‘The X-Files’ Review: ‘Rm9sbG93ZXJz’ Keeps It Simple and Silent for A Creatively Daring Episode

IndieWire | 2/28/2018 | Staff
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FBI Agents Mulder and Scully have a history of investigating weird crime together, as well as a personal relationship that defies conventional classification, but after over two decades does mean a degree of unspoken communication.

Remember when Microsoft created a chatbot in 2016 that became “a Hitler-loving sex robot” after 24 hours online? This episode’s cold open sure does, using that particularly bad experiment in artificial intelligence as an opening parable for this anti-tech hour.

Date - Night - Mulder - Scully - Sushi

It’s date night for Mulder and Scully at a fancy high-tech sushi restaurant — so high-tech that Mulder and Scully are the only humans there, with the food being served and prepared by robots. When Mulder’s order comes out wrong, he gets annoyed, so he decides not to tip the sushi robots.

Big mistake.

Mulder - Scully - Part - Ways - Homes

When Mulder and Scully part ways to return to their respective homes, the technology they use to do so starts off as annoyingly buggy and escalates to downright deadly. A self-driving car takes Scully on a nailbiting ride, drones swarm Mulder’s house, Scully’s home security system starts spewing existential messages, and eventually a gas explosion has our intrepid duo running from all the technology that surrounds them in the modern world… until, finally, Mulder goes ahead and gives the robots a 10 percent tip on that sushi dinner. Retrieving (nearly) all of their personal devices, Mulder and Scully go get some breakfast — and unlike the night before, when they spent more time looking at their phones than each other, they hold hands, in companionable silence.

Technology bad. Humans good. Tip your sushi robot.

First - Things - Decoding - Episode - Title

First things first: Let’s do some literal decoding. The episode title, “Rm9sbG93ZXJz,” seems like gibberish, but actually it’s Base64 code (as at least one savvy Twitter user caught in advance), translating to the word “Followers.” This also corresponds with the name of the...
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