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. The fifth season of the X-Files was a time for the show to explore the question of faith. Specifically, what happens when the thing or person or idea that you hang your faith upon betrays you? Is it possible to pick up those shattered pieces and form them into something that resembles its former glory, or even to create something entirely new? Can that fire be rekindled once trust is broken? Without the X-Files to hang on to, what purpose can Fox Mulder possibly find that will drive him? Much of this season is a journey through the hinterlands for Mulder, with all of it leading directly into the franchise’s first feature film which premiered the following summer. Speaking of the film, because of that filming schedule, this season did not premiere until early November of 1997, and only ran twenty episodes, making this the shortest season of the show’s run. As the season progresses, a thematic turn begins to happen. We’ve noted in this survey how the show up to this point has been largely focused on the journey of Dana Scully and her reaction to the work of Fox Mulder and their combined place within the larger machinery of the global conspiracy they are trying to unlock. As we’ll find in seasons six through nine, The X-Files swings that primary focus away from Scully and puts the beam on Mulder, his journey, and the way it impacts both those who ally themselves with and against him. Season five, then, is as much of a build-up to the money shot that will be the film as it is a pivot point for the series. From this perspective, this season is arguably the high point of the series, although to attach such a label seems to diminish the remainder of the show. Without getting into a full explanation of Freytag’s Pyramid (do I get paid if I plug Google?), I prefer to see this season and the first film as the creative climax of the series. Everything to do with the series’ mythological arc that follows this season and the film is the inevitable conflict between the protagonists (Mulder and his allies) and the antagonists (the Syndicate and their cronies) followed by the resolution we’ll see in the final season. For now, we can see where the creative talents involved were still trying to stretch boundaries, and now they could do so while enjoying the freedom that comes from the budget of a show riding high in the Nielsen ratings week after week. Never mind the guest stars that pop up this season (and there are some, make no mistake), this year has the distinction of including superstar guest writers. How many television shows can boast back-to-back episodes written by Stephen King and William Gibson? Season five awaits! S5E1: “Redux” (w: Chris Carter/d: R.W. Goodwin)/S5E2: “Redux II” (w: Chris Carter/d: Kim Manners) This season’s two-part opener serves as parts two and three of the fourth season’s finale. At the end of the fourth season, Mulder has apparently committed suicide in his apartment after learning that everything he’s been pursuing for his entire career has been built around a lie, and that he himself was “created” as a pawn to help perpetuate that lie. On top of it all, he learned that Scully’s cancer was generated as another tool being used to control him. With all of this information, it wouldn’t be difficult to accept the notion that Mulder could consider putting his pistol to his head. Chris Carter used this story to tie up several loose threads from the previous seasons, including one that dates back to some of the earliest moments of the Pilot. It was also an opportunity to set a trajectory for Fox Mulder that would bring his belief in extraterrestrial life crashing down in an embittered crisis of his faith. The tagline at the end of the opening credits was altered for the first installment “Redux,” changed to read “All Lies Lead to the Truth.” As Mulder sits in his apartment, wrestling with the things he’s learned from Michael Kritschgau, his phone rings. It’s Kritschgau, who informs him that they may both be under surveillance. Mulder spots a small hole in his ceiling with a lens in it and rushes upstairs to burst into the apartment above. Inside, he is met with another agent and in their ensuing battle a gunshot rings out. The other man is dead with a gunshot wound to his face. Mulder searches the apartment and finds evidence that he had been spied upon, and that the man he just killed had made several phone calls to someone inside the FBI building. The dead man is another Department of Defense operative (just like Kritschgau) named Scott Ostelhoff. He reports all of his findings to Scully, who hatches a plan with her partner. At the request of investigators in Mulder’s apartment, Scully arrives and identifies the body of Ostelhoff as Fox Mulder. Skinner arrives as she’s leaving, telling her that Section Chief Blevins, the same man who had assigned her the job of “debunking” the X-Files four years earlier, was requesting her presence for a debriefing of this latest development. Meanwhile, Mulder uses Ostelhoff’s credentials to gain entrance to the Department of Defense. After a search of Mulder’s apartment, CSM forms the opinion that the reports of Mulder’s death are greatly exaggerated. Scully compares Ostelhoff’s phone records to incoming calls to the Hoover building, and finds that they were all transferred to someone with executive clearance levels in the building. She begins to suspect that Ostelhoff had been reporting to Skinner, which would color Skinner as their enemy. Trust no one, right, Scully? Mulder works his way through the DoD building with Ostelhoff’s Level 4 clearance. He finds a room full of manufactured extraterrestrial bodies like the one he and Dr. Arlinsky had autopsied in the season four finale. Moving through the corridors, he eventually finds his way through an access tunnel to the underground core of the Pentagon. Inside, he finds the mother of all evidence lockers. Navigating the byzantine filing system, he locates what he hopes to be the cure for Scully’s cancerous growth. If this proves to be the case, he will have circumnavigated CSM’s dirty dealings and provided the cure. Unknown to Mulder, an alert DoD worker has notified CSM to Ostelhoff’s card being used in the building. CSM watches passively as Mulder leaves the building. Scully sits at the debriefing, telling of the events leading up to Mulder’s “suicide.” She explains that someone in the room is acting as a mole at the FBI for the people who are orchestrating the great conspiracy. Just as she’s about to name Walter Skinner as that Judas, her nose begins to bleed and she collapses. Mulder brings his purloined vial to the Lone Gunmen’s office for inspection, but they all despair to discover it is only common deionized water. Casting aside any remaining illusions about his death, Mulder rushes to the hospital as soon as he hears about her collapse. Unfortunately, Skinner intercepts and detains him, bringing him back to the Hoover building to explain himself (and Scully’s apparent lie) to Blevins. Mulder mumbles his way through the meeting with his usual aplomb, but is unable to deny Kritschgau’s involvement, since Blevins has a copy of a photo of their meeting in Mulder’s apartment. As soon as they leave, he tells Skinner that someone in the FBI is responsible for Scully’s cancer, but he doesn’t know who that traitor is yet. Meanwhile, CSM is at the track with the First Elder from the Syndicate. CSM seems to think that the correct leverage is all it will take to convince Mulder to join their cause. The Elder is skeptical. Finally able to visit the hospital, Mulder tells Scully that he thinks their best course of action is to go public with all the information they have about the conspiracy. Scully questions the wisdom of such action, considering their lack of irrefutable proof to substantiate these claims. In fact, they couldn’t even name one single person involved at the moment. It’s unlikely that a warrant with the name “Cancer Man” or “Well-Manicured Man” would be admissible, right? CSM is waiting for Mulder in the hospital corridor. He informs Mulder that the deionized water was in the vial to protect a chip (how did he and the Gunmen miss that?) that will be able to reverse Scully’s cancer. Kritschgau, meanwhile, is questioned by a panel at the FBI, during which he denies any knowledge of Ostelhoff’s murder. He does admit that he is on the payroll for a lobbying firm called Roush in addition to his Department of Defense paycheck. Back at the hospital, Scully’s mother and brother aren’t encouraged by the microchip cancer therapy Mulder is proposing. Scully’s brother Bill, in fact, minces no words regarding his opinion of her crazy UFO-chasing partner. But in the end, Scully’s faith in Mulder supersedes her family’s misgivings and she agrees to have the chip inserted into her neck. CSM, in his continuing effort to recruit Mulder to his fraternity, arranges a meeting with the agent in a diner. As Mulder waits at the counter, a car pulls up in front of the door. A woman is in the passenger seat who Mulder recognizes immediately as his sister Samantha. While Cigarette Smoking Man sits in the car and… well, smokes cigarettes, the Mulder siblings enjoy a brief reunion. She refers to CSM as her father, and has no recollection of her abduction. With a plea that she is overwhelmed by the sudden rush of seeing her brother again, Samantha leaves with CSM, refusing to give Mulder any of her contact information. Little sisters can be so freaking annoying, am I right? The next day, CSM makes an offer to Mulder that he quit the FBI and work with him. Unsurprisingly, Mulder refuses his offer. Back at the FBI building, Blevins meets with Mulder again, this time attempting to implicate Skinner as the Benedict Arnold of the J Edgar building. He tells the agent that he can clear up his current issues if he’ll help mark Skinner. Making his apologies, Mulder leaves the office to go see Scully in the hospital. Even though she pleads with him to turn in Skinner as the traitor, he’s not nearly as convinced of his guilt. Mulder goes back to the FBI and names Blevins as the one who has been working against them the entire time. Meanwhile, CSM is shot and presumably killed by a sniper, although when Skinner reports this joyous news to Mulder he tells him that the body was never recovered. Maybe it just turned into ash and blew away? Blevins is shot in his office by a senior agent who makes it look like a suicide. Back at the hospital, Skinner tells Mulder that Blevins had been on the Roush payroll. But the good news is that Scully’s cancer has gone into remission. This might just constitute the closest thing to a happy ending we’re ever likely to see in the X-Files (with the possible exception of “The Post-Modern Prometheus,” but we’ll talk about that later). The Syndicate is put off their game, Mulder is vindicated, CSM takes a misstep as he misjudges Mulder, Mulder may or may not have finally been reunited with his sister, Scully is on the road to recovery, Skinner is also vindicated and proves his loyalty to his agents, and the internal force that has been working against the FBI’s least wanted since day one has been eliminated. Not that this show will suddenly become the Brady Bunch (that doesn’t happen until near the end of season nine), but for now let’s just take a deep breath and appreciate what amounts to a pretty good day. Oh, yeah, except for the fact that Mulder may no longer believe in the existence of extraterrestrials. You know, that thing that’s sort of the backbone of the entire show. I guess some might raise an alarm at this development. But you know what? It’s a glass-half-full kind of week. S5E3: “Unusual Suspects” (w: Vince Gilligan/d: Kim Manners) In late August of 1997, Fox Television expected The X-Files to begin filming its fifth season in Vancouver. However, also in late August of 1997, Rob Bowman still needed his leads to complete filming of his film The X-Files: Fight the Future in Los Angeles. This conflict made it impossible for shooting to begin for the season opener, “Redux.” Vince Gilligan was tapped to give the production crew something to shoot that did not include Gillian Anderson at all and made minimal use of David Duchovny. At Chris Carter’s urging, Gilligan penned the secret origin of The Lone Gunmen, the group of conspiracy theorist hacktivists Mulder often uses as a resource when other information avenues prove less reliable. The episode jumps back to 1989, several years before Scully was given her current assignment and Mulder is still building a name for himself (for good or ill) at the FBI. The other fun surprise was the appearance of Richard Belzer as his character Detective John Munch from the NBC police procedural Homicide: Life on the Street. It struck Gilligan that since the characters are detained and being questioned in Baltimore, the setting of the NBC show of which he was a fan, what if the detective in charge of their interrogation was John Munch? A couple of phone calls brought it about, and thus a quiet little crossover was born. It never hurts to ask, right? In 1989, a SWAT team bursts into a Baltimore warehouse where they find a naked Fox Mulder in a cardboard box shouting “They’re here!” The trio we know as the Lone Gunmen try to flee the scene, but are captured and brought in for questioning. Their bickering is cut short by Baltimore PD Detective Munch, who asks Byers to tell the story that led to tonight’s incident. In a flashback, Byers is revealed to be employed by the FCC, and he is every inch the company man. While manning a booth representing his federal bosses at an electronics expo, he becomes enchanted by a somewhat distraught-looking woman who passes his table. Following her, he briefly comes into contact with Frohike and Langley, who are manning rival tables and selling two different devices for pirating cable TV. They close up shop when they see the “narc” approaching, but Byers is too focused on the woman to notice them. When he bumps into her, she introduces herself as Holly and tells him that she’s looking for her ex-boyfriend who has kidnapped her daughter. She has a piece of paper with a code written on it. Byers recognizes it as an address for the Defense Department’s computer database and reluctantly agrees to help her hack into it to find information about her daughter. He finds a file on Susanne Modeski, but it’s encrypted. While it’s printing, Holly sees her “ex-boyfriend who works for the government” approaching the table. As they hide, Mulder passes the table unaware of their presence. Byers and Holly approach Frohike to help them decipher the encoded information. Frohike, ever the chivalric hero, convinces Byers that they should confront the ex-boyfriend, but they get cold feet when they discover he is an FBI agent. Returning to the FCC booth, Byers is distressed to discover his partner at the booth being arrested for hacking into the Defense Department’s computers. He wants to turn himself in, but Frohike convinces him that he can’t help Holly if he’s behind bars. The two men go to the more superior hacker Langley to ask for help accessing the FBI database to get more information on Holly. Unfortunately, they learn that Holly is, in fact, none other than Susanne Modeski, and she is wanted for a shopping list of charges related to an incident at a weapons facility in New Mexico. Confronting her with this information, Susanne tells the boys that she is innocent of the charges, but was being set up as a scapegoat for the illegal test of an experimental gas in Baltimore, which she claims to be in town to prevent. The gas is called ergotamine, and it is supposed to induce crippling paranoia. Finally deciphering the file Byers had pulled from the government network, they learn the location of the gas in a warehouse near the Baltimore shipyard. Once there, they find that the gas is being held inside cases of asthma inhalers. Before they can determine a course of action, Mulder arrives and tries to arrest Susanne. Unfortunately, two other men arrive with the intention of killing Susanne. During the firefight, the cases of the gas are ruptured and Mulder is exposed to the gas. He strips his clothes off and hides in a nearby box, convinced that aliens have arrived. Susanne shoots the two men and escapes the warehouse, leaving her three helpers behind. Before they can get out, X arrives (huzzah!) with some men and tries to pierce the Gunmen with his mutant intenso-stare before determining that they don’t really know enough to bother with. As he and his men leave in pursuit of Susanne, the Baltimore Police arrive and take the three of them (and the naked, gibbering FBI agent) into custody. Detective Munch has no choice but to believe their story when it is corroborated by Mulder the next day. After they are released, they find Susanne, who has been trying to tell her story to the media. Unsurprisingly, no one believes her. As she leaves them, she asks them to try to tell her story to as many people as possible. X appears and abducts her right in front of them. Later, back at the expo center, Mulder arrives and asks the trio to explain this situation to him. While this really can’t exactly be considered a back door pilot for the Lone Gunmen’s spinoff (it wouldn’t premiere for another three years), it is certainly the first sign that this unlikely band could support their own adventures. Up until this point, the three members of the group weren’t very clearly defined, typically serving as a sort of combination Greek chorus/motley fool collective to supply information and act as emotional support for Mulder during his more manic periods. The episode breaks them out and gives each character depth, particularly Byers. While this hour is about the formation of the trio and ends with the first inklings of a friendship between them and their favorite G-man, it is undeniably Byers’ story. He’s the one that risks the most, and he’s the one who ultimately sacrifices the most. Vince Gilligan deserves credit for fleshing out these characters enough that the network would eventually be willing to take a risk on the Lone Gunmen series, and Gilligan’s byline would grace nearly half of the episodes of the sadly short-lived spinoff when it comes. S5E4: “Detour” (w: Frank Spotnitz/d: Brett Dowler) What was intended as an easily-shot episode turned into a grueling ordeal, taking more than twice as long to film as most of the episodes. Frank Spotnitz had written what he thought was a simple “stranded in the woods with monsters” story, but didn’t take into account the Vancouver area rainy season. As a result, some of the episode had to be filmed on a sound stage and a second director (Kim Manners) had to be brought in to assist with some of the shooting. In a remote region along the Florida panhandle, a surveying team is attacked by some sort of creatures with glowing red eyes. Later, a man and his son are hunting with their dog in the area when they find the surveying equipment and a bloody coat. The man sends his son home with the dog to call for help, but he is attacked also. Still later, Mulder and Scully, on their way to a team-building seminar with two other agents are stopped at a roadblock in the vicinity of where the men have disappeared. The boy had made it home to call the authorities, even after his father was attacked. Mulder, seeing an opportunity to ditch out on trust falls and personality bingo with agents Kinsley and Stonecypher, runs off into the woods to join the investigation. Scully follows. The local authorities haven’t found anything to support the boy’s claims of an attack. That night, Mulder arrives at the house of the hunter and his family just as the boy is running out, afraid of some creature with glowing red eyes that was trying to attack him and his mom in the house. The next morning, Mulder and Scully join the local investigators back in the woods. This time, they are armed with an infrared monitor. After a brief encounter, Mulder explains the concept of the Mothman to Scully. One of the creatures attacks Mulder, but Scully frees him using her pistol. With Mulder wounded and unable to walk back out of the forest, the agents spend the night sitting against a log in the forest. Scully sings Three Dog Night in order to reassure Mulder that she’s awake and on guard. The next morning, Scully falls through a hole in the forest floor while looking for edible flora. Inside the cavern, she finds all of the people who have disappeared in the forest. Most are still alive. She realizes that one of the creatures is in the underground chamber with her and she lost her weapon during her fall into the hole. Mulder drops his gun to her, but shortly regrets it when he realizes that the bushes behind him are teeming with predatory life. Seeing no alternative, he leaps into the hole with Scully. Scully uses Mulder’s gun to shoot the creature. How’s that for team-building? As Scully examines the body, she finds that the creature looks human in every way except for his tree bark-like skin. They find the words AD NOCTUM (“Into Darkness”) carved into a tree trunk. While everything is being wrapped up, Mulder formulates what could quite possibly be his most outlandish theory. This is most likely for the benefit of seeing how far Agents Kinsley and Stonecypher could drop their jaws. What if these creatures in the forest were the Spanish Conquistadors who landed in Florida four and a half centuries earlier looking for the fountain of youth? What if they found it and have been living and protecting these forests for the last several centuries, evolving over that time to perfectly adapt to their surroundings? What if they take umbrage to the encroachment of development and are put anyone who encroaches on their territory on their kill list? It suddenly occurs to Mulder that Scully had greatly invaded their space when she found the victims in the underground chamber. Leaving the two flabbergasted agents alone at the crime scene, he rushes back to the hotel room where Scully is gathering her (their?) things. Finding her safe, they leave, which is fortunate considering the glowing red eyes that can be seen under the bed as they close the door behind them. In this first glimpse of Mulder and Scully after the events of the series opener (remember, the previous episode was a flashback to a time before they worked together), we find them settled very cozily into their partnership. It’s hard to tell what the impetus could have been to send them to a team-building conference, but one can imagine some harsh words about interoffice fraternization and professionalism. None of which seems to have stuck at all. In fact, Scully would seem to be openly mocking whatever words were spoken to them when she arrives in Mulder’s motel room with wine and cheese. The flirtation between the two of them during that scene in particular is palpable. Scully is clearly ready to let loose and enjoy herself after her recent illness brought to such close proximity with her own mortality. Mulder, on the other hand, is celebrating the new lease on their partnership by sinking his teeth into a nice juicy X-File. Sure, the scene in the woods with Scully singing “Joy to the World” while Mulder sleeps in her arms is truly adorable, but I find this two minute exchange to be far more telling of the current status of their relationship and of their identities and roles within that relationship. S5E5: “The Post-Modern Prometheus” (w: Chris Carter/d: Chris Carter) If I ever get an opportunity to have a drink with Chris Carter, I think one of the first topics I want to discuss is his affection for Mary Shelley. That is, after I razz him about the time he was really into Cher. Armed with the knowledge of how heavy this season was going to get during its mythology-rich episodes, Carter determined that it would be best to balance things with some lighter fare. But lighter does not always mean throwaway, as I think most of the monster-of-the-week episodes this season will attest. Carter wrote this one in the hopes of snagging a couple of significant guest stars, but both fell through for entirely different reasons. The role of Shaineh Berkowitz was written for Rosanne Barr, but her schedule conflicted with the shooting schedule for the episode. It was also hoped that Cher, a purported fan of the show, would be willing to participate for the featured cameo at the end. Unfortunately, the queen of the divas’ interest in being a part of the X-Files was to add a line item on her acting resume, not her singer resume, so she declined. She did allow them to use three songs from her catalog for the soundtrack, though. When she saw the finished episode, she reportedly regretted her reticence. The way it played out, a professional Cher impersonator was hired for the episode’s happy ending sequence and shot in silhouette and from behind. Hey, at least they scored Jerry Springer and Seinfeld’s J. Peterman (John O’Hurley), right? Speaking of guest stars, that’s Chris Owens under the makeup of the Great Mutato. Owens has appeared several times on the show as the younger version of Cigarette Smoking Man, but is unrecognizable in this role. This episode was shot using a wide-angle lens and in black and white, which was intended as a love letter from Chris Carter to James Whale’s 1931 film version of Frankenstein. In Albion, Indiana, Shaineh Berkowitz is a single mother. She claims that her teenaged son Izzy was the result of some sort of mysterious impregnation that happened while she was unconscious eighteen years earlier. What’s more, she thinks it’s happened again. Hearing about Agent Mulder and his work during a special abductee episode of Jerry Springer (it’s OK, just go with it…), she calls him to help her get to the bottom of her immaculate conception(s). She claims that a creature attacked her, and that it bore a striking resemblance to the comic book character “The Great Mutato” that her son Izzy created. Mutato is a local urban legend (although I can’t help but think “rural legend” is much more apt), having been reportedly seen by many of the locals. The inexplicable opening of the episode would seem to lend credence to this theory, as we witnessed a misshapen figure dancing around the house while the music of Cher plays loudly through the house. Izzy and some of his friends take the agents to a wooded area where they actually catch a glimpse of the real Mutato. They chase him, but are unable to catch him before they are stopped by an old farmer who owns the land they have chased the creature onto. He orders them off of his property, but recommends that they find his son, Dr. Pollidori if they want answers. Visiting the doctor, he gleefully shares with them his work with the fruit fly drosophilia. He is particularly proud of the fly he genetically modified to have legs growing out of its mouth. He tells them that if he was so inclined, he could create a similar modification on a human, which I suppose would be the ultimate cure for nail-biting. Leaving the lab, Mulder expresses to Scully that he thinks the Great Mutato was probably a creation of Dr. Pollidori. Later, Dr. Pollidori’s wife Elizabeth (hey, wait… wasn’t Dr. Frankenstein’s wife’s named Elizabeth? Coincidence!) is knocked unconscious and up in the same manner as Shaineh. At the scene of the crime, Mulder and Scully discover that a form of animal tranquilizer was released into the air of the house. Just before they succumb to the lingering fumes, they come to the conclusion that the senior Pollidori would have had easy access to such material because of his livestock. While the agents sleep off the cattle tranqs, Dr. Pollidori goes to the farm to confront his father, killing him in a fit of rage over the assault on his wife. Mutato emerges from the barn to find the farmer dead and, weeping, buries him in a shallow grave inside the barn. Mulder and Scully find the grave when they go looking for the senior Pollidori. His son the mad doctor leads a torch-wielding mob to the farm, determined to eradicate the monstrous Mutato. The agents find him in the house’s storm cellar and are prepared to try to protect him. Mutato steps forward, however, and eloquently explains his creation at the hands of his “brother” Dr. Pollidori twenty five years earlier. Disgusted by the misshapenness of his experiment, the doctor cast him aside. The kindly farmer Pollidori rescued him, raising and protecting him as his own son. The simpler Pollidori attempted to repeat his son’s experiments in order to create a companion for him. But while some of his experiments were successful, none created the companion for which he had longed. A glance around the gathered crowd implies that the animal DNA used to impregnate unsuspecting women around the town had indeed proven successful in producing Izzy (who bears a striking resemblance to a hog), one of his friends with a considerably equine elongated face, another friend with the very goatiest of goatees, and the hen-like local reporter. Unwilling to accept such an unsatisfying ending for Mutato, Mulder calls for Izzy, the writer. The episode ends with Mulder and Scully escorting an ecstatic Mutato to a Cher concert. The closing shot transforms into a comic book panel. There is a surprisingly venomous debate as to the legitimacy of this episode. Many feel the entire thing is a nothing more than a flight of fancy, an imaginary story not to be considered a part of the X-Files canon. Still others accept it as an odd little detour in the careers of Fox Mulder and Dana Scully. I accept the closing sequence of the agents sitting in the front row of a Cher concert to be the inspired creation of Izzy Berkowitz for the last issue of his Great Mutato comic book series. Otherwise, I’m just not sure from where this debate arises. They’ve experienced weirder scenarios, haven’t they? Alan Moore once prefaced a Superman story with the words “This is an imaginary story…but aren’t they all?” It’s an odd debate that I don’t understand and only mention as a curious reverberation of the impact of this excellent episode. S5E6: “Christmas Carol” (w: Vince Gilligan & John Shiban & Frank Spotnitz/d: Peter Markle)/S5E7: “Emily” (w: Vince Gilligan & John Shiban & Frank Spotnitz/d: Kim Manners) We had our fun. Now it’s time to get down to the serious business of being heavy. Duchovny was needed for press junkets for the film “Playing God,” so it was necessary to create a Scully-centric episode. In classic X-Files fashion, the first part of this episode begins as curiosity-driven weirdness and slowly evolves into an impactful continuation of the series’ mythology. The first part recasts Scully very loosely in the Scrooge role, as she is visited by spirits of the past during the nights before Christmas Day, leading her to a startling Christmas revelation. Interestingly, the role of Dana Scully in the flashback to 1986 was played by Gillian Anderson’s own little sister Zoe. The surviving Scullys gather at Dana’s brother Bill’s for their family Christmas. Bill and his pregnant wife Tara live in the Scully family residence in San Diego, where Bill is stationed in the Navy. Dana and her mother arrive on December 21. It’s been a rough few years for the Scullys, losing first their patriarch William to natural causes four years earlier. This was followed by Dana’s extended abduction experience, then Melissa falling under a bullet from an assassin’s gun after she is mistaken for her sister. Dana’s nearly terminal illness earlier in the year was yet another patch of gray hair for the beleaguered Margaret Scully. With Tara’s baby being due any day last month, the promise of a new grandson for Christmas must look like an incredibly auspicious harbinger of 1998 for her. Soon after their arrival, Dana answers her brother’s ringing telephone. On the other end of the line is a strikingly familiar voice, informing her that someone needs her help before disconnecting. Scully uses her FBI credentials to trace the call to a San Diego address. When she goes to investigate, she finds an active crime scene. Roberta Sim, the woman who lived at the house with her husband and daughter has apparently committed suicide in the bathtub. Detective Kresge is in charge of the investigation, and assures Scully that the phone has been off the hook since they arrived on the scene, making it impossible for anyone to have called her brother’s house from this location twenty minutes earlier. Baffled, she goes back to her brother’s house. After dinner, she confides in her mother that whatever experiments were rendered upon her during the time of her abduction have rendered her unable to conceive a child. That night, the sleeping Scully’s subconscious conjures a childhood memory of her inadvertent suffocation of a pet rabbit in a lunchbox, a fact which is observed by kid sister Melissa. She is awakened by a call to her cell phone. It is the same voice as earlier, telling her again that her help is required. A trace to the call leads her once again to the Sim residence. The husband, Marshall, is somewhat understandably impatient with her 4am line of questioning on his doorstep and dismisses her so that he can go back to his conversation with the mysterious dark-suited men standing in his kitchen. The next morning, Scully visits Detective Kresge at the station to seek more information on Roberta Sim’s death. The police have ruled it a simple suicide, but Scully’s instincts say something different. What’s more, a photograph of little Emily Sim strikes a familiar chord. She is the spitting image of her sister Melissa at the same age. In fact, it has been Melissa’s voice on the other end of the phone. Scully conducts a re-examination of Roberta Sim and finds a small puncture from a syringe in the heel of one of her feet, indicating foul play. A search of the Sim house finds a hypodermic needle. Marshall insists that it was used for Emily, who is anemic and undergoing treatment. As they leave the house, Scully notices the same two dark-suited men sitting in a sedan watching the house. Scully has ordered DNA tests on Emily and they reveal a striking match between the girl’s and her sister’s DNA, the latter being on file with the FBI from her murder investigation. She believes that Melissa was pregnant and gave up her daughter for adoption during a year-long sojourn to California three years earlier when she was out of contact with the rest of the family and orders more extensive DNA testing. Falling asleep on the sofa at her brother’s house, she dreams of a Christmas a decade earlier, when she and her sister were teenagers, eagerly sneaking downstairs in the wee hours of Christmas morning to examine their packages. Mom discovers them and gives them each a cross necklace, the very one that Dana wears to this day. Kresge arrives at the house to tell Scully that the Sims had received several large payments from a pharmaceutical company called Prangen Industries. They visit Dr. Calderon who explains that Emily was undergoing an experimental therapy for her anemia. Mrs. Sim was reluctant to let them conduct the procedures, so they had offered to reimburse them for Emily’s continued involvement in the clinical trial. Marshall Sim is soon arrested, as the toxicology tests have revealed that Roberta was drugged prior to her wrists being cut open. Emily is taken as a ward of the state. As they are taking her away Scully visits her, giving the girl her cross necklace and promising to see her soon. Going to visit Marshall where he’s being held, she sees the two dark-suited men leaving before discovering Marshall Sim dead in his cell. Back at her brother’s house, Bill shows Dana a picture of their sister that was mailed to him during her year in California. Less than a month before Emily’s birth date, Melissa Scully showed no sign of being pregnant. Dana, having applied for custody of the now-orphaned Emily, is visited by a social worker who tells her that her chances are slim considering her recent health issues, her high-risk occupation, and Emily’s special needs. Despairing, she receives a call from the office doing the DNA test, which informs her that Melissa was not in fact Emily’s mother. Dana is. Mulder arrives in San Diego and meets up with Scully at the children’s home where Emily is being kept. After observing Scully have a tender moment with the little girl, he tells her that Frohike searched the adoption records and found that Emily’s birth mother is recorded as Anna Fugazi. Fugazi being slang for “fake,” this would seem to present a dead end for them. At an adoption hearing, Mulder explains to the judge his theory that Emily is a product of an experiment performed on Scully during her abduction at the hands of a government conspiracy which staged the scenario to appear as a UFO abduction. Scully’s subtext screams “you’re not helping, asshole.” The judge seems to feel the same way. Scully receives another mysterious phone call which cuts off. The call originated from the children’s home. Rushing to Emily’s bedside, they find her suffering a high fever with a green cyst at the base of her neck. A nurse punctures the cyst with a needle, and is exposed to toxic fumes which incapacitate her. This is consistent with the agents’ experiences dealing with alien shape-shifters and the alien/human hybrids in the past. Visiting Dr. Calderon, Mulder gets unexpectedly physical with him when he refuses to surrender Emily’s medical records. He lets the doctor leave, but follows him to a facility. Inside, unseen by Mulder, he meets with the two dark-suited men who killed Marshall Sim. One of the men stabs Calderon in the base of the neck with one of those cool whooshy stiletto weapons. After the doctor has melted into a puddle of green goo, the two dark-suited men morph both morph into Dr. Calderon. Mulder sees one of them leave and follows. The other one goes to the hospital where Emily is being treated for a tumorous infection under Scully’s watchful eye. He sneaks into her room and injects her with some substance, then escapes by shape-shifting into someone else after Scully recognizes Calderon. She comes to the conclusion that Calderon is attempting to continue Emily’s treatments and that he killed her adoptive parents because they were attempting to cut off the treatments. Meanwhile, Mulder has followed his “Dr. Calderon” to a retirement home and meets an elderly woman named Anna Fugazzi. For real. Searching the records at the retirement home, Mulder finds names matching records of several recent births. All of the women were being treated by Dr. Calderon. One of them asks Mulder if he knows where the doctor is, because she would like to have her “beauty sleep” treatment. Mulder also finds medical records with Scully’s name on them and a live fetus in a temperature-controlled chamber. Attempting to find a proper treatment for Emily, Scully oversees her being placed in a hyperbaric chamber, but the girl’s physiology reacts severely to the treatment. Calderon arrives at the retirement center, and is confronted by Mulder and the recently-arrived Detective Kresge. Despite Mulder’s warnings against such action, Kresge opens fire on Calderon. The bullets cause the shape-shifter’s green blood to issue its incapacitating fumes, crippling the detective. Mulder escapes from the building before he can be overcome by the fumes. Arriving back at the hospital, Mulder finds Scully with a comatose Emily. Days pass and so does the girl. At Emily’s funeral in the hospital chapel, Mulder tells Scully that any evidence they may have been able to gather at the retirement facility has been either removed or destroyed. Emily’s body is the only evidence they have. Opening the casket, Scully finds sand bags have been placed inside. The cross necklace she had given Emily is atop them. While not the neatest of mythology-advancing arcs, this story shed light on some largely unanswered elements of the conspiracy. Not much explanation is offered regarding any whys or wherefores, but we now know that Scully’s abduction was part of the experiments in alien/human hybridization which has been hinted in previous arcs. Judging from this arc, it would seem that the female abductees’ ova were removed in order to be cross-pollinated with extraterrestrial DNA, placed in the uteri of elderly women to grow while the women were kept asleep until the fetuses were viable enough to survive outside of their hosts in flasks, where they would complete their growth until such time as they could be brought out into the world. Emily, while representing another innocent casualty in this global conspiracy (a theme we’ve explored ad nauseum in prior installments), is also a demarcation point revealing the frustrating instability of these experiments thus far. Why are these hybrids being made? Where does the urgency for this project arise from? Clearly, to be conducting this experimentation in such an aggressively clandestine manner would seem to denote some great urgency. What do these people (loose term) know that no one else does? See larger image The X-Files: Season 5 New From: $36.09 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.