't completely, blindly allow her to seduce him. Just the same, as his life was currently, this potential new love interest leaves him far too soon despite all his efforts. He continues to lose those close to him.