Cyberpunk Review » X-Files: Kill Switch (Episode 11, Season 5)

March 19, 2006

X-Files: Kill Switch (Episode 11, Season 5)

Movie Review By: Metatron

Year: 1998

Directed by: Rob Bowman

Written by: William Gibson & Tom Maddox

IMDB Reference

Degree of Cyberpunk Visuals: Medium

Correlation to Cyberpunk Themes: Very High

Key Cast Members:

  • Esther Nairn/Invisigoth: Kristin Lehman
  • Fox Mulder: David Duchovny
  • Dana Scully: Gillian Anderson
  • Rating: 8 out of 10


    This is what happens when you forget there IS a real world outside…


    Overview: Now, surely there must have been some kind of mistake. This is Cyberpunk Review, right? OK. Since when stories of little green men do qualify as such? Surely the mere fact that agent Scully had an implant in her neck does not count for an awful lot.

    All true. This particular episode, however, is different. Look at the credits. William Gibson. Ring any bells?




    More Than Meets the Eye: It all starts with a rather innocuous shootout at a diner in a drab neighbourhood. Piece of cake, eh? Well, not exactly, as it turns out that one of the victims is in fact a top IT expert and programmer whose death might have been anything less than a coincidence. Soon afterwards Mulder and Scully happen upon a rather charming lady going by the nick-name of Invisigoth, who turns out to be much more than just a leather-clad Trinity wannabe…




    The threat, it is revealed, comes from a fugitive AI she and her companions helped to spawn. This synthetic entity seems to have little regard for human life, plus it possesses some rather eccentric habits, such as playing with leftover Star Wars military orbital lasers and residing in abandoned… camping trailers. Needless to say it has to be stopped, although it may yet turn out Invisigoth pursues a different agenda altogether…



    “Okay mom, I did actually use your eye-liner…”


    Out There: Even if the credits said “Jay Leno” or “Kermit the Frog” rather than Gibson, there still would be a good case to make for the overall cyberpunk feel of this standalone episode. In terms of themes, it is all there- the pursuit of the AI takes place both in our very own “desert of the real” and through the net; agent Mulder even gets to become a multiple amputee courtesy of the malicious program’s VR simulation. More interestingly, the episode deals with the transfer of consciousness- translating a human psyche into digital data in pursuit of a peculiar kind of disembodied immortality. It is at that point one may begin to realise that one of the foremost attractions of the concept of sentient cyberspace entities is that cyberspace begins, to the mind of many, resemble a manufactured heaven of sort, a synthetic paradise for the unbelievers, allowing those of little religious zeal to dream of achieving transcendence. This move to another plane of existence, an ersatz afterlife- may not be explored at lengths here, yet gives a good cause for reflection. Apart from the sentient computer theme there is of course our sweet little Trinity impersonator (prettier than the real deal? I might be getting controversial here…) who also happens to drive a car (1960s Imperial, to be exact) very similar to the black Lincoln in the first Matrix.

    Convinced? And then you realise that this episode actually comes from 1998, which is a year BEFORE tha Matrix… So, who’s the copycat, eh Trinity? Guess I should be expecting a lawsuit for these allegations any time now…




    The Visuals: While not trying to rival Blade Runner, the visuals are decent for the budget. Being that this is an X-files episode, we shouldn’t expect anything too fancy - the series rarely relies on fancy visuals to generate their mood, or to depict story elements. One of the distinct traits of the X-Files is that they can often make ordinary places or events appear menacing and sinister when placed in the given context - this applies to Kill Switch.




    I assure you that, having seen this episode, the next time you’ll see a decaying camping trailer you’re gonna think twice before approaching it. In a way this depiction of cyberpunk is more realistic - inconspicuous locations concealing the drama of furtive technological experiments and computer crime is very much what one’s bound to encounter today. The most important bit - the flow of data - is hidden from the eye. The episode does treat us to some juicy cyberpunk visual elements, including gloomy improvised computer labs, and chaotic nests of cables and wires lit by the dim glow of terminal screens - but nothing too extravagant (aside for a few explosions).




    Confirm File Delete: Overall the episode represents a truly interesting foray of the famous franchise into the realms of cyberpunk, courtesy of Mr. Gibson himself. As with many other episodes, the strength of Kill Switch lies in its inherently believable narration, a mixture of the ordinary and the imaginary that made the series famous. The acting is decent- Invisigoth oozes character- and the action tightly coiled into a mere 45 minutes of film. Yet because of the unspectacular nature of the whole thing few will probably have seen and noticed it, even if this is as close as we can get into having a Gibson story made into a feature film, after his Alien3 script got binned long ago. It may not be cyberpunk canon in any way, but do watch it- I swear that after those 45 minutes you’re likely to be craving for more. Which you just might get, as there is another Gibson-written X-File which I will investigate soon…


    ~See movies similar to this one~

    Tags: TV episode review

    This post has been filed under AI (no body), Awesome Cyberpunk Themes, Made for TV, Hot Cyberchicks Kicking Butt, 8 Star Movies, Hacker Movies, VR Movies, Cyberpunk movies from 1990 - 1999 by Metatron.


    March 19, 2006

    SFAM said:

    Great review Metatron! I must see this :)

    But, um, I don’t think Trinity is gonna be sweating bullets over this. Actually, the whole hot chick kicking butt thing started with Sigourney Weaver in Alien. The hot chick in black shiny stuff kicking butt began in earnest with Michelle Pfeiffer in Batman Returns, but most of the follow-ups were pretty low-grade movies. However, after Trinity, this trend became pretty much a mandatory to greenlight a chick-kicking butt movie. She even made significant influences in every day fashion.

    I have a list of my Top 50 Hot Chicks Kicking Butt Movies on RT - I’ll let you guess where Trinity comes up :D. Incidentally, later in the thread I detail the hot chicks in black leathers/PVC kicking butt. I’ll repost that list here in the meatspace.

    DannyV_El_Acme said:

    You know, even if it is not specifically cyberpunk, the X-Files has always been a show in which paranoia and manipulation of information have been integral parts. It is also a very dark, somber series, perhaps even slightly fatalist. Conspiracy theory and cyberpunk go easily hand-in-hand, too. I never heard of this episode of the series before, but it really is not much of a surprise to see a cyberpunk technology-based episode of the X-Files, considering almost all the other elements of the genre are already present in the series.

    By the way, please, PLEASE somebody review Max Headroom!!!

    SFAM said:

    only another 70 or so movies to go. I’m sure Max Headroom will be coming up at some point in there. :D

    Metatron said:

    I actually saw another episode yestarday which had some slight influences of that sort (not the second Gibson episode, by the way); the idea was pretty neat in that it involved some rather nasty nanotech microbes the effects of which could be controlled remotely… which came pretty handy for one character as he was able to exert influence on another (wanna know who I’m reffering to- well, I won’t spill the beans here ;) )

    March 20, 2006

    SFAM said:

    Hi Metatron, I just saw Kill Switch - what a great episode! Definitely fun stuff. It’s nice to see Gibson’s stuff make it to the screen intact. :)

    March 21, 2006

    David Gentle said:

    Gibson has said that when they asked him about the eye makeup he actually said that he wanted it to be like the girl in BladeRunner.

    […] Tom Maddox, according to wikipedia, is a buddy of William Gibson. If you are interested Maddox and Gibson co-wrote two x-files episodes Kill Switch and “First Person Shooter”. […]

    February 20, 2007

    Netrunner said:

    Oh yeah, Kill Switch is a very cool X-Files episode! Cyberpunkish indeed and written by William Giobson himself. indeed. Is there more to say? Great stuff! Watch it!


    SFAM said:

    Hi Netrunner, what’s truly amazing about Kill Switch is the fact that something written by Gibson for a film actually survived intact through the production! If only we were so lucky on his other film projects.

    September 22, 2007



    February 10, 2008

    A MAN WHO IS DEAD said:

    i really likees these epsode of the bit where she dies att the endd oh my god she dies at the end SHE DIES AT THE END AND MULDER SURVIVES BUT THE KILLSWITCH GETS RUINED



    I LYK DYKE said:

    R U A DYKE?????……….


    CONNIE IS!!!!

    March 28, 2008

    thytith said:

    Could any one send me Hacker Movies Link To download .?

    thank you all friends


    April 3, 2008

    Soulmaster said:

    The name also counts ;)

    January 31, 2009

    jmm1233 said:

    not all blonde female hackers have that amount of eye make-up , but mostly female pleasure humaniod replicants do , lol

    February 3, 2009

    Louie Louie said:

    I love this episode (though I must say I remember it… not that good coz I saw it ages ago). By the way where is First Person Shooter? It`s another XF episode written by WG and it`s even better than this one.

    January 11, 2010

    Shadeblighter said:

    i was curious to know about another x file written by the same geniu behind kill switch and i wiki it
    also i love your site thx

    First Person Shooter (The X-Files)
    Plot summary

    Three men are dressed in futuristic combat gear. Preparing for a battle, they take automatic weapons. Their battlefield is a virtual reality game. In a control room, Ivan and Phoebe–the workers of First Person Shooter Company–are monitoring the players’ vital signs. Suddenly, motorcycles appear in the game. The three men shoot at the motorcycles, causing them to explode. One of the players encounters a female warrior in a skimpy, fetishistic leather outfit. She says, “I am Maitreya. This is my game,” and then kills him. Ironically, “Maitreya” means “loving one” in the Sanskrit language.
    Mulder and Scully visit the First Person Shooter development company headquarters. They meet with The Lone Gunmen who work as consultants to the game. They look at the body of one of the players, Maitreya’s first real-world fatality. The wound shows that he was shot, but Ivan says there is no way a real gun could have been brought into the highly-secured building. The agents are shown a video from the game. They see the female warrior killing the player and Mulder takes the printout of the female. He shows it to a detective as he believes she might be a killer. Daryl Musashi, a renowned computer hacker, comes to the building. He enters the game in order to kill the mysterious female; However, she cuts his hands and head off, killing him first . As Scully performs an autopsy on the first player, the remains of Daryl Musashi are brought in. Mulder receives a call from the Sheriff’s Department that a woman similar to the one in the printout has been picked up.
    The woman’s name is Jade Blue Afterglow (played by Krista Allen) (see Jade-Blue Eclipse[citation needed]) and she tells the agents that a medical imaging place in Culver City paid her to scan her body, answering the question of why her form appears in this game. Mulder and Scully go back to FPS headquarters where the Lone Gunmen are trapped inside the game with somebody shooting at them. Mulder enters the game in game combat gear to help them. He sees Maitreya and follows her. Phoebe tearfully admits that the female warrior (nicknamed “Goddess” by Phoebe) was created by her, a sort of personal estrogenic outlet and rebellion in a testosterone-riddled environment. Maitreya was to be contained within Phoebe’s personal separate project, but the character found her way into the first person shooter program.
    Eventually (and despite former mocking of the game, and of gamers who get their “ya-ya’s” that way) Scully puts the suit on and enters the game herself. She finds Maitreya and fights with her. Every time Scully shoots and destroys one set of Maitreya’s (she multiplies at level 2), more sets come back as the game gets progressively harder. Mulder, being out of ammo, takes to hiding. Scully continues fighting off Maitreya, who has now taken to sitting on top of a tank with a machine gun. Phoebe admits there is one way to stop the game, but doing so will erase the whole game. Ivan is less than keen on killing his game and nearly stops Phoebe from telling the kill command to Byers. After a back-and-forth between Ivan and Phoebe, Phoebe tells Byers the kill command (which is shift + alt + “bloodbath”) and he types the command, effectively destroying the game, but saving Mulder and Scully. During Mulder’s voice-over we see that in the control room one of the monitors is still active. Ivan sees a message reading “Data Acquisition.” He sees the image of a digital character. She is wearing Maitreya’s leather outfit but now her face is different: it is his friend, Phoebe’s face.

    The episode is notable for being written by William Gibson[1], together with fellow science fiction novelist and long-time friend Tom Maddox. “First Person Shooter” aired on FOX on February 27, 2000.[2][3] This was the second episode written by the authors, after the success of “Kill Switch”, which first aired on February 15, 1998 and subsequently made frequent appearances in reruns, encouraging Gibson to continue working in television. “Kill Switch” came about after the pair, having previously discussed possible collaborations, approached the production company with an offer to write an episode.[4]
    “First Person Shooter” deals with recurrent Gibsonian themes: alienation, paranoia, the will to survive, emergent technology, the evolution of artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and transferring one’s consciousness into cyberspace.[5]

    April 20, 2011

    chlordane said:

    full episode is here as well:

    for those who are looking.

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