Monday’s episode of The X-Files was a contemplative affair, anchored by some great Mulder/Scully chemistry… but let’s face it, this is will forever be known as the episode where Mulder trips shrooms and line dances. On to the references and science.
I couldn’t quite tell if the art gallery that was blown up in the teaser was named “Ziggurat,” or if that was just the exhibit. In any case, ziggurats are terraced pyramid that were built in ancient Mesopotamia. One called the Etemenanki was built in Babylon as a temple to Marduk. Some scholars think it was the inspiration for the Tower of Babel story in the Bible.
Mulder talks about the people hearing mysterious trumpets in the sky. That goes back to August 2011, when this YouTube video was posted. It seems likely that the sound recorded in that video were industrial sounds being reflected and distorted by the tall apartment buildings around the camera; in the video people on the ground don’t seem to be hearing anything strange. The video caught on, and soon there were a bunch copy cats of various authenticities. The idea of “sky trumpets” seems to catch on again every two years, with another burst of interest in 2013 and finally in 2015 the crazy Christian evangelicals found out about them and starting incorporating the idea into their End Time signs.
We get another reference to Helena Blavatsky and the Theosophical society. She must have really been on the mind of Chris Carter this season. Blavatsky did claim that she was taught by Tibetan adepts, but very few scholars think she was telling the truth about that.
Mulder talks some nonsense about the Neo-Darwinists. The original “neodarwinism” was a label applied to the work of 19th century scientist August Weismann, who strongly favored what we’d today call genetic inheritance as the mechanism of evolution, instead of acquired characteristics. After the 1930s “Neo-Darwinism” is the name for the current understanding of evolution, that it’s a complicated interplay of natural selection, mutations, genetic inheritance, and other forces (see my discussion of the Founder Effect a few episodes back for one example). “Every word spoken, every thought, every perception… is a step in evolution of mankind” is not a part of any interpretation of Neo-Darwinism I can find.
Mulder calls Agent Einstein a “Mugwump,” an insult she does not understand. Of course, Mulder is referring to Republican supporters of Democrat Grover Cleveland in the 1884 presidential election. Just kidding, Mulder is talking about the creatures featured in William S. Burroughs’ classic psychedelic novel Naked Lunch. In the novel the Mugwumps excrete an addictive fluid from their penises, so I’m not sure how it applies to Einstein, unless Mulder is already hinting that he needs her to acquire drugs. Otherwise, it sounds like Mulder is conflating the term with “muggle” from the Harry Potter books.
Scully’s idea to communicate with the coma victim with a fMRI (and patient 23) came from the work of Adrian Owen.
Mulder’s plan to touch the face of God using hallucinations is something that counter-culture types have been claiming they can do for decades, though the more recent scientific claims tend to involve the compound DMT, not the active ingredient in mushrooms, psilocybin.