Tag Archives: Re-opening the X-Files

Re-Opening The X-Files: Revelations, War of the Coprophages

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Mulder: Bambi also has a theory I’ve come to acro…
Scully: Who?
Mulder: Dr. Berenbaum. Anyway her theory is…
Scully: Her name is Bambi?
Mulder: Yeah. Both her parents were naturalists. Her theory is that UFO’s are actually nocturnal insect swarms passing through electrical air fields.
Scully: Her name is Bambi?

Revelations

I recall loving “Revelations” a lot more when it first aired than I did on watching it again this time around.

Part of that may because this episode is just one more step in Scully’s journey back to embracing her faith.  And part of it could be that I have jumbled together elements of this one and “Oubilette” into a single, better episode.

A serial killer is targeting people who claim to be stigmatics.  He’s killed eleven of them, including a memorable preacher in the teaser played by R. Lee Ermey.   The twelfth is a boy who may be the real thing.  He’s shown signs of this before, causing questions to be raised about his parents.   His father ended up in an institution and Mom is taking care of him now.

I like that it’s a serial killer case that brings Mulder and Scully to the scene.   And I like that we get a bit of role reversal here with Scully believing and Mulder being skeptical. Continue reading

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Re-Opening The X-Files: Nisei, 731

nisei-731

Mulder: Come on in.
Scully: What are you watching?
Mulder: Something that just came in the mail.
Scully: That’s not your usual brand of entertainment… What is it?
Mulder: According to the magazine ad I answered, it’s an alien autopsy. Guaranteed authentic.
Scully: You spent money for this?
Mulder: $29.95… plus shipping.
Scully: Mulder, this is even hokier than the one they aired on the Fox network, you can’t even see what they’re operating on!

Nisei/731

After a string of decent but not great stand-alone episodes, it’s nice to see the X-Files get a bit of its swagger back with this two part mythology episode.   It’s also a reminder of just how cool the mythology episodes could be this early in the run when you got the feeling that the creators had some idea of where this all might be heading and were slowly introducing threads that would later all come together into some kind of tapestry.

I will also admit that part of my love for “Nisei” when it first aired was that the location we see in the teaser is Knoxville, Tennessee — a place I lived at the time.   Yes, I knew that the show was filmed in Vancouver and there were no train crossings in Knoxville that I could even use my imagination to suppose were the actual footage seen in the show. But it was still cool to see my town referenced in the show. Continue reading

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Re-Opening The X-Files: The Walk, Oubliette

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The Walk

Every season of The X-Files has its memorable episodes — and then it has those not so memorable ones.  “The Walk” is one of the less than memorable ones from season three.

Watching season three again, I feel like the show has peaks and valleys.   This one comes in one of those valleys.

As a stand-alone, it’s got some nice set pieces and visuals (the woman being attacked in the pool, Mulder seeing a ghostly form in the steam) but overall it doesn’t all add up to a complete episode.   Mulder and Scully look into reports of mysterious deaths and attempted suicides by patients at a military hospital.    The injuries and deaths are reportedly caused by a multiple amputee patient named Quntin Freely.  Freely has learned to send his spirit outside his body and to inflict revenge on members of the military and their family who he feel have stolen his life by sending him to Persian Gulf to fight. Continue reading

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Re-Opening The X-Files: The List, 2Shy

2shy

Mulder: The man was obsessed with reincarnation.
Scully: Being obsessed with it doesn’t mean you can do it.
Mulder: No. Unless he knew something we don’t.
Scully: Like what? The secret password?

The List

“The List” isn’t a terrible episode of The X-Files, but it’s not a good one either.  It’s one of those episodes that’s just sort of there.

Chris Carter returns to the directing chair trying to follow-up on the success of “Duane Barry.”  And while this episode is a visual treat, there isn’t much depth to the overall story.    In many ways, it feels like Carter is throwing together a greatest hits of several earlier episodes and offering it up here.

A man named Neech is put to death in the electric chair, but before his execution he swears out revenge on a list of five people.  As people on the list begin to get killed, Mulder and Scully come in to look into whether Neech has discovered the secret to reincarnation or whether he’s got someone helping him carry out his revenge.

The script spends a lot of time taking us down blind alleys and giving us red herrings and sideplots.  It’s a shame that none of these ever quite add up to anything.  Carter’s script attempts to infuse some creepiness into things by having maggots appear on Neech’s victims.  But if you’re waiting for some connection between the maggots and what’s happening here, you’re going to be disappointed. Continue reading

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Re-Opening The X-Files: Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose

clydebruckman

Clyde Bruckman: You know there are worse ways to go, but I can’t think of a more undignified way than autoerotic asphyxiation.
Mulder: Why are you telling me that?
Bruckman: Look, forget I mentioned it. It’s none of my business.

Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose

To paraphrase a quote from Scully in this episode, “There are episodes and then there are episodes.”

“Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose” isn’t just one of my favorite episodes of The X-Files.  It’s one of my favorite episodes of television.  It ranks right up there with Quantum Leap‘s “The Leap Home,” Doctor Who‘s “The Curse of Fenric” and Seinfeld‘s “The Boyfriend” as one of those episodes that transcends the series or genre.  Like some of my favorite movies, if I surf past these episodes, I will stop and watch them from the point I drop in until the end.

The episode won Emmys for writing and guest acting for Peter Boyle.  And it should have helped the series win Best Drama the year it aired.   I feel fairly certain that Picket Fences won that year, but I honestly can’t think of an episode from that season that was quite as transcendent and memorable as this one.

Needless to say, it’s kind of hard to write a review of the episode without it being a complete “golly, I sure love this one” for page upon page upon page.  So, if I get a  bit to gushy on this one, I beg your indulgence and forgiveness. Continue reading

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Re-Opening The X-Files: DPO

xfilesdpo

Darren: Why do you watch that stuff, anyway? They’re a bunch of losers.
Mrs. Oswald: At least they’re on TV. I don’t see you on TV.

DPO

Nestled in between the monumental events of the season premiere and the instant classic “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose” is Howard Gordon’s intriguing monster of the week episode “DPO.”   These days, the episode is probably best remembered as the one that guest stars Giovanni Ribisi and Jack Black.

When it first aired, I wasn’t overly impressed with “DPO.”  It felt like a bit of step back from what we’d seen the previous two weeks and it certainly isn’t in the same realm as what’s to come next.  But over the years, it’s grown on me a bit.  It’s not a classic episode, but it’s a solid monster of the week storyline.

Darren Peter Oswald was struck by lightning and now has the ability to generate electricity.  In effect, he’s a human lighting rod who can channel up current at will — anything from enough to char Mulder’s cell phone to enough power to kill someone and torment a few cows.   Darren is a bit of slacker who failed his English class in high school.  It was here he met the woman of his dreams — his teacher Mrs. Kiveat*.   Now he works as a mechanic in her husband’s garage, not so secretly pining for her and ready to step up his stalker like behavior. Continue reading

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Re-Opening The X-Files: Anasazi, The Blessing Way, Paper Clip

Anasazi 7

They’ll kill you one of two ways. They’ll send someone, possibly two men. They’ll kill you in your home or in the garage with an unregistered weapon which will be left at the scene. Using false documents supplied by associates of mine, they’ll be out of the country in less than two hours.

Anasazi/The Blessing Way/Paper Clip

There are times when The X-Files requires a huge willing suspension of disbelief on the part of the audience.  No, I’m not talking about things like alien invasions or crazy monsters lurking in sewers or even a vast global conspiracy that has been controlling out lives for decades.  No, I’m talking about the suspension of disbelief that no matter where you are on the planet, you will have cell phone coverage.

Cell phone coverage even extends inside elevators or out in the middle of the desert inside a metal box car that is buried in the ground!

Chris Carter has stated many times that The X-Files was a show that he couldn’t have done as effectively without the rise of cell phones.  But I still find it amusing to look back and see how much coverage and reception Mulder and Scully have at various points in the show.   It’s especially blatant here with Mulder inside a boxcar filled with alien bodies and he only gets cut off from Scully when the CSM shows up in his helicopter (leaving us to believe that Mulder cut off the call and it didn’t just drop out).

This three-part story that spans seasons two and three is all about the series going global — and no, I don’t mean in terms of popularity.  Up to this point, we’d had hints that our government was involved in the conspiracy to cover up the existence of extra-terrestrials.   But with this one, we see that the conspiracy is far more reaching than we originally thought possible.  The opening scene of “Anasazi” where the Thinker (a great case of the show paying off something that had been hinted at earlier in the season) downloading the files onto a digital audio tape (DAT) shows us multiple countries that are involved in the cover-up.    Continue reading

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Re-Opening The X-Files: F. Emasculata, Soft Light, Our Town

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Mulder: You can’t protect the public by lying to them.
CSM: It’s done every day.
Mulder: I won’t be a party to it. {to Skinner} How about you?
CSM: You’re a party to it already. How many people are being infected while you stand here not doing your job? Ten? Twenty? What’s the truth, Agent Mulder?

F. Emasculata

In many cases, The X -Files subscribed to the less is more theory when it came to gross-out effects and visuals.   Hide a monster in shadows and allow our imaginations to fill in the gaps.

And then there are episodes like “F. Emasculata” that ramp up the gross-out factor.  Big time.

A pharmaceutical company is looking to find new strains of viruses so they can offer the cure to the American people at highly inflated price.  This one is spread by pustules on various victims expanding and then exploding, releasing a ton of goo that contains microscopic parasites that quickly embed in their new hosts flesh and begins to kill them.  It’s a quick death — usually within 36 hours of exposure.   Continue reading

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Re-Opening The X-Files: Humbug, The Calusari

the_x_files___humbug_by_jjlendl-d8j4e4x

Mr. Nutt: You took one quick look at me, and decided that you could deduce my entire life. Never would it have occurred to you that a person of my height could have possibly obtained a degree in hotel management.
Mulder: I’m sorry. I meant no offense.
Mr. Nutt: Well then why should I take offense? Just because it’s human nature to make instance judgments of others based solely on their physical appearances? Why I have done the same thing to you, for example. I have taken in your All-American features, your dour demeanor, your unimaginative necktie design and concluded that you work for the government. An FBI agent. But do you see the tragedy here? I have mistakenly reduced you to a stereotype. A caricature. Instead of regarding you as a specific, unique individual.
Mulder: But I am an FBI agent.

Humbug

Since the beginning The X-Files was a show with a sense of humor.  Most of that sense of humor was displayed by Mulder’s quips and observations on things.

But it’s with “Humbug” that the series goes for an all-out comedy instead of just the occasional quip to break the tension.  And it succeeds in spades. Continue reading

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Re-Opening The X-Files: Fearful Symmetry, Død Kalm

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Scully: Mulder, what do you know about free radicals?
Mulder: Is this a quiz?

Fearful Symmetry

As I said after watching the end of the Scully is taken arc with “One Breath” there are times when going back to the good ol’ Monster of the Week episode seems like a bit of a step back.   Part of that is that after having some huge revelations in the mythology episodes, it’s hard to see our heroes go back to the day to day investigations without necessarily seeing much or any impact from the previous installments.  It’s hard to believe that after recovering his faith to keep looking for his sister that Mulder is willing to put that on the back burner while he investigates invisible elephants.

It doesn’t help that the episode immediately following “Colony” and “End Game” is this one.   It’s an episode that has some interesting ideas and a great teaser — invisible elephant goes on a rampage.  But overall the pieces don’t quite all add up.  It feels like the writer has some good ideas that are sprinkled into things but they’re never quite developed.   Questions are brought up but never really explored.  Instead, it feels like the episode is just building to that next commercial break with something new to shock us or keep us tuned in.   And yet, despite all of that, it never gets much more interesting that the invisible elephant in the teaser. Continue reading

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