A cautionary tale about technology.
Let’s back it up for a second.
Previously on the X-Files, Agents Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) have investigated some pretty strange cases together, all the while connecting on a level that goes beyond communication.
In this week’s episode, we take a page out of Microsoft’s book. Remember in 2016 when it came out with a chatbot that turned into “a Hitler-loving sex bot” after only being online for 24 hours? Well, this week’s cold open takes that cautionary tale and turns it on its head.
Mulder and Scully go on a fancy date night at a high-tech sushi restaurant. It’s so high-tech, in fact, they’re the only humans there. The food is served and prepared by robots. Unfortunately, Mulder’s order comes out wrong, and naturally, he gets annoyed, so no tip for you, bot!
Everything goes awry once they part ways. Their tech becomes increasingly annoying until it turns deadly. Scully gets taken on a harrowing ride in a self-driving car, Mulder’s house gets swarmed by drones, Scully’s home security system goes on the fritz, and then there’s a gas explosion that has our dynamic duo running from the technology that surrounds them. That is, until Mulder finally give the robots a 10 percent tip on that sushi dinner. They get back most of their personal devices, and Mulder and Scully go for some breakfast, which, unlike the night before where they spent most of their time looking at their phones instead of each other, they hold hands in content silence.
So, what do I think?
“Rm9sbG93ZXJz” is one of those episodes that couldn’t be done during The X-Files original run. Technology back in the 90’s wasn’t as advanced as it was today, and therefore an episode like this one was far beyond the scope of what Chris Carter and Co. could have done. Yet, it still managed to evoke those same spine-tingling chills and emotions that made the series what it was.
Everyone’s comparing this episode to Black Mirror, and as much as I’d love to give my two cents, I have yet to even see an episode of that show, so I’ll just go with what I do know. Technology has advanced so far in the past two decades since the show’s been off air that doing an episode like “Rm9sbG93ZXJz” makes sense. We have miniature computers in our pockets that we take everywhere with us. We have advanced technology that can actually learn and evolve. Of course there’s bound to be something that goes awry, especially if we advance technology as far as what we saw in this week’s episode. And that’s what made it so heart-pounding and downright terrifying for me to watch.
We can no longer live without technology. It’s with us every day, everywhere we go, from our cell phones to our cars. It allows us to connect and communicate. If Microsoft’s experiment with AI chatbots wasn’t enough of a cautionary tale, “Rm9sbG93ZXJz” should be. After all, we seem to be headed in that direction.
Dear god, this episode was seriously creepy! From the few lines of dialogue to the out-of-control tech, this was the first episode that really gave me the chills. I do believe the hair on my arms stood on end through most of it, well, until I figured out all the bots wanted was for Mulder to give a tip. Then it just kind of lost some of the creep factor.
Overall, a very well done episode. A- for sure.
Photo: Shane Harvey/FOX