Season 5, Episode 1: “Redux”
You all have no idea how excited I’ve been to start reviewing Season 5. Season 5 is the season The X-Files is clearly excellent television, not just a really good show. It’s the season that earns all its praise. And to start it off, we have one of the very best episodes the show ever did, and one of the very best television episodes I’ve personally ever seen, “Redux II.” Words cannot describe how good this episode is. It’s everything television is supposed to be: engaging, developmental, suspenseful, exciting, meaningful, well-acted, well-directed.
There’s just one little problem: I have to review “Redux” first.
What is one supposed to do after finishing up reviews on a season, poised and ready to write a beautiful glowing review on one of their favorite episodes of TV, when they have to first review its less exciting predecessor? It’s not that “Redux” isn’t good; far from it. It’s just that Chris Carter, for whatever reason, decided to save all the emotional moments, the moments when the characters actually sit down with themselves and face everything they’ve been going through, for the last half.
I suppose the main purpose of “Redux” is to un-hang us from that cliff they tried to drop us from at the end of “Gethsemane.” I admit that “Redux” bothers me a little because it almost puts the character development on standstill in order to further the plot. I realize that there was really no way to get around that, but I had a hard time watching that first scene where Mulder hides out in Scully’s apartment, especially since it’s so emotionally distant from Mulder crying on the couch the episode before. The whole point of turning Mulder into an emotional wreck was to make the idea of his suicide more believable. At the beginning of “Redux,” however, Mulder’s back to action and the audience (well, at least this audience member) is left scratching their heads and saying, “Was that it? Was that the culmination of Mulder’s spiritual crisis that shook the very foundations of his belief system leaving him grief-stricken and possibly depressed at the notion of losing his partner?”
And, well, no. This isn’t it. But that’s why “Redux” is deceptive. It puts off that culmination for an episode to explain how all of what we just saw went down and where it’s going. It’s like the scrolling text at the beginning of Star Wars, except it’s in the middle.
Don’t believe me? Try counting the monologues. This episode has so many monologues that it’s almost humorous. And they’re all very distinctively Chris Carter.
MULDER: Let the truth be known though the heavens fall. The web of lies entangling us can now be connected back to the very institution which brought us together. The facts supported by a byzantine plot, executed by someone inside the FBI who, if named could be tied to the hoax meant to destroy me. And to the terminal disease inflicted on Scully. In four years, I have shared my partner’s passionate search for the truth. And if my part has been a deception, I have never seen her integrity waver or her honor compromised. But now, I ask her to lie, to the people that lied to us. A dangerous lie to find the truth. To find the men who would be revealed as its enemy…as OUR enemy. As the enemy within.
MULDER: The military connection to the conspiracy we had pierced was now undeniable. The man who lay dead in my apartment worked for the Department of Defense at its Advanced Research facility. What I might find here, I was uncertain of. But my crime had provided me access. As long as they believed Scully’s lie, that it was me lying on my floor, I might learn truths here. But, if our lies were discovered, both Scully and I would be discovered with them.
MULDER: I had come here looking for answers hoping not only to lay bare this conspiracy against the country and the men behind it but to finally learn the truth about the possibility of intelligent extraterrestrial life. Now with what I’ve heard my beliefs seem more and more improbable. The possibility of a cure for Scully somewhere inside these walls is my only hope but if I might find it and somehow save her the very existence of such a cure would mean with certainty that I had believed in a lie from the start.
SCULLY: I had no way to reach Agent Mulder to tell him what I had discovered – an unidentified microscopic life form whose very existence held the possibility of revelation. Was this organism extracted from the ice which had entombed the alien corpse, the germ cell that might give proof of extraterrestrial life, or was it just the opposite? The scientifically engineered creation of a chimera, an unclassified biological product designed to set up a hoax manufactured to create a false set of beliefs that have long driven Agent Mulder? I now begin to realize that the answer to this question might exist within the life form itself, biological proof of this connection to the cancer invading my body to a virus living inside this organism to which I had been exposed during my abduction three years ago.
SCULLY: The cruelest ironies are those consecrated by the passage of time, chanced and occasioned by shocking discovery. I had joined Agent Mulder because of my background in the medical sciences. My assignment was to question his work, to debunk his investigations, and rein him back into the FBI mainstream. Now, as fate would have it, I am calling on these very same skills to prove that he has been the target of a scheme orchestrated by someone close to us in the FBI. Someone we have trusted above all others. Involved in a highly organized plot to keep a dangerous secret from the light of day. I could only guess at what Agent Mulder may have uncovered on his own, what he may have found to confirm or deny what he has long held to be a conspiracy to control the public inquiry into government’s knowledge and contact with an alien race or races. If he had hoped, as I do, to learn the identity of those who sought to destroy us, I had, with the discovery of this unidentified microorganism, what could amount to forensic evidence. Hard and undeniable genetic evidence of the connection between the conspirators and the cancer which has now metastasized in my bloodstream. I have few short hours to conduct these tests before I must appear before an FBI panel to explain myself. And as I am ready to lie to them about Agent Mulder, I am also ready to confront them with proof. Proof extracted from this tiny organism that could blow open a conspiracy of global consequence.
MULDER: If Agent Scully and I had been led to believe that the conspiracy meant to destroy us has its roots in the Department of Defense, that fact seems all but irrefutable now. I have gained access to a large storage facility by a hallway connecting underground to the Pentagon. On hundreds of rows of shelves are materials that reveal nothing to me of a cure for Scully’s cancer. And now, as I have reached the terminus of this space, what appears to be an old and antiquated filing system seems my only hope of finding what this man Kritschgau has assured me exists. If his own desperate hope for his son’s cure has eluded him, I now share his desperation. That among these drawers is a sign, a glimmer, some small confirmation that the journey which has brought me here has not been in vain.
SCULLY: If my work with Agent Mulder has tested the foundation of my beliefs, science has been and continues to be my guiding light. Now I’m again relying on its familiar and systematic methods to arrive at a truth, a fact that might explain the fate that has befallen me. An investigation that began without, now turning within. Taking cellular material from the unidentified life form and isolating a virus contained within it, then matching the DNA from this virus with that which I believe has caused my cancer. I hope a picture will develop. A picture that might confirm my darkest suspicions about the source of this disease invading my body in hope of obtaining evidence that its cause is not without blame, even though its cure remains unknown. If science serves me to these ends… it is not lost on me that the tool which I’ve come to depend on absolutely cannot save or protect me… but only bring into focus the darkness that lies ahead.
It’s not that these monologues don’t contain valuable material. They do. If nothing else, they provide us a decent glimpse into Mulder and Scully’s separate tasks but unified goal. However, it gets annoying really fast, and it certainly doesn’t help when Chris Carter throws in phrases like “byzantine plot,” and my personal favorite, “terminus of this space.” I feel like I’m hearing Mulder and Scully’s diaries. Show, Chris, don’t tell.
One thing I don’t like about this episode is Scully’s hostility towards Skinner. Skinner has put his life on the line way too many times to warrant that kind of reaction from her. The audience doesn’t think it’s Skinner; why does Scully?
One thing I do like about “Redux” is how Scully focused Mulder is. He makes it very clear that the thing he wants most in the world is a cure for her cancer, not to find Samantha. It’s a good reminder of the message from “Paper Hearts,” that Mulder has to take care of the people in his life first. And it’s certainly squeal-worthy for any shipper.
So. That’s “Redux.” Let’s move on. 😉
Final score for “Redux” is 7/10. Plot, plot, plot, and more plot. If you like plot, this one’s for you. And it’s a necessary episode, I suppose. But I’d rather move on to the heart of the matter.
Notable Nuggets (and nitpicks)
- The science parts of this episode remind me of Season 1’s “The Erlenmeyer Flask.” Also, if you’re a scientist and you’re approached by Scully for help with something – run. You’re probably due for a convenient car crash or visit from an assassin soon.
- Why is Scully’s only cancer symptom the Inconveniently Timed Nosebleed of Doom?
- Kudos to John Finn, who plays Kritschgau, for remembering all of that dialogue.
- That part where Mulder enters the Pentagon room from the “Pilot” is so well done. It’s shot in a way that makes you remember that exact closing scene from “Pilot,” even though it’s been four seasons.