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. S5E8: “Kitsunegari” (w: Vince Gilligan & Tim Minear/d: Daniel Sackheim) When Tim Minear set out to write an episode about a man acting upon orders from the voice of God to kill, Frank Spotnitz suggested that elements of the story could work just as well as a revisitation of Robert Patrick Modell, the villain from the third season episode “Pusher.” Minear sought out assistance from that episode’s writer Vince Gilligan, and thus was a sequel born. The title, as is pointed out in the episode, translates from Japanese as “fox hunt.” In a maximum security prison hospital in Lorton, Virginia Robert Patrick Modell is still recovering from the gunshot wound he suffered during his capture two years earlier. Having awakened suddenly from a coma, he had begun physical therapy sessions to help him regain his ability to walk. The problem with this development is that he manages to use that newly-recovered mobility to walk out of the prison after putting his particular brand of whammy on the attending guard. Robert Patrick Modell, you’ll remember, has the ability to force his considerable will on people using only the power of his voice. Assistant Director Skinner spearheads the Federal Marshalls in the hunt, putting Mulder and Scully on point in the search effort. Modell calls the prison demanding to speak to Mulder. As Modell tries to gain control of his nemesis, the call is successfully traced and Mulder hangs up before he can succumb to the caller’s voice. The call has come from the home of Nathan Bowman, who served as the prosecuting attorney at Modell’s trial. Bowman’s body is found sitting upright on the sofa covered in cerulean blue paint. The same paint has been used to write the words “fox hunt” in Japanese characters all over the walls of the room. They attempt to contact Nathan’s wife Linda at the real estate office where she works, but the office informs them that she is meeting a prospective buyer named Fox Mulder at a commercial property. Officers are sent ahead to the property, but they are unable to resist his powers and he escapes them. Linda Bowman arrives shortly after the agents and is surprised to hear of her husband’s fate. She says that he had spoken often of Modell, as it was the biggest case of his career. Mulder searches a nearby warehouse and encounters Modell, but he gets to him and walks away. The agent is puzzled by the shift in Modell’s tactics; he is not behaving in a way which matches his profile. In the past, he would have simply commanded Mulder to shoot himself. Scully thinks that the brain tumor they learned about during their first encounter with him might be limiting the use of his abilities. After a suspicious interview with Bowman’s wife, Mulder begins to believe that she is the one doing the killing, somehow utilizing the same powers as Modell. Skinner suspends Mulder, ordering him to return home until he can determine that his judgement has not been compromised by their fugitive. Nonplussed, Mulder goes back to Modell’s physical therapist to show her a picture of Linda, asking if she had ever visited Modell. Just as she’s about to look at the photograph, the telephone rings. As she talks on the phone, she grabs the wires in the nearby junction box, electrocuting herself in front of Mulder. Modell arrives at the FBI safe house where Skinner is protecting Linda. Skinner bursts into the room where the two of them are talking, but Modell convinces Skinner that he is holding a pistol, causing the assistant director to shoot Modell in the shoulder. Mulder rushes to the hospital to speak with Modell. A nurse interrupts them, saying that she needs to change the patient’s bandages. After Mulder steps out of the room, we are able to see that the nurse is actually Linda Modell wearing a paper tag with the word “NURSE” written on it. Using the same ability as Modell, she talks him into letting his heart stop. Following a clue left behind in the hospital room of the now-deceased Robert Patrick Modell, Mulder rushes to a warehouse facility. Entering, he finds Scully pointing her gun at him, telling him that she is under Linda’s control. As he watches, she turns the gun on herself and puts a bullet through her brain. Desperately, Mulder spins to see Linda approaching him from behind. However, the woman in front of him tells him to put his gun down, claiming to be Scully. After a moment, she fires her gun past Mulder, hitting the real Linda standing near where he had seen Scully fall. As they file their final report, Scully explains that Linda Bowman and Robert Modell were fraternal twins separated at birth. She suffered the same temporal lobe tumor as her brother, which may account for the activation of her abilities. In the end, Mulder feels as if his nearly shooting his partner is an indication that he lost the game she had drawn him into. Arriving at this phrase reportedly took two Japanese translators, because hunting foxes is not a part of Japanese culture, so there wasn’t exactly a known word for it. This is just speculation on the part of this writer, but knowing the trickery of foxes in Japanese folklore, the very idea of hunting them would likely be considered a foolhardy thing to attempt. What’s fascinating about this episode is that Mulder, that trickster, is underestimated repeatedly by friend and foe alike. But up until the very end when Scully was forced to override his perceptions, he was continually one step ahead of everyone else on this case. This is a rewarding reminder of one of the basic tenets established at the beginning of the show. Namely, no one should ever discount Mulder’s instincts. He very nearly always has a better handle on any given situation than anyone else in the room. S5E9: “Schizonegy” (w: Jessica Scott & Mike Wollaeger/d: Ralph Hemecker) It would come to be known as the killer tree episode. In their first outing as staff writers, Scott and Wollaeger rather ambitiously attempted to tackle a story dealing with abuse and nature stepping up in defense of the defenseless. The resulting product was instead sort of a confused “Revenge of the Lorax” scenario with teen angst. In the small town of Coats Grove, Michigan, a teen is being hassled by his step-father over the completion of his chores. Bobby runs away into the family’s orchard and Phil chases him. By the time mom catches up to them, stepfather Phil is half-buried and suffocated in the mud of the orchard while Bobby kneels over him, terrified. Upon their arrival, Scully immediately concludes that Bobby likely dug a pit as an act of premeditation and led his step-father to fall into it. Patti, the mother, describes the scene differently, insisting that Bobby was trying to pull her husband from the mud when she arrived. She admits that Bobby had been undergoing anger management therapy with a local woman. The agents visit therapist Karin Matthews who tells them of Bobby’s physical abuse at the hand of Phil. The next day at school, Bobby talks to his friend Lisa, advising her to stand up to her overbearing father the way he had stood up to Phil. He drives her home, where her father confronts her and demands that she stay away from Bobby. As he is arguing with her, a tree limb bursts through the window, wrapping itself around her father’s throat. The next morning, he is found on the ground outside the second story window. The general consensus is that he was pushed out of the broken window, but Mulder notes that the glass is on the floor inside the bedroom, not out on the ground as would be the case had he crashed outward. They will learn that Lisa is also one of Karin Matthews’ patients. They match a splinter of wood in Lisa’s father’s neck with the tree outside her window because that’s the sort of clever thing they do. Outside, the agents are approached by someone named Ramirez, who speaks for the trees. He tells them that the trees are dying because of a “very bad man.” He never explicitly says anything about the Once-ler or Thneeds, but it’s dangling there like ripe fruit. Karin invites Lisa to stay with her while they wait for her aunt to come get her, but she proves to be a pretty terrible host when she locks her in the basement with someone’s skeletal remains. Mulder discovers that Karin’s father had been found dead in an orchard mud pit twenty years earlier. Ramirez appears again to inform Mulder that Karin’s father’s death had signaled the end of a blight on the trees similar to the one happening now. And then he fades back into his stump to pick nits from Barbaloot bums or something. Why aren’t the agent’s the least bit suspicious of this guy wandering around the orchard with an axe? Just wondering. Once again playing What Would Sherlock Do?, Mulder and Scully illegally desecrate the grave of Karin’s father, only to find his body gone and replaced by tree roots. Lisa’s aunt arrives at Karin’s only to be turned away at the front door by her niece’s therapist (which isn’t suspicious at all). On her way back to the car, Aunt Linda hears Lisa yelling from the basement window, but when she goes to the window to talk to her, the trees sway menacingly and Aunt Linda’s face is pushed through the glass, killing her. Oh, and Karin has Dissociative Personality Disorder and sometimes talks like the guy from Silence of the Lambs. I don’t know. It’s almost over. Mulder and Scully explore Karin’s house, finding her father’s bones in the basement where the roots had placed them. Then they find Lisa in the kitchen upstairs. How they missed her on the way to the basement is an X-File in and of itself. Anyway, Karin goes to find Bobby with the possible motive to… Nah, I’m not really sure why she has turned against the kids she was protecting, actually. She chases Bobby into the orchard where the ground tries to swallow him, but Mulder arrives and tries to rescue Bobby. Mulder finds himself being dragged underground as well. He tries to convince Karin to fight her father’s voice in her head, but it becomes a moot point as Ramirez appears behind her and decapitates her with his axe. Mulder and Bobby are freed from the force that was dragging them underground and Ramirez disappears back into the orchard. This writer can neither confirm nor deny the existence of a bloody stone with the word “Unless” left in the center of the orchard. I got nothing here. Even at the height of the show’s creativity, it was possible for the odd clunker to sneak through. The concept wasn’t terrible, the themes were intriguing, and the visual hooks were promising, but this episode just couldn’t quite pull it all together. The result was an hour that ended up as muddy as Mulder’s suit. S5E10: “Chinga” (w: Stephen King & Chris Carter/d: Kim Manners) It’s easy for your expectations to run away with you when you see Stephen King’s name under the “written by” card at the beginning of this episode. The all-time bestselling horror novelist penning an episode of the X-Files should be a home run, right? He was a fan of the show and actually requested to write an episode, then changed his mind and said he wanted to write an episode of Millennium instead, then changed his mind again and decided to do an X-File. Reportedly, Chris Carter was unhappy with the way he wrote Mulder and Scully and took the teleplay through enough of a rewrite process to merit his name being added as co-writer. Melissa Turner just needed some groceries. She takes her daughter Polly and her doll named Chinga into the market, where they are met with fearful stares. Polly, sensing the tension around them, demands to leave. Chinga’s eyes open and the doll asks to play. As Melissa runs from the store with her daughter, the other people in the store break into chaos. Scully is taking a weekend off in the small coastal town of Amma Beach, Maine and enters the store just after Melissa leaves. The people inside are all suffering seemingly self-inflicted injuries from clawing at their own eyes. What’s more, the butcher appears to have stabbed himself in the eye. Once the local authorities arrive, she calls Mulder to consult him about the carnage she has stumbled into. He suggests witchcraft. Lending assistance to the police, Scully examines the surveillance tapes from the store. They show Melissa and her daughter exiting the store, the only ones unaffected by whatever has caused the outbreak. The chief tells Scully that Melissa Turner is thought of in the community as a witch. Officer Riggs goes to Melissa to warn her that the chief would be coming to see her. Melissa warns Riggs to stay away from her and Polly. Scully and Chief Bonsaint visit the Turner home, but no one is there. He tells Scully of Melissa’s fisherman husband who was killed in a bizarre fishing accident when a hook from the fishing boat’s winch was driven through his skull. Riggs meets Melissa and Polly (and Chinga) in an ice cream shop and gives them the key to a cabin he owns so that she can get out of town for a while. While the grown-ups talk, Polly asks the girl behind the counter for more cherries for her ice cream. After rudely refusing the girl’s request, the worker’s pony tail finds its way into the mechanism of the milkshake machine, nearly killing her. Chief Bonsaint and Scully go to interview the woman in charge of a day care where Polly had previously attended, who tells them that she believes Melissa to be descended from a line of local witches. Later, when she’s alone, an enlarged version of Chinga visits the woman, forcing her to slit her own throat using a broken 45 record. Mulder calls Scully with a surprisingly scientific explanation for the events at the supermarket, but she is doubtful. Back at home, Melissa has reached the end of her rope and decides to burn the house down with her, her daughter, and the evil doll inside. Chinga appears to blow out the matches as she lights them, preventing her from setting the fire. She then forces Melissa to pick up a hammer and begin bashing herself in the head with it. At that moment, Scully and Bonsaint arrive and burst in. Scully grabs Chinga and melts the doll in the kitchen microwave. As this happens, Melissa is released from the doll’s influence and drops the hammer. Later, a fisherman pulls the burnt doll out of a lobster trap, starting the cycle all over again. Director Kim Manners has said that while he was incredibly excited to direct a Stephen King script, in the end he couldn’t help but feel like he was working with a script that was more indelibly Carter. It’s easy to see the framework of a typical King short story here, but the end product was somewhat uneven and slightly clunky. It’s not a bad X-File, leaning a bit heavier on the blood and gore than a typical episode (which is sort of a fun turn), and it’s a really nice showcase for the viewer to mark just how far Scully has come with her openness to the kooky spooky stuff. But, truth be told, in my heart of hearts, I would have rather seen a King-written Millenium episode. S5E11: “Kill Switch” (w: William Gibson & Tom Maddox/d: Rob Bowman) What happens when you put two of the trailblazers of the cyberpunk movement of science fiction on the task of crafting an episode of the X-Files? You get one of the best stand-alone episodes of an impressively strong fifth season. You get a story that serves as a harbinger of projects like Steig Larsson’s books, the Wachowskis’ opus, and even a fan-favorite character on Supernatural. I would never say that Lisbeth Salander (the titular girl with the dragon tattoo), Trinity (Neo’s squeeze), or Charlie Bradbury (RIP, dammit) were in any way directly inspired by Invisigoth, any more than I would say Invisigoth was a ripoff of Pris from Blade Runner just because they seem to have had the same book on eye makeup application. But in early 1998, the idea of a hacker was still working its way into the mainstream and this episode might have been a bit more to chew on than the typical viewer was prepared for. It had the dubious distinction of being the single most expensive hour the X-Files had yet produced, with munitions and robotic special effects contributing heavily to that budget overrun. A man sits at a seemingly-homemade laptop in a diner in Washington, DC. He is repeatedly denied access to whatever mysterious file(s) he’s trying to access. While he works through his frustration and another cup of coffee, a strange phone chain is going around the metro area, in which a voice is telling various drug dealers that their rivals are currently at the diner. Two US Marshals get the same anonymous call, telling them that a man they’re looking for is having a late night cup of joe as well. The all converge at about the same time, with the lawmen arriving last to ignite the powder keg. In the ensuing shootout, nearly everyone in the diner (including the guy at the computer) is killed. Mulder and Scully are called to the scene to identify some of the dealers, but Mulder is more interested in identifying David Gelman, a Silicon Valley pioneer he describes as having practically invented the internet and was reportedly determined to be the first to create artificial intelligence. Mulder takes the laptop from the crime scene. Inside, he finds a disc which, when played in the car’s stereo, plays the Platters’ “Twilight Time.” They take the disc to the Lone Gunmen, who find loads of data on it, but can’t break the encryption. Scully suggests checking Gelman’s email, which helps them to find someone using the handle Invisigoth who had sent Gelman a message to inform him that someone named David was missing. Invisigoth, it turns out, is operating out of a computer lab hidden inside of a large shipping container and tries to run when the agents find her. As they question her, a top-secret Defense Department satellite pinpoints the location of the container. The agents and Invisigoth barely escape the shipyard before a laser rips through the night and destroys the lab. Invisigoth’s real name is Esther. She tells them that Gelman had succeeded in creating an artificial intelligence, but that it had become hostile. Gelman was working on a program called “Kill Switch” that would destroy the AI, but that same AI had engineered the elaborate flurry of phone calls the previous evening which had in turn caused Gelman’s death. The good news is that the disc the Lone Gunmen had been poring over earlier contained that Kill Switch program. The bad news is that they have to find the geographic location of the AI’s central computer. Esther’s friend David might have known its location, but (the really bad news) he’s the missing person she had emailed Gelman about earlier. Mulder uses a government contact to locate a disarmingly broken-down trailer in rural Virginia with a T3 line running into it. Scully and Esther go to David’s house, only to find it obliterated in such a way to suggest that the Death Star ray that destroyed Invisigoth’s workstation was responsible. She admits to Scully that she and David were having an affair and planned to express their undying commitment to each other by loading their consciousnesses into the AI computer. You know, the way foolish kids in love do these days. Mulder gets into the trailer to find the mummified remains of David hooked up to H.R. Giger’s stereo system. Apparently, David wanted to go on ahead of Esther, look for an apartment, buy some plants, get things ready for her, you know? Before he can react, the AI captures Mulder and sends him into a virtual reality experience that could only be generated by his particular blend of paranoia and pornography as a cackling, creepy old doctor and several of Larry Flynt’s personal medical care providers begin alternating the amputation of some of his body parts with the gratification of other body parts. They want to know the location of the Kill Switch, but Mulder isn’t talking. After a while, Scully enters the Matrix of Mulder’s personal construct and kung-fus all of the porno nurses into 8-bit oblivion before pixillating out of Mulder’s dream-state. Back in the real world, Scully and Esther find the trailer. The former frees her partner and the latter installs the Kill Switch before strapping herself into a mechanism similar to the one David’s body died on. Mulder and Scully escape the trailer before fiery death can rain down from above, but Esther has remained inside, presumably having uploaded her consciousness into the AI before its destruction. The episode ends with a similar trailer in Nebraska, its exterior cameras monitoring the activity of a child approaching it to retrieve a ball. Make no mistake: William Gibson and Tom Maddox are visionaries. Of all the episodes it has been my pleasure to revisit for this survey, this might just have been the most rewarding thus far. As X-Files episodes go, it is so much more than merely “Ghost in the Machine 2.0,” even though the most simplistic synopsis of the story sounds similar to the first season AI-defending-itself-against-its-creator episode. This puts Mulder and Scully in the middle of a murder mystery that is completely beyond their capacity to comprehend. Scully is irritated through much of the case, as the particular sort of science she typically relies upon to guide her has become useless. Similarly, Mulder’s profiling skills and knowledge of the supernatural are unable to bring them closer to solving the case. It’s big and blowsy and technical without getting buried in jargon. It’s a post-modern murder mystery explosive sci-fi thriller of an hour. I ask you: how could any of that be bad? Gibson and Maddox will reunite for another episode in the seventh season (“First Person Shooter”), and this writer is frankly thrilled at having the opportunity to rediscover it. S5E12: “Bad Blood” (w: Vince Gilligan/d: Cliff Bole) What’s sort of surprising is the source of inspiration for this episode. Personally, I had always assumed this was Vince Gilligan’s hat-tip to Kurosawa’s classic Rashomon. The differing, occasionally contradicting accounting of the same situation, with each filling gaps in the other’s story bore enough similarity to the story of three strangers exchanging stories while seeking refuge from a rain storm only to realize that they were all telling the same story, only from each one’s individual viewpoints. It’s a fascinating exploration of human perception and communication, as is this episode. Instead of a sheltering pagoda during a rain storm, our story tellers are huddled in a basement office awaiting the storm of a professional review panel. Rather than strangers, the story is being told by two people who are as close as two human beings can possibly be, yet their remembrance of details and perception of each other falls into comic discrepancy. Of course, as is typically the case, the truth resided somewhere between the two versions of events. It all seems like a fairly clear-cut homage, right? As it turns out, it was developed in reference to a classic. Just not the one I thought. It seems Vince Gilligan (with an inspirational assist from Frank Spotnitz) based this script on the Dick Van Dyke Show episode “The Night the Roof Fell In,” during which Rob and Laura tell wildly different versions of a fight they had. Huh. Of course, the other truly notable element of this episode is its guest star. Luke Wilson ambles easily into the role of the local Texas constabulary in the series’ finest “Helpful Townie” performance. It’s an honorable list, Sheriff Hartwell. You’ve barely edged out Ray the sewage plant foreman from “The Host” and Emil the friendly stoner from “Deep Throat” to win the top honor. We offer our congratulations. In the small town of Cheney, Texas, a young man is being chased through the woods by a dark-clad assailant. Terrified, he is overtaken and murdered when Mulder pounds a wooden stake through his chest. Scully approaches the scene through the woods, alarming Mulder with the realization that young man’s vampire teeth were nothing more than dentures inserted over his perfectly normal human teeth. I’ll say it for you, Agent. Oh, shit. The next day Mulder and Scully are facing extensive questioning from Assistant Director Skinner, professional sanctions from the over four hundred million dollar lawsuit being brought against the bureau and possible prison time for their negligence and Mulder’s act of murder. As they await the initial interview with Skinner, they decide to make sure that their stories are straight. Scully goes first. Her account paints Mulder with a decidedly manic brushstroke as he exuberantly relates the background of the case of cattle mutilations and a dead human in Texas. He’s positively giddy at the prospect of vampiric activity and whisks her away to the Lone Star State. Upon their arrival in Cheney, they are greeted by Sheriff Hartwell, who Scully finds to be dripping with classic Texas charm. They examine the body together, with the sheriff taking special interest in Scully’s insight. Mulder flips his lid over the corpse’s untied shoes, but won’t explain why. While Mulder and Hartwell pursue another end of the investigation, Scully conducts an autopsy. She notes the stomach contents which indicate that the victim’s last meal was pizza. Hungry and tired, she returns to her hotel room and orders a pizza, just in time for Mulder to arrive. Tracking mud all over her room, he sends her back to the coroner’s office to perform another autopsy. She reluctantly leaves the hotel just as her pizza delivery pulls up to the door. When the second autopsy reveals the new victim’s last meal to have been pizza, she quickly connects the dots and rushes back to the hotel to find a drugged Mulder at the mercy of Ronnie, the pizza delivery guy. She fires two shots at Ronnie, but he escapes past her and runs into the woods. Mulder recovers from the drug and catches him in the woods. By the time she catches up to the two of them, Mulder has already hammered the stake through Ronnie’s heart. Mulder then tells Scully his own interpretation of events. While many of the details remain the same, Mulder sees himself as being much more sensitive than Scully remembers. Scully would seem to have arrived at the office without her morning coffee. Once in Texas, Mulder’s version of Sheriff Hartwell is much less southern charm and more buck-toothed hayseed, although Scully’s fascination with the sheriff borders on professional distraction. While she stays behind to perform the autopsy on the victim, Mulder and Hartwell go to the local graveyard where Mulder explains the differences within various vampire folklores to the sheriff. They get a call about a situation at an RV park and go to find a second victim inside of a runaway RV (after it runs out of gas and stops driving in circles). Mulder goes back to the hotel, suffering a verbal onslaught from Scully before being drugged and attacked by the pizza guy. As Ronnie prepares to attack him, Scully enters and shoots him squarely in the chest before he leaps like a flying squirrel to escape out the door. Mulder recovers from the drugs and gives chase, resulting in the scene we all came in on. Sitting in the office, both agents resign themselves to the fact that neither of their stories is particularly believable. Back in Texas, the coroner removes the wooden stake from Ronnie’s chest so that he can perform the autopsy. While his back is turned, Ronnie sits up on the gurney and attacks the older gentleman. Sadly, without his fake fangs, all he can do is gnaw on his victim, which proves far less effective. As a result of this development, Skinner steps into the X-Files office to tell his agents that he’s sending them back to Texas. They meet up with Sheriff Hartwell while touring the cemetery. Mulder pulls a dick move and all but orders Scully to sit at the cemetery to make out with Sheriff Hartwell while he goes to the RV park. At the cemetery, Sheriff Hartwell reveals himself as a vampire to Scully as she passes out from whatever he put in her coffee. Mulder experiences a similar situation back at the RV park when he is attacked by a horde of trailer park vampires and loses consciousness. The next moment, both agents reunite unharmed, but the entire RV park has evacuated, the vampire gypsy colony having moved on down the road. Dear Vince Gilligan: You were just never a shipper, were you? I get it, man. I wasn’t much of one myself until I watched the first several seasons the second time around. Each time after that viewing, my initial convictions of Scully’s role to Mulder as being likened to some sort of surrogate to his long-lost sister Samantha grew faint and I grew resigned to the indisputable fact that the two agents are gettin’ it on. But it’s all so far under the radar of the series at large (at least for another couple of seasons), that it’s easy to dismiss. Vince, I know you were privy to the forbidden knowledge of their union, but your episodes very often had a tendency to go to great lengths to drive a stake between the two of them (see what I did there? I have my own fun). On the other hand, maybe you understood Mulder and Scully’s couples’ dynamic better than just about anyone else on the writing staff. Looking back, these tete-a-tete episodes really only served to deepen the Burton/Taylor, Hepburn/Tracy aspects of their romance. But in the moment of watching it, it still sort of feels like you’re doing your damnedest to destroy whatever they might have developed over the first four and a half seasons. S5E13: “Patient X” (w: Chris Carter & Frank Spotnitz/d: Kim Manners)/S5E14: “The Red and the Black” (w: Chris Carter & Frank Spotnitz/d: Chris Carter) This is essentially the official lead-in to the first X-Files feature film (which would premiere just a couple of months later), and Carter and company pulled out all the stops. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, is a part of these proceedings. In addition to the advancement of the series’ mythology, these two episodes introduced two characters that would prove very important as time passes. Veronica Cartwright is Cassandra Spender, likely named for the mythical Cassandra the luckless prophet whose predictions no one would ever believe. She was nominated for an Emmy for this performance, by the way. We also meet her son Agent Jeffrey Spender, portrayed by Chris Owens, who had been on the show several times as a young Cancer Man (“Musings of a Cigarette-Smoking Man” and “Demons”) and the Great Mutato earlier this season in “The Post-Modern Prometheus.” Reportedly, Chris Carter found Owens in a Vancouver bar and after a conversation invented the character of Geoffrey Spender just for him. The second part of this story, “The Red and the Black,” sported the opening credit tagline “Resist of Serve.” Two boys in Kazakhstan watch as an erratically-moving blue light descends into a wooded area. Excitedly pronouncing that “they’re back,” they run toward the UFO to tell their parents. When they get over the rise, they find carnage. The gathered people and all of their vehicles have been burned alive. The boys run away, but one of them is caught and erupts in flame. The next morning, the other boy, named Dmitri, is found by none other than Alex Krychek and his roving gang of Russian UFO hunters. Taking the teen into custody, Krychek continues to the site of the gathering and confronts Marita Covarrubias and her team of UN troops, who are investigating the site. Krychek tells her to let her bosses (the syndicate, not the UN) know that “it is all going to hell”. Meanwhile, Mulder is sitting on a panel at a conference at MIT about extraterrestrial life. The panel presents a video of Cassandra Spender, a self-described multiple abductee who believes that her experiences have been preparing her for a new age of interplanetary cooperation. Mulder, on the other hand, dismisses her testimony and proposes his own newly-minted convictions that the government has been secretly testing the development of biological agents on its own people and wrapping its activity in wild tales of curious visitors from beyond the stars. Mulder really doesn’t know how to play to an audience, does he? Afterwards, he is meets Dr. Heitz Werber, the man whose hypno-regression therapy had helped him to recover memories of the night of his sister’s abduction several years earlier. He is surprised by Mulder’s turn of conviction, but still asks him to meet with his new patient, Cassandra Spender. Out of respect for the doctor, Mulder agrees to the meeting. Cassandra tells him that the aliens who abducted her are in the middle of some sort of upheaval and she can feel an urge building inside of her to go to them. Mulder respectfully dismisses her, saying there’s nothing he can do to help her. Back in Russia, Krychek has been trying to get a story out of Dmitri about the night of the Kazakh mini-holocaust. Having wrung him out for information, he orders that the boy be subjected to the Black Oil virus. He then kidnaps the boy, sewing his eyes, nose, and mouth shut to keep the virus from getting out and smuggles him about a freighter bound for the US. At FBI headquarters, Scully is confronted by another agent named Jeffrey Spender. Cassandra is his mother and, embarrassed by what he perceives as her eccentricities, asks her to help him keep Mulder away from her so his professional reputation isn’t risked. Marita relays Krychek’s message to the Syndicate, who are surprised at the alien colonists’ revised timetable. Their intel had suggested a date in 2012, but here it’s only 1998. Don’t you hate when guests arrive early? Krychek calls to tell them that he has Dmitri and will offer him and all of his information in exchange for their research on the Black Oil vaccine. While they consider his offer, Scully talks to Mulder about his conversation with Cassandra Spender. As he tells her Cassandra’s story, Scully begins to realize that her experience has a great deal in common with her own. So much so that Scully determines to pay a visit to her. Cassandra seems to recognize Scully as soon as she enters as a fellow abductee. When Scully warns her not to remove her implant, she assures the agent that she would never dream of doing so, since she’s awaiting the call to be taken back by her abductors. Meanwhile, a raging party seems to be developing at the top of Skyland Mountain in Virginia (remember, the site of Scully’s abduction three years ago). As one driver reaches the peak where the other cars are parked, a man comes running toward his car. As he watches, a large alien with no facial features touches the man with some sort of metal prod. The man bursts into flames. Then the faceless alien turns to the guy in the car. The next day, Mulder and Scully inspect the scene. There are no survivors. The agents reverse roles, as Scully sees no possible Earthly scientific explanation for what they are seeing. She is inclined to believe Cassandra Spender’s story, especially since she can relate so personally to it. Mulder still thinks this is part of a culling perpetuated by the government using experimental weaponry. Back in New York, the Syndicate believes the Skyland massacre to be a direct assault on their work and send their man (the credits call him Quiet Willy, but I don’t know that anyone ever calls him that on the show; of course, two of the other men in the same room are credited as The Well-Manicured Man and The First Elder, so I guess we’ll just leave them all nameless). In New York harbor, Marita Covarrubias meets with Krychek in the belly of the Russian frigate. While they play a round of Jack and Rose before the iceberg, someone enters the ship and takes Dmitri. Soon after, the Well-Manicured Man appears, demanding to know where the boy has gone. So, then… who has Dmitri? Covarrubias calls Mulder to tell him about the incident in Kazakhstan and that she has the only surviving witness of the incident. As she talks, Dmitri pulls out the stitches keeping his eyes sealed so that the Black Oil can leak out and creep over to his new captor. Scully succumbs to the pull of the implant in her neck and finds herself at a dam with dozens of other abductees, including Cassandra Spender who has been brought there by the Syndicate’s man Quiet Willy. Dmitri, who has removed the stitches from his face, is there as well. A UFO flies over them to the delight of many of the gathered. Their rapture soon gives way to terror as the faceless aliens with the immolation wands start working their way through the crowd, systematically setting aflame the gathered assemblage. Meanwhile, in a cabin in the wilds of Canada, someone composes a letter of reconciliation to his son. He sends it with the mail boy (Canada is weird sometimes) to the FBI building. Mulder has arrived at the dam and is searching through the bodies, desperate to find some sign of Scully. A small group of survivors have been found in the woods nearby, and Scully is among them. She’s injured with minor burns, but alive. Jeffrey Spender can find no sign of his mother beyond her abandoned wheelchair. Quiet Willy is seen among the burned-out corpses, although no one recognizes him as the Syndicate’s man. When Scully awakens in the hospital, she has no memory of the previous night’s events. The Syndicate attempt to vaccinate Covarrubias from the Black Oil that has infected her, but their vaccine doesn’t work. Krychek is being held about the Russian freighter. The Well-Manicured Man is convinced that the Russians have developed a working vaccine, and he wants Krychek to get it for him. In West Virginia, a craft crashes near an Air Force base. One of the survivors is another faceless alien and is taken into custody by base security. The Syndicate meets to discuss the capture, but disagree when Well-Manicured Man suggests finding common ground to ally themselves with the colonists, since their protective vaccine isn’t working. The rest of the members want to wait to see if the Russian vaccine is viable. Scully agrees to undergo hypnotic regression and experiences a decidedly orgasmic memory dump (think Meg Ryan in the diner with Billy Crystal), revealing the events from the dam. While the aliens were moving through the crowd killing everyone, another group of aliens emerged from a second ship and began killing the first group. Afterwards, the rebel aliens took Cassandra into their ship and left. Mulder still thinks this is all a hoax perpetrated by the military, but he’s beginning to question the possible motivation for such elaborate and costly measures. The Syndicate tries to administer the Krychek-supplied Russian vaccine to Covarrubias, but it doesn’t seem to work any better than the American version. Krychek is released after surrendering the Russian vaccine and goes to Mulder’s apartment to wrestle. After their initial confrontation, Krychek tells Mulder about the war raging between the architects of the planned colonization of Earth and a rebel force. He tells Mulder that the alien captured at the Air Force base in West Virginia is part of the Rebel force. At the Air Force base, Mulder sees the shape-shifting alien bounty hunter in the form of Quiet Willy moving to kill the captured rebel alien. Fortunately, another member of the rebels arrives to seemingly kill the bounty hunter. Mulder is overwhelmed and awakens the next day in a confused state. Back at the Syndicate’s creepy hospital, the Russian vaccine has finally done its work to free Covarrubias from the Black Oil. At the Hoover building, Jeffrey Spender receives the letter written and sent from the Canadian retreat, only to return it unopened. Dad is disappointed when the mail boy (again: weird) returns it. He stands in the doorway feeling dejected. A slow camera pan reveals Spender’s father to be… Cigarette Smoking Man! Whoa, whoa. Waaaaaaaitaminnit. Cancer Man is alive? Didn’t an assassin shoot him at the end of this season’s two part opener? And now he’s living in Wolverine’s cabin in Canada? Well. Two even more important developments came out of this story, though. Firstly, Mulder’s belief in extraterrestrials was just painfully pushed back into place like a dislocated shoulder. While skeptical of Cassandra’s story, her innocent conviction and sincerity gave Mulder pause so that the scales could fall from his eyes, enabling him to see the truth in the events that he was soon to face. She’s Jacob Marley to his Scrooge, and the other spirits are coming to visit. The other development has to do with Scully and isn’t quite so concrete. We’ve watched her come around to a quiet acceptance of some of the things she and her partner are forced to confront on their assignments. She’s worked through the fear and vulnerability of her abduction and illness to achieve an enviable strength. But in this story, her search for answers becomes desperate as she finds herself no longer in control of her own actions. And this scares the living hell out of her. And how about Krychek and Covarrubias playing slap and tickle in the Russian freighter? Also, what’s the deal with Spender? Is he really as much of a weasel as he seems? Will we ever get to the heart of this alien colonization craziness? 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.