Over the course of nine seasons and 2 feature films, The X-Files transcended its cult status, becoming a phenomenon and cultural touchstone. With a new series on the way, special agent Rick Shingler has accepted the assignment to rewatch the entire series from the beginning and provide detailed reports about his findings. Come with us now, as we explore the mysteries of the complete X-Files. S7E9: “Signs and Wonders” (w: Jeffrey Bell/d: Kim Manners) Is it just me, or does this season sort of feel like the dumping ground for story ideas that would have been used in the fourth season of Millennium had it not been cancelled? Not that it’s a bad thing. The monster-of-the-week episodes this season have taken an unusually dark yet welcome turn in many instances. I believe I spoke in earlier installments to Jeffrey Bell’s penchant for tidy, happy endings. This time around, not so much. During filming, it was discovered that Duchovny suffers a fear of snakes. During the filming of the scene where Mulder is attacked, Duchovny was several blocks away and a stunt double was used. In contrast, it should prove as no surprise that Anderson does not suffer from ophidiophobia. Remember when she ate the live grasshopper during the filming of “Humbug”? She’s a pretty special lady with a penchant for the creepy-crawlies, our Scully. In the community of Blessing, Tennessee, Jared Chirp is inexplicably attacked and killed by rattlesnakes inside his car. Mulder and Scully discover that Chirp had recently left the fundamentalist snake-handling Church of God with Signs and Wonders to join the more traditionally-practicing church run by Reverend Mackey. After a conversation with Mackey, they go to visit Reverend O’Connor and his reptilian sermon illustrations. He’s a natural suspect in the case, especially as Chirp was dating O’Connor’s pregnant daughter, Gracie. In fact, Gracie had been kicked out of Signs and Wonders when her pregnancy became known and Jared had left with her. Iris, a member of Mackey’s church had taken Gracie in to care for her. While working on Sunday bulletins, Iris’ staple remover transforms into a snake which bites her hand. When she goes into the bathroom to wash out the wound, the room fills with attacking snakes. The agents go back to O’Connor’s church, where the reverend attacks Scully and forces her hand into one of the rattlers’ holding containers as a test of her faith. Mulder’s faith in his federally-issued service weapon proves just as strong, and O’Connor is quickly arrested for the assault. Later that night, O’Connor’s jail cell fills with snakes and he is found alive but unconscious with multiple snake bites. He awakens in the hospital with his daughter standing over him. His body rejects the snakes’ venom, forcing it back out through the wounds. He gets out of bed and takes Gracie out of the hospital. Mackey explains to the agents that O’Connor is the father of his own daughter’s baby. Ew. O’Connor takes Gracie back to his church where he baptizes her in a manner reminiscent of the Salem Witch Trials. Whether by supernatural means or perfectly natural stress from her situation, Gracie goes into labor. The strange thing is that she gives birth to a squirming clutch of baby snakes. Again: ew. O’Connor rushes out to kill Mackey, but Mulder is able to save the pastor. Gracie reveals to Scully that Mackey was the real father of her baby and has been killing anyone in her inner circle of confidence to prevent the truth from being known. At the church, Mulder realizes O’Connor’s innocence, but it is too late. Mackey has unleashed his snakes on the agent. Scully is able to rescue him, but not before Reverend Mackey flees. He is next seen settling into his new job as minister in a small church in Connecticut under the name of Pastor Wells. After a meeting with one of his new parishioners, Wells holds up a white mouse so that his inner snake can pop out of his mouth for an afternoon snack. One of the less noticeable things about this episode is Mulder’s typically preternatural instincts pulling him in entirely the wrong direction for the entirety of the case. Looking back on this season so far, Mulder’s intuition’s batting average is substantially below its normal standards. I might be reading too much into things (which would be far from unusual), but Mulder’s mojo has been off-kilter ever since his time in the padded room in the season opener. Is it his brain-scramble from being exposed to the alien cryptography or the involuntary brain tissue reduction couple’s surgery date with CSM that is affecting his judgement? Either way, Mulder’s intuitive deduction skills have been severely hindered. S7E10: “Sein Und Zeit” (w: Chris Carter & Frank Spotnitz/d: Michael Watkins)/S7E11: “Closure” (w: Chris Carter & Frank Spotnitz/d: Kim Manners) After six and a half seasons and a hundred and fifty episodes (and a movie), the singular mystery of the X-Files has been the disappearance of young Samantha Mulder. Her older brother Fox entered into an investigative career because of it. Over the years, the facts and reasons surrounding her abduction have come into question countless times. It has been concluded that she was not taken by aliens. It has been hinted that her brother’s memories of the night of her disappearance may have been altered hypnotically. We have learned of Bill Mulder’s offering of his only daughter to the Syndicate’s program to create a defense against the coming invasion and how that unilateral decision factored into the dissolution of his marriage to Teena Mulder. But the curious thing is how many of the so-called abductees were returned to their former lives over the years. Whatever happened to Samantha? Carter and Spotnitz, believing the cancellation of the show to be likely at the end of the seventh season, decided to take this time to finally offer the definitive answer to this question. The title of the first part (“Sein und Zeit”) is shared with the seminal existential treatise of Martin Heidegger. The title translates as “Being and Time” and its central argument is that in order to truly experience humanity to its fullest, it must be considered as something that is finite, with a beginning (birth) and clearly defined end (death). The second part (“Closure”) swaps out the usual “The Truth is Out There” opening credits tagline with the phrase “Believe to Understand.” This seems to be an echo of a sentiment from St. Augustine, later paraphrased by St. Anselm of Canterbury. Both religious thinkers were proposing the importance of placing belief before scientific pursuits. As applied to the X-Files, it is a statement of the central conflict of the series. Namely: Mulder’s belief versus Scully’s scientific reasoning. Over time, that conflict has evolved into a synergistic investigative approach. Mulder himself has stated that Scully’s science has done more to legitimize his pursuit of the supernatural than he could have ever accomplished without her constant questioning. Amber Lynn LaPierre is taken from the safety of her own bedroom in Sacramento, California just minutes after her parents tuck her into bed. While her father Bud watches television in the living room, Bobbi, her mother, is overtaken by some unseen force and scrawls a threatening ransom note, ending with the unlikely phrase “No one shoots at Santa Claus.” As the FBI rallies to assist in the LaPierre case, Mulder demands that Skinner put him on the case. Skinner refuses at first, telling him that this is an abduction case, not an X-File. He relents and gives Mulder an eight hour window to pursue gather information for a report. Mulder finds an old missing person case from 1987 in which the note left at the scene ended with the same Santa Claus line. In that case, the boy’s mother was convicted and sentenced to prison. According to the X-File, the mother in this case claimed to have seen the spectral form of her son on the night of his disappearance. Bobbi LaPierre has made a similar claim, having seen Amber Lynn standing in her bedroom. Meanwhile, Mulder’s mother Teena has killed herself. A cryptic message on Mulder’s answering machine is the closest approximation to a suicide note she offers. Mulder, believing his mother’s death to be merely staged to appear as a suicide, asks Scully to perform an autopsy. While she does so, he goes to prison to visit the mother of the abducted boy in the 1987 case. She tells Mulder about “walk-ins,” kind spirits who step into children’s bodies in order to remove them from harmful situations. She believes that the children who have been taken in this manner are safe, but cannot tell him where they are. Scully returns from the autopsy to inform Mulder that there was no evidence of foul play in Teena’s death, but she found that she was suffering from Paget’s carcinoma, a painfully debilitating cancerous bone disorder. Mulder decides that he can’t pursue the LaPierre case and requests to take some time off. As Scully, Mulder, and Skinner drive back to the airport, Scully spots a Christmas-themed children’s park. On a hunch, she suggests they stop to have a look around, if only on the basis of the Santa reference in the ransom letter. Inside of a building, they find a complex array of surveillance equipment and video tapes dating back decades. The man who runs the park (and wears the Santa suit, no less) is arrested after leading them on a chase into the back area of his property, where they find dozens of child-sized graves. The man’s name is Truelove, as unlikely as that may seem. Sacramento police uncover twenty-four children’s bodies buried on his property, but Amber Lynn LaPierre is not among them. Truelove is forthcoming about his responsibility for the deaths of the children that have been found, but he pleads innocence in Amber Lynn’s disappearance. While at the scene, Mulder is approached by a self-proclaimed police psychic named Harold Piller. He claims to have proven the existence of “walk-ins,” but he proposes that they are spiritual beings made up of starlight. Scully makes no attempt to hide her sneer as she tries to extract Mulder from the man. The agents return to Washington, where Scully finds evidence that Cigarette Smoking Man had been responsible for calling off the search for Samantha Mulder. Harold Piller, meanwhile, reaches out to Mulder, asking him to meet with him at April Air Force Base because he’s had a vision regarding his sister. Back at her apartment, Scully enters to find CSM waiting for her. She notices that he looks ill, which he shrugs off as being related to a recent surgery. He explains to her that he called off the search for Samantha because he knew for a fact that she was dead. At the decommissioned Air Force base, Mulder finds evidence that Samantha had lived at the base housing with CSM and his son Jeffrey Spender. He also finds his sister’s diary hidden in behind a wall panel detailing the painful experimentation she suffered. Scully’s investigation leads to a retired nurse who had filed a police report of an unnamed fourteen-year-old girl matching Samantha’s description who had turned up in her emergency room in 1979. Just like Amber Lynn, this young Jane Doe had vanished without a trace. As Mulder stands aside listening to Scully’s conversation with the elderly nurse, he is drawn by a spectral boy into a forested area near the house. In the woods, he finds the forms of dozens of children happily playing. Samantha runs up and embraces him. Because of this encounter, Mulder is able to grasp that his sister is dead and in a better place. He tells a concerned Scully “I’m fine. I’m free.” It was well past time to put this particular plot line to bed. Although possible conclusions were suggested in season four’s “Paper Hearts” (with striking similarities to this story, one might note) and season five’s “Redux II,” the mystery of Samantha Mulder had yet to be resolved. It had been the driving force of the first few seasons, but over time the show’s own momentum kicked in and it became less and less necessary to justify Mulder’s obsessive need to pursue matters supernatural and extraterrestrial. With that said, this probably should have happened long before now. If this two-parter seems a trifle stale, it’s because of how far past due it was. While appearing to be an anticlimactic resolution to such an important element of the show, a moment’s consideration of the long-range ramifications serves to show just what a cold and manipulative bastard CSM really is. Consider the times throughout the series when he led Mulder by the nose with promises of reuniting him with his sister. Let’s put this in perspective: after Bill Mulder agreed to sacrifice his daughter to the program, Samantha was involuntarily conscripted to endless tests and procedures. When she wasn’t strapped to a table in a laboratory, she was living on a base in a cloud of second-hand smoke with CGB Spender and his son Jeffrey. Until one day when she ran away, only to fall into the clutches of a pedophile serial killer. After that, this man who was effectively her surrogate father shrugged her off as a loss and eventually used her as a carrot on a stick to lead her desperate brother around. This final resolution of the mystery of Samantha Mulder, while somewhat of a disappointment after six and a half years’ worth of speculation, served quite nicely to reinstate Cigarette Smoking Man as the undisputed devil of this series. Some gratification can be taken from the fact that the procedure he underwent alongside Mulder back at the beginning of the season seems to have left him weakened. We’ve been discussing Mulder’s seeming loss of faculties in the wake of the same procedure, but CSM has been absent since the season-opening two-parter. His weakened state here is intriguing, even though it’s rather impossible to tell what impact it will have in the wider context of the series. S7E12: “X-Cops” (w: Vince Gilligan/d: Michael Watkins) In a season of daring chances, this episode might have been the riskiest of them all. Formatted to appear as an episode of Cops, this crossover episode could have fallen into self-parody very easily. Instead, we are treated to a great contemporary example of found-footage cinema verite that just happens to also be an X-Files episode. Gilligan had been pushing the concept for some time, but Carter and Spotnitz felt it to be too outlandish of a concept even for the X-Files. Carter only relented because he was so convinced that the series would end after the current season. Once it was green-lit, contact was made with the production team of Cops, who enthusiastically agreed to assist in making the episode. In keeping with the style of the show it was emulating, the entire episode was shot on video tape, instead of on film. The episode’s realism is compounded by the use of actual local deputies as extras. They were asked to simulate the sort of natural chatter between members of law enforcement that would occur under these circumstances. For added verisimilitude, an actual SWAT team handled the battering ram during the raid on the crack house. The episode begins just like any other episode of Cops with the Bad Boys theme song. We are riding along in a Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department cruiser with Deputy Keith Wetzel. He responds to a call of an attempted break-in at a residence. At the house, he finds claw marks gouged into the front door. Hearing a noise in the back yard, he moves around to investigate. As the camera crew tries to follow him through the darkened yard, Deputy Wetzel comes running from a commotion, ordering the crew to return to the car. Once inside the car, something attacks, shattering the windows and eventually flipping the cruiser over completely. When backup arrives, Wetzel is reluctant to tell his superior what he actually saw and tells everyone that several gang members attacked him and flipped his car with him (and the Cops crew) inside. Hearing a commotion on the next street, the gathered deputies discover that two FBI agents named Mulder and Scully are on the scene conducting an investigation as well. Agent Mulder tells the deputies that they have come to investigate a possible werewolf after a man was attacked and killed in the area during the last full moon. Seeing the cameras, Agent Scully is standoffish, but Mulder seems thrilled at the possibility of documented evidence to support whatever they might find. The sheriff’s office calls in a sketch artist to render a drawing according to the description provided by the woman who lives at the house where the attempted break-in happened. When Ricky is done with the sketch, he has produced a surprising rendition of Freddy Krueger, not a werewolf as Mulder had expected. On his way home from the crime scene, Ricky is attacked and the deputies rush to the scene. Two men named Steve and Edy live across the street and witnessed the attack, but did not get a clear look at the assailant. They are able to identify a local prostitute who saw the whole thing happen before running away. Mulder and Scully track down Chantara in an alleyway. She is frantic, telling them that her pimp was the one who attacked Ricky, after which he threatened her. Despite feeling Chantara’s drama to be diversion from the case they are pursuing, they take her into protective custody in the back of one of the sheriff’s cruisers. They go back to talk with Steve and Edy, but are drawn back outside to find Deputy Wetzel firing his weapon wildly down the street. Inside the cruiser, Chantara’s neck has been broken. Wetzel finally admits to Mulder and Scully that the creature he saw attack his cruiser earlier and again here in the street was a wasp man creature his older brother had told him stories about to frighten him as a child. Mulder speculates that whatever they are chasing is able to take the form of its chosen victim’s deepest-rooted fear, sort of a do-it-yourself boogieman. Following the chain of the attacks, the agents theorize that Steve and Edy might be the next targets. Rushing back to the house, they find the two men embroiled in a lovers’ dispute. The creature never shows up, altering Mulder’s theory about how it chooses its victims. He believes that it seeks out prey based on his or her level of fear. Scully goes to the coroner’s office to examine Chantara’s body. While she works, the local medical examiner expresses fear of a contagion before collapsing with symptoms of the Hantavirus. Arriving at the coroner’s office, Mulder realizes that Deputy Wetzel is likely to be revisited and they race to find him. He is shut away in a room inside of a crack house where he had gone looking for the attacker. After rescuing Wetzel, Scully points out that the camera crew didn’t get any footage to prove the creature’s existence. Mulder suggests that this story can be salvaged in the editing room. It was a risky experiment which worked quite well. The end product was a real-time escapade through a besieged southern California neighborhood in pursuit of an unnamed, unseen, and indeterminate creature. In the vein of the previous year’s sleeper box office hit “The Blair Witch Project,” the found footage style of filmmaking was still an exception rather than the norm, which added to the novelty on its original air date. Even today, when found footage is largely overdone and trite, this episode works because of its adherence to the consistent characterizations of Mulder and Scully and the intrigue of a mystery which suggests much but reveals nothing. Perhaps the most enjoyable part of this episode is Scully’s unwavering annoyance with the camera crew, which only compounds when she realizes that her partner is actually playing to the cameras. We never see the monster, we never even get an inkling of what it might be. But in this case at least, I’m willing to accept it as a conceit of the storytelling. S7E13: “First Person Shooter” (w: William Gibson & Tom Maddox/d: Chris Carter) Speaking of experimental storytelling… Gibson and Maddox returned for their second episode of the X-Files after season five’s “Kill Switch.” After the shockingly gratifying experience of revisiting that episode a couple of seasons ago, I was eager to jump into the two renowned science fiction authors’ follow-up. This experience was far from gratifying. Well, except maybe for Jade Blue Afterglow. She may or may not have stirred a smidgen of gratification. Three gamers enter a virtual reality environment suited up and carrying high tech laser weaponry. After gunning down a couple dozen guys on motorcycles, they begin advancing toward… I don’t know. The other end of the street, I guess. There doesn’t seem to be an objective other than shooting stuff. One player is hit, his game vest coursing mild electric current through him to keep him down. Another enters a building where Sister Dominatrix greets him with a flintlock pistol and shoots him in the chest. Except somehow, reality is no longer virtual and player one falls with a gaping hole in his chest. He really should have looked for the flashing mushroom before entering the building. It was probably in the sewer pipe next to the Koopa Trooper. The woman, whose name is Maitreya, informs him that this is her game before pulling the trigger. The Lone Gunmen are working as consultants in the development of the virtual reality game called “First Person Shooter” (and this was written in 2000 BEFORE all the cool first person shooter game titles were taken, for heaven’s sake). Because their spinoff is still a year away, they call Mulder and Scully out to California to help them navigate the case. It is clear to Scully that the player died from a close-range gunshot wound. They look at a recording of the game which shows Maitreya shooting the man. Mulder takes a printout of Maitreya to the local sheriff, believing her to be the killer (even though she is a computer-generated image). Meanwhile, the game developers send in a ringer to debug their game. Or I guess that’s what you call it when you send a world-renowned video gamer player into your virtual reality game to kill the hot leather chick who killed one of your beta testers, right? Anyway, Daryl Musashi exits the game in a body bag with his hands and head removed by a couple of swift strokes of Maitreya’s sword. While these events unfold, the local sheriff’s department has been running with the picture of Maitreya handed to them by Agent Mulder and found someone who matches the photo. Which leads me to think that if I’m ever in southern California I am totally taking a picture of Princess Daphne from Dragon’s Lair to the Sheriff’s office and filing a missing person report. At the sheriff’s office, all the boys in the yard have fallen under the charms of Jade Blue Afterglow, a presumably well-paid and respected local entertainer. Ms. Afterglow (can I call you Jade Blue?), after taking Mulder and Scully’s picture (get it? She used her flash?) tells the agents that she was paid to let a medical imaging facility scan her body to be used for a character in a video game. Back at the FPS development lab, the Lone Gunmen have decided to take the least sane approach to the situation and enter the game. I mean, Langley, I adore you, but you’re certainly no Daryl Musashi, you dig? Of course, they get trapped. So Mulder suits up and joins them. Why not, am I right? Scully watches from the monitor room as the Gunmen escape back into the pod. Mulder chooses to go looking for the Ocarina of Time or something and runs further into the game. In the control room, one of the game’s developers admits to Scully that she had developed Maitreya as a side project, but that the character had somehow worked her way into the First Person Shooter game. She is baffled how this could happen. But before we judge, we should remember that this was years before Wreck-It Ralph came along to explain how these things work. After Mulder disappears into the game, Scully suits up and follows him. If nothing else, this episode’s worth is balanced out by badass gamer Scully with giant sci-fi guns. But then things go all Roger Rabbit with Maitreya duplicating herself and even conjuring an Army tank to fire at Mulder and Scully. In the control booth, the female game developer (I think her name is Phoebe or Rachael or something, but it really doesn’t matter) tells Byers how to activate the kill switch which will destroy the program despite the protests of her fellow developer (again, he has a name but I can’t be bothered to look it up). The game disappears, leaving Mulder and Scully sitting in a big empty room. Later, the male game developer looks salaciously at an avatar with Maitreya’s body and Scully’s face. I sincerely wish I could say that this episode was just as enjoyable or possibly even better than “Kill Switch,” but I just can’t. It has its moments, but the logic driving the narrative suspends disbelief to the point of snapping. In their previous effort, Gibson and Maddox told the story of people submitting their consciousness into a digital landscape. This story takes a step further and depicts people being bodily taken into a virtual environment, and that same virtual environment causing bodily harm to people whose only connection to said environment is an eyepiece and simulator. If this were some sort of hard-light virtual reality similar to the X-Men’s danger room, I think I could have been more accepting. Still, Duchovny and Anderson dive into the script with gusto, and the Lone Gunmen get a decent amount of screen time, so it’s not a total loss. S7E14: “Theef” (w: Vince Gilligan & John Shiban & Frank Spotnitz/d: Kim Manners) Writing this survey has proven to be a fascinating experience. As each season has come along, I discover that there are a few episodes which elude my hazy memory and I get to experience them all over again. Some have been laborious, but each season has these gleaming gems which stand out. “Theef” is one of the latter variety. On the same night that Dr. Robert Weider wins some sort of Greatest Doctor-Type Human Being in the History of Ever Award, he is awakened by his house’s alarm system malfunctioning. Going downstairs to investigate, he finds his father-in-law hanging from the house’s central chandelier with a slit throat. The word “Theef” is painted on the wall in blood. Scully is confused when she and Mulder arrive on the scene. This looks like a mysterious suicide or possibly homicide, but she can’t see why a case like this would draw Mulder’s attention as an X-File. Taking her upstairs to the guest bedroom where Dr. Weider’s father-in-law would have been sleeping during his visit, he shows her a pile of dirt in the bed, laid out in the rough shape of a man. It is Mulder’s concerted opinion that some sort of folk magic similar to voodoo played a part in the man’s death. An autopsy reveals that the deceased was suffering from a virtually unheard-of disease which affected his brain and could have caused him to act irrationally and violently. Mulder thinks the person responsible used magic to cast the disease into the man. The Weiders discover a family photo has gone missing from their upstairs hallway. A man is seen cutting the faces of Dr. Weider, his wife, and their daughter from the photo. He places them into crudely-fashioned dolls. When the doctor’s wife pulls back the covers to get into bed, she finds another human-shaped dirt pile. While the magic man stands outside the house chanting at one of the dolls, Mrs. Weider collapses onto the bedroom floor with lesions covering her body. The man presents himself to Dr. Weider at the hospital and even goes so far as to introduce himself as Orell Peattie. He blames Weider for something, but refuses to tell the doctor for what he is being held responsible. Later, Mrs. Weider burns to death inside of an MRI machine while Peattie microwaves the poppit with her picture and hair inside of it. When they remove her charred body from the machine, the word “Theef” is branded into her chest. Dr. Weider tells the agents that one of his former Jane Doe cases might have something to do with Peattie. She had been brought into the hospital after a bus crash, and Dr. Weider had mercifully euthanized her upon realizing her wounds were inoperable and causing her considerable pain. Some investigation reveals that the Jane Doe was actually Lynette Peattie, daughter to our Appalachian voodoo man. They attempt to exhume Lynette’s body, only to find that someone else had beaten them to the grave robbing. Meanwhile, Orell Peattie’s landlady finds Lynette’s corpse in the bed in her tenant’s room. Mulder rushes to the apartment to look for clues which will lead him to Peattie while Scully takes Dr. Weider and his daughter into protective custody. Unbeknownst to Scully, Peattie has followed them to the safe house and he has made one of his special dolls to correspond to Scully. He puts nails into the doll’s eyes, effectively blinding Scully so that he can enter the safe house and kill Weider’s daughter in retaliation for what he perceives as the doctor’s murder of his own little girl. Mulder arrives outside the property and sees the Scully doll inside the car. He removes the nails from its eyes. Instantaneously, inside the cabin, Scully recovers her vision and shoots Peattie before he can kill Dr. Weider or his kid. For one thing, this might just be the most perfectly-cast episode of the entire season. James Morrison plays Doctor Weider with calm precision. He’s likable and sympathetic without ever seeming like a victim. Veteran character actor Billy Drago, on the other hand, serves as a counterpoint to the quietly competent doctor with his equally quiet menace and confidence. Add to the impeccable casting the fact that this also happens to be very nearly a perfectly-crafted classic X-File, and this episode becomes a true highlight of the season. There’s enough spooky ambience to keep the viewer on edge. There’s enough shock value to capitalize on that edge. The dichotomy between modern medical science and age-old folk magic is a clever microcosm of the show’s central conflict between Scully and Mulder’s core beliefs that have driven the X-Files since day one. S7E15: “En Ami” (w: William B. Davis/d: Rob Bowman) In a surprise turn, the Cancer Man stepped into the writer’s chair for this tight little thriller. He had approached Chris Carter with the idea, and the big boss had Frank Spotnitz lend assistance to help put it together. Davis has joked (or not) that he just wanted an opportunity to do scene work with Gillian Anderson, but since the other writers seemed determined to never put her alone in front of a camera with him he felt it necessary to take matters into his own hands. There was a considerable revision process for the script, including the axing of a scene wherein Cigarette Smoking Man teaches Scully to water-ski (?!?), so it’s actually sort of surprising that this episode came together as nicely as it did. The title is an ever-so-cutesy play on words. While translating from the French to “as a friend,” a slight mispronunciation turns it into a pun on the word “enemy.” It should be noted that this episode will mark the final X-File to be helmed by Rob Bowman. Bowman was instrumental in establishing the trademark X-Files atmosphere in the early seasons, but also brought a broad cinematic flair to the series. A boy is miraculously cured of his late-stage cancer after his parents eschew medical treatment for religious reasons and bring their son home. He claims to have seen a bright light outside his window the night before his health was restored. Mulder and Scully both receive anonymous information about the boy’s case. Scully goes to speak with the boy’s family. Jason tells her that angels visited him and one pinched his neck and made him better. When she looks at the boy’s neck, she finds a small scar similar to the one she has on her neck as a result of an implanted chip related to her abduction several years earlier. When she leaves the family’s home, she is surprised to find Cigarette Smoking Man in the passenger seat of her car. Although she tries to dismiss him, he sinks a hook into her by claiming to have cured Jason’s cancer the same way he had cured hers. He tells her that he is dying of a swelling in his brain due to a recent surgery, and he would like to make some atonement by providing her with the science behind the cancer cure she herself had experienced first-hand. She finally agrees to join him on this road trip, but secretly wears a wire in case she is able to catch him singing along to Foghat while they drive. He spews misguided craziness to her about his affection for her ever since holding her life in his hands. She just keeps driving. Mulder is understandably losing his mind back in Washington with no clue as to her whereabouts. While he and Skinner try to hatch a plan to find her, she calls Skinner’s personal line to tell them that she’s fine and will be out of town for a couple days. Rather than reassure him, this call sends Mulder further over the edge. During a gas station stop, Scully removes the tape from its recorder under her shirt and puts it into an envelope addressed to Mulder. As she and CSM drive away, another man pulls the enveloped out of the mail box. The Lone Gunmen arrive at Mulder’s apartment to offer their regrets at having been unable to find Scully either. They did find that someone has been hacking into her email account and corresponding with a defense department informant named Cobra. Whoever had been emailing this Cobra person has arranged a meeting between him and Scully. The next morning, Scully wakes up in a bed wearing pajamas with no recollection of how she came to be there. She accuses CSM of drugging her, but he maintains his innocence. He tells her that she was so tired when they arrived at his Western Pennsylvanian cabin the night before, she had gone straight to bed. He takes her to dinner, telling her that the man with the information they are seeking will meet with them. It eventually becomes clear that the informant is a no-show. While CSM steps outside to smoke, Scully discovers a note under her plate asking her to meet at Calico Cove on the lake behind CSM’s cabin the next morning. She takes a boat out alone to meet with the man who thinks they’ve been corresponding for months. After a brief, albeit confused exchange, the man passes her a disk that alleges to have the cure to all known human diseases. As soon as he does, a shot rings out across the lake and the informant is down. Scully escapes back to CSM’s cabin, little realizing that the shooter has been working alongside CSM the entire time. Back at the FBI, Scully realizes that the disk she brought home is frustratingly blank, likely due to her smoking nemesis switching it for the real one. CSM has the correct disk, but chooses to toss it into the lake rather than use it to find a cure for his own condition. As always, the best lies are the ones with a nugget of truth at their core. CSM can never be trusted, and Scully knows it. But the revelation of his illness is, at its heart, quite possibly true. We know of his surgery at the beginning of the season wherein he had some of Mulder’s alien-virus infected brain tissue placed into his own brain pan. Even with the broad parameters set by science fiction, this seemed like a bad idea at the time. So, it’s likely he’s telling the truth when he says he’s dying for complications from a brain surgery, even if his motives turn out to be far from pure. For Scully, the enticement he offers is worth the considerable risk of putting herself at his mercy. At least, that was what he was counting on. He draws her along throughout the episode, constantly staying just one small step ahead of her. It’s possible to see Scully’s actions as being out of character. But watching it again, it seems to me that, if anything, Scully can be said to have underestimated CSM. It’s possible that Mulder hasn’t been able to fully express the depths of this man’s soullessness to her. It never seems as if she trusts this man at all, although her lack of caution and acceptance of the possibility of some sort of alien-based Rosetta stone that could unlock all human maladies is certainly unusual. But then, she has recently come face to face with very tangible proof of everything her partner has been shouting from the rooftops for the past seven years in the form of an undeniably alien craft sporting an encoded map to the human genome (“Redux” and “Redux II,” so she has proven over the course of this season to be uncharacteristically accepting of extreme possibilities. She has never adequately explained how the chip in her neck brought her back from the brink of a cancerous death. So, from that perspective, I think it’s safe to say Scully might take a chance to have a look at what her enemy claims to be offering. Except that every time she thinks she has some sort of control of her situation, he slips casually into the driver’s seat. It’s never quite enough to spook her, but instead is the very essence of a well-played con. It’s not exactly The Sting, but it is a tight little caper that fits perfectly into the show’s mythos. See larger image The X-Files: Season 7 With the original conspiracy plot arc having fallen into a muddle of loose ends, once-hungry lead actors on the verge of big-screen careers and making demands for more time off or shots at writing and directing, and the initial wish list of monsters-of-the-week long exhausted, it’s a miracle that by its seventh season The X-Files was still making its airdates, let alone managing something pretty good every other show and something outstanding at least once every four episodes. The season opens with a dreary two-parter (“Sixth Extinction” and “Amor Fati”) and winds up with the traditional incomprehensible cliffhanger (“Requiem”), but along the way includes a clutch of episodes that may not match the originality of earlier seasons but still New From: $13.99 USD In Stock Release date February 6, 2018. Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.