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. S5E15: “Travelers” (w: John Shiban & Frank Spotnitz/d: William A. Graham) With Gillian busy in LA with final shots of Fight the Future, the show found another opportunity for a flashback. In fact, this time we’ll make it a double, with a flashback within a flashback. The framing story of this episode flashes back to 1990, when Mulder is still trying to figure out how to wear his new G-man haircut and he had yet to darken the door of the basement office. The flashback within the flashback takes us back to the McCarthy-era 50s and the first acknowledgment of the X-Files within the bureau. Chris Carter was finally granted one of his long-standing wishes with the casting of Darren McGavin, whose television character Kolchak could easily be considered the spiritual father of the show. Attempts had been made to cast him in featured roles before, but scheduling conflicts never allowed it to happen. His character, Arthur Dales has as his namesake the pseudonym for screenwriter Howard Dimsdale. He was one of the victims of the Hollywood Blacklist of the 50s, which tried to root out communist sympathizers, anti-establishmentarians, and anyone else the studios didn’t care much for from the entertainment industry. Dimsdale later became a teacher at the American Film Institute whom Shiban and Spotnitz studied under. This episode, with its undertones of the McCarthy hearings, was written as something of a tribute to their former teacher. It’s 1990, and a man named Edward Skur is shot by a police officer attempting to serve the old man an eviction notice. The officer had been exploring the house when he found a sort of deflated decaying body in the bathtub just before Skur attacked. With his dying breath, Skur hisses the name “Mulder.” Fox Mulder is currently assigned to the Bureau’s Behavioral Science Unit as a profiler and visits Arthur Dales. Dales was the reporting agent in the case that declared Skur dead back in 1952. Mulder believes Skur had some sort of dealings with his own father, and convinces Dales to tell him about his involvement in the case. Dales tells his story. In 1952, he and his partner were sent by J. Edgar himself to arrest Edward Skur as a Communist sympathizer. Once in custody, Skur apparently kills himself in his cell. Feeling responsible, Dales goes to Skur’s house to personally deliver the news to his wife and family, but can’t bring himself to go to the door. As he sits in his sedan filling his gut with liquid courage, he spots Edward Skur crossing the lawn toward his house. When he gets out of the car to question this impossibility, Skur puts up a fight. Some sort of segmented legs begin to emerge from Skur’s mouth, but a neighbor interrupts whatever is about to happen and Skur runs away. Dales’ boss orders him to change the report because reporting being attacked by a man in the alley behind his house the day after he killed himself essentially guarantees additional piles of paperwork. Dales alters his report, but doesn’t feel right about it. The agent and his partner are called to another crime scene, where Dales finds an invitation to a meeting at a bar. The message was left by State Department employee Bill Mulder, who tells him that Skur and two other men had been experimented upon, but that all of them have now killed themselves. He goes further to say that the people responsible for Skur’s death see Dales and his partner as being part of the program he’s trying to eliminate. Dales, worried for his partner’s safety, calls to warn him, but he is too late. Dales wants to launch an investigation, but his boss squelches it. A secretary directs Dales to a file in the unsolvable case file. Having run out of room in the “U” drawer, she had begun putting the unsolved ones into the “X” drawer, where there was lots of space. One file in particular details one of the other names Bill Mulder had mentioned as being part of a recent homicide case whose body was still in the morgue. Cutting open the body, the find some sort of spider-like parasitic creature hidden in the chest cavity. Dales goes back to the Skur house to warn Mrs. Skur that her husband is in danger from having this parasite inside his body. She runs to the backyard bomb shelter to talk to Skur, but the spider-thing gets the better of him and attacks his wife. Dales’ bosses at the FBI collude with people from the State Department (including Bill Mulder) to arrange for Dales to be locked in a room with Skur so their squeaky wheel can be oiled by an attack of Skur’s throat monster. Mulder and another State Department guy wait outside of the meeting place listening to the feed from the wire on Dales’ chest. Once Skur arrives, the State Department men wait outside until they think Dales’ is dead before proceeding inside. Much to their surprise, they enter the bar to find Dales standing triumphantly over a handcuffed Skur. Back in 1990, Mulder is struggling with his father’s involvement in such misdoings. Dales is unable to answer Mulder’s questions about how Skur had escaped all those years ago. But, thanks to the magic of flashback technology, we know that Bill Mulder had secretly granted Skur his freedom by giving him the keys to his car. What this boils down to is a fun diversion that could have certainly been explored in greater detail. The adventures of Arthur Dales developing a morbid fascination in those X-Files might have even held up as a midseason miniseries event, but no one was really doing that sort of thing in 1998. As it is, this sits on the fifth season schedule like a fun little oddity. The only truly disappointing thing about the episode is how little screen time McGavin scored. He has an excellent voice, and I would listen to him read a Volvo repair manual, but he has more to offer than simply sitting down to tell a story. Even if it is sort of a fun story. I can’t help but wonder if I’m the only one feeling the implication that the throat-spider creatures are some sort of forerunner to the modern, more efficient Black Oil virus. Then, is this case and its subsequent cover-up something of a precursor to the anti-colonization efforts going on in the present (of 1998). We might never know for sure… S5E16: “Mind’s Eye” (w: Tim Minear/d: Kim Manners) Lili Taylor, a fan of both the show and Gillian Anderson’s acting, surprised the producers by agreeing to appear in this episode. Taylor is a mainstay in independent cinema and has a reputation for careful selectivity with her roles. She was nominated for Emmy for her performance here. In fact, she shared her nominated category (Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series) with Veronica Cartwright for her role as Cassandra Spender. Disappointingly (for us X-Philes, at least), Cloris Leachman would win the category for her role as Aunt Mooster in the CBS drama Promised Land. It would be the first of two episodes written by Tim Minear before he was to be absorbed into the Whedonverse with Angel, Serenity, and Dollhouse. More recently, he has contributed significantly to American Horror Story. This was intended as an analysis of the concept of remote viewing, turning Audrey Hepburn’s character from Wait Until Dark (1967) from an innocent victim to an unsavory accomplice. Marty Glenn experiences a vision of a violent murder while in her apartment. Wilmington, Delaware police respond to a call to a hotel to find the man from Marty’s vision dead in the hotel bathroom. Marty is hiding in the shower holding a bloody sponge. The police realize that Marty is blind. Detective Pennock calls in Mulder and Scully as consultants, because of the unusual nature of the case. The victim was a low-level drug runner, and no one has been able to find any ties between him and the suspect. During questioning while hooked to a polygraph, Marty inadvertently reveals that she “saw” the murder happen, but refuses to respond to further questioning. At the crime scene, Scully exposes Pennock’s lack of detective skills when she finds a bloody glove in quite possibly the most obvious hiding place in the history of criminals hiding things. In her cell, Marty experiences a vision of a redhead in a bar being harassed. Demanding her phone call, she calls the Blarney Stone and asks the bartender to give the phone to the guy harassing the redhead at the end of the bar. One on the phone, she tells the man, whose name is Gotts, to leave the lady alone. The glove Scully found seems to fit Marty, and the detective is willing to draw up charges, but Mulder is unconvinced. Scully, putting her scientific inquiry hat on, suggests that an obvious explanation might be that Marty is faking her blindness. A medical examination confirms her blindness. Lacking anything other than circumstantial evidence, Marty is released from jail. On her way home, she experiences another vision. This time she sees through Gotts’ eyes as he attacks the redhead from the bar in an alleyway. Marty finds her way to the alley, but is too late for anything more than finding the woman’s body in a dumpster. She goes to the nearest police station and confesses to the murder. To sweeten the confession, Marty tells the detective where to find a case full of heroin that was stolen from the first victim. While the case is exactly where she said it would be, there is no sign of her fingerprints anywhere on or near it. Mulder takes the game directly to Marty at this point, professing his theory that her mother was killed by Gotts when she was pregnant with Marty and that her resulting blindness was an outcome of the blood loss due to having her kidney cut open. Blood testing indicates that Gotts is Marty’s father, and Mulder suggests that her ability to see through his eyes was somehow forged during his violent act before she was born. Up until a couple of weeks prior to these events, he had been sitting in a prison cell for Marty’s entire life. He was released on parole and disappeared. Marty tells Mulder and Scully to go to the Blarney Stone bar to find Gotts, and Detective Pennock takes her back to her apartment to pack a few things for her stint in protective custody. Mulder and Scully, as it turns out, have been sent on a fool’s errand. Unfortunately for Pennock, Marty wanted to have a few words with dear old dad. She kills the old man and is arrested for his murder. She is sent to prison, but is free of the visions of her pop’s violent life. This episode was a welcome return to form. Mulder pursued his own outlandish objectives while Scully proceeded in a more traditional investigative route. Both were valid pursuits, but in the end, Mulder’s instincts proved more effective than Scully’s procedures. While it’s good and proper to shake up the status quo occasionally, there is a relief to be had from a return to familiar territory. Ever since the earliest parts of this season, Mulder has been operating from such an unusual grounding that this first episode since the reestablishment of his tenets (considering last episode’s flashback status) felt like a breath of brisk Springtime air. S5E17: “All Souls” (w: Billy Brown & Dan Angel (story), Frank Spotnitz & John Shiban (teleplay)/d: Allen Coulter) It shouldn’t be surprising from watching this episode that John Shiban would go on to write multiple episodes of Supernatural. In its original form, as proposed by Brown and Angel (two of the show’s storyboard editors), the idea was to pit Mulder and Scully against an angel. Spotnitz and Shiban saw in it an opportunity to tack a coda of sorts on the season’s earlier two-parter “Christmas Carol” and “Emily.” When the episode was complete, they still felt it lacked the resonance they were attempting to build and added the framing sequence of Scully telling the story through a confessional window. A couple which coincidentally attends Scully’s church in Alexandria, Virginia is mourning the unusual death of their adoptive daughter when Father McCue asks Scully to talk to them about her death. Dara Kernof had been confined to a wheelchair due to severe physical and neurological challenges. Yet somehow, on the night of her death, her adoptive father watched her walk through the rain to bow in front of a dark figure. He saw a flash of light like lightning and when he reached his daughter, her eyes had been burned out and rigor mortis had frozen her in a kneeling prayer stance. Scully assists the local authorities in examining the body, revealing that extra fingers and toes had been surgically removed from Dara’s hands and feet. The medical examiner suggests that it was almost as if God had stricken down a mistake. Elsewhere, someone we will come to know as Father Gregory attempts to visit Paula Koklos in the institution where she is kept. Paula is identical to Dara, all the way down to the extra fingers and toes which, in Paula’s case, have not been removed. As Father Gregory is walking into Paula’s chamber, he is intercepted by a social worker named Aaron Starkey who tangles the priest in red tape so that he can’t visit the girl. Later, Paula is visited by the man from the street and she dies in the exact same manner as Dara. Mulder reveals that Paula was Dara’s twin sister. In fact, he uncovers the fact that Paula and Dara were merely one half of a set of quintuplets. It is his belief that because of the deaths of the first two that the other two must also be in danger. He sets to work trying to track them down. Scully discovers that Father Gregory had been on the verge of adopting Paula. The agents go to visit him at his rather unconventional church where he insists that he had only sought to protect the girl. While examining Paula’s body, Scully experiences a near-crippling vision of Emily, the little girl she had discovered to be her biological daughter earlier in the season. Mulder and Starkey go in search of a third sister in an abandoned building where the homeless girl had been spotted. They separate while they search for the girl, but the dark figure finds her first. She dies in another blinding flash of light. Mulder discovers Father Gregory lurking at the scene and accuses him of killing the girls. Gregory continues to profess his innocence, even as he is taken into custody. Interrogating Father Gregory gets them nowhere, and they leave the room. Soon after, Starkey steps into the interrogation room and reveals himself to be a demon. He attempts to acquire the location of the fourth sister from Father Gregory, but he refuses to talk. Father Gregory doesn’t make it out of the interrogation room. The dark figure reveals himself to Scully and is revealed as a four-faced Seraph, a sort of heavenly angel. He had descended to knock up a mortal woman with quintuplets. Apparently, the deformed daughters of a high-ranking angel have a certain amount of value for the demon side of the eternal conflict and the Seraph had been cleaning up his mess by sending his girls’ souls to Heaven before Starkey (who is a demon) could conscript any of them to his hometown recruitment drive. Not knowing any of this, Scully helps Starkey locate the fourth girl. As they are preparing to confront the girl, Scully notices that Starkey’s shadow has devil horns. Er, just let it play out, all right? She escapes demon-Starkey with the girl, but is intercepted by the Seraph. Scully lets the fourth quadruplet ascend into heaven with her attending angel, but before she can rise up, she is confronted with Emily’s ascent as well. This is how Scully finally able to say goodbye to her arguably immaculately-conceived daughter. While a clear departure from the meat and potatoes sci-fi of a typical X-Files episode (honestly, I kept waiting for Frank Black from Millennium to step out of the shadows), this episode stood confidently with some of the best Scully-centric episodes of the series. She travels through on a clear path of self-discovery, coming to grips with a grief she’s been bearing for several months. Her Catholicism aside, she almost certainly carries guilt for even feeling grief for this girl she barely knew yet for whose existence she feels inexplicably responsible. What right can she possibly claim to feel such sadness over the death of this girl she only knew for a few days before her death? Or could the source of her grief be because of the short time she had to know Emily? S5E18: “The Pine Bluff Variant” (w: John Shiban/d: Rob Bowman) Very often writers get these ideas that refuse to shake loose. They won’t go away, nor can they find a way to access them. For the entirety of this season, John Shiban had an index card on his desk that simply said “Mulder undercover.” A fan of John LeCarre’s Cold War spy fiction, Shiban set out to write his own “The Spy Who Came In From the Cold” with sprinklings of “North by Northwest” and even just a little bit of “Pulp Fiction.” With Mulder’s instability throughout the season so far, Frank Spotnitz agreed that this point in the season would make sense to throw the agent’s credibility into doubt. The title refers to a US government facility used primarily during the Cold War to develop and store biological weapons. It was located in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. Skinner is in charge of an undercover operation to catch Jacob Haley in a park near the Capitol building in DC. Haley is part of a militia group which calls itself the New Spartans. He hands an envelope to his contact, but the goateed man abruptly collapses and Haley runs for it. While Mulder pursues their target, other agents converge on the collapsed man in time to watch his flesh dissolve. Scully tries to assist Mulder, but is confused when she sees Mulder let Haley drive away in his car. She’s even more baffled when Mulder denies what she clearly saw. After examining the body of the goateed man, she determines that a biological agent was used, albeit one she can’t readily identify. Skinner explains that Haley in involved in a power struggle for control of the New Spartans with their current leader August Bremer. After a suspicious Scully follows Mulder to a meeting with Haley, Skinner and US Attorney Leamus have no choice but to bring her into the circle of people who know about Mulder’s true mission: a deep cover infiltration of the New Spartans. Haley had contacted Mulder after his anti-government tirade at the UFO conference at MIT (at the beginning of “Patient X” earlier this season), which the justice department felt to be an opportunity to infiltrate this group. Mulder is brought to New Spartan headquarters, where Haley vets his allegiance to their cause through torture. One broken finger later, Haley is convinced, Mulder is in pain, and the Skin-head doing the torture has developed a personal vendetta against their smart-mouthed newest member. Meanwhile, Bremer conducts another test of their flesh-eating toxin, this time at a movie theater in Ohio. If you ask me, the real horror of this scene is that these poor souls all passed while seeing “Die Hard with a Vengeance.” Oh, the humanity! Back at Mulder’s apartment, Scully splints his finger while they discuss the case. Unbeknownst to either of them, Bremer is outside with a laser microphone recording their conversation. Mulder joins the group as they don fright masks and rob a Federal Reserve bank. The robbery in itself is a cover so that Bremer can contaminate the cash reserves with the flesh-eating agent. Back at their headquarters, Bremer plays the tape of Mulder and Scully’s conversation, accusing Haley of bringing a spy into their group. Bremer and the skin-head escort Mulder and Haley away from the others, seemingly to execute them. Bremer instead gives Haley keys to a hidden car and banishes him from the group. He then turns his attention to Mulder, who is surprised when Bremer shoots the skin-head instead. After being let go, Mulder rushes back to the bank to warn them not to handle the contaminated money, but his partner has already figured out how the toxin was being transmitted and sealed the bank. The two agents confront US Attorney Leamus, accusing him of being complicit with Bremer in the domestic test of a biological weapon. Frustratingly, he informs them that protecting the public from the truth is their job. On a remote highway, Haley is dead in his car from the flesh-eating agent Bremer had put on the car keys. One of the things that make me a shamelessly dedicated X-Phile is the unprecedented malleability of this show. It is possible to tell nearly any type of story imaginable within the reality of this show, and that reality will flex to incorporate it. This episode was a procedural drama. While this exact same story could easily have been told on any other police drama or crime show on any other network at any time, this was an X-File. And because it was written as an X-Files episode, it became inextricably a part of the X-Files. While the basics of the story of the pathogen and the Federal Reserve heist and the deep cover agent getting in over his head while his concerned partner looks on, wondering whether he has turned might be the skeleton for some CSI or SVU or whatever alphabet soup drama the kids are watching these days, the fact is that this was Mulder in deep cover. And Scully was the concerned partner. The underlying dissonance between Duchovny and Anderson throughout this episode elevates the significance of this episode beyond a mere story of the week, making it yet another integral facet of their constantly-evolving partnership. S5E19: “Folie a Deux” (w: Vince Gilligan/d: Kim Manners) Remember earlier this season when I was debating whether Vince Gilligan was on board with the Mulder/Scully relationship? I wondered whether he was trying, particularly in an episode like “Bad Blood,” to demolish any hope of there ever being the possibility for romance. Well, strike all of that. Not only is Vince on board with the idea of it, he seems to have a better grasp of the dynamics of a relationship like the one that must be shared by two people like Mulder and Scully than Chris Carter himself. While there is nary a heart or rose to be found anywhere near this episode, it is nevertheless a study of the abnormal level of intimacy shared between these two characters. It’s a living, breathing thing that exists between them. It’s enough to make Skinner squirm just to be in the room with them. Duchovny and Anderson, by this point in the series, have become the masters of that synergistic chemistry that many shows seek so desperately to contrive. The title of this episode is a French term for “madness shared by two.” It’s a clinical diagnosis in which two people, intimate in some way and often feeling isolated from the rest of society find that they share a common delusion. Outside of Chicago, a telemarketing operator named Gary Lambert has grown convinced that his boss is an insectoid creature bent on making zombies of his colleagues. Just another day in the salt mines, am I right? After a taped manifesto mentioning Gary’s employer is sent to a Chicago radio station, Skinner asks Mulder and Scully to go out to do a routine threat assessment. On the tape, a man (later to be revealed as Lambert) claims that a monster is hiding in the light at the offices. Mulder dismisses Scully, telling her that he will handle alone what he perceives to be scuttle work. He does, however, ask her to go through the X-Files to see if she can find a reference to the phrase “hiding in the light,” as it rings a bell of recognition for him. Scully finds the reference from a case back in 1992. Several of the details of the case are strikingly similar to their current one. Enough that Mulder relents and agrees that he may need her help after all. While she is in transit, Mulder goes to the VinylRight office and steps into the middle of a hostage situation. Lambert has declared it “Bring Your AK-47 to Work Day” at the office. Scully arrives on the scene and arranges for a SWAT officer to enter the office disguised as a local news camera man. Speaking to the camera, Lambert accuses his boss of turning several of his coworkers into zombies, including the one that he shot and killed earlier during a scuffle. Mulder turns to Pincus and is surprised to see the insect creature Lambert had described. At that moment, the SWAT team moves in and kills Lambert, ending the hostage crisis. Back at the office, Mulder has mapped the cases of monsters “hiding in the light” against Pincus’ work history, and finds that Lambert’s claims may not have been entirely delusional. Scully accuses Mulder of folie a deux, sharing delusions with his captor. He asks her to perform an autopsy on the coworker who was killed during the hostage situation, but she refuses. Mulder goes back to Chicago. At Lambert’s apartment, he finds a map similar to the one he had made tracing Pincus’ jobs around the country. Looking out the window he sees another of Lambert’s coworker, her ghoulish face peering up at him. When he goes outside to question her, he sees her driving away with Pincus in the car. Curiouser and curiouser. Skinner confronts Scully about Mulder’s return to Chicago, and covering for him forces her to perform the autopsy she had told her partner she wouldn’t do. Her cursory examination seems to show that the body has been dead for at least a day longer than it should, based on the time of the shooting. Mulder has followed Pincus to the home of another VinylRight employee and breaks into the house when he sees the insect creature attacking the woman inside. The creature escapes, and the next morning the woman tells the authorities (including AD Skinner) that Mulder burst into her house waving his gun and screaming. As Pincus goads Mulder into increasingly erratic behavior, Skinner has no choice but to restrain and sedate his agent. Mulder asks Scully to look at the shooting victim again, this time looking for a puncture wound of some sort on the back of the neck. When she does, she finds a triangular wound at the base of the man’s neck. At the hospital where Mulder is being kept, he sees the creature outside of his window. Shouting for the nurse, he demands that she loosen his restraints so he can defend himself against the creature before realizing that the nurse has been insect zombified as well. The nurse opens the window and leaves the room. Scully attempts to visit Mulder, but the nurse refuses, citing the rules of visitation hours. As she argues, Scully sees the nurse as a zombie and rushes to Mulder’s side just in time to fire her gun at the insect creature crouching over her partner. Wounded, it leaps out of the window. Back at the FBI, Scully convinces Skinner that Mulder is fit for duty as he was a victim of an intruder in his room, and that his accuser has disappeared. By way of an explanation to Mulder, she says that there was a case of folie a deux, but never quite specifies who the deux were. Weeks later, at a telemarketing center in Missouri, one of the operators becomes nervously aware of an insect-like creature in his office. Things just don’t run as smoothly when Mulder and Scully are in one of their cooling off periods, do they? And, judging by the subtext between the two of them throughout this episode, things have become decidedly arctic. While a voyeuristic part of me would love to pick Chris Carter’s brain about the ups and downs of Mulder and Scully’s relationship, I just don’t see how that knowledge could seem germane to the story being told within the confines of this show. It’s important only in that it helps define the tone and timbre of the partnership that is the heart of the show, but that partnership is trapped within the tempest of a story which surrounds them, and there just isn’t an appropriate time to address these things in a traditionally defined way. We, as viewers, just have to content ourselves to ride along on their bumpy road and gather the crumbs we are given. The Truth is just a little too big for this show’s focus to turn into Ross and Rachael or Jim and Pam or Sam and Diane or Dawson and Joey or Crockett and Tubbs or somebody stop me I can’t shut it off. Ahem. There is most assuredly a shared madness on display here, and it only partially has to do with zombie-making insectoid monsters. S5E20: “The End” (w: Chris Carter/d: R.W. Goodwin) …Or at least, it was supposed to be the end. With the first feature set for release a few weeks after this episode aired, this was planned to have been the final episode of the television series. The next phase was to have been spun out into a series of feature films. However, the executives at Fox had other ideas. You see, there’s a problem with doing your job a little too well. The fifth season of the X-Files was not only the most-watched in the show’s history, it had grown to become one of the most faithfully-followed series on network television at the time and one of the Fox network’s highest-rated shows. So, it’s probably understandable that the network would want to hang onto a cash cow for as long as possible. They ordered a sixth season of the show. All of these things helped to make this finale one of the most momentous of the series. Sure, it was leading in to the feature film, but it also had to set the stage for season six and beyond. This episode introduced a couple of characters that would come to be very important. Agent Diana Fowley, for one, stands to serve as a spanner in the works for whatever state Mulder and Scully find their relationship. Gibson Praise would also prove an important recurring character for much of the rest of the series. This would be the last episode to be filmed in Vancouver, as production moved to Los Angeles for the sixth season. At an international chess tournament in Vancouver, a Russian grandmaster is proving less than successful against his opponent, a young American prodigy named Gibson Praise. In the rafters at the top of the stadium, one of the Syndicate’s men prepares his sniper rifle. Just as Praise claims checkmate, the gun fires, shooting the Russian in the chest. Back in Washington, Agent Jeffrey Spender has been assigned to the case. Having deliberately shut Mulder out of the investigation, Spender is vexed when he joins the briefing. Mulder calls the intent of the shooter into question, observing from the tape that Praise had moved unexpectedly just as the shot was fired. If not for that move, the bullet would have stopped in the back of the boy’s head instead of his opponent’s chest. Another agent attending the meeting, Diana Fowley, agrees with Mulder’s assessment, much to Spender’s chagrin. Meanwhile, Krychek, the new Syndicate lapdog, has retrieved Cigarette Smoking Man from his self-imposed exile in the Canadian wilderness to bring him to a meeting with the Syndicate. They need him to help with the Gibson Praise situation. Agent Fowley, who seems to have some sort of history with Mulder, accompanies Mulder and Scully as they visit Gibson Praise at the hospital where he’s being kept for observation. After a brief conversation, Mulder comes to the conclusion that Praise’s chess playing has less to do with strategic thinking and more to do with the fact that his mind-reading ability allows him to know what his opponent is thinking. Mulder visits the shooter next, who was captured after the Russian was shot. He offers the man immunity if he can give up information about his employers. He doesn’t take the deal, but regrets it after Mulder leaves and one of the guards passes him a threatening note written on a Morley cigarette wrapper. Scully and Fowley look on as Praise gives a stunning demonstration of his brain powers to a group of doctors. Scully makes an excuse to visit the Lone Gunmen, where she asks them if they know anything about Agent Fowley. They tell her that she and Mulder were sort of an item back when he first discovered the X-Files, but are otherwise rather dodgy about the details. And here’s where something interesting occurs to me. In the two flashback episodes this season (“Unusual Suspects” and “Travelers”), Duchovny chose to wear his wedding band during his scenes. We all know that this was mostly Duchovny using his recent marriage to Tea Leoni as an opportunity to tug the collective leash of the fans on the internet whose hyper-scrutiny was a source of bemused consternation for him. But what if we consider for a moment just how significant Diana Fowley might actually be. His discovery of the X-Files would have fallen during this period a few years prior to Scully’s new assignment in the fall of 1993. “Unusual Suspects” and “Travelers” take place in 1989 and 1990, respectively. Merits some consideration, doesn’t it? Back in the present, Mulder has reached the conclusion that Gibson is the key to everything in the X-Files, a sort of Rosetta Stone and missing link all rolled into a tidy little Cousin Oliver-shaped package. Mulder is convinced that the shooter knows more about Gibson and wants to make the deal, but Skinner and Scully are convinced that such a deal would make the X-Files too vulnerable to the Attorney General, who already is pushing to shut down the X-Files project. Spender has a conversation with Cancer Man, but the older man leaves as soon as he realizes that he’s been spotted by Mulder, who has emerged from the other end of the parking garage. Spender claims to not know the man. Mulder believes that Gibson Praise is a sort of missing link between humanity and everything he’s been pursuing for the past five years. He thinks the boy has active genes that are dormant in the rest of us and that the shooter is the only material witness they have that can corroborate his claims. Unfortunately, the guard shoots the shooter, leaving a Morley cigarette wrapper in the cell with him. At the same time, Agent Fowley is shot while watching over Gibson in the safe house where they are keeping him. CSM’s men converge on the site and take Gibson, turning the boy over to the Syndicate. After a furious Mulder accuses Spender of working with CSM, Skinner informs him and Scully that the Justice Department is planning to use the death of the shooter as leverage to bring the X-Files project under scrutiny with a plan to eradicate it once and for all. Late that night, CSM enters the basement office, removes Samantha Mulder’s file from the rest of the X-Files, then plays his checkmate move by dropping his let cigarette to the file drawers. On his way out of the building, he sows one more bit of discord by confronting Agent Spender in the hallway to tell him that he is his father. By the time Mulder and Scully arrive on the scene, the X-Files (and most of the office) have been destroyed in the fire. The closing shot of this episode says it all. It’s a gorgeous crane shot, lifting up and out of the ruined office. As the fire crews tromp through the wet muck on the floor, red and blue lights flash from outside the high windows, and water drips from the ceiling, Mulder and Scully stand together in a defiant embrace. Only by standing together will they ever hope to withstand the strong-as-nature forces buffeting them. Mulder’s devastation at his loss is balanced by Scully’s strength and determination. Everything else may fall away into oblivion, but as long as their partnership stands, no one may stand against them. It is a cinematic hero shot in every sense of the word. 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.