Author Archives: Amanda Propst

Where from here?

Hi everyone, thanks for visiting. Are you excited about tomorrow’s new shows? Here at The X-Files 20 Years Later we are very excited. Maybe even excited enough to resume blogging our rewatch project. WHO CAN SAY THOUGH. Any requests for recaps of episodes we’ve missed in our indolence?

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2×22 F. Emasculata: Recap

What is this episode? I forget it. It is gross so far. Why is there such gross? Omg gross. Stop it. OH GOD I JUST REMEMBERED THIS EPISODE. IT IS DISGUSTING. SPOILER ALERT THIS IS THE GROSSEST EPISODE OF X-FILES THAT THEY EVER MADE.

So this is about the Biodiversity Project or something and it turns out that some nerds found some bad shit in the jungle. Dr. Robert Torrance, Biodiversity Project, has some really bad buboes on his mug. Why? Because he was poking around some disgusting dead animals. What is the plague? I can tell you. Some people think it is about not detoxifying enough. Maybe that. Drink more juice. Dr. Robert Torrance didn’t drink enough juice. The vulture knows. The vulture knows not to be fucking with that disgusting dead plague thing.

Note while the opening credits play: You should know that I’m writing this blog entry while procrastinating on doing things I should be doing, like writing term papers. Ha, ha. No one can stop me, because I’m a grown up.

So after our initial teaser of Dr. Bob getting plagued, we go to some scary industrial office scenery. Wait it’s a prison. PRISON. A prisoner receives a letter. It’s probably just a letter from a concerned follower. Or maybe his girlfriend. It probably isn’t a PLAGUE LETTER. Oh, but it’s bloody. Bad sign. Oh shit, it’s also addressed to Robert Torrance. WRONG ROBERT TORRANCE. Things are going to get bad! Why are there no lights in this prison? Budget cuts. In the 90’s, the prisons didn’t have lights, due to budget cuts. Thanks, Clinton.

So what was in the letter? Maybe some organs or something. Definitely plague-infested. Now the prisoner has some plague. The worst thing about this horrible plague is that the buboes kind of move on their own. Honestly, if I saw someone with buboes gently rising and falling, sinking subtly into the gore of the suffering patient, straining upwards against the stretch of skin on which they’ve colonized, I would probably just set them on fire. That seems reasonable.

The other prisoners are pretty incredulous. One guy is an idiot and is like “Maybe something’s just going around.” The other guy is more clever because he knows that the sheets of infected prisoners are going to the incinerator, not the laundry. He’s probably a white-collar criminal. Probably did some insurance deception shit or maybe a Ponzi scheme. This dude knows what’s going on. He’s used to tricking people, not being tricked. Guess what. Plague for you. Plague for everyone.

Now Mulder and Scully have arrived. They’re here to work on the federal marshals. The prison guards are like WTF why are you idiots here. GTFO. M&S don’t know why they’ve been sent, and no one knows anyone or anything. This sound about right based on what I know of federal procedure. Mulder doesn’t think they’re being told the entire story; guess what, Mulder, you work the X-Files, duh. The entire story is too nutso even for you, always.

Now some guys stole an RV. They are the prisoners who escaped I guess, which is why M&S got called in. Now I’m getting it. So complicated. Scully is trying to figure out what’s going on in the prison, and she’s got it figured big time. Some terrible infection is going on in the prison, she realized, and the CDC are here acting like some cagey bitches. That’s pretty much always how the CDC act I guess. Not much has changed in twenty years.

We’re cutting back and forth between the prison and the escaped prisoners. One of the prisoners is on the phone with his wife, who seems to be quite glad that he’s out of prison, though perhaps she wonders about the protocol that has (or has not) been followed. It is rather unorthodox for a prisoner to be released without prior warning late at night, she probably knows. The other prisoner is in their hotel room covered in some pretty bad pustules. Disgust. Why for the pustules?

Back to the prison. So much fire. Bodies, bodies, burn, burn, burn. Scully finds out how much they’re burning, and how messed up the bodies marked for incineration are. Not much gets past Scully. But, Scully gets past the CDC, I guess, as the CDC asshole just now realizes she’s poking around the incinerator area. The CDC guy is so anxious about her finding out the secret cremations that he pokes a body bag open, what? How even? So he gets sprayed in the face with pustule juice. Serves him right, I guess? One time I had such a bad sunburn that my leg erupted in disgusting burn pustules, and my friend Nick was harassing me, so I threatened to put burn juice on him. I followed through, too. That wasn’t as bad as this X-Files disease, though. All things considered, Nick got off pretty easy.

Mulder’s focusing on the manhunt while Scully sneaks around the dead. Mulder’s no idiot; the escaped prisoners might have the disease. He’s a good FBI agent. He knows that the prisoners might have tried to call their girlfriends, and he’s tally right. Mulder gets on the pay phone (quaint!) and swings around his FBI badge number like it’s a big dick to get the operator to give up some info on the calls out of here. But then a helicopter lands and some crazy stuff goes down. Everyone is crazy. Everything is crazy. I have a universal theory of humanity: Exploding pustules bring out the worst in humans.

Luckily, though, Mulder got the phone number and address of the call made to the prisoner’s girlfriend. And just in time, because Prisoner Dude just got home. He’s making out with his lady, and then he goes right to showing her his escaped buddy who is now absolutely covered in tumescent, bulging buboes.

Meanwhile, Scully is like, hey, maybe I’ll find out who sent this pustule-meat letter to Robert Torrance the Prisoner in the first place. Probvs what I would have started with. DUH. Turns out the gross disease-meat was sent to the prisoner by the biggest pharmaceutical company in the country. Sinister! Why would Big Pharma send disease-meat to a prisoner? Maybe a name mix-up is involved. Ha, ha, duh. You can’t outsmart me, X-Files.

You can’t outsmart Scully, either, because she just found a bug in disease-meat. Since we saw a clip of the same bug in the original disease animal in the opening teaser, I’m guessing this is integral. OH NO!!!! The Prisoner Dude’s girlfriend just got pustule-sprayed while trying to take care of the other guy. She’s a goner. Don’t mess with your friends’ exploding pustules. That is some life advice for you.

Back to the prison. The CDC jerk has the infection now, since he got pus-sprayed (pusprayed?). Oh, actually he works for Big Pharma. He’s not CDC at all. I guess he just lied about being with the CDC, that or the CDC are in bed with Big Pharma. (Which they are, duh.) So Dr. Osbourne (from the pharmaceutical company, also CDC) knows about the disease, and he also knows that when the pustule exploded on him, Scully was in the room too. Honestly, I would probably think Scully was infected if she didn’t have protagonist’s immunity, but since she does, we don’t have to worry about her. If I ever encounter disgusto-explosion disease, I hope I have protagonist’s immunity. Do you ever wonder if you’re the protagonist? How can you tell? I guess you can tell if you can fight off like fifteen men and not get diseased from exploding pustules when everyone else does. Simple science.

Now Mulder is confronting the FBI wanks who sent him out. Cigarette Smoking Man is like, duh, the public doesn’t need to know. I agree, actually. Do you know how dumb the public are? They don’t even know how to handle stuff like exploding pustule diseases. CSM is right — don’t tell ’em, everyone’s better off.

The prison is under full quarantine, and Scully is trapped inside. Mulder wants the public to know about the health crisis, and Scully doesn’t. She’s so reasonable. “They’ll be a time for the truth, Mulder, but this isn’t it.” Talk about a quote that sums up their relationship. She’s not even mad about being trapped inside the prison with not only prisoners, but also puspraying Costa Rican disease.

Dr. Osbourne is testing Scully for the disease by using the insects. Remember how I told you they’d matter? They do now. It’s a 30 minute plus 2 hour test. Somehow the bugs tell you if you have the disease, whatever, I forgot to care. Scully has 2.5 hours to find out if she’s going to die of pustule explosions. I’m so nervous.

Mulder is talking to the infected prisoner’s girlfriend. She doesn’t think anything is wrong. Why are movie people always so resistant to understanding that they’ve been infected by some horrible disease? I mean, I usually think I’m not sick when I am, so I guess I have some sympathy. One time I had pneumonia and I refused to go to a doctor until I was so sick I couldn’t walk from the bedroom to the kitchen. Ha, ha. If I got pustule explosion disease, I would probably refuse to seek treatment too. This is how epidemics happen! Human nature.

Before Scully can get her explosion disease test results back, the doctor starts dying of the pustules. She has to complete the test. The doctor thinks people have a right to know the danger that Big Pharma are putting them in by, uh, what? Mailing disease-organs to prisoners? He says, on his deathbed, or death-incubator or whatever, “Don’t believe for a second that this is an isolated incident.” So I guess Big Pharma are mailing disease-meat to like every prison in the US. Not cool, dudes.

Scully now does her requisite science stuff, mostly to remind us that she can. This is a lady who went to medical school, then FBI academy. Now she’s stuck in a prison testing bug guts for pustule explosions. Never stop dreaming, Scully.

Prisoner Dude is now infected big time, and he’s taking a Greyhound. I tell you what, this scene is the most realistic of the whole episode. Have you ever taken a Greyhound? Basically everyone on there has exploding pustules on their face. Or they’re murderers or something. You can see the OUN of Greyhound — I can’t believe they let them have even those letters.

Scully is indignant: Dr. Osbourne is dead now, and he’s in line for the incinerator, so there’s no one in the System who is willing to tell the tale. The Big Pharma lackeys are covering up all the evidence so that no one ever knows the risk they put the public in, and Scully is mad. She doesn’t even get to keep any evidence! No souvenir pus, no memorable meat. Like usual, she doesn’t have anything to corroborate what she’s seen. So now, Prisoner Dude is infected, on a Greyhound, and he happens to be the last shred of evidence of Big Pharma’s reckless endangerment of the American public in the pursuit of new erection drugs (or whatever they were looking for; probably erection drugs because that’s all anyone wants).

Now we’re at the action-climax of the episode. US Marshals have the bus surrounded, and the prisoner is on there, we think. Mulder is surreptitiously asking the bus driver if the prisoner is on the bus, and it’s super sexy. When Mulder gets sneaky, everything gets good. So of course the prisoner takes a young boy hostage so that they let him go to go explode his pustules all over whomever he wants. BUT GUESS WHAT. That’s freedom! What is freedom other than the freedom to go spray your disease-pus on whomever you want? Duh.

The prisoner is putting two and two together. The disease came from the disease-meat letter in Bobby Torrance’s cell. Bobby Torrance was a guinea pig. Personally, I think it’s a highly convoluted system. Big Pharma orchestrated the whole thing “to circumvent years of FDA trials to get their drug on the market.” Skinner doesn’t think Mulder should go public with this; Mulder obviously wants to. Scully is resigned to the notion that they can’t prove anything. Duh. They never can. Mulder never solves a crime. It’s funny, because supposedly he was a superstar when he was doing behavioral profiling, and now he’s in the X-Files and never solves a single case. How does he make it past his reviews?

Skinner lays down some truth: they’re always ahead of you, Mulder. Watch your back, Mulder, he says. Mulder’s like whatevs. As always. Thanks, Mulder. See you next week for “Soft Light.”

WONDERFUL NEWS

THIS IS WONDERFUL.

I am thrilled to announce that Fox has ordered a six-episode EVENT SERIES. What is an event series? Fuck a miniseries. We don’t do miniseries at xfiles20yearslater. XX-philes, rejoice.

Please see the episode index for updates. Welcome to the 2030s, X-Files 20 Years Later.

Important Link

http://www.buzzfeed.com/dorsey/snapchats-from-scully#.aeVYGaneO

RECAP [live-blog] S02E14: Die Hand die Verletzt

Welcome to a live blog of this episode. Maybe there are spoilers. I don’t know. How about this: this episode aired 20 years ago today. Shut up with your spoilers.

Welcome to Milford Falls, New Hampshire. Jesus Christ Superstar is not appropriate for the high school of this town. It’s also important that all high school decisions are made in a creepy seance. Duh. I love to have a good discussion of educational procedure and theatrical scheduling before praying to the powers of darkness. Also, what’s that? A foreign language? Foreign languages are so frightening. X-Files is so good. Paganism! What is it?

Also, the high school is called Crowley High School which is awesome. Go read Diary of a Drug Fiend, which is both my favorite book of Aleister Crowley’s and also maybe my favorite book.

I assume that this episode is reflective of the mid-nineties obsession with ritual magick and Wicca and the occult. I certainly had such obsessions in that time. One time my friend and I were Wiccan for upwards of two weeks.

Interestingly, the forests of New Hampshire and of Oregon (see the Pilot) look a lot like the forests of Vancouver. Okay.

So, now we have teenagers opening the gates of the darkness beyond. Teenagers in the nineties were always doing crazy stuff like this. Have you seen The Craft? Well that came after this episode so I think we know where to find its inspiration. And later Practical Magic. Anyway, back to the teenagers. They manage to do something with their clumsy chanting, and a bunch of rats (or lizards, who can say) show up. Then they die? I don’t know. I looked away at something else in the room. Whatever.

Now the FBI has to come check out the forest because the teenagers are dead or just gone or whatever. So Mulder and Scully have to come and check out the artifacts of the teenagers’ totally amateur rites of occult. Theurgy also. We have a specialist in theurgy on our editorial board. I will let him tell you more about that.

The teenagers go to a high school that looks exactly like the high school in Twilight. Maybe Milford Falls is actually Forks, Washington. That would make sense. Mulder and Scully are interviewing the teenagers now, which I guess answers whether they died or not. Only one did. Turns out that they never thought their chanting would work.

Next we meet Mrs. Paddock, the biology teacher who makes all the students cut up animals. Creepy enough. Is she the devil? I’d argue that a lot of fundies would say that any biology teacher who teaches evolution is the devil incarnate, but in Milford Falls, the teachers clearly worship Satan. So maybe Mrs. Paddock is Satan. Wait and see.

What would make the devil want to be a biology teacher? Here is my thought. I think that maybe the devil showed up as Mrs. Paddock to check out a little coven of occultists in nowheresville New Hampshire to see if they’re doing any good. Like Philemon and Baucis, but the other way. Instead of testing humans for their adherence to the sacred guest-host relationship formulation, Mrs. Paddock seems to be testing students’ willingness to cut up cute little piglets. That’s what I’m getting from this.

What’s brilliant about X-Files (aside from Mulder’s glimmering, arrestingly enduring handsomeness — a moment’s pause in memory of the red speedo) is their ability to send Mulder on an average of a million tangents every episode. When it’s aliens, Mulder first thinks it’s werewolves. When it’s werewolves, he’s sure to think it’s spirits. On and on. It’s basically like the throwaway suspects they always put into Law and Order episodes to trick you into thinking you don’t already know who the perp is (hint: you do). Here, we have what we presume to be either a Satanically-possessed teacher, or Satan Himself maybe, and Mulder is pretty sure that we’ve got repressed memories of sexual assault going on. Mulder is remarkable. And not just remarkably hot.

That brings me to the high school student who just freaked out during dissecting a piglet. I think it’s pretty reasonable that she freaked out because the piglet came back alive. That would throw me, for a second, but I’m extremely motivated by grades so I would power through. Anyway, Mulder and Scully talk to the girl outside, and she explains that her parents are devil worshippers who get her pregnant, murder the babies, and bury them in the cellar. They also murdered her sister as a sacrifice. The scene is actually terrific — very good horror. One time I got Rosemary’s Baby and The Astronaut’s Wife confused for, like, seven years. I have also confused Raising Arizona and America’s Sweethearts for years at a time. I have not seen any of these movies.

Mulder and Scully confront the parents. So smooth and subtle. Basically the parents are just like, “Uh, no, we don’t impregnate our daughter and murder her babies.” Very nuanced police work, agents. When you have suspects, especially murder suspects, but confronting them might derail your investigation, just go ahead and confront them. People who murder babies always just tell you that they do if you ask them with an FBI notepad in your hand. Also the dad tells Mulder that maybe Mulder is the devil incarnate, which is a great trick play.

The town elders meet to talk about how the girl gave up the secret cellar-baby-corpses. Now we have a brief respite from the horror genre to visit satire: “We’ve lost our faith!” they chide and cluck. A Greek chorus lamenting the god’s anger at Milford Falls, they, together, remember the old days when the devil reigned supreme and no barely-pubescent girl had an unmarred uterus. “We must rekindle our faith, rather than lose it.” As a religious studies scholar, I could probably talk about this at length, but whatever. People are always trying to rekindle their faith, because guess what: it’s hard to keep faith in a world that just throws one bad thing at you after another. Quite frankly, even if your definition of good stuff is forcing pregnancies on your daughter and murdering your grandchildren, and your definition of life’s tragedy is, uhh, not doing that, the world is still throwing bad stuff at you all the time. For instance, pregnancies last sooo long. You may want to nab six infant sacrifices a year, but you only have one daughter of child-bearing age since you had to sacrifice the other one. Your high school students want to do Jesus Christ Superstar when that’s clearly offensive to your religious sensibilities. Life is full of trials and tragedies.

So, now stuff is boring for awhile. Mulder confronts Ausbury, one of the Satanic faculty members of the high school, who admits that they did use the kids in ceremonies. But the kids were hypnotized until they’re 18, then they are brought into the sect, but they aren’t raped or anything. Like Confirmation, I guess. I will ask a Catholic about that. It’s probably the same. Mulder gets a call from Scully, so he handcuffs Ausbury and goes to find Scully. Scully says “jump,” Mulder jumps. All the way through. Bet she says some other stuff, off camera, if you know what I mean. SEX.

Then an anaconda eats Ausbury. This is unlikely since they aren’t big enough. Also they are South American. Scully says it’s a python, though. No python in America is big enough to eat a folk. Maybe it got out of the zoo. But the devil works in mysterious ways.

Mrs. Paddock was the one who called Mulder, not Scully, just to get him out. She fakes an assault so that Mulder and Scully think the Satanic faculty members beat her up. But turns out they didn’t, I guess, but anyway they go to see what’s going on with them. But instead the teachers knock em over the head and drag them, caveman style, into a ceremony where the teachers need to sacrifice some people (which doesn’t help with Ausbury’s previous claim that they laid off the murdering), and Mulder and Scully look like good sacrifices.

Mrs. Paddock says “It is already too late.” Mulder and Scully get away from the ceremony, because they do that. Mrs. Paddock has written “It’s been nice working with you” and now she’s gone.

My boyfriend’s assessment of the episode: “I like this one because it’s religious. It’s the Deep Space Nine of X-Files. Write that down in your blog.” I told him he could write in the blog, but he doesn’t know how to look at blogs.

The core of the episode is the presentation of common religious (typically Christian) themes in a dialect of, rather, devil worship. The fact that we watch and find it either funny, satirical, or offensive (depending on your own personal preferences in religious flavor) suggests that at the very least we can recognize the themes as a subversion of normal religious expectation. Also: does anyone else think of the toe-lickers in Pink Flamingos who kept women in their basements when they watch this episode?

S02E01 Little Green Men: HAPPENING NOW

Paul and I are conference-calling “Little Green Men” AS I TYPE. The tradition continues! This year with better blogging!

Notes for recap: Why does Mulder’s sister’s abduction always look different? How did Scully always look so stylish, even while terribly pregnant? Can we ever return to a time when X-Files themes were not cliched?

Fringe

In preparation for the twentieth anniversary project of the classical documentary Fringe in however many years that’ll be from now, I watched the entire first season over the past few months with a splinter group of the XX-Philes (ROMAN NUMERALS DO YOU GET IT) namely Paul. I just blasted through the last few episodes right now while working on my fabulous Link needlepoint project that will probably go with me, unfinished, to my grave. Anyway I think a full study is in order, but for now just want to highlight how important this show is. For a documentary about a parallel universe, it’s incredible that the filmmakers managed to get in some X-Files references. I mean there’s a billion but my two favorites are first, in the season finale where they’re at the lake and the whole thing is a big homage to the X-Files pilot and how in the second season premiere there’s actually a clip of Mulder on a television screen. That’s actually how I discovered that Fringe is definitely a documentary, because how else would people depicted in Fringe be able to watch other documentaries. Duh. What illuminating evidence. What an illuminating addition to the canon.

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Link

Darkness Falls

Omg (swt) you guys!!! After a long hiatus while I was in the sultanate of Oman, it’s time to return to x-files. We’re coming at you from Harvard with a small but thoroughly dedicated viewing party. Back to it!!!!!

E.B.E. VIEWING RECAP

LONE GUNMEN! LONE GUNMEN! We finally saw them!

More soon.

Or not. BUT MAYBE

Paul and I watched this episode in my new house in Dorchester. Then we ate pub food down the street. It was exhilarating.

The Science of X-Files: Young at Heart PART I

Some episodes of our favorite television show are campy, fantastical, and sillypants. Some, however, borrowed from current and predicted developments in science. Young at Heart is a little of both.

In the episode, we are met with basically quotidian phenomena: a prison doctor has gone rogue after deciding that this country’s strict limits on human experiments and gene therapy/drug trials spite the body to save the nose, as it were; he absconds to South America, the mythical land of unfettered access to cheap progeria sufferers. (Eh, whatever.) He studies these little children who age at an extremely accelerated pace to determine the secret of speeding up aging because do the opposite and you can slow it down. SCIENCE. He uses this on himself to keep from aging, and he uses it on Barnett, his most “successful” prisoner-patient (on whom he had free rein with the progeria experiments because he just got the prison to declare him dead even though he wasn’t), who would be a success if he weren’t a big ol’ murderer. So we’ve got Mulder and Scully looking for a should-be-dead murderer on the loose, except they’re looking for an older Barnett, assuming he ages in the same direction we do. This is not only some good misdirection, but a great chance for the FBI to show off their 1990s Photoshop skillz.

Anyway, so that explains why Barnett is running and murdering around undetected — he’s pulled a Benjamin Button on his old enemy Mulder (enemy because Mulder put him in prison way back when). Oh, also, he has a salamander hand.

I’m not totally sure why they decided to go with the salamander hand and the progeria/age reversal thing in one patient/prisoner/character. From what I can find, and keep in mind that I know absolutely nothing about science besides, like, plants eat sunshine and there are atoms in stuff and whatever, regenerative medicine (the salamander hand) and life prolongation/age reversal are two different fields of research without a lot of cross-pollination. Granted innovations in one would inform developments in the other, but the ability that salamanders and some other creatures have to regrow bits of themselves comes from a totally different element of their biology than what causes progeria in humans.

So how did these two unrelated medical phenomena got smashed into one MotW? Much as we would suspect, the progeria aspects of the plot and the salamander hand were added at different times by different people. The initial draft only included the progeria research, but I guess Chris Carter was like gah boring SALAMANDER TIME when he rewrote the script.(1)

This decision to chase two totally separate forms of (at the time) fringe medicine ultimately proved problematic for later critics of the show, though I consider the episode to be top-notch, X-Files truly hitting its stride, on top of its game. What I find to be a clear articulation of the raison d’être of the show inspires other critics to call it  at once “far-fetched” at Entertainment Weekly (2) and “not weird enough” at the AV Club.(3) Maybe nothing is weird enough for the AV Club. (While I disrespectfully disagree with Handlen’s dismissal of the entire episode as “sloppy” and “poorly edited,” I do agree with him that the focus should have been on the government’s willingness to bargain with Barnett for the research he was holding hostage, as we find out from Deep Throat at the very end before Mulder kills the guy and any hope of getting the research back along with him.)

So, we’ve established that this is an unpopular episode with two divergent pseudo-/pre-scientific themes vying for space in the same character. How realistic is the science?

SALAMANDER HAND

Totally realistic that we could grow a new hand, and probably possible in our lifetimes, but it’ll be human, not salamander. Lee Spievak famously grew back his fingertip in 2008(4) using powdered extracellular matrix extracted from the tissue of pig bladders. What they do is take out the bladder, take some tissue, soak that shit in acid to get rid of the cells leaving only the glue that holds em together, and then powder it. For some godforsaken reason, the matrix that holds animal cells together (i.e., extracellular) is intrinsically part of organ development and growth, and so when applied to Lee’s missing finger, it straight up grew a new finger. And not a globular, gross, three-digit salamander hand like in Young at Heart; it was a proper, human finger. The salamander hand looked pretty cool on television, and it is extracellular matrix that allows ‘manders to grow back their limbs, but the limb that grows back is controlled by the organism growing them, not the source of the ECM.

A lot of the research that my lazy and cursory library search turned up looked at ECM in drosophilia (flies), zebrafish, and xenopus (‘manders). For more, read Rodrigues et al. “Skeletal muscle regeneration in Xenopus tadpoles and zebrafish larvae,” Developmental Biology 12:9 (2012). Hans-Georg Simon also wrote a more accessible article about why we caint quite do the same thing (which is BULLSHIT): “Salamanders and fish can regenerate lost structures – why can’t we?” Biology 10:15 (2012). It goes without saying that basically every abstract of an article about salamander/fish regenerating their bodies starts with something wistful about how mammals can’t do it because of their immune system and scarring.

Basically, when mammals have a major wound, macrophages (pac-men) show up about a day or two later to chomp up the bad bits.(5) They replace neutrophils, which are the most common type of white blood cells, when there is a wound and they manage the healing process. They shoot out all this weird goo, such as proteases (which break up proteins and also do stuff with blood clots), growth factors (which I sure hope is transparent in meaning), and cytokines (which do immune system stuff). The cytokines that the macrophages be chillin’ with attract other cells that come help with the wound clean-up. When the macrophages get out of there, that’s when the inflammation ends and the wound starts to contract. They also help out with skin repair, but that was a whole other set of studies I didn’t want to read. Here’s the deal though: in the salamanders, the macrophages still show up. Cool! But instead of helping to get the epithelial tissue back up and running (remember the four types of tissues? connective, muscle, nervous, and epithelial!), they do a bunch of other stuff, but unfortunately I lost interest before I got to that part. The bottom line is that regenerative medicine might grow you a new human hand sometime soon, but not a salamander hand.

Stay tuned for part II, wherein I read some articles about progeria and tell you about them.

References

(1) Frank Lovece, The X-Files Declassified, 1996
(2) Entertainment Weekly, X Cyclopedia: The Ultimate Episode Guide, Season 1
(3) Zack Handlen, “The X-Files: Young at Heart/E.B.E./Miracle Man,” The AV Club: The TV Club, 2008
(4) Matthew Price, “The man who grew back his finger tip,” BBC News, 30 April 2008
(5) My understanding of macrophages is derived from James Godwin et al., “Macrophages are required for adult salamander limb regeneration,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 110:23 (2013), 9415-9420

CONFIDENTIAL TO MY IMMUNOLOGICAL FRIENDS: Please correct me where I have misrepresented or misunderstood sciencey things.