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. Really now, is it even possible to come back from the Best Summer EVER?!? After the X-Files wowed audiences at the cineplex over the summer, it was time to ratchet up the stakes and build on the newfound following while keeping the interest of the dutiful long-term fans. Things are pretty different, though. Primarily at the behest of David Duchovny, the production left Vancouver after the end of the last season and moved to Los Angeles. This probably shouldn’t have had that much of an effect on the show, considering the continuation of most of the writers and directors, but the tone definitely changed. I talked a bit about how the fifth season (and movie) ended up being something of a climax, which makes this season the beginning of the falling action of the series. Here’s where all of the inevitable confrontations will begin to come to a head. Our heroes will face their darkest hour. This spiral takes place over the next couple of seasons, but it all starts right here. At least, it seems to. Then it spins its wheels in monster-of-the-week episodes for what seems like FOREVER before getting back to business. Not that I’m deriding the non-mythology episodes this season. They are all quite enjoyable and even feature a bevy of the least expected guest stars imaginable. I mean, who could have predicted Ed Asner and Lily Tomlin? And Michael McKean? Victoria Jackson? And Bruce “Oh My God It’s Bruce Campbell” Campbell? Oh, and this upstart new guy named Bryan Cranston spent an hour spewing dialogue written by Vince Gilligan. I’m certain that is somehow important to our cultural experience, but I can’t quite put a finger on it… S6E1: The Beginning (w: Chris Carter/d: Kim Manners) Carter’s job for this one was perhaps as challenging as the film’s screenplay was, but somehow he made it look easy. The end of season five left several dangling threads, while the movie was somewhat more self-contained. The task he had approaching this episode was to pick up the threads from “The End” and weave them into the tapestry of the film’s story in such a way that it could feel like a new beginning for the series. And it was very much a new beginning for nearly all the characters. A scientist for Roush Industries in Phoenix goes home at the end of a long day in the lab and gestates an alien in his chest cavity. Do you get maternity time for something like that? The next morning, his carpool buddy arrives to pick him up and is savagely attacked by the newborn alien. Cigarette Smoking Man assures his bosses in the Syndicate that he can kill the loose alien. Inexplicably, they believe him. How much credit must he have built up with these guys? He’s done nothing but botch assignments for the past three or four years, hasn’t he? Meanwhile, in Washington, Mulder enters a hearing with the intention of debriefing the panel about his and Scully’s adventures in Antarctica, only to realize that he is expected to convince them of his suitability to be reassigned to the recently-reopened X-Files. He and Scully are denied the reassignment, much to Mulder’s consternation. Skinner breaks the news to him and tries to offer some advice, but it falls on deaf ears. The assistant director also points him toward a file left on the desk in his now-former office. When he goes to collect it, Mulder learns that the X-Files have been handed to Jeffrey Spender and Diana Fowley. Spender, it has been established, is rising through the ranks of the FBI due in large part to the patronage of the Cigarette Smoking Man, who happens to be his father. Fowley has recovered from the gunshot wound she suffered during the fifth season finale. Leaving the office with the file Skinner had planted for him, Mulder learns of the incident in Phoenix. CSM interrupts a brain surgery being performed on the psychic prodigy Gibson Praise, demanding that the Syndicate-approved doctors prepare him for transport. In Phoenix, Mulder leads a reluctant Scully through the police tape and into the middle of the dress rehearsal of the Phoenix Community Theatre’s production of That Scene from Alien (“the music left something to be desired, but the choreography was outstanding.” –Phoenix Sun). Inside the house, they find a fingernail gouged in the wall. While the agents are inside, CSM pulls up in front of the house with Gibson Praise. Gibson telepathically scans the house and informs him that the alien is no longer there. He fails to mention that Mulder and Scully are inside. At a local nuclear power plant, a worker is asleep at the control panel when another worker wakes him up. Seeing an anomaly in the plant’s monitor readings, Homer (yes, his name is Homer, he works at a nuclear plant, and he sleeps on the job; however, his skin is not bright yellow, and he will not be driving home with a green isotope down the back of his shirt) goes down to one of the core reactors to see what the problem is. He is attacked by the alien as well. By the time Mulder and Scully get to the nuclear plant, Agents Spender and Fowley have already arrived and shut them out of the case. While they argue with the other agents, Gibson quietly slips into the back seat of their car. Taking the boy back to their motel, Scully removes his bandages to see what the doctors have done to him. Later that night, Fowley finds them and tells Mulder that she took the offered post at the X-Files in order to continue his work. Mulder leaves Scully and Gibson to go with Fowley back to the nuclear plant. They believe that the alien is seeking the extreme heat of the reactor core. Once there, they find that the creature has been busy molting, but lacks the common decency to pick up his discarded skin. It just goes to show you: a kid needs a parent. Scully takes Gibson to a local hospital, where he is fairly quickly taken back by one of the Syndicate’s goons. Said goon escorts Gibson to the nuclear plant to find the alien. This plan backfires tremendously for the goon as the alien, once found, proceeds to slice and dice him while leaving Gibson unscratched. Mulder, outside the chamber where the encounter is happening, is helpless to do anything but watch through the door’s window. Upon leaving the power plant, Mulder and Scully are ordered to begin reporting to Assistant Director Kersh and that they are no longer to have anything to do with the X-Files. Yeah, like that’ll stick. Scully tells Mulder that the DNA in the fingernail matches the DNA in the Black Oil and that it is extraterrestrial. And it’s also found dormant in every human on Earth. In Gibson Praise’s case, that alien DNA is activated. Back in the nuclear plant, Gibson watches as his new favorite alien friend sheds his skin a final time to reveal a very recognizable grey alien. The show’s move to Los Angeles holds an immediate impact on its tone, despite the continuity of Chris Carter’s writing and Kim Manner’s seasoned approach to directing the series. The cool, grey light of Vancouver gave the show a filtered cinematic tone that isn’t able to be replicated under the bright California sun. Perhaps this serves the story; much of the fog has lifted around the conspiracy and the Syndicate is exposed to the harsh light of day. There are still secrets and whispered lies to wade through, but most everything else is out in the open now, thanks mostly to Gibson Praise. His addition to the X-Files canon is, in this humble writer’s humble opinion, refreshing. This is no Cousin Oliver here. I only wish he could have had a larger role in the rest of the show. After all, he only appears in a small handful of episodes, but becomes a key figure in the series finale a few seasons later. Gibson’s flat honesty and insight into each character’s innermost thoughts is a refreshing splash of candor in a show that is often frustrating in its demure tacitness. S6E2: Drive (w: Vince Gilligan/d: Rob Bowman) Gilligan finally got to write his damn Tilt-A-Whirl episode. It had become a recurring joke in the X-Files’ writers’ room. Whenever they were stuck for an idea, Vince Gilligan would bring up his cockamamie idea for an episode about a guy holding another person hostage on a Tilt-A-Whirl, and when he got off the ride his head would explode. That goofy concept would evolve into this episode. Bryan Cranston, in a later interview with Howard Stern, claimed that his performance in this episode contributed heavily to Gilligan approaching him to take on the role of Walter White in Breaking Bad. The episode opens with a live breaking news report from a Fox affiliate in Navada. A high-speed car chase is ended when the state troopers disable the pursued vehicle using a spike chain to puncture the tires. The driver is dragged from the car and held by troopers as they remove the possible hostage from the back seat. She is put into a cruiser until they can deal with the driver, but after a few moments, her head explodes against the window of the car. Meanwhile, Mulder and Scully are in Idaho on their new domestic terrorism assignment. The particulars of the duties involve verifying that larger purchases of fertilizer are being used for agricultural purposes and not bomb-making. This (literal) shit-work is the bureau’s way of humiliating them as punishment for what much of the administration views as their having wasted Federal funds in their paranormal pursuits. While paying a call on a farmer, Mulder sees the news report of the situation in Nevada and convinces Scully to come with him to check it out. The driver of the car is a man named Crump, and he is beginning to show symptoms of a mysterious ailment while sitting in his jail cell. Soon after Mulder and Scully arrive in Elko, Nevada, Crump is loaded into an ambulance to be taken to the hospital. Mulder, wanting to question Crump, follows the ambulance in his car. Scully examines the dead woman and finds that her inner ear had inexplicably exploded, taking a chunk of her brain with it. While she is poking and prodding, something inside the woman’s head bursts, spraying Scully with blood. She orders the medical examiner’s lab into quarantine. Out on the highway, Crump mysteriously recovers from his symptoms and steals the guard’s pistol. He leaps out of the back of the ambulance and carjacks Mulder, who is still following. Scully calls Mulder to warn him to stay away from Crump, but it’s too late. They’ve become road trip buddies. Scully takes a team of biohazard-suited lab techs to the Crump property and discover that it is at one end of an array owned by the Navy. Further investigation reveals that the array emits ELF (Extremely Low Frequency) waves, and Scully speculates that the waves have caused some sort of pressure buildup in the inner ear of anyone nearby when the ELFs surged. Mulder has discovered a couple of things. First, Crump is an unintelligent bigot who believes that a Zionist government conspiracy is the source of all of his troubles. Second, he learns that increasingly fast westward motion is the only thing that helps to diminish Crump’s discomfort and soon crosses from Nevada into California. Scully proposes a possible way to relieve the pressure and jets to the California coast to intercept them. As they converge on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, it quickly becomes clear that they are too late. Crump is dead the same as his wife. Back in Washington, Mulder and Scully are forced to answer to Assistant Director Kersh for going off-assignment and allocating so many bureau funds. Clearly, he plans to keep Mulder on an extremely short leash. There’s just really no good reason that this episode should have been as engaging as it was. The scientific explanation for the events is thin, and the plot is even thinner. The story’s principal characters sit in a car the entire episode. Scully is relegated to a largely supporting role. Heck, a dog dies. There’s just nothing that should be good here. Yet it is. It’s engaging and I dare say even likable. And most of the credit for this should go directly to Bryan Cranston. Mr. Crump is unlikeable, intolerant, and spiteful yet manages to maintain the viewer’s sympathy throughout. His and Mulder’s emergent star-crossed alliance is believable and realistic, despite the fantastic circumstances in which they are entangled. A share of credit needs to be allowed Vince Gilligan and his writing, but Cranston was the one who truly showed his chops with this hour of television. S6E3: Triangle (w: Chris Carter/d: Chris Carter) Chris Carter does his best Hitchcock impression in this episode. The production of this one was grueling, but the end product was one of the most uniquely-crafted hours of the entire series. Carter’s concept was to make a forty-four minute episode from putting together four eleven minute continuous shots to tell a complete story, much like the conceit of Hitchcock’s film Rope. Thirty-three of those minutes are successful in this endeavor, but the last act, with its cross-cuts and split-screen action, turned out to be an editor’s worst nightmare. Don’t get me wrong, it all came together nicely in the end, but with the dreamlike quality of the 1939 sequences, it is imbued with Easter eggs that make some of feel like a bit of an inside joke for the cast and crew. A shipwrecked Mulder is pulled aboard the HMS Queen Anne and taken to the captain for questioning. He tries to explain to the captain that his ship had disappeared in the Bermuda Triangle in 1939 and mysteriously reappeared in 1998, but the captain isn’t listening. Instead, Mulder is accused of being a Nazi spy. This suspicion is strengthened when the ship is raided by SS troops who take over the ship and steer it back toward Germany. Mulder begins to realize that the ship wasn’t sitting in the Atlantic Ocean of 1998, but instead he was on a ship in 1939. As he is brought face to face with the Nazi officers on the bridge, he is confused to see the faces of Agent Spender, CSM, and AD Skinner among them. Meanwhile (well, not exactly), the Lone Gunmen visit Scully at FBI headquarters to tell her that they lost contact with Mulder when he entered the Bermuda Triangle to search for a luxury liner which had disappeared nearly sixty years earlier. Scully leads a merry chase through the hallways, striking out with Kersh, antagonizing Spender, and dangerously misrepresenting herself to Cigarette-Smoking Man before Skinner comes through with the information regarding Mulder’s last known whereabouts. Meanwhile, Mulder is thrown below decks with the other British crewmen after the SS have successfully gained control of the ship. The typically buttoned-up AD Kersh is barely recognizable as one of the Jamaican engine room workers. The crewmen discuss hearing the Nazis talking about something called “Thor’s Hammer” and Mulder correctly informs them that Thor’s Hammer isn’t an object or a weapon but a scientist who would go on to build a powerful weapon. Upon hearing this, one of the crewmen (the guy who played Kano in Mortal Kombat, no less – hey, it’s Mulder’s dream) shows his true allegiance as he passes this information along and their captors let him out of the hold. The Nazis set out to determine which of the ship’s guests is Thor’s Hammer. They demand that Mulder help them find him or they will begin shooting guests. After killing two people, Mulder tells them that one of the men they shot was the scientist, leading the Nazis to direct their weapons at Mulder’s head. The actual scientist steps forward, but scientist’s OSS bodyguard who looks-like-but-isn’t Scully tries to protect him. She ends up in front of the gun alongside Mulder. Just as they are both prepared to be executed, British crewmen storm the ship’s ballroom and all hell breaks loose. While the fight rages, Mulder and the Scully-esque OSS agent escape into the ship. They are aided in their escape by the Nazi version of Walter Skinner, who has turned against his countrymen. In 1998, Scully and the Gunmen enter the ship, which appears to be completely empty. Back in 1939, Mulder tells the OSS agent that she needs to turn the ship around, steer away from Germany and get out of the Bermuda Triangle. He kisses her “in case we never see each other again,” gets a hearty face slap, then jumps overboard into the water. His unconscious body is fished out of the present-day Sargasso Sea by Scully and the Gunmen. He wakes up in a hospital bed surrounded by Scully, the Lone Gunmen, and AD Skinner. Scully tells him how stupid this stunt was and chides him for going out alone to chase a ghost ship. After Skinner and the Gunmen leave, a delirious Mulder professes his love for Scully. Scully, in turn, is wearily walks away from him. While much of the action of this episode exists merely as Mulder’s delirious dream sequence after his boat crashes in the Bermuda Triangle, this is hardly a wasted episode. Scully’s furious race through FBI headquarters touches on every inch of the political intrigue that has swept through the offices. Spender and Fowley are in Cigarette-Smoking Man’s pocket. AD Kersh is deeply allied with CSM as well. And they’re all out to destroy Mulder and Scully, with the exception of Skinner, who is clandestinely allying himself with his former agents. At this point, The Lone Gunmen are the only people Scully can openly trust. Mulder’s subconscious perception of the show’s cast proves the most interesting part of the dream sequence within this episode. Casting Kersh as a Jamaican machinist is puzzling, but Kersh’s secretary as the eye-candy showgirl on the ballroom stage is sort of fascinating. This isn’t one of my favorite episodes of the show, mostly because it feels a little too gimmicky from a story and production standpoint for my personal taste. However, I truly appreciate its complexity, it is extremely well-made, and it looks like everyone had a rollicking time making it. S6E4: Dreamland (w: Vince Gilligan & John Shiban & Frank Spotnitz/d: Kim Manners)/S6E5: Dreamland II (w: Gilligan, Shiban, Spotnitz/d: Michael Watkins) It was supposed to have been Garry Shandling. Shandling, a friend of Duchovny’s (presumably from the latter’s time on The Garry Shandling Show) was the first choice for the role of Morris Fletcher. When he was unavailable, the production team made a list of other possibilities. Michael McKean was at the top of the list. He happily agreed to come aboard, on the stipulation that his character not be killed at the end of the story. On a technical note, the mirror dance, meant to be a tribute to a similar scene in the Marx Brothers’ Duck Soup, was intended to be computer-generated. But Duchovny and McKean insisted on playing it old-school. They choreographed the whole thing and rehearsed for weeks before shooting it. Reports have it that their twelfth take was the one used in the episode. Only Mulder’s breath fogging up the mirror was computer generated. With that in mind, I think an imperfection or two is perfectly forgivable. Mulder and Scully are driving along the perimeter of Area 51 when they are stopped by military personnel, led by a man-in-black spokesman named Morris Fletcher. As Fletcher is warning them off the base territory, a large unidentified craft comes to hover over all of their heads. Some sort of pulse emits from it which washes over Mulder and Fletcher before the craft moves over a ridge and disappears. In its wake, Mulder watches as Scully and the man in black get into the car and leave. Mulder gets back into the car he had seen Fletcher exit, where two other men in black are waiting in the back seat. They go back inside Area 51 where Mulder uses Fletcher’s credentials to enter the building and the man’s office. Fletcher’s wife Joanne calls, yelling at him for being at work so late. He drives to the Fletcher residence where he falls asleep in an easy chair watching porn instead of going to bed with Mrs. Fletcher. Joanne finds him the next morning. Believing him to be her husband, she has choice words for him. As the Fletcher family settles down to a less-than-tranquil family breakfast, the phone rings. It’s one of Fletcher’s colleagues, calling to tell him that they found the wreckage of the test craft that crashed the night before. Both pilots have been found at the scene, but there are a couple of problems. One of the pilots has somehow had his body fused with a boulder. The other, Roger McDonough seems to have switched identities with a Hopi woman from a nearby reservation. Mulder finds a pay phone and calls Scully back at the FBI. He tries to convince her of his identity, but she is dubious, especially considering that from her point of view Mulder is sitting directly in front of her at the next desk. Fletcher (in the body of Mulder) surprises Scully when he suggests that they report the strange phone call to Assistant Director Kersh. In Nevada, Mulder is driving toward Area 51 when some of his colleagues pass him going the opposite direction. Turning around, Mulder joins them at the gas station where he had just made his phone call. Inside, the station attendant has become fused with the floor of the convenience shop. As Mulder suggests that they get a doctor to try to help the man, another man in black shoots him in the head. They leave the station and set fire to the pumps, destroying any trace of the strange activity that had occurred. Scully goes to Mulder’s apartment to confront her partner about his strange behavior. After watching Kersh’s assistant sashay out of her nooner in apartment 42, she is particularly incensed with him. She tells him that the phone call she received earlier had come from a pay phone near the Area 51 base, and that she believes the caller was Mulder’s anonymous insider from the base. Fletcher blandly dismisses her, saying that they need to follow Kersh’s orders and stop pursuing the X-Files. Accusing him of losing focus and turning his back on his life’s work, Scully storms out and books a flight to Nevada. Once there, she finds the burned-out gas station and what appears to be a molecularly integrated penny and dime on the ground. Scully visits the Fletcher house. After sustaining a fusillade of abuse from Joanne, Mulder talks to Scully. He tells her that he can bring her the flight data recorder of the UFO-based craft that flew over them the night before, which will show the defect in the craft’s system which led to the otherworldly energy transfers the night before. Unfortunatly, Fletcher has tailed Scully and is listening to this exchange. He calls the base and, posing as Agent Mulder, tells the personnel that their security leak is Morris Fletcher. That night, as Mulder meets with Scully, he is taken into custody by Area 51 security forces. As he is dragged out, he asks Scully if he would ever treat an informant this way. Scully, having borne witness to her partner’s increasingly unusual behavior, is surprised to realize that she thinks this man being led out might be telling the truth. Back in Washington, Scully is reprimanded for her unscheduled trip to Nevada. Fletcher offers to console her with dinner at his place that night. She reluctantly accepts. Back in the Area 51 stockade, Mulder has been cooling his heels listening to the elderly Hopi woman in the next cell chain-smoke and tell stories about her Top Gun days as a test pilot. He is brought in front of General Wegman and two of his fellow men in black, who commend him for trying to give a fake data recorder to the FBI. They believe he was doing so in order to defraud the agents and possibly expose the real Area 51 informant. After bluffing his way through this confrontation, he decides to come clean with Joanne Fletcher at home. He tells her that he is an FBI agent whose mind was swapped with that of her husband. He’s not the man he used to be, he tells her. She misunderstands and thinks he’s admitting to having erectile dysfunction. She sympathetically hugs him. Back at Mulder’s apartment, Fletcher has cleaned the place, turning it into a bachelor pad. Scully plays along, even going so far as to suggest a little off-hours use of her hand cuffs. Once he’s securely cuffed to the bed post, she pulls her gun on him and accuses him of being Morris Fletcher in Mulder’s body. Good lord, I love Dana Scully. During this confrontation, the phone rings. It’s Mulder’s informant calling again. Keeping Fletcher at gunpoint, she orders him to set up a meeting with the informant in the hopes of finding a way to restore Mulder and Fletcher to their proper bodies. While Mulder and Joanne have drinks at a bar, General Wegman sits in a far corner. As Fletcher enters posing as Mulder, he is shocked to find that his boss is the informant. Mulder excuses himself from Joanne and goes outside to talk to Scully while she waits for Fletcher to exit the bar. He goes back inside and confronts Fletcher in the bathroom, demanding to know how to switch their bodies back. Wegman walks in on them and is confused to find his confidant from the FBI talking with his subordinate. Once the body-swap is explained to him, Wegman confesses that he contacted Mulder to satisfy his own curiosity about the origins of these strange aircraft that are sent to him and his test pilots. As it turns out, the General just wants to believe. The anomalies created by the warp begin to snap back to their former states, causing Mulder, Scully, and Fletcher make a mad dash to return to the spot of the reversal where it all started to increase their chances of restoring everything to normal. It works, but a little too well. As the warp passes back overhead, the past couple of days are erased, putting them all on that highway where Morris and his security detail are confronting Mulder and Scully on the highway. With no recollection of their adventure, the agents go back to Washington. Luckily, their trip went under Kersh’s radar, and no harm is done. At her desk, Scully opens her desk drawer where she finds the penny/dime hybrid that she had found outside of the burned-out gas station. Mulder goes home to his apartment to find that is has been cleaned, and his bedroom has been reclaimed. They are left to puzzle over these remnants of a reality warp that they no longer have any recollection of having happened. It’s almost as if there was some sort of a bet going in the writers’ room during the first part of this season. I think the writers wanted to test their audience to see how long they could string them out with episodes that didn’t expand on the mythology, didn’t have a tangible monster to chase, and didn’t really even happen. Both parts of “Dreamland,” for all its tomfoolery, were all-but deleted with a reset button at the end, much like the previous episode’s dream sequence. The character of Morris Fletcher would resurface from time to time, and Mulder’s newly-excavated bedroom would serve as a set expansion for the remainder of the series. But other than that, this run of episodes seemed to serve little purpose other than letting the cast and crew play. This is fun and silly and doesn’t do anything to serve the notion that an alien race is working aggressively to destroy the human race and colonize our planet. How long can we tread water like this? S6E6: How the Ghosts Stole Christmas (w: Chris Carter/d: Chris Carter) It only took him six seasons, but Chris Carter finally figured out how to make a proper bottle episode. The bottle episodes were meant to contain production to a minimal number of locations and keep overall costs to a minimum. This one nailed it. The entire thing takes place at a single location, inside of a decrepit mansion. One shot at the beginning and one at the end were shot on location outside of a mansion in Piru, California. The interiors were on a soundstage set designed and built just for the episode. The other element that made this such a cost-effective production was the small cast. Only four actors appear on screen during the entire episode. Duchovny and Anderson are half of the cast. The other half consisted of Lily Tomlin and Ed Asner. Tomlin had approached the casting office for the show several years earlier, and Carter wanted to wait to use her for just the right role. Once she was confirmed as Lyda for this episode, casting sought Carter’s first choice for Maurice, Bob Newhart. Newhart wasn’t available, which was when they contacted Asner who happily accepted the role. On Christmas Eve, Mulder calls Scully away from her gift wrapping and familial obligations to explore a haunted mansion with him. He tells her the story of a couple that committed a lovers’ pact in the house back in 1917, where Maurice killed Lyra before shooting himself so that they could spend eternity together. In the years since, couples have been led to the house on Christmas Eve to meet a similar fate. Mulder and Scully enter and are soon separated only to be met by the residents of the house, none other than the deceased couple Maurice and Lyda. They each dig little claws of doubt and self-loathing into their guests before “reuniting” them. Lyda, posing as Mulder, shoots Scully in the stomach. She then poses as an injured Scully and shoots Mulder. As the real Mulder and Scully make their way to the front doors of the mansion to escape with their mortal injuries, they both realize that the gunshots were part of the apparition and were only as real as they believe them to be. They leave the house, return to their cars and go to their respective homes. Afterward, the two ghosts sit beside the blazing fireplace holding hands. Still later, Scully turns up at Mulder’s apartment where they exchange gifts. This episode marked a decided downturn in the relationship of Mulder and Scully. His protestation to Maurice (“we’re not lovers”) is a telling note on the state of their whatever-they-share. Scully is hesitant and unwilling to join him on his ghost hunt at the beginning. Clearly they are cooling things down. Perhaps it is a caution-based move so as not to give AD Kersh any more reason to persecute them. Maybe it’s something else. We’ll never really know for sure. But they are definitely on the outs at the beginning of this episode. The big question is what gifts they gave each other. I have a couple of theories, but as they both involve visits to the adult bookstore, I’d rather not elaborate. This is a really fun episode, in that it gave Carter a chance to psychoanalyze his characters to a degree he had not yet indulged himself. Asner and Tomlin lent an air of authority to the proceedings while keeping it light and conversational. S6E7: Terms of Endearment (w: David Amann/d: Rob Bowman) David Amann, after pitching several idea for the show, was finally given a shot when Chris Carter favored this reversal of Rosemary’s Baby. Amann would continue as a regular contributor and even work as a supervising editor during the ninth season. But the biggest source of excitement for this writer about this episode is the inclusion of Bruce Campbell as the episode’s antagonist. Perhaps surprisingly, he uses this opportunity to drop the snark and swagger we had come to associate with his brand up to this point to turn in a surprisingly poignant performance. Wait, really? A couple from Roanoke, Virginia get the results of the mother-to-be’s ultrasound. The doctor informs them of some irregular growths developing on the baby’s head and some unusual configuration at the top of the spinal column. The husband is distinctly affected by the news. At home that night, Wayne tucks Laura into bed with a glass of warm milk. She is awakened by flames at the foot of her bed and a demonic entity who short sheets her and performs an impromptu delivery of her horned baby. She awakens from what she thinks was a nightmare, but while Wayne attempts to calm her, he discovers that the bed is bloodied and his wife is no longer pregnant. In Washington, Roanoke Deputy Stevens (who happens to be Laura’s brother), presents her story to the agent in charge of the X-Files. After listening patiently and assuring the deputy that he will move Laura’s case into his active case load, Agent Spender inserts the report into the shredder. A couple of days later, Mulder arrives at the Weinsider house with the reassembled shreds of the document in hand to interview Wayne and Laura. As police search the property, they find the burned corpse of the baby in the garden incinerator. Just as they make this discovery, Wayne confesses to his wife that he hadn’t wanted to tell her how he had awakened to find her holding their baby and chanting Crowleyisms while in a trancelike state. Her brother is forced to arrest her for performing a late-term abortion. Wayne visits her in jail, where he tries to kill her by sucking her soul out of her body. To Wayne’s surprise, the EMTs are able to save her. Leaving the jail, Wayne goes home to his other pregnant wife, Betsy, who lives on the other side of town. By now, Mulder has Wayne tagged as the responsible party, and even has worked up a theory involving demonic infant harvesting. He believes that Wayne is trying to produce a fully human baby, and is discarding any that show a tendency toward their father’s side of the gene pool. Scully, sick of covering for Mulder in DC has made her way to Roanoke to help him investigate. Betsy, after drinking her hemlock-laced warm milk, awakens to the same hallucination Laura suffered at the foot of her bed. But Betsy’s made of different stuff than Wayne’s other bride. She confronts her husband, demon or not. Later, Mulder and Scully are making their way to a second address they’ve unearthed for Wayne when they are stopped by Betsy driving Wayne’s car. She stumbles out of the vehicle in a bloody nightgown, claiming that a demon stole her baby. Mulder and Scully rush to the residence, only to find Wayne digging in the back yard. They confront him, assuming that he is attempting to bury his latest spawn. Just as he is preparing to explain himself, Deputy Stevens arrives and shoots Weinsider in a fit of passion. Wayne is rushed to the hospital where he is put in the ward next to Laura. While lying on their gurneys some sort of mist passes out of Wayne’s mouth and into Laura’s, resulting in her recovery and his death. A thorough search of Betsy’s yard turns up several aborted fetuses, each one completely without defects. Mulder supposes that Betsy had been trying to conceive a demonic child all along, and had used Wayne as the sire for her wish. The episode ends with Betsy driving away, an infant seat strapped in the passenger seat beside her. A deformed hand clutches at its blanket. We got Bruce Campbell. Bruce. Freakin’. Campbell. And he’s the devil? Be still my fanboyish heart. There is just a whole ton to love about this episode. Mulder is back to form, digging through Spender’s trash, pestering his suspect to the point of harassment, defying authority, putting Scully into the most splendidly awkward professional positions. Scully, for her part, is her most divinely long-suffering-but-I’ll-still-get-the-job-done self. But Bruce is what brings it all together. Because of Bruce, you’ll believe the Devil can cry. This episode has aged well as a balanced, if slightly twisted, hour of television. The shock value of the opening teaser fades quickly and somewhere about halfway through the episode, you discover that you’re actually entertaining sympathetic feelings for the antagonist. It sort of sneaks up on you, but by the end you can barely help but commiserate with the baby-killing demon. Good lord, Campbell, do you realize how many “Hail, Marys” you must have necessitated with this performance? S6E8: The Rain King (w: Jeffrey Bell/d: Kim Manners) This was Bell’s first script for the show, and it led to him being hired full-time as a member of the writing staff. It required a pretty heavy workload for the effects department, what with the car crash, flying cow, prosthetic leg, and custom heart-shaped hail storm. Saturday Night Live alum Victoria Jackson helped to bring an endearingly goofy charm to the small town depicted in the episode. Bell had a lot of fun toying with Mulder and Scully’s repressed feelings for each other, even using them as a turning point in the story. In the end, all of the elements incorporated into another solid, albeit lightweight, hour of X-Files fun. In the drought-stricken small town of Kroner, Kansas, Sheila Fontaine plans to celebrate Valentine’s Day with her fiancé Daryl Mootz. When he arrives, he is angry that she had surprised him by putting their engagement announcement in the local paper. He storms out. Out on the highway, Daryl loses control of his car when he is caught in a freak hailstorm. Strangely, the hailstones are all shaped like Valentine hearts. Six months later, the local mayor welcomes Mulder and Scully to town. He has contacted Mulder about Daryl’s new storefront, where he calls himself “The Rain King” and seems to be able to make rain fall at will. The mayor believes that he is causing the drought by controlling the weather so that desperate members of the community will pay him to make it rain. Before they have an opportunity to meet with Mootz, they visit the weatherman at the local TV station. Holman Hardt is an earnest, hardworking meteorologist who is enraptured by the bizarre meteorological phenomena around his small town. Trained scientist that he is, he admits to the agents that he believes Mootz is somehow in control of the weather. Neither of them are buying it. At least, not until they are in the audience when Mootz’ goofy one-legged dance produces a soaking rainstorm out of clear blue skies at a local farm. Mulder and Scully check into a motel (separate rooms? Uh-oh). Mulder is barely able to get out of the way when the bovine victim of a miniature tornado crashes through the roof. While workmen repair the roof and remove the cow from Mulder’s room, the motel manager informs Scully that the rest of the rooms are fully booked for the high school’s reunion that weekend. She and Mulder will be forced to share a room. Scully is less than thrilled about the arrangement. Sheila joins the rest of the townsfolk who have turned up to see the cow that crashed through the roof of the motel. She tearfully confesses to Mulder that she is somehow controlling the weather. She tells of a history of strange weather happening on the night of her prom, the day of her wedding, the day her divorce was finalized, and the night she and Daryl had their fight. Mulder assures her that she is not responsible, and neither is Mootz. He tells Scully that he thinks Hardt the weather man is actually causing the strange events, even though he may not be entirely aware of it. Mulder goes to talk to him while Scully tries to arrange a flight out for them. Hardt confesses that he has been in love with Sheila since high school, but has never been able to tell her. Mulder tries to help him, but things get sidetracked when Sheila develops a crush on Mulder. This development sends Hardt’s powers out of control, causing flash flooding, power outages, and storm drains to overflow through the high school’s bathroom fixtures during the class reunion. At Mulder’s urging, Hardt works up the nerve to confess his feelings to Sheila. Once she kisses him, the storm abates. A year later, Sheila sits feeding their baby while she watches her husband on the news. It might be easy to dismiss the first part of this season as evidence that the X-Files had gone Hollywood. By saying that, I’m not talking about the mere fact that the production had moved to LA, but that they had succumbed to the glitz and glamour of being a hit show filming in Tinsel Town. Loads of guest stars, a lighter tone, a completely out-of-touch disregard for the fact that the planet is being repopulated by scary alien succubi, even more guest stars… Lately, it’s been like The X-Files meets Fantasy Island. Hey, now that I mention it, that wouldn’t be a half-bad pitch. Oh, wait. That was Lost. As fun as it’s been, with this episode, our cavalcade of unlikely guest stars finally winds down. As far as this episode is concerned, I can’t help but think that the story’s most important character is the town of Kroner, Kansas. There’s something magnetic about these insular small towns that welcome outsiders with such open arms. Imagine a place like Stars Hollow on Gilmore Girls, or the rural community in Napoleon Dynamite. These types of self-contained, unconsciously provincial societies feel like an anachronism, lost to our ancient cultural documents like the Andy Griffith Show or Bewitched. But I think many of us would like to think those places are still out there. Mulder’s ready acceptance of the idiosyncrasies of Kroner (not to mention Scully’s lack thereof) added dimension to their characters only hinted before and put on display a gap between their fundamental values. Sure, this episode degenerates into a bit of a sex farce in the third act, but its good-natured silliness seems disarming and sweet, somehow. See larger image The X-Files: Season 6 Tcfhe Release Date: 12/02/2008 Run time: 820 minutes Rating New From: $41.31 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.