X-Files: Kill Switch (Episode 11, Season 5)

March 19, 2006

Movie Review By: Metatron

Year: 1998

Directed by: Rob Bowman

Written by: William Gibson & Tom Maddox

IMDB Reference

Degree of Cyberpunk Visuals: Medium

Correlation to Cyberpunk Themes: Very High

Key Cast Members:

  • Esther Nairn/Invisigoth: Kristin Lehman
  • Fox Mulder: David Duchovny
  • Dana Scully: Gillian Anderson
  • Rating: 8 out of 10


    Screencap

    This is what happens when you forget there IS a real world outside…

     

    Overview: Now, surely there must have been some kind of mistake. This is Cyberpunk Review, right? OK. Since when stories of little green men do qualify as such? Surely the mere fact that agent Scully had an implant in her neck does not count for an awful lot.

    All true. This particular episode, however, is different. Look at the credits. William Gibson. Ring any bells?

     

    Screencap

     

    More Than Meets the Eye: It all starts with a rather innocuous shootout at a diner in a drab neighbourhood. Piece of cake, eh? Well, not exactly, as it turns out that one of the victims is in fact a top IT expert and programmer whose death might have been anything less than a coincidence. Soon afterwards Mulder and Scully happen upon a rather charming lady going by the nick-name of Invisigoth, who turns out to be much more than just a leather-clad Trinity wannabe…

     

    Screencap

     

    The threat, it is revealed, comes from a fugitive AI she and her companions helped to spawn. This synthetic entity seems to have little regard for human life, plus it possesses some rather eccentric habits, such as playing with leftover Star Wars military orbital lasers and residing in abandoned… camping trailers. Needless to say it has to be stopped, although it may yet turn out Invisigoth pursues a different agenda altogether…

     

    Screencap

    “Okay mom, I did actually use your eye-liner…”

     

    Out There: Even if the credits said “Jay Leno” or “Kermit the Frog” rather than Gibson, there still would be a good case to make for the overall cyberpunk feel of this standalone episode. In terms of themes, it is all there- the pursuit of the AI takes place both in our very own “desert of the real” and through the net; agent Mulder even gets to become a multiple amputee courtesy of the malicious program’s VR simulation. More interestingly, the episode deals with the transfer of consciousness- translating a human psyche into digital data in pursuit of a peculiar kind of disembodied immortality. It is at that point one may begin to realise that one of the foremost attractions of the concept of sentient cyberspace entities is that cyberspace begins, to the mind of many, resemble a manufactured heaven of sort, a synthetic paradise for the unbelievers, allowing those of little religious zeal to dream of achieving transcendence. This move to another plane of existence, an ersatz afterlife- may not be explored at lengths here, yet gives a good cause for reflection. Apart from the sentient computer theme there is of course our sweet little Trinity impersonator (prettier than the real deal? I might be getting controversial here…) who also happens to drive a car (1960s Imperial, to be exact) very similar to the black Lincoln in the first Matrix.

    Convinced? And then you realise that this episode actually comes from 1998, which is a year BEFORE tha Matrix… So, who’s the copycat, eh Trinity? Guess I should be expecting a lawsuit for these allegations any time now…

     

    Screencap

     

    The Visuals: While not trying to rival Blade Runner, the visuals are decent for the budget. Being that this is an X-files episode, we shouldn’t expect anything too fancy – the series rarely relies on fancy visuals to generate their mood, or to depict story elements. One of the distinct traits of the X-Files is that they can often make ordinary places or events appear menacing and sinister when placed in the given context – this applies to Kill Switch.

     

    Screencap

     

    I assure you that, having seen this episode, the next time you’ll see a decaying camping trailer you’re gonna think twice before approaching it. In a way this depiction of cyberpunk is more realistic – inconspicuous locations concealing the drama of furtive technological experiments and computer crime is very much what one’s bound to encounter today. The most important bit – the flow of data – is hidden from the eye. The episode does treat us to some juicy cyberpunk visual elements, including gloomy improvised computer labs, and chaotic nests of cables and wires lit by the dim glow of terminal screens – but nothing too extravagant (aside for a few explosions).

     

    Screencap

     

    Confirm File Delete: Overall the episode represents a truly interesting foray of the famous franchise into the realms of cyberpunk, courtesy of Mr. Gibson himself. As with many other episodes, the strength of Kill Switch lies in its inherently believable narration, a mixture of the ordinary and the imaginary that made the series famous. The acting is decent- Invisigoth oozes character- and the action tightly coiled into a mere 45 minutes of film. Yet because of the unspectacular nature of the whole thing few will probably have seen and noticed it, even if this is as close as we can get into having a Gibson story made into a feature film, after his Alien3 script got binned long ago. It may not be cyberpunk canon in any way, but do watch it- I swear that after those 45 minutes you’re likely to be craving for more. Which you just might get, as there is another Gibson-written X-File which I will investigate soon…

     

    ~See movies similar to this one~

    Tags: TV episode review

    All true. This particular episode, however, is different. Look at the credits. William Gibson. Ring any bells?
    <p>&nbsp; </p>
    <p align=”center”><img src=”/images/xfiles-killswitch03.jpg” alt=”Screencap”> </p>
    <p>&nbsp; </p>
    <span class=”iTitle”>More Than Meets the Eye: </span>It all starts with a rather innocuous shootout at a diner in a drab neighbourhood. Piece of cake, eh? Well, not exactly, as it turns out that one of the victims is in fact a top IT expert and programmer whose death might have been anything less than a coincidence. Soon afterwards Mulder and Scully happen upon a rather charming lady going by the nick-name of Invisigoth, who turns out to be much more than just a leather-clad Trinity wannabe…
    <p>&nbsp; </p>
    <p align=”center”><img src=”/images/xfiles-killswitch07.jpg” alt=”Screencap”> </p>
    <p>&nbsp; </p>
    The threat, it is revealed, comes from a fugitive AI she and her companions helped to spawn. This synthetic entity seems to have little regard for human life, plus it possesses some rather eccentric habits, such as playing with leftover Star Wars military orbital lasers and residing in abandoned… camping trailers. Needless to say it has to be stopped, although it may yet turn out Invisigoth pursues a different agenda altogether…
    <p>&nbsp; </p>
    <p align=”center”><img src=”/images/xfiles-killswitch04.jpg” alt=”Screencap”> </p>
    <DIV class=”quote”>“Okay mom, I did actually use your eye-liner…”</DIV>
    <p>&nbsp; </p>
    <span class=”iTitle”>Out There: </span>Even if the credits said “Jay Leno” or “Kermit the Frog” rather than Gibson, there still would be a good case to make for the overall cyberpunk feel of this standalone episode. In terms of themes, it is all there- the pursuit of the AI takes place both in our very own “desert of the real” and through the net; agent Mulder even gets to become a multiple amputee courtesy of the malicious program’s VR simulation. More interestingly, the episode deals with the transfer of consciousness- translating a human psyche into digital data in pursuit of a peculiar kind of disembodied immortality. It is at that point one may begin to realise that one of the foremost attractions of the concept of sentient cyberspace entities is that cyberspace begins, to the mind of many, resemble a manufactured heaven of sort, a synthetic paradise for the unbelievers, allowing those of little religious zeal to dream of achieving transcendence. This move to another plane of existence, an ersatz afterlife- may not be explored at lengths here, yet gives a good cause for reflection. Apart from the sentient computer theme there is of course our sweet little Trinity impersonator (prettier than the real deal? I might be getting controversial here…) who also happens to drive a car (1960s Imperial, to be exact) very similar to the black Lincoln in the first Matrix.

    Convinced? And then you realise that this episode actually comes from 1998, which is a year BEFORE tha Matrix… So, who’s the copycat, eh Trinity? Guess I should be expecting a lawsuit for these allegations any time now…
    <p>&nbsp; </p>
    <p align=”center”><img src=”/images/xfiles-killswitch05.jpg” alt=”Screencap”> </p>
    <p>&nbsp; </p>
    <span class=”iTitle”>The Visuals: </span>While not trying to rival Blade Runner, the visuals are decent for the budget. Being that this is an X-files episode, we shouldn’t expect anything too fancy – the series rarely relies on fancy visuals to generate their mood, or to depict story elements. One of the distinct traits of the X-Files is that they can often make ordinary places or events appear menacing and sinister when placed in the given context – this applies to Kill Switch.
    <p>&nbsp; </p>
    <p align=”center”><img src=”/images/xfiles-killswitch02.jpg” alt=”Screencap”> </p>
    <p>&nbsp; </p>
    I assure you that, having seen this episode, the next time you’ll see a decaying camping trailer you’re gonna think twice before approaching it. In a way this depiction of cyberpunk is more realistic – inconspicuous locations concealing the drama of furtive technological experiments and computer crime is very much what one’s bound to encounter today. The most important bit – the flow of data – is hidden from the eye. The episode does treat us to some juicy cyberpunk visual elements, including gloomy improvised computer labs, and chaotic nests of cables and wires lit by the dim glow of terminal screens – but nothing too extravagant (aside for a few explosions).
    <p>&nbsp; </p>
    <p align=”center”><img src=”/images/xfiles-killswitch06.jpg” alt=”Screencap”> </p>
    <p>&nbsp; </p>
    <span class=”iTitle”>Confirm File Delete: </span>Overall the episode represents a truly interesting foray of the famous franchise into the realms of cyberpunk, courtesy of Mr. Gibson himself. As with many other episodes, the strength of Kill Switch lies in its inherently believable narration, a mixture of the ordinary and the imaginary that made the series famous. The acting is decent- Invisigoth oozes character- and the action tightly coiled into a mere 45 minutes of film. Yet because of the unspectacular nature of the whole thing few will probably have seen and noticed it, even if this is as close as we can get into having a Gibson story made into a feature film, after his Alien3 script got binned long ago. It may not be cyberpunk canon in any way, but do watch it- I swear that after those 45 minutes you’re likely to be craving for more. Which you just might get, as there is another Gibson-written X-File which I will investigate soon…
    <p>&nbsp; </p>TV episode review

    This post has been filed under AI (no body), Awesome Cyberpunk Themes, Made for TV, Hot Cyberchicks Kicking Butt, 8 Star Movies, Hacker Movies, VR Movies, Cyberpunk movies from 1990 – 1999 by Metatron.

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