OK, now for the bad news. I'm Norwegian, but I think even non-Norwegians with any knowledge of the language would hear the thick accents here. Thank goodness for the subtitles, because much of the time I could not make out what they were saying. I did, however, pick up certain *Danish* words (like "bliver" instead of "blir", meaning "becomes"). Now, written Norwegian is almost identical to written Danish, but when spoken the two languages are very different. I don't think we'd hear that difference from the actors used, though, so it might well be that the language coach used an English/Danish book for reference. Or a really, really old Norwegian one, seeing as Riksmål (essentially Danish) hasn't been our primary written language for at least 90 years. A telling phrase is Olafson's "gå (ad) helvede til" ("go to hell"), a Danish construction which is absolutely not used in Norwegian (the Norwegian phrase would be "dra til helvete").
I don't think picking up a random Norwegian schmoe from the streets to help them out would have been that difficult, nor that expensive.
Now, language aside, there are some other embarrassing elements, which probably only a Norwegian would care about. First of all, Trondheim is hardly a common surname. I was surprised to find that there ARE actually some who have this surname. Nine, to be exact (for the alternative spelling, "Trondhjem", the statistics reveal a grand total of 17).
Second, I have yet to see a Norwegian flag in a Norwegian pub/tavern. Made me think that this must be a place where far-right extremists hang out. Flag use is pretty reserved in Norway compared to our American counterparts.
Third, "pirate whaler", indeed. I'm half surprised they didn't include a burly Norwegian killing baby seals with his teeth. The same Norwegian schmoe from before could have told them that the only form of "pirate whaling" going on is if someone was to exceed their quota of minkes, but this hasn't happened in decades.
Fourth, maybe they DID use a really, really old book as reference. Because the patrons of the Norwegian tavern made me think of the way certain places might have been half a century back.
I don't know, maybe I'm overly anal about these things because I'm Norwegian. That's why I am only deducting one star for that. For those who ARE Norwegian, however, this episode has an unusually high face-palm factor. Best seen with friends over a pizza and something good to drink.
Episode 19, 'Død Kalm', written by Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa, directed by Rob Bowman. Monster of the week episode count, 29. The X-Files had its fair share of gruesome monsters on the show, brought to life often with great success by the highly skilled art department. A monster of the week lineup from the entire series would be a veritable cornucopia of ghosts, ghouls, zombies, werewolves, vampires and mutants. Some of these nightmarish creations have become iconic images from the series, permanently etched in to the minds of the viewers. Any fan will remember characters like the Flukeman from 'The Host', Eugene Tooms from 'Squeeze' and 'Tooms', the Peacock family from 'Home' and The Great Mutato from 'The Post-modern Prometheus'. Not to mention the many human 'monsters' such as the mind-controlling Pusher, Robert Modell, and the creepy child killer John Lee Roach from 'Paper Hearts'. There's no doubt the writers thought up some memorable antagonists for Mulder and Scully to face. However, there's also another type of 'monster' that takes on a less corporeal form, the type of 'monster' the agents face in this episode. As wonderful as the zombies and mutant sewer creatures are I've always found that the unseen evil can be even more frightening. A force, entity or disease can, in some respects, pose a far greater danger. Once evil manifests itself physically, there is a sense that it can be contained and ultimately destroyed in one way or another. However if it is faceless, an ethereal presence, in some ways it poses a greater threat. This is what the agents face in 'Død Kalm', a threat they can neither see and struggle to fully understand.
Mulder and Scully travel to Norway to investigate what happened on a US Navy Destroyer. Baring one sole survivor the entire crew of the ship disappeared for several hours, until they were found, floating at sea in a lifeboat, having rapidly aged beyond their years. With the help of an American fishing boat captain living in Norway, Henry Trondheim (John Savage), they find the abandoned destroyer, looking as though it has rusted from decades at sea. Inside they discover the surviving Captain, who has also aged drastically and is dying, they also meet Norwegian fisherman Olafsson (Vladimir Kulich) who mysteriously appears unaffected. Mulder, Scully and Trondheim become stranded on the boat when their ship is stolen and they must figure out what is happening to them as they all begin to rapidly age. Scully eventually figures out that it has to do with contaminated water that causes massive cellular damage by raising the level of sodium chloride in the body and the only source of untainted water is in the recycled sewage system. Naturally Trondheim turns on them when he fears for his life and the fate of the agents is fast approaching a grim finale.
The episode slows things right down, with a minimal cast, static environment and focus on dialogue and atmosphere over action. This was done partly to give the crew a rest following a series of demanding shoots with the previous episodes. The vibe and plot is similar to Darkness Falls, a small group of people trapped in an isolated place, the danger growing with the passing of time, and an invisible threat that they cannot fight head on. Everything about the ship is dark and foreboding and since the majority of the episode takes place here it's quite a gloomy feeling show. Which is a good thing. This is one of those times where Mulder's initial theory turns out to be way off and it's Scully who uses her scientifically minded way of seeing to discover the cause of the rapid aging. Another good example of how the pair complement each other with their opposing ways of approaching a situation.
The extensive makeup and prosthetics applied to the actors was poorly received by many fans and drew harsh criticisms from some critics. It's important to remember that the change in the character's appearance was caused by cell damage and an overproduction of salt. This means that their skin became wrinkly, taking on the look of an elderly person. Therefore since the characters are not actually aging, but rather becoming deformed in a sense, you could excuse the somewhat odd makeup effects to a certain extent. Gillian Anderson's makeup was done well, John Savage's makeup never seemed to be quite enough as compared to Anderson's and this was not explained within the story. Duchovny on the other hand looked almost comical by the end, there was far too much latex used which made his face lose to much of it's natural shape and severely inhibited his facial expression. Poor effects notwithstanding, this still wasn't enough to detract from my overall enjoyment of the show. Once again the main characters are put in mortal danger, even though we of course know that they'll survive it's still good to see that the writer's are not afraid to let their lead actors get dirty.
One would assume the title Død Kalm is a Norwegian word but it's actually gibberish. Død translates to Dead, however Kalm is not a word. Obviously the writer's were intending the translation to be Dead Calm, which would refer to the stillness that took over the ship and most likely also reference the 1989 film Dead Calm. Yet again I seem to be at odds with the general consensus on this entry from Gordon and Gansa. Maybe it's Bowman's direction or my fascination with claustrophobic minimal settings that rely on characters to move the story forward but this is a Monster of the Week that borrows from, and earns its place among, earlier successful entries like 'Darkness Falls' and 'Ice.'
While the atmosphere is good, and the sets are excellent, the art direction is plagued by shoddy special effects.
While Anderson and Duchonvy give typically good performances, the rest of the cast is plagued by terrible acting. The less important the character, the worse the acting, which makes the scenes establishing the base story and the atmosphere unbelievable.
On top of all that, however is the problem that the episode is just plain boring. Even with far worse episodes, things manage to always stay somewhat interesting, however for some reason about fifteen minutes in, things stop happening and the episode becomes just plain hard to get through. The whole thing might work better if it was half the length that it was.
A boat long ago disappeared
But suddenly now it is here
But the water is bad
And makes you look like Granddad
Because your skin ages in minutes like years
This is definitely a unique episode. But I don't know if that's a good thing. I find it kind of funny that Mulder gets Scully a pass to see the sailors and as she is in there that black lady doctor comes in all mean and throws her out. Then at the end when she and Mulder are being treated, its the same black lady doctor treating them. If she had just told them what was going on in the first place they wouldn't have gone off and almost gotten killed by it. And then the stupid captain who seemed nice enough at first but then when his boat gets stolen he blames Mulder, then when his first mate gets killed he blames Mulder, then he wants to kill Mulder so he can have all the water, and finally he drowns in the outer hull and shuts up. Also I always wonder what happened to that whale pirate after he lets him go. I guess he swam away? The episode premise for those who don't already know starts with Mulder's theory of worm holes and time speeding up and this is causing people to age quickly. As it turns out, this has nothing to do with what is actually happening. The water on the ship is contaminated with something that makes the body turn into a pillar of salt or something and then they die. There is not very much uncontaminated water so we watch for 40 minutes of show time as Mulder and Scully fall asleep and don't do anything until they are rescued. I don't hate it, but there are much better episodes than this. I give it a 6 out of 10.
By the looks of things, Scully and Mulder might have passed the century mark themselves by the appearance of their make-up jobs. Even some hundred year olds I've had the fortune to know didn't look that bad. What I didn't understand about the story was why Scully and Mulder were even out there on the Norwegian Sea investigating the disappearance of the U.S.S. Ardent. It seems to me the matter would have been a decidedly military one, one in which the FBI would have been deterred from participating, whether officially or unofficially.
Which brings up another point - Mulder was going to tell Skinner about his involvement after he was already under way. He did stuff like this quite often and it took away some of the discipline one associates with an agency like the FBI. Of course today, with agents associating with hookers in foreign countries, the story would seem a lot more credible. The times sure change, don't they.
Well this was an interesting exercise in which Scully and Mulder explored the lost time anomaly that's often associated with alien abductions, though this time it was conjectured that some sort of wormhole might have contributed to the aging factor. Like so many episodes, not much is resolved here by the end of the story, with the Navy making the save to pull Mulder and Scully's fat out of the fire. It did however allow Scully to wax philosophical when it looked like they were goners, stating to her partner that "...we have nothing to fear when it's over."
I have always detested story lines involving main characters growing old, almost dying, and going back to normal. and for the most part of the episode, it was exactly like that.
However, somewhere mid-episode is when it started to show some light at the end of the tunnel. Gillian, as always, was great and gave a believable performance. I find the scene where they are supposedly about to die very touching, not because of them, but the way it's written. and Scully's line about death not being something you have to fear.
Sadly, it still has an unsatisfying ending that looks very similar to Season 1's 'Darkness Falls' where they get rescued at the last minute. the only difference is that Scully was the critical one in that episode and Mulder in this one.
I'm going to give it ** stars, but it's a very low one.
Also if you read the IMDb trivia for this episode you'll see how meaningless the title of this episode is. Only word that meant sense was DØD which translates DEAD. KALM isn't even a word, but I think they believed it meant CALM. but then again what is DEAD CALM supposed to mean? Otherwise the story wasn't really that special either, one of the least interesting so far. And it lost it's "fright factor" very early on. The previous episode with all the zoo animals, had more tension and atmosphere than this one. I give this episode a 6/10.
Once more we start with conspiracy, secret experiments and possible alien involvement but veer to a view of Mulder and Scully's mortality; trapped adrift in a ghost ship, inexplicably aging by the minute due to mysterious conditions.
But does it convey anything of substance about either? Oh Scully will stand by Mulder no matter what, but that's nothing new.
Worst of all, the episode sets itself up on whether or not help will arrive on time. Was anyone on their toes, even then? Was Mulder really going to die unceremoniously of rapid age deterioration, halfway through the season?
So this is probably the most useless episode so far. Knowing they will be saved, knowing the alien meteorite is only a mcguffin, I just waited for it to end.
'Død Kalm' is definitely one of the worst episodes of the series. And a lot of the Norwegian spoken in the episode, is completely wrong.
Especially the ending, i thought was just awful, not to mention the horrible makeup, that kinda reminds me of some corny horror-flick from the seventies.
Summary - a bad episode. Although it IS nice to see John Savage in a minor-role, in which he is just perfect!.
Sad to say - but i had to give it 1 star - cause it really really didn't deserve more. Although this is really tough admitting, since i'm a huge fan of the show.
Thanks for reading.
But we couldn't have the Navy do that because they would never leave two FBI agents alone on a marooned vessel. Nor was there any possibility of a Navy vessel being hijacked. Nor would a single pirate (or even a handful of pirates) be able to stand up against the military, so we'd lose all the action and suspense from the episode.
There's also the fact that this isn't really an X-File, but I can live with that. At least they didn't try to turn it into one with an inane voice-over like at the end of Irresistible. But along those lines, what I did really enjoy about this episode is that Mulder is wrong. Most episodes have Mulder initially confounded or with a theory that is eventually proved correct. But here he is completely wrong. And it's a refreshing change.
Also, Duchovny (who is one of the worst actors I've ever seen) actually does a good job, as others have noted. These positive points keep the episode from being a total wash, but there's no compelling reason to watch it.