What Lies Below
Part 1: Piper Maru
In The X Files, around Season 3 episode 15. a new twist was added to Mulder’s Alien quest. A crew on a French Salvage boat was sent to appropriate a World War II Sub which was allegedly transporting a nuke to Japan, but they find instead a P-51 fighter called the PIPER MARU (Named for Gillian Andersen’s new daughter). A diver named Gauther is infected with a black gooey substance, which is actually nothing but your regular 40-weight Oil, but instead of having Techron added to it, it contained an insidious intelligence. A person infected with this stuff would be a host puppet for this intelligence, which could spew radiation at will, and so it irradiates the rest of the Salvage Crew before the salvage vessel is “rescued” and brought to Long Beach- Which is what it wanted, so it could go to Gauther’s house in San Francisco and find some evidence – Of something.
This stuff can jump from person to person, and it jumps into Gauther’s wife, played here by Kimberly Unger who was in the season 1 episode “Fallen Angel” – But with curly blond hair. Here, she has long brunette tresses, needless to say this actress looked the part of a French Wife. Mrs. Gauther finds her way to Hong Kong. Meanwhile Mulder and Skully are looking into this, Mulder’s track brings him to San Francisco and Gauther’s House as well as to his employer’s office, and he follows a secretary to Hong Kong and finds that she had bought the location of the Sub from Alex Krycek, our favorite Russian Goon who has ties to the yet unnamed “Syndicate” of men who have secrets, one of which is The Cigarette Smoking Man/Cancerman aka CEG Spender also as yet unnamed.
In Hong Kong, the Black Oil jumps into Krycek in the men’s bathroom at the Hong Kong Airport – And informs Mulder he is a “New Man” – What is clearly going on here is a long string of interrelated people, who all think they are using each other: Mulder thinks he can use Krycek to re-acquire his digital tape of Secrets from “Anasazi”, Krycek thinks he can lead Mulder around by his Alien Sniffing nose, etc. In actuality, it is the Black Oil which is organizing this dance. Before the Blood Rises, these episodes bring closure to Skully for her sister Melissa’s death at the hands of one of Krycek’s Assassins, who has also shot Assistant Director Walter Skinner.
Part 2: “Fight the Future,” or, “What Cannot be Programmed, Categorized, or Easily Referenced”
In between seasons 5 and 6 of The X Files, Chris Carter had done something which no showrunner had thought of previously – He released a Theatrical Feature Film of The X Files. Primarily, this movie deals with the relationship of “The Bees” which had been shown in the Season 3/4 bridging arc “Talitha Cumi”/”Herrenvolk” which introduces the Jeremiah Smith “Clone” character who leads Mulder to the place where Bees are being harvested as a delivery system for The Black Oil. This is not explored in those episodes, it is explored in the film, and the exact nature of how the Oil can infect a person and cause a creature to gestate inside of a “Living Human Host” (Sound like Alien?) is shown – But not completely, that arc is finished in the season 6 episode “The Beginning” which takes up right after events from the film. And so a new dimension was added to the lifecycle of Mulder’s Gray Aliens: They begin life as “Purity” which is what the Black Oil is called, they create a new lifeform out of an infected human host, one which is a mindless and vicious killer, and this lifeform sloughs off it’s skin and transforms into the Grey creatures which Mulder always chases. The Mind-Reading Child “Gibson Praise” witnesses this transformation in the series, making him a target for the shape-changing “Alien Bounty Hunter” played by Brian Thompson.
The last X-Files episode where the Oil makes an appearance is in Season 8’s “Vienen” where a group of people are found that have a natural resistance to The Oil – People of Hispanic/Mayan descent- The Black Oil is killed when it tries to infect people of this kind. To try to keep this secret, the Black Oil takes over the whole crew of an Oil Drilling rig which is planted solidly above a huge undersea Oil field which is ALL BLACK OIL – Which Mulder blows up to keep it from being harvested by an Oil Company, and in doing so he is booted out of the FBI, so he can no longer chase little green men with his shiny badge and gun shouting to the heavens and to anyone who will listen, that “The Fix is In, the Sky is falling, and when it hits it will be the Shitstorm of All time.” –This also gave David Duchovny a means to exit the series gracefully, until finally needed in the season 9 and series Finale “The Truth: Parts 1 & 2.”
Part 3: From The X Files to FRINGE, or, “What Lies Below”
In Boston, Massachusetts, a Bike Messenger approaches the entry to “Vitas Petroleum” and enters with a Bald Dutchman. The man appears normal but soon his nose starts to bleed. He has a fit and falls down dead in the office of this building, his corpse involuntarily spews out some nasty red stuff. It should be noted that two of the employees of Vitas Petroleum are two very regular X-Files actors, Megan Leitch (Who always played Mulder’s “Grown Up/Clone” Sister Samantha) and Agent Pendrell (Brendan Beiser). Fringe Division is called in to find out why the Dutchman fell over. Meanwhile, Walter Bishop is shown “teaching” some kids at a Museum (But not a Red one) – At first we think this is with the permission of the institution, but in fact he just got up and started teaching them about early world exploration and how people died horrible grisly deaths due to Scurvy during one of Magellan’s first world cruises – Table this for later, it becomes relevant.
When Bishop gets to the gas company, the Bike Messenger is trying to leave, but Walter sees something odd with the kid and prevents him from leaving, and the kid also spews red stuff. Walter calls on Broyles to Quarantine the entire building and everyone in it, which includes Peter and Olivia who are inside.
This is a complete out-of-X Files appearance of The Black Oil, and as the episode goes on, in becomes apparent that THIS IS THE SAME STUFF from The X Files. Found in a drilling sample from 10 miles down/75,000 years old, the sample was infested with a virus right in the Oil sample. As Walter investigates, the Virus shows signs of a hideous and insidious intelligence. It’s goal? Exit the building at all costs. And what best way to do this other than infecting Peter Bishop who shares Walter’s 190 IQ? And Peter almost does it, there is no doubt that he would have died had he gotten outside and spewed, because one the organism is able to get it’s host to do what it wants, it has no further use for it/him/her.
Walter’s solution to this dilemma is not the Russian or Syndicate “Weak Vaccine” which was shown in the X Files series and Feature Film, it is more basic than that – But who is to say that the Weak Vaccine that the “Well Manicured man” from the X Files had developed was not based on the same thing? It may have been, and in case of Fringe, it was Sulfur, which has been used as an Antibiotic. Mainly, as Walter sees the behavior of this stuff, he is better at finding how to contain it and ultimately kill it. But mostly, in this Fringe episode, it is so that “Peter will not die – Again.” (Meaning, he has already died once?) And in fact we had been shown Peter’s 1985 grave in the season 1 finale.
Regardless of show, the properties of The Black Oil are the same for both. As Fringe Division really did not focus on chasing little green men with a badge and gun like Mulder, they have in fact met an extra-terrestrial in one and only one Fringe episode, the same way that John Doggett and Monica Reyes dealt with Parallel Universes in one and only one X File where they met a man who could walk from one verse into the other the same way Olivia can.
So if you prefer to go with Mulder as he goes after his aliens, either in The X Files or in his Ivan Reitman film “Evolution” or if you like your Parallel Universes Red and Blue like in Fringe, it is always great to find stuff from one of your favorite shown show up in Another, So that maybe in a Green Fringe Universe, Mulder and Skully had offices right down the hall from Agent Dunham.