"Rm9sbG93ZXJz" is the seventh episode of the eleventh season of the American science fiction television series The X-Files. The episode was written by Shannon Hamblin and Kristen Cloke, and directed by Glen Morgan. It aired on February 28, 2018, on Fox. The episode's title is base64 code for "Followers" and the tagline for this episode is "VGhlIFRydXRoIGlzIE91dCBUaGVyZQ==", which translates to "The Truth Is Out There" in Base64.
|The X-Files episode|
|Episode no.||Season 11|
|Directed by||Glen Morgan|
|Written by||Shannon Hamblin|
|Original air date||February 28, 2018|
|Running time||43 minutes|
The show centers on FBI special agents who work on unsolved paranormal cases called X-Files; focusing on the investigations of Fox Mulder (David Duchovny), and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) after their reinstatement in the FBI. In this episode, Mulder and Scully deal with various forms of artificial intelligence; and the episode is told with minimal use of dialog.
A machine learning chatbot is released to the public via Twitter. It very quickly evolves and is ultimately switched off. The sequence of visual montages ends with a warning to all humans and blends to the usual intro.
Fox Mulder and Dana Scully visit a fully automated sushi restaurant. The restaurant is called Forowā, which in Japanese translates to FOLLOWER. It is spelled in Katakana Japanese. After they pick their selection on a screen, they both are occupied interacting with their smart devices. While Scully enjoys her sushi, Mulder receives the wrong food: a blobfish. He disturbs the chefs, which also are robots, and leaves the kitchen. He refuses to leave a tip and, when trying to get his credit card back, finds it is stuck in the slot. When trying to use force, an alarm goes off and the restaurant starts shutting down. Scully uses a chopstick to forcefully open the door so they can get out. Mulder realizes that his card is still in the restaurant, but gives up on getting it back. Scully is informed by her smart device, that her "Whipz" (an automated taxicab service) is arriving. She enters the back of the car but before she able to say goodbye, the driver-less vehicle closes its door and she is driven away. On the way to her home, she becomes alarmed because the car is speeding and ignoring her requests to slow down. Mulder enters his own car and drives off. They are both constantly bothered by review requests.
Scully returns home and immediately tries to call Mulder, but their phones refuse a connection. Scully's home alarm system refuses her code and is activated. She has to call in the false alarm and is billed $250 for it. When going to bed, Scully is shocked when a message, suggesting to buy more hair styling cream, arrives seconds after she throws her empty tube in the trash bin. When dismissing the message, she accidentally drops a glass container to the ground, which shatters. Her cleanup is disturbed by the sudden arrival of a robotic vacuum cleaner delivered via drone in front of her door. Scully, assuming it is a gift from Mulder, lets the robot clean the mess, but eventually gets fed up with it and puts it back in the packaging. Her attempts to reach customer support to return it fail. One-by-one, Scully's appliances malfunction and the fireplace goes out, but gas is still flowing out. She tries to light a candle, but breaks the match.
Meanwhile Mulder is tricked by his GPS to drive back to the restaurant, which is still upset and has his credit card. He instead grabs a map and navigates by himself. At home he calls his bank to report the "stolen" credit card but is unable to get through to a human operator. Mulder checks outside the house and sees a mid-sized drone flying in front of him. He initially dismisses it as a child's toy, but after more annoying attempts to spy on him he destroys it with a baseball bat. Three bigger drones appear and collect the remains. Still trying to get into contact with his bank, Mulder is bothered again by the restaurant, still trying to get a tip out of him. Mulder suddenly discovers that his house has gotten populated by mini-drones and escapes by driving away in his car.
He drives to Scully's home, where she has just smelled the leaking gas. The robotic vacuum cleaner is about to light the match when Scully breaks out of the house with a fire poker. The explosion throws both agents onto the grass. Both their phones refuse to let them dial 9-1-1. When they try to get to the office, they find themselves being chased by the drones again and ditch all their traceable electronics. The chase proceeds to a warehouse, where the agents are pursued by quadrupedal robots. After being shot at and facing an industrial robot, Mulder eventually tips the restaurant 10%, and the machines retreat and everything goes back to "normal".
In the last sequence of the episode, Mulder and Scully are having breakfast together in a human-operated diner, paying with paper money and still focusing on their smart devices. Scully decides to put her phone aside and gently touches Mulder's hand, to which he reacts by turning his phone's screen down. They both sit contemplating and holding hands.
In August 2017, it was announced that Kristen Cloke and Shannon Hamblin would be writing an episode based on a story by Glen Morgan, who directed the episode. This was the first X-Files script to be written by Cloke and Hamblin; Cloke (who is Glen Morgan's wife) had previously guest-starred in the fourth-season episode "The Field Where I Died"; and Hamblin has worked as Morgan's writer's assistant. Director Glen Morgan was inspired to tell a story visually, without dialog. Morgan had done a similar type of episode for Space: Above and Beyond, a TV series he co-created with X-Files writer James Wong, which starred Cloke.
In its initial broadcast in the United States on February 28, 2018, it received 3.23 million viewers, which was down from the previous episode, which had 3.74 million viewers.
In December 2018, TV Guide ranked "Rm9sbG93ZXJz" as #23 in the 25 Best Episodes of TV in 2018, saying ""Rm9xbG93ZXJz" was a reminder of what X-Files used to be: insightful, terrifying and little bit playful."
- Wax, Alyse (February 28, 2018). "The X-Files: Mulder and Scully face off against cell phones, drones... and a vibrator". Syfy. Retrieved March 1, 2018.
- Miller, Liz Shannon (August 8, 2017). "'The X-Files' Season 11 Adds Women Writers and Directors, Plus More Details on Show's Return [UPDATED]". IndieWire. Retrieved January 27, 2018.
- Sepinwall, Alan (February 28, 2018). "'The X-Files' Tries Something Delightfully New With 'Rm9sbG93ZXJz'". Uproxx. Retrieved March 1, 2018.
- Wax, Alyse (February 28, 2018). "Exclusive: X-Files writers Kristen Cloke and Shannon Hamblin explain 'Rm9sbG93ZXJz'". Syfy. Retrieved March 1, 2018.
- "Rm9sbG93ZXJz". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved April 11, 2018.
- Porter, Rick (March 1, 2018). "'Speechless' adjusts up: Wednesday final ratings". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved March 1, 2018.
- EditorsDecember 26, TV Guide; 2018 (2018-12-26). "The 25 Best Episodes of TV in 2018, Ranked | TV Guide". TVGuide.com. Retrieved 2019-01-18.