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"The X-Files" The Pine Bluff Variant (1998)"The X Files" The Pine Bluff Variant (original title)

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17 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

If you don't hear from me by midnight... feed my fish.

9/10
Author: Muldernscully from Washington Terrace, Utah
15 December 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The Pine Bluff Variant may be John Shiban's best solo work for the x-files. He is well known for his great threesome work with Frank Spotnitz and Vince Gilligan. But this solo effort deserves good praise. In the audio commentary for the episode, he explains how he had a note tacked up for a couple of years that said "x-files thriller", since they hadn't explored that genre before. When "doubting" Mulder came along in season five, it was the perfect time to use Shiban's story. And a thriller it is. Mark Snow is brilliant at setting the tone for this tense episode. Even though this episode isn't related to the paranormal, it does ties in because the terrorists recruited Mulder after hearing him talk about his government conspiracy theory at the UFO convention in "The Red and the Black". Even though Mulder is in some very dangerous and risky situations, he manages to keep his sense of humor and get some good one-liners in. This episode is exciting from start to finish, with the first half having you doubting Mulder's allegiance along with Scully. The whole episode shows that there are "lies within lies". John Shiban's inspiration for this episode is a 1965 film called "The Spy Who Came In From The Cold". I haven't seen it yet, but I'll have to check it out, especially if it's anywhere near as good as The Pine Bluff Variant, the x-files first and only "spy thriller".

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11 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Bioterror in the United States

Author: wtdk123 from United States
31 March 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

When a U.S. based terrorist group gets a hold of a dangerous biological agent developed by the Army and unleases it on unsuspecting citizens, Mulder must go undercover and discover who is behind these attacks and why they are committing them. He can't rely on Scully or any of his usual contacts within the FBI and is, in a sense, on his own once he infiltrates the organization.

The producers of "24" could learn a thing or two from this suspenseful episode. An outstanding stand alone episode that builds suspense from the very first frame, "The Pine Bluff Variant" (which refers to the biological agent)continues to be a favorite of fans. There was the opportunity to do a sequel to this episode that was missed (or perhaps forgotten about). Hopefully Carter will revisit this episode as an inspiration for a future "X-Files" movie.

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10 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Title Meaning

10/10
Author: Greta L from Canada
11 August 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

In response to Sanpaco13's comment, I checked on the meaning behind the title of the episode, and think I understand. Pine Bluff Arsenal is an American Military base in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, which is mainly known for its storage and development of chemical weapons. Scully suggests this to Skinner as the site of the development of a strain of Streptococcus bacteria that she speculates is the basis of the deadly toxin used in the episode:

Scully: (on phone) "Now CIA intelligence suggested that this biotoxin was stolen from the Russians. But my research indicates that it was almost certainly developed domestically." Skinner: "The United States has no bioweapons Agent Scully. President Nixon dismantled the program in 1969." Scully: "Yes sir, that's what we've been told. But the CDC database contains evidence of a Streptococcus bacterium being developed by the Army's Pine Bluff facility in the 1960s. it appears to be very primitive strain of what we're seeing here."

The chemical weapon used in this episode is a variant of the one developed at Pine Bluff, hence the name Pine Bluff Variant. :)

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3 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

August Bremmer, he's the group's mastermind.

8/10
Author: Sanpaco13 from Sandy, UT, United States
21 July 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The Pine Bluff Variant has a strange title that I have never understood. After doing some online research, I still don't. That being said, the episode is another of the non-paranormal episodes dealing with virus outbreaks. I like this one because of the Mulder-spy element at the beginning of the story. It brings a lot of suspense to the scenes where Scully is following Mulder and trying to figure out what he is doing. Then she is captured and taken to a secret facility where who knows who or what she will be answering to. Then she enters a room where Skinner is patiently waiting and reacts very much the same way I would in such a situation. "What is GOING ON!?" I also enjoy watching Mulder as a spy and the flesh eating virus is one of the worst kind I can imagine. Full of suspense, conspiracy, and unanswered questions this delivers the best of the X-Files. 8 out of 10.

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