All Souls – Season 5, Ep 17

SCULLY: (on phone) There’s evidence of a progressive degenerative bone disease and, uh, I know you’re going to think that I’m crazy … but I swear I found evidence of something winglike.

MULDER: (on phone) Well, then, maybe she flew here, Scully.

That’s tasteful, Mulder. Just downright classy of you. Making jokes about dead teenage girls. Because that’s totally something Mulder would do, given the loss of his one and only sister.

 

 

Season 5, Episode 17: “All Souls”

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Hey. Have you ever wondered what would happen if Season 3’s “Revelations” and Season 5’s “Emily” gave birth to an episode?

No. Of course you haven’t. Nobody wants to see that. But they did it. And here we are.

This episode is just…gahhhh. I mean, haven’t we had enough of this shit? Can we please just sweep away the Emily storyline and be done with it? This is just another excuse to see Scully suffer for another forty-five minutes, and it’s completely pointless. I suppose you could argue that “Christmas Carol” and “Emily” weren’t totally pointless because of their (albeit flimsy) connection to the mythology, but this? This is a standalone. Emily’s dead. That storyline was awful. Please can we be done with this?

I don’t mean to churn out another negative review in a mostly fantastic season of The X-Files. But if I’m being honest, I hate this episode. Though it may not be as bad technically, in some ways this episode bothers me even more than the “Emily” duo because it reintroduces Intolerant Mulder Jerk, which has unfortunately become a bit of a trope (and a majorly shitty one at that).  It also attempts to be another episode that explores Scully’s religion. But unlike “Revelations,” which actually explores the nature of Scully’s belief when faced with religious extremism, in “All Souls” Scully’s beliefs aren’t so much explored as they are chucked at her face in the most horrendous of ways. Do you find comfort in God, Scully? Here’s a religiously symbolic dead girl to remind you of your own dead daughter!

I understand that many religious people, especially Catholics, stay grounded to their religion even in the midst of some of the church’s somewhat harsh, traditionalist, and yes, extreme aspects, but when we’re given misery after misery in every single one of these religious episodes, it’s hard to see what solace, if any, Scully finds in her faith. I don’t think that Scully’s faith has even once shown any meaning to her apart from when her life gets really, really difficult. And yes, I know that’s part of the point; that when her science can’t give her the answers (which usually means she’s facing a crisis) Scully turns to her religion. I get it.

But in “All Souls” this relationship feels incredibly forced. By the end (which is such a shameless, pitiful attempt to redo the ending from “Revelations” it gives me a headache from excessive eye-rolling), Scully reaches the conclusion that – well, what? That faith is accepting loss? It may be true but it’s freaking depressing! Can’t Scully’s religion make her happy?

“But Meghan,” I hear the whiny little protest voices say, ” ‘Revelations’ wasn’t happy for Scully either. And wasn’t that a religious episode you actually liked?”

Sigh. I do like “Revelations” a lot, and I have to sheepishly admit that my review for that episode is one of my favorites. So the comparison is unavoidable, it seems. Let’s stack up these endings next to one another.

“All Souls”

PRIEST: You believed you were releasing her soul to Heaven.

SCULLY: I felt sure of it.

PRIEST: But you still can’t reconcile this belief with the physical fact of her death?

SCULLY: No. I thought I could, Father, but I can’t.

PRIEST: Do you believe there is a life after this one?

SCULLY: Yes.

PRIEST: Are you sure?

(SCULLY tries to answer, but cannot.)

PRIEST: Has it occurred to you that maybe this, too, is part of what you were meant to understand?

SCULLY: You mean, accepting my loss?

PRIEST: Can you accept it?

SCULLY: Maybe that’s what faith is.

“Revelations”

PRIEST: Maybe they weren’t meant for him to see. Maybe they were only meant for you.

SCULLY: Is that possible?

PRIEST: With the Lord, anything is possible. Perhaps you saw these things because you needed to.

SCULLY: To find my way back?

PRIEST: Sometimes we must come full circle to find the truth. (Scully looks up at the priest) Why does that surprise you?

SCULLY: Mostly, it just makes me afraid.

PRIEST: Afraid?

SCULLY: Afraid that God is speaking … but that no one’s listening.

Apart from being much better written, look at how Scully reacts to the priest in “Revelations.” She listens and comes to a conclusion about God and her faith based on what she’s seen and experienced in the episode. The “full circle to find the truth,” which is threaded throughout the episode, beautifully encompasses Scully’s struggle to understand her own faith. I can’t see any conclusion reached in “All Souls,” apart from that really, really sad things happen and faith is going to Confessional and attending Mass even though you don’t understand why God would let such a tragedy occur. “Revelations” is “God works in mysterious ways, but keep trying and maybe you’ll understand His intentions if you really listen.” “All Souls” is “God works in mysterious and fucked up ways, and faith provides no comfort for me, even though I will continue to be virtuous and faithful.” I can’t get behind that. Do I want or even need a solid, neatly wrapped conclusion? Of course not. “Revelations” didn’t have a cherry on top of its ending, either. But nothing in “All Souls” feels connected. Nothing makes me interested in these questions Scully’s found herself asking, fascinating though they may be. I just want the whole damn miserable thing to be over.

I’ve rambled too much already, so to sum up I’ll just snag a quote from Musings of an X-Phile’s review of this episode.

“I realize that Scully’s lovely when she’s somber but would it have been possible to have an episode centered around her faith that left her cheerful rather than crying in a confessional booth?”

I have nothing to add. Let’s be done with this.

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Final Score

4+stars

Final score for “All Souls” is 4/10. With this score I’m trying to be as fair as I can possibly be. I don’t like it, but don’t think I haven’t considered the possibility that this episode just wasn’t made for me. I don’t understand its purpose in the show but I realize there are many that find it meaningful, and unlike some of the other “objectively” terrible episodes – “3,” for instance – I don’t think you’re a nutball if you like this one. But it gets a massive thumbs down from me.


Notable Nuggets (and Nitpicks)

  • Mulder wears sunglasses, and I’m always down for that.
  • Gillian Anderson is of course very good in this episode and looks particularly lovely.
  • Mulder feels very out of place in this episode, which is weird for me to say. I almost wanted him to go away, and that’s criminal.

 

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Mind’s Eye – Season 5, Ep 16

MULDER: You go ahead. I want – I want to – I want to investigate something.

Gee, it’s like he’s in the FBI or something. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

 

 

Season 5, Episode 16: “Mind’s Eye”

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“Mind’s Eye” bears a lot of similarities to an earlier episode, Season 3’s “Oubliette.” If you recall, “Oubliette” was about a young woman Mulder takes pity on who can see into the mind and experiences of another person, and also rejects the help and support of those around her because she’s a tough little cookie, until the end where she sacrifices herself to save the lives of others because she’s a good person despite her traumatic life, after all. You also might recall that “Oubliette” is a deeply unpleasant piece of television that I have no wish to revisit. So thanks for that, Season 5.

Okay, I’m being a little unfair. “Mind’s Eye” is a better watch than “Oubliette,” I suppose because Marty at least doesn’t seem completely miserable the whole time. No, Marty has the very singular characteristic of being…well, an asshole. Charming.

Do I sound spiteful? I don’t really mean it. Truth be told, “Mind’s Eye” isn’t a terrible episode, it’s just not a very good one. It lacks much-needed depth and really did have the potential to be better than it is. The main problem is Marty. Lili Taylor is a great actress and she does a good job here, but she doesn’t have much to work with. The episode’s writer, Tim Minear, said this about his idea for the character: “I wanted to make Marty a bitch, because the fact is that disability doesn’t necessarily ennoble a person.”

Well…that’s true, and I certainly don’t think that every disabled character has to be an angel, but they don’t have to be completely unlikable, either. That just perpetuates the other side of the coin, that disabled people are going to be cranky and miserable because of their disabilities. Fun fact: not all disabled people are miserable. Blind people have to learn other ways to function by being blind, but they can still live happy lives. That’s not to say there aren’t challenges, to be sure, but it isn’t this sort of “I’m blind and adjusted but cranky because I’m blind in spite of being adjusted” attitude that Marty has.

What would have been more interesting is if the episode had explored Marty’s blindness and ability more, especially what the latter means in relation to the former. Maybe an amendment such as this would have worked better: Say Marty’s father wasn’t always a murdering criminal but instead abandoned Marty after her mom died giving birth to her, and was slowly, over the course of 30 years, driven to a life of crime and murder. But Marty, during those 30 years, has seen glimpses of the world through her father’s eyes, instead of the inside of a jail cell, like the actual episode. They actually touch on this a little at the end, when Marty talks about seeing the ocean. But this is one beautiful vision of the world that Marty has. The rest is just the inside of a jail cell, and since she goes to jail at the end anyway I fail to see the sacrifice she made by killing her father. If Marty’s father had been able to let her see the rest of the world – trees, cities, people, animals, the night sky, etc. – then Marty would have to really grapple with her decision to take out her father at the end. Should she sacrifice her only gateway into what the world looks like, or prevent her father from killing more people? Her resulting sacrifice would have been a lot more powerful, as she’d no longer have access to the world she once had. She’d have to learn how to live like most blind people do – not in angelic nobility or misery, but just…living.

This episode made me think about how to correctly write a disabled character, and fortunately I have just the example: Toph from Avatar: The Last Airbender. Now, Toph is a frequently grouchy, cranky, spunky girl who is completely blind, but she has learned how to live fully through her earthbending abilities, which are not hindered by her blindness, but amplified because of it. Toph’s definitely no angel, but she’s not miserable. She has taken her blindness and made it into a strength instead of an obstacle to overcome. Marty? Marty is just someone to feel bad for, despite how many times she tries to act like everyone around her shouldn’t, or how many times the episode tries to convince you that she’s such a bitch she doesn’t need sympathy.

Besides, tell me this episode wouldn’t be vastly improved if Toph called Mulder “twinkle toes.” Now I’d pay to watch that.

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Final Score

5+stars

Final score for “Mind’s Eye” is 5/10. While we do have a good performance from Lili Taylor and a premise that is far from unsalvageable, the script just isn’t up to the job.


Notable Nuggets (and Nitpicks)

  • Although I don’t believe that this was the character’s, the actor’s, or the writer’s intention, Mulder is a bit rude in this one. Even though he does his usual Sympathy for the Damsel shtick, his attitude towards Marty, at least at the beginning, is “Pssshhh, who you tryin’ to fool, woman? You’re blind as a bat so we know you couldn’t possibly have been the killer.” He’s right, of course, but it still feels condescending.
  • Scully is in this episode somewhere, I think.
  • Ok I know Marty’s a girl in this but couldn’t she have once, just once, said “Whoa. This is heavy”???!

 

Travelers – Season 5, Ep 15

BAHNSEN: Yes, unsolved cases. I file them under “x.” (Goes to file cabinet..)

DALES: Why don’t you file them under “u” for “unsolved”?

BAHNSEN: That’s what I did until I ran out of room. Plenty of room in the “X”s.

This is ridiculous but somehow believable, don’t you think?

 

 

Season 5, Episode 15: “Travelers”

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Let’s get one thing cleared up before we start: even though this show is focused on Mulder and Scully, the absence of one of the agents in an episode does not automatically make the episode useless or unwatchable. In other words, “There’s no Scully in it” is not a good enough reason to skip. In the words of Gandalf, you shall not pass.

Disgusting, horrible spider thing emerging from a guy’s mouth to devour people? That’s a good reason.

Everyone has things they find gross. For some, it’s the exploding pustules from “F. Emasculata,” for others, it’s the giant flukeworm in “The Host.” Everyone has that one episode that makes their stomach churn and their skin crawl. This is mine.

Oh, boy, is it mine.

And I know what you’re going to say. I’ve heard all the things. Yes, I’m aware that the spider thing looks like a gooey leather bag with legs. I don’t care. I still can’t watch any of those spider scenes without cringing and feeling a little bit sick. I can’t stomach this episode any more than a lactose intolerant person can stomach milk. I’m allergic to it, you might say.

It might also be the idea of the spider thing that scares me so much. If I could somehow take the fear away and just look at the effects, I probably wouldn’t be frightened at all. But the effects plant the idea of a giant parasitic spider that emerges from a person’s mouth to devour people in my brain, and my brain responds with a resounding “Oh hell no.” If I didn’t have to write this review, there’s a good chance I never would have watched this episode again.

To be honest, before rewatching it I didn’t remember much beyond the spider thing. Oh, I remembered Mulder’s bad haircut and mysterious ring, and Arthur Dales, but other than that, nothing. And I wish I could tell you that I’ve now permanently stored the rest of the episode into my memory banks, but I’m really not sure it made it all in there. By the time the next review comes, I will likely have forgotten most of “Travelers” again, and not the parts I’d like to forget the most. So, before we say goodbye to this episode forever, let’s give it a proper look.

The entire existence of this episode is a bit awkward. It’s placed after “The Red and the Black” as if to give the audience a break from the big emotional journey, which is nice, but perhaps a tad bit unnecessary. It is slightly interesting, I suppose, to see the origins of the X-Files, but so little time is spent on them that I have to wonder if this episode just wasn’t an excuse to do a period piece about the Red Scare. Which, I’d like to say, I’m not opposed to in principle, not at all. I like a good historical piece as much as anyone, and who doesn’t like seeing FBI agents in suspenders and fedoras? However, apart from the fact that the country was openly paranoid about communists, I don’t feel like this episode takes advantage of the time period enough. What do the characters discover at the end? The government is lyiiiing. Gee, what a revelation.

It’s set in the 195os, which we know because the characters use words like “commies” and men in fedoras brood in bars and smoke a lot. If I’d wanted to watch a Humphrey Bogart movie The Maltese Falcon would be playing right now (and yes I know that film is set in the 1940s, shut up).

Arthur Dales isn’t a bad character, but he’s not really given enough to work with. He doesn’t have a lot of agency in this story, and they really could have plopped anybody with a reasonably secure moral compass in his place. A young Bill Mulder makes an appearance, which unfortunately doesn’t reveal much we didn’t already know: he worked for the State Department, and although he’s involved in shady activities Bill’s not all bad.

I think maybe the episode could have benefitted had it been a little more humorous or tongue-in-cheek, sort of like an X-Files version of Who Framed Roger Rabbit. I’m not saying I needed Toon Town or anything, but maybe some of that film-noir humor, a jazzy soundtrack, more interesting characters.

And none of those horrible spider things. Yeesh.

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Final Score

6+stars

Final score for “Travelers” is 6/10. While not awful or anything, I struggle to see what it really offers. Besides nightmares for days.


Notable Nuggets

  • If I’m to be honest – and I have no intention of ever being otherwise – there is probably no fandom dispute I care less about than the supposed wedding ring. And that’s all I have to say about that.
  • The guy they got to play Hoover actually really looks like him.
  • The women in the office knew about the X-Files first – nice little touch.
  • Why does this show always make cats a sign of bad news? 😦

The Red and the Black – Season 5, Ep 14

SCULLY: Mulder? What are you doing sitting here in the dark?

MULDER: Thinking.

SCULLY: Thinking about what?

MULDER: Oh, the usual. Destiny, fate, how to throw a curve ball. The inextricable relationships in our lives that are neither accidental nor somehow in our control, either.

I know that was an incredibly sweet thing to say since it’s obviously about Scully, but given the scene that just took place between Mulder and Krycek, I’ve always wondered if Mulder wasn’t maybe rethinking his sexuality just a little bit. In any case, it gives slash fanfiction tons of material.

 

 

Season 5, Episode 14: “The Red and the Black”

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When we last left our characters in “Patient X,” shit was getting real. Scully was standing on a bridge surrounded by rebel aliens ready to burn everyone to death, Mulder’s continued on his crisis of faith and trust we saw in “Gethsemane.” Not only is this particular mythology duo jam-packed with new developments, it’s got lots and lots of heavy emotional drama as well.

At this point, the mythology episodes are all leading to the upcoming movie, Fight the Future, so everything is a bit epic-ified. Mark Snow even gives us a sneak peek of the movie’s score. The alien virus in particular will become a very important plot point – more so than the alien rebels, which we’ll get to later. But, in keeping with most of the good mythology episodes, the main issues in “The Red and the Black” have more to do with the journeys of the characters than the alien business.

And boy are there a lot of characters in this one, so let’s get started.

Let’s start with our poor little blueberry muffin boy, Jeffrey Spender. This is the first time we see Jeffrey get angry at Mulder, but (spoiler alert) it won’t be the last. Jeffrey Spender, like Krycek (well, to some extent), is a character thrown into uncomfortable situations that are frequently out of his control. He can come off as sour, unlikable, and even kind of a dick, but I think that makes perfect sense. Similarly to Bill Scully Jr., Jeffrey has no idea what’s going on. He is desperately trying to find his mother, and the closest thing he can get to a real explanation for her disappearance is aliens. Wouldn’t you be a bit frustrated too?

If it sounds like I’m sticking up for Jeffrey Spender, that may be because I think he gets a semi-bad rap. He’s not a perfect human by any means, but he’s more realistic and relatable than most. Besides, do I even have to mention Chris Owens again?

Ironically, Jeffrey’s getting angry at the wrong person. Were it any other point in Mulder’s life, he might very well have been closely involved with Cassandra Spender. But, since he doesn’t believe her story about aliens and abductions, he has nothing to do with her disappearance. Jeffrey asking Mulder to stay out of the matter doesn’t make a lot of sense, since, crisis or no crisis, Mulder’s got the best avenue for finding out what happened to Cassandra (aka Scully). But we’ll cut them both some slack. Mulder’s having a spiritual crisis, and Jeffrey’s a newbie agent whose first case is searching for his missing, wheelchair-bound mother. Eek.

Jeffrey Spender isn’t the only one tied up with Cassandra Spender, however. It seems that Scully has some sort of connection to Cassandra – or, better put, that Scully and Cassandra share a connection with a group of people, all of whom ended up on a bridge with UFOs and alien rebels all over the place.  Scully survives, but she can’t remember a thing. This time, however, neither Scully nor Mulder is going to deal with the convenient memory slip again. They have to dig into Scully’s brain to try and find out what happened.

Now, you might remember the last time Scully underwent regression hypnosis, it didn’t go too well. Quite frankly, I’m not entirely sure what’s so different about this time that it works, except that Mulder’s there. Maybe Mulder’s presence is so powerful that it jogs Scully’s memory, I don’t know. In any case, Scully starts to remember what happened on the bridge, and/or has a very powerful orgasm (oh, you were thinking it, you know you were thinking it). She describes the scary scenario on the bridge, reaches for Mulder’s hand without looking (!!!) and mentions that she saw Cassandra Spender float up into a spaceship, right out of her wheelchair.

Mulder doesn’t buy it (or he says he doesn’t, at least). But even putting that aside, Scully turns to Mulder after the hypnosis is over and says one of the most telling things I’ve ever heard a character say:

“Have you been here the whole time?”

Yes, Scully. Yes, he has.

“The Red and the Black” is not one of the series’s most well-remembered mythology episodes, but it’s really quite good. True, it can be bogged down by the 3.5 million different characters and plot lines, but the heart of the episode remains true to the same issues explored in “Redux II” and even episodes like “Paper Hearts” and “Memento Mori.” Specifically, that no matter what Mulder and Scully might believe, their only true belief is in each other. Just look how Scully responds to Mulder’s insistence that his own memories are false, even though she’s never bought that his sister was abducted by aliens:

SCULLY: Mulder, when I met you five years ago, you told me that your sister had been abducted … by aliens. That that event had marked you so deeply, that nothing else mattered. I didn’t believe you, but I followed you, on nothing more than your faith that the truth was out there, based not on facts, not on science, but on your memories that your sister had been taken from you. Your memories were all that you had.

MULDER: I don’t trust those memories now.

SCULLY: Well, whether you trust them or not, they’ve led you here. And me. But I have no memories to either trust nor distrust, and if you ask me now to follow you again, to stand behind you in what you now believe, without knowing what happened to me out there, without those memories, I can’t. I won’t.

 Stop it, Chris. My eyes are getting wet.

Scully may not believe in aliens, but she believes Mulder. She may not trust anyone, but she trusts Mulder. Regardless of whether or not she believes, she needs Mulder to believe. She needs to follow the Mulder she’s always followed, not because he believes in aliens or the paranormal, but simply because he’s Mulder. 

The end of this episode reminds me of the scene in Season 2’s “End Game” when Mulder was having a similar crisis of faith. Scully asks, “Did you find what you were looking for?” and Mulder says, “No. But I found something I thought I’d lost. Faith to keep looking.” Now, three years later, they’re having the exact same conversation, but they don’t need to say anything. They speak it without words.

Sigh. 

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Final Score

8+stars

Final score for “The Red and the Black” is 8/10. While it gets somewhat bogged down with all the characters and plot lines, it’s an episode with tremendous heart.


Notable Nuggets (And Nitpicks)

  • The score for this episode is really wonderful, especially in the beginning and end.
  • Even Skinner is like, “Mulder, get yoself together.”
  • The alien rebels. Like, what? Where did they come from? I’ve never particularly cared for that development in the mytharc. Not that it doesn’t go anywhere. But it’s a detail that I tend to forget about and once I encounter it again it only makes it more confusing for me. Oh, well.
  • Can we talk about that hair tuck tho?

Patient X – Season 5, Ep 13

MULDER: What I’ve seen, I’ve seen because I wanted to believe. I … if you look too hard, you can go mad, but if you continue to look, you become liberated. And you become awake, as if from a dream, realizing that … that the lies are there simply to protect what they’re advertising: a government which knows its greatest strength is not in defense, but in attack. It’s strongly held by believers in UFO phenomena that there is military complicity or involvement in abductions, but what if there is no complicity? What if there is simply just the military, seeking to develop an arsenal against which there is no defense: biological warfare, which justifies – in their eyes – making an ass out of the nation with stories of little green men – a conspiracy wrapped in a plot inside a government agenda.

Dude, his ass would be fired. What’s that line again? “If it looks bad, it’s bad for the FBI”? Were they really letting Mulder run around and speak at UFO conferences? Sit down, puppy. Don’t chew the FBI’s furniture.

 

 

Season 5, Episode 13: “Patient X”

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As we head into the next mythology episodes of Season 5, you might notice that you actually recognize the people, events, and players in this chunk of the story, even while being introduced to new ones. That’s because the mytharc in Season 5 is quite fluid, or as fluid as the mythology could probably get by this point.

Since we haven’t had a mythology episode since “Redux II,” it makes sense that Mulder is still in a state of doubt, at least as far as aliens are concerned. When we first see him, he’s at a conference discussing the abduction claims of a woman named “Patient X,” whose real name is Cassandra Spender and who claims to have been abducted by aliens multiple times.

Unlike other abductees we’ve encountered, though, Cassandra doesn’t mind being abducted. In fact, she says that the aliens have a lot to teach us puny humans. In other words, Cassandra Spender is the exact wrong person to come along at this point in Mulder’s life, in his period of self-doubt.

Because, ultimately, that’s really what this is. It’s self-doubt more than anything else. Even though he’s quick to believe in extreme possibilities, it’s been clear for a few seasons now that Mulder recognizes the value of good, hard evidence – something he no doubt picked up from Scully. Mulder’s continued belief in UFOs was always based on his sister’s abduction. But his spiritual crisis from “Gethsemane” hasn’t exactly resolved itself. Mulder’s disbelief is in himself. He doesn’t trust those memories of his sister’s abduction anymore.

I’m so, so glad they continued this crisis of faith in Mulder. It would have been easy for them to sweep it under the rug with the cancer arc, but they didn’t. People don’t watch their other halves almost die from cancer and not come out a little spiritually shaken. And it’s not like Mulder’s basic believer role has changed much; he’s still chasing monsters, after all. But he has lost something in himself.

Speaking of losing things, we’re introduced to a new character, Agent Jeffrey Spender, who keeps losing his mother. If Jeffrey looks familiar, it’s because you’ve seen him before. Well, you haven’t seen him, but you’ve seen Chris Owens play young CSM many times. Also the Great Mutato in “Post-Modern Prometheus.” Chris Owens is hella talented, y’all.

I don’t know if it was a conscious decision to cast Chris Owens as Jeffrey Spender, but in any case, it leaves little room to wonder about Jeffrey’s parentage. We know his mother’s Cassandra Spender, so who’s the daddy? I’ll give you three guesses. You should only need one.

I know I said I wouldn’t spoil anything, so I won’t, but if you didn’t figure out who Jeffrey’s daddy is by the end of the episode, try not to pee your pants at the beginning of the next one.

We’ll be discussing poor little blueberry muffin boy Jeffrey Spender a lot more in coming mythology episodes, so stay tuned.

What else? Am I missing anything? Nope? All right, let’s move on.

Hold up.

STANDBY FOR DISCUSSION OF *THAT* SCENE (YOU KNOW THE ONE)

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YOU KNOW, THIS ONE

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THE ONE WITH LIKE, LIP CONTACT AND STUFF

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Whew, did it just get warmer in here?

So, yeah. This scene. It’s hot. I don’t care what anyone says, this scene is sexy. Partly because Nick Lea and Laurie Holden just sell it, partly because the parties involved are attractive, partly because Marita Covarrubias and Alex Krycek strangely work, even if Marita’s about as charismatic as a ceiling fan.

I don’t know what else to say about this scene except that it shocked me the first time I watched it, and it also frustrated me. Now we know the show’s creators know what making out is, so what’s your excuse, Mulder and Scully? Maybe this scene is meant to show us what we think we’ve been missing in Mulder and Scully but really haven’t. It does seem like Krycek and Marita’s relationship is purely sexual, and that’s in stark contrast to Mulder and Scully.

Seriously, though. HAWT. The end.


FINAL SCORE

7+stars

Final score for “Patient X” is 7/10. Although it does do a good job of continuing Mulder’s arc from the last mythology episodes, I wouldn’t call this a favorite or anything. It’s a little bit slow it places and it so frequently jumps from character to character that it can get confusing, especially when you’re trying to figure out who’s against Mulder and who’s just a confused little blueberry muffin that doesn’t know what the hell’s going on. Most of the interesting stuff happens in the next episode, anyway, so not all is lost.


NOTABLE NUGGETS (AND NITPICKS)

  • I can seriously think of no reason Mulder would attend that conference in the beginning except that the episode needed some nice exposition.
  • I really like how Chris Owens pulls off the fresh, inexperienced but also clear-headed and determined Jeffrey Spender in this episode. It’s a nice balance of character traits, and really pulls us into this character’s conflict. Whether you like Jeffrey or don’t like him, you feel him, and that really helps us get into the story, especially in Part 2.
  • This exchange:

MULDER: One more anal-probing, gyro-pyro levitating-ecoplasm alien anti-matter story, and I’m gonna take out my gun and shoot somebody.

SCULLY: Well … I guess I’m done here. You seem to have invalidated your own work. Have a nice life.


AND FINALLY….A NOTE

Hey, guys!

I’m so sorry I’ve been gone. I really and truly did not intend to have a four month gap in between any of these reviews, but there you have it. Sometimes life gets in the way, and I don’t want to half-ass these. That’s not fair to you or to the show.

Essentially, I had a very, very busy semester in college, with lots of essays that I had to turn in for actual grades and things like that. Also, the recent X-Files Revival drained me mentally and emotionally. And spiritually. And in all the other ways people can be drained.

I suppose I decided I needed a break from X-Files after the Revival, and lo and behold, a break turned into a busy, busy, busy semester. But the semester’s over, the essays have been written, and I’m ready to tackle some episodes again. Thanks for reading as always, and catch me on Twitter if you want to chat!

-Meghan (Knife Ink)

Kill Switch – Season 5, Ep 11

SCULLY: Why don’t you let us ask the questions.

ESTHER: Why don’t you bite me.

I mean, I’ve heard of worse ideas.

(Booing from the crowd)

Oh, come on! I’m allowed to be gross every once in a while.

But seriously, why aren’t there more Scully/Esther shippers out there?

 

 

Season 5, Episode 11: “Kill Switch”

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I come from a long line of computer geeks, so I love a good Artificial Intelligence story. The trouble is, those are sometimes hard to pull off. In fact, the last real attempt The X-Files made at this subject was the less-than-successful “Ghost in the Machine,” an episode that probably doesn’t deserve the 3/10 I originally gave it but is still not very good nonetheless. The X-Files is going to have to get really creative if it wants to pull this subject matter off in an entertaining way.

Well, you know what they say. Second time’s the charm.

Man, I love this episode. It’s a damn near perfect piece of television, if you ask me. Not necessarily because it’s particularly deep, insightful, or even impactful, but on an entertainment level it’s a marvel. Every moment captivates you, nothing is boring, and when you watch it you find yourself loving the world, your family, your job, and especially The X-Files. 

As a reviewer, it’s irritating when I can’t come up with good words to describe what makes something so good, but if we take a step back from the world of analysis for a moment, that’s really a good thing, don’t you think? Good art should take the words right out of your mouth. And for this episode, it’s hard for me to come up with anything else other than, “Just go watch it.”

But, I’m committed to full reviews so I promise I’ll go into more detail than that. Just know, however, that you can stop reading the review right here and go watch the episode. I won’t be sad if you do.

“Kill Switch” has three elements that for me really make this episode great: the Lone Gunmen, the evil computer, and the Battle of the Females.

Gee, I’m really sounding like that old guy who fixes your cable today. What I mean is, the women in this episode clearly dominate, because they’re smart, badass, and funny. Scully and Esther. They’re pretty fantastic. (Go search your fanfic archives later, kids.)

Esther, especially, I’ve always loved as a character. It’s always nice to see a character who clearly doesn’t give two craps about what anybody thinks. Esther’s a female computer genius who dresses up like a goth raccoon and could still kick your ass. In handcuffs. But she’s also human, too. She has a breaking point, like the scene where she starts crying with Scully in the car.

Now, don’t get me wrong. This episode is still very testosterone-driven, but unlike certain upcoming Season 7 episodes that I shall decline to namethe women in this episode, Scully included, are allowed to be women and work alongside their male counterparts, rather than working against them to “strike back as women.” What I mean is, Esther is a female in a generally male-dominated field, and no one bats an eye. The Lone Gunmen, whose presence in this episode is akin to the warm feelings of Christmas Day, acknowledge Esther first for her computer skills. Well, and then Frohike calls her hot. But that’s Frohike, right? He calls everyone hot.

Oh, and what about Mulder’s little AI fever dream? Surely that’s a scene dripping with male fantasy? Not really, no. Sure, Mulder’s visited by the hot nurses, but come ON, his arms are cut off and he’s completely, totally, pitifully helpless. And in the end, who comes to save the day, both in the fantasy and in real life? Scully.

The computer is threatening, too. I mean, this thing can kill you with – well, I think Scully put it best:

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Scully, you funny girl.

We all love explosions. Boys and girls love explosions. I love explosions. I love this episode.

In fact, I think I’m going to go watch it again. I’ll see y’all next time.

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Final Score

10+stars

Final score for “Kill Switch” is 10/10. Heavenly shades of AWESOME are falling.


Notable Nuggets

  • Like “Wonderful, Wonderful,” I start snickering every time I hear “Twilight Time,” puzzling those around me.
  • Scully’s facial expressions in this episode are enough to give me life for weeks.
  • Scully + Kung Fu = HOT. I mean, badass. Oh, screw it, it’s hot.
  • Do all trailers have incredibly convenient escape holes in the floor?
  • I personally LOVE it when Scully rescues Mulder. While running away from an explosion. It’s happened before, in “Terma.” Thanks, Rob Bowman.

Chinga – Season 5, Ep 10

SCULLY: (on phone) Mulder, I’m on vacation. The weather is clear. I’m looking forward to hitting the road and breathing in some of this fine New England air.

MULDER: (on phone) You didn’t rent a convertible, did you?

Well, no one can say he doesn’t know her.

 

 

Season 5, Episode 10: “Chinga”

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Apart from the Mulder/Scully phone conversations, I actually don’t watch “Chinga” very often. I think it’s because I’m just a tad bored by it. I don’t particularly find dolls scary and I’m not a Stephen King fan, so in a lot of ways this episode just isn’t made for me.

Still, on this most recent rewatch, I noticed several things that really impressed me. First of all, Kim Manners deserves every award there ever was for this episode. The direction is absolutely amazing. There’s more character and flavor in the camerawork than there is in the script, and everything from the lighting to the sets is simply gorgeous. R.I.P. Kim, you limitless directorial talent.

The Mulder/Scully phone conversations are hilarious and wonderful and deserve to be watched over and over again. The banter is top notch and I absolutely love how Mulder’s so bored without Scully there. Conversely, Scully can’t seem to get away from excitement, running into an X-File even while on vacation. Poor girl.

Still, it’s David Duchovny’s fidgety Mulder that really steals the show for me. My absolute favorite scene of the entire episode is when he drinks from an expired mug of orange juice while talking to Scully on the phone. It’s priceless. And so very Mulder.

The rest of the episode, however…meh. Well, mostly.

Like I said, I don’t really find dolls scary. And the little girl, Polly, comes across as more annoying than creepy. The mother, Melissa, doesn’t really do anything other than lapse into hysterics the whole time. Despite Stephen King’s obsession with Maine, the setting isn’t creepy either.

But, there’s one scene that really did impress me. And now I have to warn you: get ready for overanalyzing 101. It’s the final showdown, where the doll is making Melissa hit herself in the face with the hammer. The whole time, we see Polly, the little girl, holding the doll and looking conflicted for the first time in the entire episode. You see, Polly is just a child, but she’s a very unlikable, bratty child that doesn’t think about anyone but herself. If you’ll allow me, I’d like to suggest that the doll is a sort of evil manifestation of Polly’s impulsive, childlike selfishness. Every time something happens that Polly doesn’t like, the doll reacts. I’m not saying the doll killing people is necessarily Polly’s fault – she’s just a kid, after all – but the doll seems to feed off whatever Polly is feeling at the moment. The entire episode, she’s been screaming at her mother for things, demanding that people give her free food, and generally being a whiny, annoying nuisance that I, quite frankly, wanted to see thrown overboard. However, as the doll begins to kill the mother, we see Polly for the first time look at her mother with actual concern and compassion. After Scully throws the doll into the microwave, Polly slowly walks towards her mother. She doesn’t rush into her mother’s arms, because she’s not that kind of child. But she does seem to realize for the first time how her actions have affected people. When she steps toward her mother, maybe she’s making the first step towards empathy and understanding. It’s actually a really touching moment.

But, who am I kidding. Nobody really cares about that when we’ve got Scully in the bath, pencils in the ceiling, and Mulder in those shorts.

Excuse me while I go rewatch the phone scenes.

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Final Score

8+stars

Final score for “Chinga” is 8/10. While I can’t call it one of my personal favorites, you gotta love that banter. And, um, Polly’s redemption. Also, the banter.


 

Notable Nuggets

  • The book Scully’s reading is called Affirmations for Women who Do Too Much.
  • For those that care about this sort of thing, Scully was listening to Hummel’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in B minor Op 89. You can listen to it too here.
  • Those shorty short shorts, though.
  • Is anyone else distracted by the fact that Melissa looks a lot like Samantha Mulder?

Schizogeny – Season 5, Ep 9

MULDER: Is it possible that he took the term “mud pie” literally?

SCULLY: Well, I’m sure if Mr. Rich were alive he would find some humor in that.

Scully, I’m alive and I don’t find any humor in that.

 
 
 
Season 5, Episode 9: “Schizogeny”

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You know what Season 4 didn’t have? Teenage angst. Well, “Schizogeny” is here to make up for that, big time.

Yeah. Not going to lie, I’m not a huge fan of this one. It’s not terrible, but it’s trying way too hard to be another “Red Museum,” “D.P.O.,” or “Aubrey.” In other words, it’s trying to be a Season 2 or 3 episode. Which is by no means a bad thing, but we’ve moved on.

The biggest problem with “Schizogeny” is that it doesn’t know how it wants to scare us. Are we supposed to be afraid of abusive parents, killer trees, or crazy therapists? Maybe all of the above? Every time I watch this I always find myself getting confused about where to put most of my attention.

The main kid, Bobby, is a lot like Darren Peter Oswald from “D.P.O.” Actually, scratch that. He’s a lot like what Darren Peter Oswald should have been in “D.P.O.” – an angry, troubled, misunderstood kid. Sigh. I’ve made a vow to myself never to change my reviews after they’re published, and for the most part I agree with my own opinions, even the ones from when this blog first started. But “D.P.O.” is an episode I wish I could go back and review again.

I was waaaaaay too easy on Darren Peter Oswald, or rather, the episode’s treatment of him as an angry, troubled, misunderstood kid. Darren is an angry, troubled, misunderstood psychopath, who likes to play with moving cars and kill people out of spite. Also he kidnaps his teacher. So I at least like that in “Schizogeny” they make Bobby unlikable but not unforgivable. We’re supposed to feel sorry for Bobby and that’s way more possible because, like Mulder, we feel reasonably sure he didn’t do anything.

At the same time, though, that’s part of the problem. Since we know Bobby didn’t do it, we’re left wondering who did. All the talk about the strange plants then leads us to believe that this is a case about a strange plant phenomenon. But then they throw in Karen the crazy therapist and a theme of abuse. Come on, guys. I can’t be puzzled and scared at the same time.

At least Mulder and Scully are cute in this one. Mulder’s openly flirty and I love the scene after the big final showdown where the camera zooms out and Scully has her hands all over Mulder. Warm my Shipper’s heart, even from a distance.

Not terrible. But not great. And you’ll forget about it by tomorrow.

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Final Score

5+stars

Final score for “Schizogeny” is 5/10.

…And I got nothing else to say.


 

Notable Nuggets

  • The flirt game is strong with this one. Oh wait, I already said that.
  • The part where the tree pokes through the aunt is gruesome.
  • And I guess the setting is nice. Those are some pretty killer trees.

Kitsunegari – Season 5, Ep 8

FIRST MARSHALL: So what’s adequate backup?

MULDER: Adequate backup? Every cop you can lay your hands on.

Well…unless you’re Mulder and Scully. Then you only need two.

 
 
 
Season 5, Episode 8: “Kitsunegari”

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“Kitsunegari” is a good episode. But it’s not as good as “Pusher.” I know that sounds like an unfair judgment, and maybe it is, but truthfully that was the only thing I could think while watching the episode. I mean, it’s good, and there are some good moments, but I don’t know why I would willingly watch this one again when I could just go back and watch “Pusher” instead.

“Kitsunegari” is the second sequel to a MOTW episode we’ve had on the show. The first was “Tooms,” an episode I thought was vastly superior to its predecessor, “Squeeze.” And, really, that’s the main difference between these sequels for me. I wasn’t completely ga-ga over “Squeeze,” but “Pusher” is one of my favorite episodes. “Kitsunegari” was going to have to majorly impress me in order to live up to “Pusher,” and it just didn’t.

Interestingly, this episode originally wasn’t even going to be about Robert Patrick Modell at all. It ended up being co-written by Vince Gilligan with the original writer, Tim Minear, after Frank Spotnitz suggested that adding Modell was a good idea. I confess I don’t get it. I enjoyed Modell as much as the next person, but I thought “Pusher” had a reasonably good sense of closure at the end, especially compared to other MOTWs. In “Squeeze,” for instance, Tooms is very much still alive and still a potential threat. At the end of “Pusher” Modell is bedridden and Scully comments that he’ll “never regain consciousness.” The door was pretty much shut on that story, I thought.

So it’s hard for me to think of any reason Modell was brought back other than those dark, dark two words that I hate to utter….fan service. (Shudders.)

I’m willing to give Spotnitz and Gilligan the benefit of the doubt, though. When you take the episode on its own, you actually get a very good and very enjoyable X-File. I like the tension they put between Mulder and Scully in this one. It hearkens back to Season 1 where Mulder said crazy things and Scully wasn’t so quick to jump on board the Mulder-train despite her disbelief. I also like that they don’t show us any scenes with Modell’s sister until well after Mulder starts suspecting her. It makes you, the viewer, also wonder if Mulder’s right or not. Which of course he ends up being, but the suspense would have been killed had we seen her in the teaser or something like that.

As for Lady Pusher, I guess she’s fine, but she doesn’t nearly captivate me like Modell did in “Pusher.” The climax is also trying way too hard to repeat the final showdown from “Pusher,” and isn’t nearly as meaningful. Although Gillian Anderson does do a great dying Scully.

There is one part of this episode I really, really like, though. It’s the very end, the last conversation between Mulder and Skinner. Skinner apologizes to Mulder for having doubted him throughout the course of the episode, and praises Mulder figuring everything out and catching the killers. Mulder doesn’t feel quite so proud, though. In fact, he kind of feels awful. After all, he nearly killed Scully, his other half.

SKINNER: Nobody could have figured this out but you. You knew it was Linda Bowman and not Modell. You were way ahead of me.

MULDER: I almost killed my partner.

SKINNER: Mulder, despite that, you prevailed. You won her game.

MULDER: Then how come I feel like I lost?

You may not turn out a perfect 45 minutes every time, X-Files, but you still do endings freaking well.

Kitsunegari


Final Score

7+stars

Final score for “Kitsunegari” is 7/10. It’s not as good as “Pusher.” But it’s not a bad episode by any means.


 

Notable Nuggets/Nitpicks

  • Both Mulder and Scully look really good in this one.
  • Okay, how on earth did Lady Pusher know the therapist was about to tell Mulder about her? Does she have X-ray vision? How does that work?
  • One problem I have with “Kitsunegari” is that Pusher’s power really isn’t exactly the same. In “Pusher,” he was more convincing people to do things to themselves, while in “Kitsunegari” the power is more like forced hallucination. It’s not quite as jarring.

 

Emily – Season 5, Ep 7

SCULLY: It begins where it ends…In nothingness. A nightmare born from deepest fears, coming to me unguarded. Whispering images unlocked from time and distance. A soul unbound – touched by others but never held. On a course charted by some unseen hand. The journey ahead promising no more than my past reflecting back upon me. Until at last, I reach the end.Facing a truth I can no longer deny. Alone, as ever.

Story Editor [taking a deep breath, knocks on Chris Carter’s office door]

Chris Carter: Come in.

Story Editor: Um, Chris? I just wanted to talk to you about the opening monologue of this episode, “Emily”….

Chris Carter: What about it?

Story Editor: Well, um, Chris, you see, as much as we love the show and of course value your ideas and your writing, we’re really trying to cut back on the amount of purple prose we put in the show this year. We received dozens of angry letters from angry reviewers about “The Blessing Way,” and even some that weren’t too happy with the opening of-

Chris Carter: What are you telling me for? I didn’t write “Emily.”

Story Editor [shocked]: You didn’t? Then, um, who wrote this opening monologue?

Chris Carter: Well, it must have been Vince, John, or Frank. They wrote this episode, you know.

Story Editor: The trio of wonders? I don’t believe this. This is incredible. Have they been taking lessons from you? Have you all learned nothing from “The Field Where I Died”? This scene has Scully walking across a desert barefoot in a gown! What does that have to do with anything?

John Shiban, Frank Spotnitz, Vince Gilligan [materialize in the room]: SYMBOLISM! [dematerialize]

Story Editor: But it has nothing to do with –

John Shiban, Frank Spotnitz, Vince Gilligan [materialize in the room]: SYMBOLISM! [dematerialize]

Story Editor: But –

John Shiban, Frank Spotnitz, Vince Gilligan [materialize in the room]: SYMBOLISM! [dematerialize]

Story Editor: How are they doing that?

 

 

Season 5, Episode 7: “Emily”

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I admit I felt a wave of relief the moment Mulder appeared on screen, both when I first watched this episode and on my most recent rewatch. “Good,” I thought to myself, “Mulder’s back. This will make everything better.”

Nope.

“Emily” continues the bucket of poo the writers have decided to make Scully’s life, except this time they try to clumsily integrate it back into the narrative of the mythology. This idea is backwards. Look at episodes like “Redux II” or “Memento Mori,” which use the mythology to drive the characters forward. “Emily” uses the characters and the things those characters value to drive forward the mythology. Except nothing is driven forward. It’s only made more muddled and in the end we don’t even care because we’re sad. And the only reason we’re sad is because Gillian Anderson tells us we need to be sad with her performance. I don’t think I would feel anything if she wasn’t giving it her all.

It’s not that I don’t find the death of a child sad. I do. But I don’t know this child we’re supposed to feel sad for. Emily Sim isn’t a character; she’s a plot device. This is one of the main problems the mythology – actually, the show – has with these characters and their family members. Family in this show is either barely there or is somehow entangled with aliens and conspiracies. Anything else seems to get in the way of Mulder and Scully and that’s something the writers could never figure out how to get quite right. I’m not saying it’s necessarily impossible, but there hasn’t been a successful plotline of this type yet.

Even though “Christmas Carol” and “Emily” are technically mythology episodes, they feel incredibly isolated. Almost nothing explored in these two will have much bearing on the rest of the series (except for one thing that I don’t want to give away for newcomers).

At the same time, however, “Emily” has a lot more going on than “Christmas Carol.” That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s better, just not mind-numbingly boring. At least in this episode we have chases, Mulder yelling at people, alien bounty hunters, and green goo.

And, maybe to partially retract my statement above, Mulder’s presence does make everything better. It makes me feel better, at least. What isn’t better is Scully’s reaction to him being there. As silly and hokey as the opening monologue is, the writers try to be consistent with the theme by making up this silly idea about Scully being alone. Okay, they don’t make it up, exactly, but Scully isn’t completely alone on this planet. She has Mulder, doesn’t she?

I can’t relate to the loss of a child, but in a way, no one can in the way they’ve presented it here. The situation is much too wild, making the emotional angle of the episode completely skewed. As pissed as I am about the amount of crap the writers gave Scully, the way they limit the decisions she can make about her future, her body, and her life simply through circumstance, in the end it’s hard for me to muster up any feelings about any of this because of how inconsequential it is. These two episodes exist in their own strange little bubble.

And you know what? Let’s keep it that way.

Emily


Final Score

4+stars

Final score for “Emily” is 4/10. While it is admittedly a little better – or at least less boring – than “Christmas Carol,” I still hate this storyline and the unnecessary trauma Scully’s put through. Let us be done with it.


 

Notable Nuggets/Nitpicks

  • So, Scully somehow knows that she is left unable to conceive children, but she didn’t know her ova were taken from her? How did that conversation with her doctor go? “Well, Ms. Scully, unfortunately you’re barren.” “How do you know that?” “A wizard told me.”
  • Mulder is really lovely in this episode and his humanity and integrity shine through. Maybe that’s why for me his presence improves this episode a little. He’s a great person and Scully knows it too, even if she is acting like she’s all alone in the universe.
  • They needed to write more engaging material for Scully and Emily. I mean if you’re going to make it emotional, you need to go all the way there.
  • I may be on the minority about this, but I can’t decide if Mr. Potato Head is adorable or terrifying.