Season 5, Episode 6: “Christmas Carol”
No. No. NOOOOOOO.
I watch The X-Files a lot, but even I have some priorities. There are some episodes that I’ll never rewatch because frankly, they’re a waste of my time. If it weren’t for the fact that I agreed to review every single episode of this show, I’d be perfectly content with never having to watch “Christmas Carol” and its follow-up episode, “Emily,” ever again.
No. Just no.
I think I’d only watched this episode straight through once before my most recent rewatch for this review. Before, I was happy to forget about it. Now, I can definitively say that I hate it. I hate the idea of it, I hate the experience of watching it, and I especially hate that none of this will even matter that much in the rest of the series.
“Christmas Carol” and “Emily” are so unbelievably pointless in their existence that I can’t believe nobody scratched their heads before submitting the final draft and said to themselves, “Gee, do we really want to film this?”
These two episodes also are painful reminders of one of the biggest flaws of the series: the lack of female writers. The X-Files only had a few female writers throughout the show’s run, and none on its recurring writing team. I wonder, if the script for “Christmas Carol” had been reviewed by a female writer before submission, would the episode have been made?
Hell, you don’t even need to be female to look at this and see how unbelievably messed up it all is. Scully has just recovered from cancer, for goodness’ sake. As wonderfully as the writers wrote Scully’s character, they seem to have no limitations to the amount of cruel, horrible crap this character goes through.
And right there is the very heart of why this episode and “Emily” don’t work. Scully is a strong female character thrust into an unbelievably tragic situation with no agency. Her strength is not highlighted so much as it is necessary – necessary to bear the weight of one horrible circumstance after another. Circumstances that not only limit the control she has over her life choices, but also her body.
This can’t be blamed on Chris Carter, either. I can only assume he didn’t disapprove of the episode as it was obviously made, but it pains me to know that the trio of wonders Vince Gilligan, John Shiban, and Frank Spotnitz even conceived of this idea, let alone put a character they obviously adore through such awfulness. But I guess that’s what male writers do when they love strong female characters. Give ’em more conflict, right? Get that Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series.
“Merry Christmas, Scully! We got you infertility. Love, John Gilnitz”
What makes it all worse is just how boring it turns out to be. I don’t think it’s ever taken me so long to get through an episode in one sitting. I kept turning it off and doing something else. It’s a shame, because despite all that, there was obviously a great amount of effort put into this one. Gillian Anderson is fantastic. So is Mark Snow’s score. Even the direction is nice, though in my opinion it only contributes to the overall feel of being stuck in a tank of gelatin this episode induces, at least in me.
I’ll elaborate more on all of this when I get to “Emily.” But as far as “Christmas Carol” is concerned: No. No, no, no, no, no.
And what is up with that fetus balloon?!
Final score for “Christmas Carol” is 2/10. It feels dirty giving a Season 5 episode a score this low. But I’m sorry – nope. You know what? I’m not sorry. “Christmas Carol” deserves a 2/10, and it’s getting one.
- There are a lot of things in this episode that warrant more than an eyebrow raise. One is the fetus balloon. The other is Mulder’s 3 second appearance. What on earth is he wearing?
- I don’t mind Kresge. I also don’t mind Bill Scully.
- DNA tests take longer than an evening, don’t they? Smart science people, help me out here.
- Yes, Gillian Anderson is flawless. The material is not.
- What the hell? Fetus balloon?