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. S4E8 “Tunguska” (w: Frank Spotnitz & Chris Carter/d: Kim Manners)/S4E9 “Terma” (w: Frank Spotnitz & Chris Carter/d: Rob Bowman) After several weeks of little to no development in the series’ mythology (the previous week’s “Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man” was more rampant speculation than canonical truth), Spotnitz and Carter introduced this two-part saga that ambitiously balloons the conspiracy to a global level, depicting a shadowed extension of the Cold War-era Soviet arms race. Nearly all of our significant players are on deck for this one, including the long-awaited return of Alex Krychek, last seen locked up and left to die in an underground missile silo. The second part of this story’s opening credits ends with an altered tagline. “The Truth is Out There” is replaced with the phrase “E Pur Si Muove.” Galileo was called in front of the Roman Inquisition after publishing his findings that the Earth revolved around the sun, proving the Earth to not be the center of the solar system, as had been believed at the time. He stated this phrase after being commanded to denounce his scientific theories of heliocentrism. Translated, he was defending himself by saying “And yet, it moves.” Galileo’s attempts to sway the authorities of his day with scientific reason is echoed by Scully (and Mulder, eventually) trying to present an agenda-bent Senate select committee with hard, scientific evidence that stands in the face of anything they are willing to accept as fact but could easily serve to derail the convenient narrative that they wish to perpetuate. Hey, now, stop that muttering out there. No one said anything about climate change deniers. Scully is attempting to read a prepared statement about the conspiracy that exists within the Federal Government to the gathered Senators of the committee, but they don’t want to hear it. The only thing they care about is the location of Agent Mulder, and Scully is not willing to answer for fear of endangering Mulder’s life. Even under threat of being held in contempt of Congress, Scully stands her ground. Ten days earlier, a man traveling from the Republic of Georgia with a locked attaché case is detained by customs officials in Honolulu airport. While he is being questioned, one of the containers in the case breaks, releasing a specimen of the Black Oil Virus we’ve seen in previous seasons. It overcomes the customs official. Meanwhile, in Queens, Mulder and Scully are acting on information supplied to them from an unknown source to stop a domestic terrorist cell from detonating a bomb. Once they’ve broken up the cell, Mulder discovers that Krychek is acting as a member of the cell and had been supplying them with the tips which led to their raid. He had been found and rescued by the cell when they had raided the missile silo looking for components for their bomb. Krychek tells Mulder and Scully that he can help them expose CSM and his bosses in the Syndicate if they’ll let him work with them. He leads them to Dulles Airport to intercept another courier carrying a package from Russia. After a short pursuit through the airport, Mulder and Scully lose the courier but are able to acquire the package. Inside, they find a rock. Thinking Krychek to be playing them for fools, Mulder deposits him at Skinner’s apartment for safekeeping. Skinner is more than happy to handcuff the little weasel on the balcony in the cold. Mulder takes the rock to be analyzed by a scientist at NASA, where it is revealed to quite possibly be a prehistoric meteor fragment which, in turn, could possibly contain fossilized extraterrestrial bacteria (and we know from experience what happens when this sort of thing is exposed, right? See “Ice” and “Darkness Falls”…). As Skinner leaves his apartment (with Krychek still chained to his balcony), he is approached by CSM on the street, who demands the return of the package. Skinner stubbornly tells him he’ll get back to him on it. Back at Skinner’s apartment, the courier from the airport breaks in, seeking the package, but is overpowered by Krychek, who throws him from the balcony. The NASA scientist cuts into the rock for a core sample and releases the Black Oil Virus contained inside (I hate to say I told you so…). The virus gets inside of his hazmat suit, putting him into a sort of waking coma state. Mulder visits Marita Covarrubias, his new informant from the UN, and is told that the rock originated in Russia near the area of the legendary Tunguska event of 1908. Discovering that Krychek is fluent in Russian, Mulder begrudgingly brings him along to help investigate the origins of the package. CSM informs the Syndicate’s Well-Manicured Man that someone fitting Mulder’s description was on his way to Russia, much to WMM’s consternation. CSM just isn’t having the best year, you know? Skinner and Scully are subpoenaed to appear before the Senate committee, as was seen at the beginning of the episode. Scully remains tight-lipped about Mulder’s location. At this point, I’m not entirely sure she even knows where he is. He and Krychek find a slave labor camp near the site of the Tunguska explosion, but are quickly captured and thrown into a Russian gulag. Once inside, he and Krychek are separated and Mulder is included with the rest of the inmates in experiments involving the Black Oil. Mulder is infected. It doesn’t take long for Mulder to discover that Krychek is working as a double agent for the Russians after all. He manages an escape in a truck, taking Krychek as his hostage, but the brakes on the truck don’t work and he crashes, separating the two of them. Krychek is found wandering through the forest by other escapees from the gulag. They have all cut off their left arms to avoid further Black Oil vaccination experiments using their smallpox scars. In a very hospitable show of brotherhood, the group accepts Krychek as one of their own, cutting his arm off as well. Mulder is lucky enough to be found by the owner of the truck he had commandeered. Inexplicably, the man brings him home for his wife to nurse back to health. While all of this is happening, former KGB agent (and CSM’s Russian counterpart, it would seem) Vasily Peskow has come out of retirement for a quick tour of duty in the US. He begins his tour by killing a doctor working for the Syndicate to develop a vaccine against the Black Oil. From there, he tracks down her test subjects, injecting them with an experimental Russian vaccine before killing them. Mulder makes his way back to America with help from the peasant couple and surprises everyone by walking into the Senate committee hearing being held seemingly for the sole reason of determining his whereabouts. They put the session in recess and Scully displays her most obvious “God, I love that man” expression in the history of the show. It even makes Skinner squirm uncomfortably. They go on the trail of Peskow, tracking him to a convalescent home in Boca Raton, FL, but he eludes them and is able to destroy the rest of the Black Oil-containing meteor rocks in by rigging up an explosion at an oil well. He returns to Russia, where the now one-armed Alex Krychek commends him on the work he had completed. Dammit, Krychek. I think it’s safe to say that arranging the assignment of Dana Scully into the X-Files project was the biggest mistake the Syndicate (and Cancer Man) has ever made. Sure, Mulder is a threat with his tenacious dedication to exposing the Truth, but Scully is a recent convert with a professional and personal drive to understand those same Truths. Mulder’s recklessness and desperation only serve to lessen his own credibility. It’s the person following the calm, measured path of reason that poses the biggest threat to a campaign of misinformation. And Scully is very much that person. Mulder will keep chasing down leads, but at the end of the day, he is “Spooky, the FBI’s Least Wanted”. Dana Scully, on the other hand, is an accomplished agent and (moreover) a respected expert in her field with an understanding of medical science that eludes most every other person inside the J. Edgar building, including her superiors. The X-Files have become less of a punchline in the DC corridors and more of a hushed whisper. The problem is it seems likely that after this latest fiasco, the self-appointed protectors of the Truth seem to be aware of this paradigm shift as well. And that can’t be good news for Dana Scully. S4E10 “Paper Hearts” (w: Vince Gilligan/d: Rob Bowman) First off, let’s just put it out there that both Vince Gilligan and Rob Bowman claim that Duchovny’s free throw was a one-shot, one-take accomplishment. After all, he did play basketball at Princeton University, so it’s not exactly out of the question, right? This episode grew from an idea of Gilligan’s to explore a potentially earth-shattering alternative to one of the series’ oldest mysteries. To wit: what if Mulder’s sister Samantha was taken by a serial killer and Mulder’s subconscious twisted the incident into an alien abduction? Gilligan wrote the script with character actor Tom Noonan in mind, and this was one of the actor’s earliest television roles. This episode would earn Mark Snow an Emmy nomination for his musical score. Mulder is asleep in his apartment, and has a dream which leads him to the burial site of a young girl, the victim of a serial killer he had been asked to profile a couple of years before Scully had been assigned as his partner. His profile of John Lee Roche as a travelling salesman had led to his capture and confession to the deaths of thirteen girls. He had removed a heart shape from the clothing of each of his victims. This evidence was never recovered, but his confession to the killings was enough to convict him. Scully’s examination of the girl’s skeletal remains determines her to have been killed in 1975, several years earlier than his spree was originally thought to have begun. The agents search his former car and find a copy of Alice in Wonderland with sixteen cloth hearts tucked into the pages of the book. This leaves two unaccounted victims. Mulder and Scully go to the prison to question Roche. Roche is amiable with the agents, but remains evasive. He wants his hearts. That night, Mulder dreams that Roche was the one who kidnapped his sister in 1973, not aliens as he had always remembered it. And just like that, this has become a very personal case for Fox Mulder. The next day, under questioning, Roche spins a tale of selling Bill Mulder a vacuum cleaner in the early 70s. Mulder loses control and punches Roche. Mulder goes to his mom’s house in Connecticut and finds a vacuum cleaner in the basement that matches the one Roche described selling. At this point, even Scully is willing to admit there may be some credence to Roche’s claims. Roche, as an act of good faith, leads the agents to another victim. But again, this is not Samantha Mulder. Roche tells Mulder that he will tell him where he buried Samantha, but only if he will get him out of the prison and take him to where she was abducted. Mulder pulls some strings and arranges for Roche’s temporary release. He takes his prisoner to a house in Martha’s Vineyard where Roche describes the fine details of the night Samantha disappeared, but misses the fact that they aren’t in the same house. Mulder accuses him of using publicly-available information to manipulate him. He takes Roche back to a hotel to wait the first flight back to Virginia to take him back to prison. Skinner and Scully are not pleased with Mulder’s actions, and they rush to Martha’s Vineyard to find Roche has escaped custody while Mulder slept. To make matters worse, he has stolen Mulder’s badge, phone, and gun. The agents catch up to Roche in a street trolley graveyard, where he is holding a newly-abducted little girl. Roche tells Mulder that if he dies, Mulder will never know for sure if his sister was one of his victims. Mulder shoots him anyway, in order to protect the little girl. This truly was one of the stronger episodes of this season. Despite Mulder’s postulations about a nexus-like connection between himself and the killer, there is nothing supernatural happening here. As Scully explains to Mulder early in the hour, it’s likely that his expert profiler mind has been chewing on the Roche case ever since it closed and some scrap of evidence surfaced just enough in his subconscious to trigger his dream of the fourteenth victim’s resting place. Skinner’s increased involvement in their work poses some fascinating dynamics as well. We already know that Skinner is open to the extreme possibilities they face every day, but he still seems slightly mesmerized by Mulder’s intuition, even as he is confounded by the agent’s recklessness. S4E11 “El Mundo Gira” (w: John Shiban/d: Tucker Gates) Those tuning in to this episode hoping for a glimpse of the legendary chupacabra were likely a bit disappointed. The X-Files rarely works that way. Instead, John Shiban crafted a tight little horror story set in a Mexican migrant workers’ camp, where we find a human drama to be playing out between two brothers and the woman they are vying for. The title of this episode translates from Spanish as “The World Turns,” a soapy nod to the telenovela-like aspects of the story. One of the two brothers is portrayed by Raymond Cruz. Cruz is most perhaps most recognizable as Tuco from Breaking Bad. The agents are assisted by an INS agent named Lozano, as played by actor Ruben Blades. Blades, aside from his various film roles and other TV work, is currently working as Daniel on Fear the Walking Dead. Lillian Hurst, this village’s wise Flakita, has been on just about every show from Sesame Street to Arrested Development. In a shanty town populated by illegal migrant workers, the drama surrounding the lovely Maria and brothers Soledad and Eladio is reaching the boiling point. After Soledad leaves the camp for the day, a freak storm of bright flashing light and yellow rain catches Maria and Eladio exposed in a field. Once it passes, Maria is found dead, her eyes and parts of her face eaten away. The agents enter the investigation because of the local murmurings that El Chupacabra, the legendary “goat sucker” might have been responsible for her death. Soledad blames Eladio. Mulder and INS agent Lozano track Eladio, and find that the other members of the settlement are terrified of him because of the rumors being spread by his brother. Scully identifies Maria’s cause of death as being a rapidly-growing fungal infection. As Eladio is being deported, he escapes from custody when the truck driver dies in transit. The driver’s death is also attributed to a widespread fungal infection (the worst case of athlete’s foot ever depicted on television, I’d venture to bet). Scully concludes that Eladio is unwittingly carrying some sort of enzyme that is triggering this rampant growth. He needs to be found. Eladio, trying to escape back to Mexico, goes to work as a day laborer at a construction site to raise the money for a ride across the border. Soledad finds him, but discovers that the construction foreman is dead and his brother escapes in the foreman’s truck, further spreading the fungus. Now growing deformed by the growth of whatever spores are within him, Eladio returns to the shanty town. Agent Lozano tries to convince Soledad that he needs to kill his brother, but Soledad is reluctant. Lozano is killed accidentally during a struggle over his gun with Soledad. In the end, Soledad is infected with his brother’s illness and the two of them escape to Mexico together. Mulder and Scully take a back seat as circumstances spin away from them in this episode. Scully is much more of an active participant, as her scientific analysis drives the development of the plot. But even so, she is more of an observer, having no real active role in the drama playing out. Lozado ditches Mulder, knowing the agent would not approve of his proposed solution for the problem of pitting the healthy brother against the one causing the rash of deaths. Now, if Univision would just pick up that Los Hermanos Chupacabra spin-off series… S4E12 “Leonard Betts” (w: Vince Gilligan & John Shiban & Frank Spotnitz/d: Kim Manners) This was the Super Bowl episode. Literally, this was the episode of the X-Files that ran as soon as the trophy was handed over to the Packers after their defeat of the Patriots. Knowing it would have the largest lead-in audience of its entire run, the writing staff went to great lengths to fulfill any and all requirements of a great X-Files episode. This one had everything. Cringe-worthy mutant activity, Scully being awesome and sciency, Mulder’s quips, and just enough of a tease at things to come to make regular viewers sit up and say “wait, what?!?” An EMT in Pittsburgh named Leonard Betts is decapitated when the ambulance he’s working in is blindsided by a truck in an intersection. However, in the morgue, his body kicks its way out of the storage locker and goes home without its head. When Scully attempts to examine the head, its eyes open and the mouth begins moving. The typically unflappable Dana Scully is actually somewhat flapped by this experience. Meanwhile, Mulder is looking through Betts’ apartment. What he fails to notice is inside the bathtub full of iodine solution: Leonard Betts has regrown his missing head and is hiding under the surface of the iodine. Interviewing Betts’ former partner, she tells Mulder about his preternatural ability to detect cancer in their patients. Upon further examination of the head, Mulder and Scully find extremely advanced-stage cancer cells making up most of the brain tissue, enough that it is a mystery how he could have even been alive at the time of his decapitation. According to fingerprint records, Betts had maintained a separate identity as Albert Tanner. A talk with Tanner’s mother reveals that he had died in a car accident six years prior. The EMT partner sees Betts and approaches him, but he apologizes before injecting her with some sort of lethal substance. A security guard sees the attack and captures Betts by handcuffing him to his car. While the guard’s back is turned, Betts tears off his own thumb to escape the handcuffs and gets away. When the agents search the car, they find a cooler full of cancerous tumors from the hospital’s organic waste dump. This leads Mulder to the conclusion that Betts must subsist on cancer in the same way most people need vegetables. They track Betts to a storage unit, but not before he can shed one of his bodies and create a duplicate of himself. The duplicate drives a car out of the storage facility where it explodes under a hail of gunfire from Mulder and Scully. Betts makes his way back to his mother, and she convinces him to remove a cancerous growth in her breast to help heal himself (this is Steinbeck-level symbolism happening here, folks). Mulder and Scully enter mom’s house before the EMTs can, but Scully quickly ascertains what has transpired and rides with Betts’ mother in the ambulance to the hospital while Mulder canvasses the neighborhood for any sign of Betts. Scully realizes that Betts was riding on the roof of the ambulance the whole time and climbs up to confront him. He attacks her and, locking himself inside the ambulance with her, apologetically informs her that she has something he needs (implying that Scully has cancer – WHAA-AA?!?). Scully kills Betts with a defibrillator to the face, but she is clearly shaken by his diagnosis. She does not tell Mulder anything about the possible cancer. That night, however, she is awakened with a nosebleed, a dark presage of what is to come. Professionally, Mulder and Scully are firing on all cylinders in this episode. Their interpersonal communication, however, leaves something to be desired. Scully seems a little withdrawn, as if she’s pulling away from her partner on a personal level. Mulder, for his part, seems baffled by her behavior through much of the episode and is walking on eggshells around her. Her medical and scientific expertise has won the day once again, but Mulder seems unable to fully appreciate the work she does on their cases. This will come to a head in the following episode. On the bright side, maybe Betts was just trying to intimidate Scully when he implied that she had cancer. And maybe Vader was just trying to mess with Skywalker’s head at the end of Empire with the paternal revelation. Things are about to get very real for Dana Scully. So real, in fact it’s understandable that she would… You know what? Let’s move on. S4E13 “Never Again” (w: Glen Morgan & James Wong/d: Rob Bowman) Remember back in the second season when Mulder and Scully both took a weekend off? Scully spent her weekend reading, eating ice cream, and bathing Queequeg (just so we’re clear, that’s not a euphemism). Meanwhile, Mulder met the hottest entomologist since Invasion of the Bee Girls. In that particular scenario, Mulder never got past the pupal stage. Not so for Scully this time. This episode was originally slated to have been directed by none other than Quentin Tarantino, who was a wild fan of the show. Unfortunately, he had staunchly refused to join the Director’s Guild and was therefore unable to get the necessary waiver to direct the episode for the studio. Comma dammit. Nothing against Rob Bowman, who did a great job with the episode, but he’s not Tarantino, ya dig? Incidentally, the other huge guest involved with this episode is barely credited. The voice of Ed’s tattoo? It’s Jodi Foster. That’s right, none other than one of Dana Scully’s principal prototypes, Clarice Starling herself. In Philadelphia, Ed Jerse is on something of a bender after his divorce is finalized. He stumbles into a tattoo shop and leaves with a vividly-colored batch of ink on his arm. It’s a pinup girl like you’d see on a rum label with the words “Never Again” emblazoned below her image. The next day at work, Ed is nursing a hangover when he hears a woman’s voice call him a loser. He moves to confront a coworker, only to succeed in getting himself sent home and likely fired. Meanwhile, in DC, Mulder is going on what he calls a “spiritual pilgrimage” when he is forced to use some of his vacation time. Before he goes, he leaves instructions for Scully to follow up with a Russian man they had interviewed who claimed to have seen a UFO in some sort of secret research facility. Unfortunately, Scully has reached her limit. Maybe it’s the implications of the Leonard Betts case last episode. Maybe it has to do with the fact that her relationship with Mulder has been in a rocky patch for several weeks. Maybe it’s that she’s sitting in a basement office where she doesn’t even have a work space and/or desk after all the work she’s put in over the past three and a half years. Most likely it’s some combination of all of these things that makes her resentful of Mulder’s “orders.” An exasperated Mulder leaves her to her own devices. Back in Philly, Ed keeps hearing the woman’s voice deriding him. Thinking it is coming through the heating grate of his apartment, he murders his downstairs neighbor and disposes of her body in the building’s furnace. It’s not until after he commits this deed that he realizes that the voice is coming from his new tattoo. Scully reluctantly goes to Philadelphia to follow up with their informant, and follows him to the same tattoo shop Ed had been the night before. Ed, who is in the shop inquiring about the removal of his new ink, meets Scully and asks her out. She declines, but still accepts his offered phone number. That night, she argues with Mulder on the phone over their informant’s credibility. After hanging up with him, she calls Ed’s number and they meet. Over the course of the evening, they find themselves in the tattoo shop where Scully gets an Ouroboros tramp stamp using the same ink that was used for Ed’s Varga girl. Ed’s tattoo is talking to him the entire time, warning him against pursuing this other woman. The next morning, Scully is awakened in Ed’s apartment by the knock of two detectives investigating the disappearance of the downstairs neighbor. They inform her that blood other than the victim’s was found in the apartment. Furthermore, the blood contained considerable amounts of ergot chemicals which could cause hallucinations and erratic behavior. When Ed returns to the apartment, Scully tells him that they should go to the hospital to get their blood tested for possible toxins from the tattoos. He grows suspicious and discovers that she is an FBI agent. In his agitated state, he attacks her and ties her up in a sheet to take to the furnace like his victim the night before. She is able to free herself and witness as Ed beats back the voice’s influence and puts his own arm into the furnace, burning the tattoo. Back in Washington, Mulder asks whether this situation stemmed from their disagreement before he left for vacation, but Scully measuredly explains that not everything is about him. Something truly great was accomplished with this episode. While the romantic relationship between Mulder and Scully is still a matter of subtext, this story showed that Scully’s part in this possible liaison is purely on her own terms, which is a refreshing coup for fictional women on television. She’s not waiting idly by the phone. Mulder’s opinion is not her motivating force. She’s an independently driven woman in complete control of her own destiny. Sure, her decision to call this random guy was impulsive and potentially self-destructive. But it was her decision to make and it’s no one’s job to pass judgement on her actions. From day one, this entire show has been more about Scully’s journey than anyone else’s. And I’m including Fox Mulder in my calculations. S4E14 “Memento Mori” (w: Chris Carter, Vince Gilligan, John Shiban, Frank Spotnitz/d: Rob Bowman) This is the episode of this season where things begin to spin out of our agents’ control. What’s perhaps surprising is that this episode’s script was literally thrown together in a couple of days when it became clear that Darin Morgan would not be turning in a script for the fourth season as they had planned. In fact, some of the writing staff was reluctant to take the story in the direction it went, but it was an inevitable thread, when you consider the way elements leading up to it were established in previous seasons. In fact, this single episode brings together several threads of the mythology in a way that may even exceed the first feature film. It earned an Emmy nomination for the writing staff and won Emmys for Best Art Direction in a Series, as well as Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for Gillian Anderson. Scully is facing her own mortality with the diagnosis of a cancerous growth in her sinus cavity. She is determined to remain at work, and she and Mulder outline an investigative avenue that may shed some light on the cause of her condition. After a meeting with Skinner, they head to Allentown, Pennsylvania to talk with Betsy Hagopian, a member of the Mutual UFO Network whom Scully had encountered the year previously (in “Nisei”). She and her group had all shared similar abduction experiences as Scully had. Some members of the group even recognized Scully from the room where they were experimented upon, even though she did not share those particular memories. Upon arriving at Hagopian’s house, they are told by a real estate agent preparing for an open house that she had succumbed to cancer weeks earlier. While looking through the house, they discover that someone is remote-dialing into her modem and accessing the files on Hagopian’s home computer. They trace the call to another member of MUFON named Kurt Crawford. Finding him to be a potential ally, he tells them that nearly all of the female abductees Scully had met the year before have since died of cancer. This rattles Scully, but she isn’t as willing to accept a government conspiracy as her partner (or their new-found friend Crawford, for that matter). While Mulder pursues his own line of inquiry, Scully goes to a nearby hospital to visit the only surviving MUFON member, Penny Northern. Northern is in the late stages of her cancer, and tells Scully about Dr. Scanlon, who had been treating her. Mulder and Crawford, meanwhile, have discovered that all of the women in the MUFON group were treated at the same fertility clinic. Scully calls Mulder to ask him to bring her overnight bag from the car. She has spoken with Dr. Scanlon and is checking herself into the hospital for treatment under his care. Soon after Mulder leaves, a grey-haired man arrives and kills Crawford with a whooshy stiletto-thing to the base of the neck. Crawford was an alien/human hybrid all along? Wha–?!? After checking in with Scully, Mulder goes to the fertility clinic where he meets up with —Crawford? But… Oh, it’s one of those shape-shifter aliens, isn’t it? I hate those guys. All Mulder is able to uncover is the fact that Scully has a file at the clinic, even though he is indisputably certain that she has never sought fertility treatment of any sort. You know, because that’s the sort of intimate knowledge that would be shared between purely platonic co-workers, right? Yeah, Skinner keeps his mouth shut too. What he doesn’t withhold his opinion about is Mulder’s desire to attempt to strike a deal with Cancer Man for Scully’s life. He convinces his agent to seek any other possible course of action to avoid becoming beholden to CSM. Mulder goes to the Lone Gunmen for help breaking into a research facility that houses the main servers connected to the clinic so he can find information that may help Scully. Meanwhile, Skinner is trying to cut a deal with CSM for Scully’s life. Sure, it looks like you’re being all noble and protective of your agents, but way to run with Mulder’s idea, man. Not cool. Oh, and remember back in “Tunguska” when Skinner had that great moment where he responded to CSM’s demands for information about the diplomatic pouch containing the Black Oil-infested meteor fragment with a glib “I’ll get back to you”? CSM uses this opportunity to throw those same words back at him. Although his delivery can scarcely be considered glib so much as it is menacing. Well played, Cancer Man. At the facility, Mulder discovers that Dr. Scanlon is one of the men working for the facility that was involved with the experiments on Scully to begin with and sends Byars to the hospital to convince her to stop treatment. With Langley and Frohike offering tech support, Mulder executes a variation of a plot from Mission Impossible to break into the labs where he discovers a room full of Kurt Crawfords. They are working to save the lives of the abducted women, out of respect for their unknowing roles as the hybrids’ birth mothers while they were held. Their accelerated growth allowed the gestation process to take a matter of weeks. The Crawford clones admit to Mulder their additional purpose of subverting the alien colonization plans from their place inside the program. One of the clones shows Mulder a system of vials containing ova from the abductees. Mulder takes Scully’s vial and leaves. On his way out, the shape-shifting bounty hunter appears and attempts to shoot him. Mulder escapes unharmed. He returns to the hospital, where her friend Penny has died. In the corridor outside of Penny’s room, Scully affirms to Mulder that she is resolved to fight against her illness. Back in Washington, Mulder thanks Skinner for talking him out of doing something as foolish as striking a deal with CSM. Immediately afterward, Skinner meets with CSM and they reach terms. I glossed over it in the synopsis, but the scene in the hospital corridor near the end of the episode wins the award for Most Intimate Moment between Mulder and Scully EVER. In fact, the original script actually directed them to share their first on-screen kiss at the end of the scene. During filming, Duchovny and Anderson ad-libbed that direction out of the scene. What they created instead was a return of the shared certainty and trust that they have shared since late in the first season and has been lacking for the better part of this season. All in all, this episode was an unexpected gift. I never thought I’d say something like this (being a huge fan of his contribution to the series), but I’m sort of glad Darin Morgan didn’t get that teleplay turned in on time. S4E15 “Kaddish” (w: Howard Gordon/d: Kim Manners) Upon repeat viewing, I found this episode to be intensely touching, and I think it’s with good reason. Howard Gordon dedicated the episode to his grandmother Lillian Katz. The communal wedding ring used in the episode actually belonged to a rabbi Gordon knew to have survived the Holocaust, and was used in one of his friends’ wedding ceremony. That ring helped inspire him to find an emotional connection for a story he’d been trying to find a way to tell since starting on the show’s first season. The title is an Aramaic term meaning “holy” and is often used to refer to the specific “Mourner’s Kaddish,” a prayer hymn that is part of funeral services as well as the mourning portion of typical prayer services. In Brooklyn, New York, a group of Hasidic Jews are graveside, mourning Isaac Luria. He had been beaten and shot by three young men in what would appear to be a hate crime. Among the mourners are his wife-to-be Ariel and her father Jacob Weiss. As it storms later that night, someone comes back to the cemetery to make a man-shaped sculpture from the mud above Isaac’s grave. Not long after, one of the young men responsible for Isaac’s death is found strangled to death. The thing that brings Mulder and Scully onto the case is that the fingerprints on the victim’s throat are Isaac’s. Scully believes the murder was staged to look supernatural to play out a more convincing spiritual revenge scenario and wants to exhume Isaac’s body to see if it was tampered with in some way. Jacob is very offended at the thought of desecrating the grave of his daughter’s love, but Ariel is more reasonable about the request. It becomes a moot point later that night anyway. Mulder and Scully go to interview Curt Brunjes, the owner of a print shop across the street from the Isaac’s shop. He produces and distributes inflammatory anti-Jewish pamphlets. The three boys who killed Isaac are on his mailing list, and Mulder warns Brunjes that the other two surviving boys are in danger. Scully slips in that there is a rumor going around the local Jewish community that Isaac Luria himself has risen from the grave to seek vengeance on his killers. The other two boys are listening in the other room and decide to dig up Luria’s body to see if it’s still in the grave. When one leaves the dig to go to their truck, he is attacked and killed. The next morning, the agents check the grave to find Isaac’s body still interred and intact (hands and all). There is a Hebrew book of some sort buried with him, but when they remove it from the grave it bursts into flames. Examining the charred remains, they find that the book belonged to Jacob Weiss. Their search for Weiss leads them a synagogue, where they not only find the old man, but the dead body of Isaac’s last remaining attacker. Weiss admits to the deaths, but Mulder doesn’t believe his confession. He has the scent of a golem now, and he’s not going to back down from it. Brunjes is the next victim, and a tape from the surveillance camera in the print shop reveal a figure that looks just like Isaac Luria. The agents return to the synagogue where they find Ariel exchanging vows with the golem she had made in the image of her intended. As soon as Ariel declares her love and the golem slips the communal ring on her finger, it begins to convert back to dust and fall apart. I’m all verklempt. What could have easily fallen into a parody of Jewish Orthodox Mysticism was instead a respectful study of grief and the victims of hatred. Ariel’s need for retribution was palpably real, and the golem acted on her need. Her love breathed life into the creature, and that love reached out to destroy hatred. On another note, her father’s sacrificial confession to the crimes was an attempt to atone for Ariel’s loss of innocence even while shielding her from prosecution for her passion. In the end, the surrogate she had created for her love is able to receive her, but immediately crumbles into fleeting dust. It’s tragic and operatic. And really a very beautiful episode. S4E16 “Unrequited” (w: Howard Gordon (story), Gordon & Chris Carter (teleplay)/d: Michael Lange) I have to confess something. I always feel just a little cheated by in media res teasers on the X-Files. There’s just something so much more elegant about an opening teaser that is able to pique my interest, introduce all the necessary story elements for the episode, make me squirm just a little, and warrant being punctuated by Mark Snow’s basso profundo opening note of the X-Files theme. It’s one of those secret laws of screenwriting: the first few pages of a well-written script will offer the viewer everything he needs in order to fully understand the rest of the story. When you get a chance, look at the opening of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (it tells the entire story of the movie in the opening song, just not so that you’d entirely realize it while watching the first time). How about the opening ten minutes of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, when Lady Galadriel lays out the entire history of Middle Earth and the Rings of Power, just so that we can understand the enormity of the proceeding nine hours of film (twelve if you held out for the extended editions)? I know, I’m on a soapbox here, but the in media res cold open usually makes me feel like they should be led off with a voiceover of Bill Bixby saying “Tonight, on another exciting episode of the Incredible X-Files…” All of which is not to say that this is a terrible episode. On the contrary, it’s sort of a decent concept for an antagonist and is considerably suspenseful with a briskly-paced plot. I could do with just a little more Scully science to offer explanations, but it’s sort of hard to find any factual basis for a guy who can disappear into thin air (without lapsing into that “Mr. Cellophane” song from Chicago, at least). The episode opens during a ceremony in front of the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial at the National Mall in Washington, DC. Skinner is on the stage next to the General delivering the keynote speech. Mulder, Scully, and a slew of other FBI agents are in the crowd, searching for someone. Scully spots their target, as does another agent, but they both lose him. Mulder, at the front of the crowd, catches a glimpse of the man, but he loses him just as quickly. Skinner spots him moving through the crowd directly in front of Mulder, but Mulder seems to be unable to see him. He reappears in Mulder’s vision, only to disappear like a wisp of smoke. The crowd, meanwhile, is reacting to Mulder waving a gun toward them as he tries to get a bead on their target. Twelve hours earlier, a Lieutenant General is shot in his limousine by the gunman we saw in the crowd during the opening scene. When the driver is questioned, he suspiciously states that no one else was in the vehicle except him and his passenger. Skinner is ordered to bring a team in to investigate when it becomes suspected that a paramilitary group called the Right Hand might be responsible for the assassination as a strike against the upcoming rededication of the Vietnam memorial. The Right Hand’s leader, Denny Markham, under duress and grudgingly tells the agents about a soldier named Nathaniel Teager who was left to die as a prisoner of war in Vietnam after the US had declared an end to the conflict. In DC, Teager appears in front of a woman at the memorial wall, hands her military dog tags which belonged to her husband, and tells her that he is still alive as a POW. Then he vanishes. Skinner tells the agents that Teager is officially dead and his remains are at an Army forensics lab. In point of fact, the Army forensics lab has a few of his teeth, and his death is officially labeled as “inconclusive.” Mulder tries to get to the general that signed Teager’s death certificate, but he is too late. Teager walks into the general’s office in the Pentagon and gets to him first. Mulder sees Teager on the Pentagon security tapes, even though no one else on the tape seems able to see him walking past them. He begins to form a theory surrounding the stories of Viet Cong with the ability to create blind spots, allowing them to appear and disappear from the sight of their enemies. Mulder next sets up a meeting with his sometime informant Marita Covarrubias, who tells him that Teager’s two victims had worked with a third general named Bloch to (unsuccessfully) negotiate terms surrounding and eventually cover up the continued existence of American POWs in Vietnam. Bloch is delivering the keynote speech at the memorial wall’s rededication ceremony, which brings us back to the episode’s cold open. Teager gets off a shot at Bloch, but Skinner defends him, taking a bullet through his arm. Teager is shot by another FBI agent, and dies repeating his name, rank and serial number. In the end, General Bloch’s would-be assassin is identified by the military as someone other than Teager, effectively consigning the forsaken POW to oblivion. This is another case of Mulder tilting at windmills while his companions stand back and watch. Scully and Skinner realize the injustices being enacted, but they both realize even more keenly the futility of shouting about them. Mulder just doesn’t have that common sense filter and is the first to run to the hillside to bark at the moon. Other than that, there just isn’t really much substance to be found in this episode. Teager never really gets an opportunity to become a sympathetic character, as he’s too busy appearing and disappearing and killing people for us to get to know him. The generals he’s targeting are sort of cookie cutter stock military characters, so there’s not much to see there. It’s a pretty good opportunity to see Skinner on the job and in action, not sitting behind a desk. Oh, and Scully still has cancer, right? See larger image The X-Files: Season 4 New From: $17.33 USD In Stock Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.