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. S6E16: Alpha (w: Jeffrey Bell/d: Peter Markle) This one didn’t come together easily. Bell had the basic notion of the story, but after two attempts to nail it down, he went to Frank Spotnitz for some help. Bell had the idea of a wild dog loose in the city, but didn’t know what to do with it. One consideration was a sort of goatee-wearing, evil, alternate universe version of The Incredible Journey, where a family moves across the country to get away from their evil pet, only to have it track and find them. To tell you the truth, that actually sounds like a pretty solid story idea to me. But Spotnitz suggested the escape from the ship and the sidebar of the personal story surrounding Mulder and the canine behavior specialist (not Cesar Millan, although that might have added an even more interesting dimension to this episode). The last rewrites were completed on the day shooting began. Say you’re a sailor on a merchant vessel. One of your colleagues tells you that he nearly had his face bitten off when he got too close to a crate in the cargo hold. You go with him to check it out. OK, I’ll buy that. You might even try to sneak a peek into the crate, even with full knowledge of the danger. But when the critter inside goes quiet, is it really a good idea to open the latch at the top of the container and open the lid for a look? When the Chinese freighter pulls into port in California, the two men’s bodies are found inside the container, which is locked from the outside. Mulder gets wind of the case from a canine behavior specialist named Karen Berquist, with whom he is acquainted through an internet chat room. That evening, a man and his dog are attacked by a ferocious canine with glowing red eyes. He and Scully arrive on the West Coast where Officer Cahn introduces them to Dr. Ian Detweiler, a cryptozoologist who claims to have discovered a specimen of the Wanshang dhole, a wild dog long thought to be extinct. The agents are told of the second attack and go to investigate. Mulder develops the theory that the escaped dhole bears human-level intelligence. They go to talk to Berquist, but she dismissively informs them that the dhole is extinct. Despite her lack of assistance, Mulder appreciates her choice of wall décor, as she has an “I Want to Believe” poster just like the one that hung in his office before it was burned at the end of “The End” last season. While the agents are chasing their tails, an animal control worker chases a stray into a warehouse. A silhouetted man enters behind him and transforms into the dhole and attacks. Later, Mulder, Scully, and Berquist find a foot print on the scene that looks canine with the exception of the fifth toe on the foot. Berquist tries to pass it off as a strangely-formed dewclaw, but Mulder has his own opinions. That evening, Detweiler visits a nearby veterinarian’s office to acquire tranquilizers for the hunt of the dhole. The vet gives him what he needs then goes to the back where he is attacked by the dhole. He is able to get away and lock the creature into the kennel in the back of the building. Animal Control arrives and shoot a Saint Bernard accidentally. Cujo must have been on cable the night before. Later, as the vet works on the dog’s gunshot wound, it transforms into the dhole and attacks him. Dick move, dhole. As Mulder and Officer Cahn begin to suspect that Detweiler is the dhole, Scully goes to confront Berquist about her motives for floating this case in Mulder’s direction. You’ll never hear the words “step off, bitch” expressed in such a professionally oblique way for as long as you live. She later tells Mulder that she has suspected Detweiler as the dhole from the beginning and is now afraid he’s out to get her because of her involvement in the investigation. That night, while she is checking the kennels outside her house, she hears a sound in the woods. She rushes upstairs to get her tranquilizer gun, but Detweiler is too quick for her. The dhole lunges for her, and they both tumble out of the upstairs window of Berquist’s house. Mulder and Scully find both bodies. Detweiler is naked and impaled on one of the fence posts below the window. Berquist has died in the fall. Days later, a package arrives at Mulder and Scully’s office. Before she died, Berquist had sent Mulder her “I Want to Believe” poster. He hangs it on the wall of his office. Status quo: regained. If taken as an attempt to recapture the spirit of early seasons of the X-Files, this episode nearly works. Otherwise, it’s sort of a lukewarm werewolf-themed thriller. The thing that makes the most of this story is the deeper meaning of the title. Who is the “Alpha” of this episode, anyway? The dhole is the easy answer, sure. But what about that scene where Scully has the woman-to-woman chat with Berquist? Who’s the alpha in that situation? It’s a glimpse at the proprietary privilege Scully feels she holds over Mulder and is a sure sign that their current awkwardness is nothing more than a bump in a long and winding road. This episode definitely could have benefitted from more of a focus on the human story, relegating the werewo… ahem, sorry… relegating the Wanshang dhole story into little more than a means to a storytelling end, rather than the other way round. S6E17: Trevor (w: Jim Guttridge & Ken Hawryliw/d: Rob Bowman) Creaky comic book science aside, this was a strong episode of the X-Files. I had to dig a bit to find just why Hawryliw’s name stood out to me. Other than having no earthly idea how one would pronounce such an unlikely string of consonants and vowels, there was something familiar about it. Cursory research revealed that this hour of television is the sum and total of his screenwriting career to date. But still, I was sure I knew his name from somewhere. As it turns out, he was a props guy for most of the X-Files run, as well as Millennium, Battlestar Galactica, Caprica, and Arrow (to name a few). This guy’s name has been flashing past me in the credits of so many shows over the years that it had stuck deep down in there. In a Mississippi prison work farm, the warden has at least two ulcers named after Wilson “Pinker” Rawls. Today was just another one of those days. While the inmates and guards attempt to fortify the camp against an expected outbreak of tornadoes in the region of the camp, Pinker puts a hammer and nail through the hand of another inmate. This action earns him some time in “the box,” the farm’s standalone outhouse-shaped time-out chair. After Rawls is locked inside, the tornado hits. After it passes, the warden and his guards emerge to find that “the box” has been destroyed in the storm. Later that day, the warden’s body is found in a locked room. He has been torn in half across the torso in some unexplainably mysterious way. Mulder and Scully enter the scene. Scully is unable to make any conclusions about how the warden died, but notes that a considerable portion of his torso is no longer there, as if it had been burned away somehow. While one of the guards insists that Rawls is responsible for the warden’s death, he can’t guess how he might have entered or even what he might have done to burn away the man’s entire midsection. Mulder discovers that one of the outer walls of the office has become brittle and falls away in the vaguely human shape. The storm-torn prison farm makes the Jackson news. Word of the supposed death of Rawls visibly alarms the buttoned-down June Gurwitch as she watches with her equally suburban boyfriend. Elsewhere, Pinker is discovered breaking into a closed store by a security guard. Cuffing him to a post, the guard goes to call the police. Pinker easily slips out of the cuffs and steals the security vehicle. When Mulder checks the unopened cuffs, they snap apart easily in his hands. Pinker drives the car to his ex-girlfriend’s old place and sets to tearing the place apart searching for something. His ex’s slightly more recent ex (who now occupies the house) walks in on him and tries to shoot him as an intruder. The bullets pass harmlessly through Pinker’s torso. Pinker proceeds to burn the man’s face off. Examining the scene, Mulder discovers that the bullets which passed through the man crumble into powder in his hands. He postulates that Pinker has somehow developed the ability to pass through solid objects. The side effect is a drastic decomposition of the chemical makeup of the object. Yeah, Scully doesn’t buy it either, but we’re gonna run with it anyway. An old photograph leads the agents to June Gurwitch, who had been Rawls’ girlfriend before he went to prison. June’s carefully-constructed house of cards tumbles around her as her current boyfriend storms out as she admits to using Rawls’ stolen money to build her new life. Believing her to be in danger, Mulder and Scully convince June to enter into protective custody. Before she goes, she calls her sister and warns her that she and her son Trevor may be in danger. Pinker burns a message in June’s bedroom wall, stating that he “wants what’s mine”, seemingly in reference to the $90,000 June’s been spending so freely the past couple of years. Mulder notices that Pinker’s finger-painted wood burning project is stopped by the mirror. He guesses that his ability is based on electrostatic energy and the glass of the mirror acted as a stopping insulator against him. Rawls finds June in a motel room under guard. After killing the highway patrol detail, he grabs her and takes her to her sister’s house. As it turns out, Jackie’s son Trevor was actually June’s biological child. Rawls is his father. It’s a toss-up whether Trevor will spend more money on therapy or making bail as an adult. Mulder and Scully track him to Jackie’s house, where Mulder confronts him with a shotgun loaded with rubber bullets. Scully takes Trevor and attempts to escape with him. When Rawls closes in on them, she finds Mississippi’s great roadside attraction, the US’s last remaining phone booth and locks herself inside with the boy. Rawls tries to get to them, but the glass stops him. Realizing how much he’s scaring his boy, he backs off. And that’s when June hits him with her car. The hood and engine block pass through him, but the windshield chops him in half. The agents take June into custody, noting that Rawls, in his escape, might have been looking for a second chance. If the first part of this season was the Big Hollywood Spectacular, and the second part was the Great Tribulation of the X-Files, then this back end of the sixth season could be classified as Back to Basics. It’s a parade of self-contained monster of the week episodes. Some are stronger than others. Some are cleverer than others. Some are scary. Some are silly. But all of them contain that nugget of humanity that resides in all the best X-Files. The most ponderable element of this episode is the subject of the story’s antagonist. Who’s the real monster? Is it the guy walking through walls, threatening and killing people in his path in an effort to make contact with the son he was never told he had? It seems pretty reasonable to cast Pinker (Pinker?) as the villain of this piece. Those brutal means really don’t justify that end, even in the most barbaric of circumstances. But wait a minute. What about a person who steals her ex-boyfriend’s (admittedly, ill-gotten) money to set up her new life? What’s worse, that new life is built entirely of lies that comes crashing down around her the minute two FBI agents track her down. June’s every move is entirely self-serving, and to me, that’s the definition of a villain. Pinker’s misuse of his abilities is the work of a mentally unstable person. He’s a boiling piss-pot of a man. But his rampage was motivated as that of a biological father seeking to connect with the child he never knew he had. If you ask me, June is the monster this week. S6E18: Milagro (w: John Shiban & Frank Spotnitz (story), Chris Carter (teleplay)/d: Kim Manners) John Hawkes, who plays this episode’s central role of Phillip Padgett, has never taken any formal training as an actor. Instead, he spent some time hitchhiking around the country. Every time he was picked up, he spent the entirety of his time with each Good Samaritan as a different character. Think about what a role commitment that must have been. You’re in a real life situation where any tiny break of character could put one into a terribly awkward position in an enclosed space. He’s gone on to Oscar and Golden Globe nominations. He’s one of those faces you know you’ve seen in something but just can’t remember what it was. Here’s a hint: he’s been in EVERYTHING. The episode title translates to “miracle.” Phillip Padgett paces around the typewriter in the center of his Spartan apartment. After the day passes without a single click on the keys, he goes into the bathroom, steps in front of the mirror, reaches into his chest and removes his still-beating heart. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the most apt metaphor for writer’s block this particular scribe has ever witnessed. Later, he takes a bag down to the apartment building’s incinerator. He sees a beating heart inside the flames, but barely pays it any notice. He is joined in the elevator on his way back upstairs by Scully. They’re in Mulder’s apartment building. Padgett is Mulder’s neighbor. Scully is unsettled by his creepily silent stare, but proceeds to Mulder’s apartment. She cursorily asks her partner about the neighbor before they begin discussing their current case. Someone has been tearing hearts out of the chests of their victims. Padgett stands on a chair, listening to their conversation through an air vent. That evening, a young couple is having a disagreement over the proper way to play “paradise by the dashboard light.” The girl gets out of the car and retreats into the woods. When her beau gets out to coax her back into the car, he is attacked by a hooded figure. Back in his apartment, Padgett types a full account of the attack. The next day, Mulder stands over the heartless Romeo where he was left near his car. As Scully enters their office, she finds an unmarked envelope which has been slid under the door. Inside is a milagro pendant. On her way to meet Mulder for an autopsy date, she stops at a local cathedral where she is met by Mulder’s neighbor in front of the painting Sacred Heart of Jesus, depicting a flaming heart. He discusses the painting with her, and then admits to sending her the milagro before detailing everything about her from her daily schedule to her shoe size. It’s as weird as it sounds. Scully bolts from the church and seeks out the normalcy of cutting up dead people after telling Mulder about the encounter. But still, something about the encounter tugs at her and she is drawn back to the milagro pendant. If only the producers had sprung for the rights to Rick James’ “Superfreak” to play during this moment in the episode. Mulder slips into pure alpha dog mode and begins investigating Padgett. Later, when Scully is on her way to Mulder’s apartment, she knocks on Padgett’s door. Most likely she’s trying to satisfy some perverse curiosity. With no furniture in the apartment, she ends up sitting on the foot of Padgett’s bed sipping coffee in awkward silence (“She’s a very kinky girrrllll…”). Mulder bursts into the apartment waving his gun. He arrests Padgett on the grounds that scenes from the novel he’s been writing are perfect descriptions of crime scenes they’ve been investigating during their current case. Unfortunately, another murder happens while Padgett is sitting in jail, so they are forced to release him from custody. Mulder believes that Padgett has an accomplice and sets up a stakeout of the writer. Once back at his typewriter, Padgett has a conversation with a physical manifestation of the killer from his novel. Somehow, his imaginary creation has been manifesting and committing the crimes as he writes about them. Padgett realizes that the only possible ending for his story is the death of Scully. He takes his entire manuscript to the incinerator to burn it before Scully can be killed by the hooded heart-extractor. While he and Mulder have a confrontation in the building’s basement over what Mulder perceives as an attempt to destroy evidence, Scully is attacked in Mulder’s apartment. She fires her weapon at her assailant, but seeing as he is a physically manifested imaginary person, the bullets pass through him into the ceiling. I hope no one’s home in apartment 52. Mulder hears the shots and rushes to her aid, allowing Padgett to toss the manuscript into the flames. By the time Mulder reaches Scully, her attacker has disappeared. She is bloody and shaken, but unharmed. She clutches Mulder, burying her face in his chest. In the basement, Padgett lies on the floor clutching his still-beating heart in his hand. The beat fades before stopping altogether. Padgett’s OK, but he’s no Jose Chung. Personally, I find these stories that explore the inner life of writers to be pretty masturbatory. There’s something about this one that works for me, though. A writer’s job is to observe without judgement and construct a record of the glorious inadequacies of the human condition. This role casts the writer as a spectator, which he perfectly inhabits even in times where he is required to be a participant. The writer is always writing, and everything around him is fiction. It’s a state of removal from the world into which he’s chosen to fully immerse himself. But the fantasy that the fiction is actually shaping reality has a great appeal for any creative mind. This particular story has a bit of a wobble in the resolution stage, but it pays off eventually with the cracking of the icy tension between our stars that’s been such a huge part of this season. It’s an interesting bookend to “Alpha” in that Scully’s protectiveness of Mulder in that earlier episode is echoed by Mulder awkwardly leaping to her rescue in this one. Scully has a little freak in her, though. How else can one explain her willingness to sip coffee while sitting on the bed with her admitted stalker who may or may not be ripping the hearts out of people in the greater DC metro area? I guess that’s the appeal of a story about the struggle of the creative mind. To someone on the outside looking in, it’s probably sort of romantic. But from the inside, it’s nothing much more interesting than a constant struggle to find the right next word. S6E19: The Unnatural (w: David Duchovny/d: David Duchovny) I’m about to issue my first official retraction. Earlier in this column (“Agua Mala”) I said that the role of Arthur Dales was recast after Darren McGavin suffered a stroke at the time this episode was filmed. I misspoke. The role of Arthur Dales was not recast. The Arthur Dales in this episode is a different Arthur Dales. In fact, this is Arthur Dales’ brother who is also named Arthur Dales and played by M. Emmett Walsh. It’s sort of like Elmo’s friends Mr. Noodle and Mr. Noodle’s brother, Mr. Noodle. In this episode we meet Mulder’s friend Arthur Dales’ brother, Arthur Dales. Of particular note is the fact that this episode is the first written entirely by Duchovny. He had been given credit in a handful of previous episodes for his assistance in the story development process (“Anasazi,” “Avatar,” and “Talitha Cumi”), but this was truly his first teleplay. As if that wasn’t stressful enough, it was also his directorial debut. Jesse L. Martin was Duchovny’s first choice for the lead role of Josh Exley. He had seen him as a part of the original Broadway cast of Rent, and knew he would be great for the role. These days we know him as Barry Allen’s adoptive father Detective Joe West on The Flash. It’s 1947. In the middle of a baseball game outside of Roswell, New Mexico where a mixed group of white and black players are basking in the hitting average of Josh Exley, a group of Klansmen rides in seeking the African American player. The other players fight back, and in the fracas, one of the men’s hoods gets knocked off, revealing a grey alien amongst the other KKK members. On a Saturday afternoon in the Spring of 1999 (current day for the show), Mulder has Scully helping him dig through old newspapers from New Mexico. All in all, she’d rather be outside enjoying her Tofutti ice cream. There’s a bit of light flirting before Mulder notices a picture in one of the papers which shows a ball player named Josh Exley, someone Mulder recognizes as the alien bounty hunter they’ve encountered in the past, and one Arthur Dales. Mulder has met an Arthur Dales before. In fact, Dales was the agent who originally opened the X-Files during J. Edgar’s time at the FBI. Mulder goes to Dales’ local residence only to discover that the Arthur Dales living there is the brother of the Arthur Dales which Mulder has met in the past. He explains that they even had a goldfish named Arthur. Inside, Dales tells Mulder about his time as an officer in the Roswell police department. After the failed KKK attack, the department had assigned Dales to play bodyguard for the town’s most talented ball player, Exley. As he observes Exley, Dales begins to suspect that the man is not exactly what he seems to be. His suspicions are rewarded when he bursts in on Exley during a hotel stay for an away game. He finds Exley in his true form, that of a grey alien. Dales faints. Then he wakes up and faints again when he sees the alien standing beside him. This goes on for a while. Finally, Exley is able to explain to Dales how he was supposed to have left Earth with his family, but stayed behind in order to play baseball, the game he had fallen in love with during their visit to the planet. Meanwhile, the alien bounty hunter takes on Exley’s form and murders a scientist. Dales, knowing Exley to be innocent, warns his friend to go hide before the other authorities could come. When the bounty hunter catches up to Exley, he demands that he return to his true form before being killed. But Exley refuses. The bounty hunter stabs him at the base of the skull with the alien-killing stiletto, killing him. However, as he bleeds out, he is surprised to see that he is bleeding red blood. Back at home, Mulder arranges a baseball date with Scully. She arrives at the small ball park, where Mulder gives Scully her first hands-on batting lesson. It’s just as cute as it sounds. This really worked beautifully as both an X-File and a fairy tale study of racism. Exley the shapeshifting grey alien’s use of racial tension to allow him to anonymously pursue what the rest of his race would consider frivolous by posing as a black baseball player was a stroke of metaphoric genius. And to put a cherry on top, Duchovny was able to craft what is likely the sweetest ending of the entire X-Files franchise. After the events of the previous episode, Mulder and Scully’s intimacy has been at least partially reestablished. It sort of feels like things are rebooting between them, making it seem fresh and new and innocent again. It may be nothing more than a byproduct of my personal investment in the characters, but seeing these two typically repressed characters cut loose and laugh together is tremendously rewarding. S6E20: Three of a Kind (w: Vince Gilligan & Frank Spotnitz/d: Bryan Spicer) With Duchovny busy prepping his directorial debut, the team needed to put together a Mulder-free hour of television. Banking on the success of the fifth season’s opening episode “Unusual Suspects,” Spotnitz took this opportunity to create a sequel which would tie up the major loose end from the Lone Gunmen’s origin story. This episode really showed everyone just what a Lone Gunmen series would be likely to look like, with its breezy comic sensibilities and the trio’s flawless chemistry. Not to mention that when the Lone Gunmen series finally happened a couple of years later, Spicer directed six of its thirteen episodes and Gilligan and Spotnitz are at least partially credited for writing a combined six out of that same thirteen. Tonally, this episode is every ounce a part of the Lone Gunmen canon. Add to the mix a surprise cameo from Michael McKean’s character Morris Fletcher (“Dreamland”), a guest spot from SNL alum Charles Rocket, and a side of Scully we’ve never seen before, and we have a perfectly enjoyable diversion from anything that could be considered standard X-Files fare. In a closed Vegas poker game, Byers is posing as a government contractor for a convention at the casino. Frohike is serving drinks to the other contractors at the table, while Langley is observing the game from their room and communicating with Byers through an earpiece. Another player whom we will learn is named Grant Ellis forces Byers all in, cleaning him out before exposing him as a fraud. Byers and Frohike are both escorted out of the game by casino security. Realizing they need someone with government clearance to gain access to some of the convention’s programming, they use their technology to fake a phone call from Mulder to Scully in order to get her to Las Vegas to aid them. Meanwhile, a friend and rival of the trio named Jimmy has tried to gain access to a discussion of government assassination techniques when he is caught. His captors inject him with a serum which makes him highly susceptible to suggestion. Under this influence, Jimmy kills himself. In the casino, Byers spots Susanne Modeski, who was last seen being forced into the back seat of a sedan and driven away by none other than Mulder’s former informant who only went by the name “X.” Byers tries to chase her but loses track of her in the crowded casino. Scully, who has arrived to unwittingly assist the Gunmen, begins to perform an autopsy on Jimmy, but her work is interrupted by men who enter the examination room and inject her with the same serum which had caused Jimmy’s suicide. Langley finds Scully lying on the floor next to the examination table. Byers tracks Susanne to her room in the hotel and confronts her. She tells him that she has been working as an agent in order to expose the governments’ less savory practices. She and her fiancé (who, coincidentally, had thrown Byers out of a poker game earlier that day) were planning to go on the run at the end of the weekend’s conference. Langley is invited by Jimmy’s friend Timmy to attend a memorial D&D tournament for Jimmy. Frohike, hearing a familiar voice from a side bar of the casino, discovers an extremely out-of-character Scully surrounded by men. Morris Fletcher is among the suitors closed around her. Frohike extracts her and brings her up to the Gunmen’s room. When Susanne sees Scully’s condition, she realizes that her fiancé has been working behind her back to provide an experimental mind control serum to unsavory characters. While she provides an antitoxin to Scully, Langley arrives in the room where he’s expecting to get his Dungeon on, only to be attacked from behind and injected with the mind-control serum. Soon, he rejoins his team as they are hashing out a plan to expose Ellis. The next morning, Langley receives instructions from Timmy to use a provided pass to enter a panel. During the break, he is to fire three rounds into his target. Inside the hall, Langley rises from his seat and fires three bullets into Susanne’s chest. In the ensuing chaos, Scully rushes to Susanne’s side and calls for an ambulance. Byers and Frohike arrived dressed as EMTs and load Susanne onto a stretcher. Susanne had spotted the puncture in Langley’s neck after his arrival in the room the night before and she, Scully, and the Gunmen had orchestrated everything in order to fake Susanne’s death and enact her escape. Timmy, however, realizes that the blood on the carpet where Susanne had fallen is fake blood. Dun dun DUNNNN. Scully escorts Ellis back to his room where Susanne is waiting to confront him about why he gave the serum over to the government. While he’s explaining to her that his life was threatened if he didn’t turn it over, Timmy steps into the room and shoots Grant. He then takes Susanne to the Gunmen’s room where he prepares to shoot all three of them. Before he can pull the trigger, Byers injects Timmy with the serum, causing him to collapse. Under the influence of the mind-control, the Gunmen order Timmy to turn himself in as a rogue CIA agent. Byers explains to Susanne that Langley has established documentation that makes her legally dead, so that she can go into hiding without fear of governmental pursuit. When she asks him to run away with her, Byers nobly claims that he has to continue the fight to expose hidden truths with his team. She leaves him with the wedding ring meant for Ellis. A true highlight of this episode is drunk Scully. The entire story is a great confection, and surely went a long way toward docking the Lone Gunmen a slot as a mid-season replacement in March 2001. Sadly, the spinoff series wouldn’t outlive its initial thirteen episode run, but it would certainly be fun while it lasts. Interestingly, Morris Fletcher’s cameo in the bar in this episode was not entirely accidental. Fletcher would appear in one of the episodes of the Lone Gunmen show, and it has been reported that if the series had been renewed for a second season, Fletcher would have become a regular. S6E21: Field Trip (w: Frank Spotnitz (story), John Shiban & Vince Gilligan (teleplay)/d: Kim Manners) Writing this episode was very much a team effort. Spotnitz took it through several phases before landing on the final story, at which point he began to fret that the varying hallucinogenic visions within the episode would convolute the final product and confuse the audience. He passed it over to Shiban and Gilligan, who massaged the story into what would be a challenging but entirely accessible hour. Watching this episode in retrospect, I was pleasantly surprised to see a couple of now-familiar faces. David Denman, portraying half of the missing couple, would be featured later as Pam’s fiancé Roy in the early seasons of The Office. And of course Jim Beaver, the coroner in this episode, would go on to play surrogate father to a coupla idjits on Supernatural. Wallace and Angela Schiff come home after a long day hiking in the North Carolina countryside and get ready for bed. While Angela is showering, she has a brief vision of yellow sludge running down the walls of the shower. She joins Wallace in bed, and the two curl up together. The scene shifts and we see two skeletons in a field, entwined in the same position the Schiffs were in. Mulder and Scully arrive to investigate. Their remains, discovered only three days after their disappearance, have been completely skeletonized. Scully discovers an unusual yellow substance on the skeletal remains. While Mulder leaves to examine the site where they were found, Scully stays behind to spend time working with the local coroner on the remains. The yellow substance seems to be very similar in makeup to digestive enzymes. As Mulder arrives at the field where the Schiffs were found, his car runs over fungal growths on the ground, releasing a puff of spores. As he explores the field, he is surprised to see Wallace Schiff running away from him and ducking into an underground fissure. Following him into the cavern, he finds the couple cowering underground. They claim to have been abducted by aliens and experimented on. The skeletons that were found were fake replacements supplied by their abductors. Later Scully arrives at Mulder’s apartment, where he has brought the couple along with an alien they had captured in the cavern. Scully’s world suffers a seismic shift as she casts aside any doubt she had ever felt about Mulder’s theories. Her willing acceptance shakes Mulder, and he begins to see the yellow goop around him. Deep in the cave and covered in the viscous yellow fluid, Mulder struggles to awaken from his hallucination. Scully begins to worry when she can’t reach Mulder. She borrows the coroner’s truck and goes out to the field to find her partner. As she gets out of the truck, she steps on the same type of mushrooms Mulder had inadvertently driven over upon his arrival, and the same white spores issue forth. The coroner appears in the field and they find another skeleton. Fearing the worst, Scully confirms the identity of the remains by comparing them against Mulder’s dental records. She attends a wake at his apartment, but in the middle of it Mulder arrives, telling her that he’s been abducted and returned. The attendees of the wake all vanish and Mulder and Scully sit down to discuss his experience. During the course of this discussion, they both realize that they are hallucinating all of these events and are in fact trapped inside the cavern, being digested by the yellow enzyme. At this realization, they both awaken inside the cave and struggle to free themselves. Later, in Skinner’s office, they discuss their report of the incident with the Assistant Director. Except Mulder has a question. How many hallucinogens cease working the instant the user realizes he’s hallucinating? Mulder doesn’t believe they ever freed themselves and the scene they are enacting is another construct of the disabling hallucination. To prove his point, Mulder stands up and fires his weapon into Skinner’s chest. Skinner doesn’t react at all except for the yellow ooze coming from the bullet holes in his chest. Barely conscious, Mulder reaches a hand up through the soil where a search party led by AD Skinner is searching for the agents. They are both pulled free and placed in an ambulance. As they are taken to the hospital, they each extend an arm and join hands. This was both a subtler version of the kind of story told back in “Bad Blood” and a less subtle accounting of Boba Fett’s experience in the Sarlacc. It’s also a chance to peel back the veneer of our main characters and peek into their egos. It becomes clear that Mulder seeks Scully’s constant detraction. He’s told her before that her scientific approach only serves to better his investigative prowess. Without her, he would nearly always be working on pure gut instinct. But with her, he is forced to legitimize his wild ideas. Scully’s mind, on the other hand, was forced to create a more complicated situation in order to fully ensnare her constantly-searching mind. One illusion just wasn’t enough to trap her. It was necessary to create a sort of double-blind scenario in which the dream-like illusion resolved into another more true-to-life illusion. Both fell apart eventually, but the fact that her subconscious allowed Mulder to be the one to point out the illusion in the second situation reads as a sort of acknowledgment of the fact that her partner, as infuriatingly unorthodox as he can be, is nearly always instinctually right. Not that it’s something she’s ever likely to admit… S6E22: Biogenesis (w: Chris Carter & Frank Spotnitz/d: Rob Bowman) In a night in 1965, people looking into the night saw something streak past over their heads across several states and part of southeastern Canada. The object crashed in the woods outside of Kecksburg, Pennsylvania, a small community south of Pittsburgh. Initial reports (both eyewitness and in the early edition of the local newspaper) reported a large object about the size of a Volkswagon with hieroglyphic writing around the base of it. Then the Army moved in and took over the site. By the afternoon edition, the paper was reporting that nothing was found. This has since come to be known as “The Kecksburg Incident,” and was a source of inspiration for the centerpiece object of this episode. Along the shore of Cote d’Ivoire in Western Africa, biologist Solomon Merkmallen stumbles across a fragment of metal bearing strange markings. He brings it to his office where he has a similar artifact, and the two pieces fuse together before flying across the room to impale his Bible. Merkmallen travels to American University in the United States to meet with another biologist named Steven Sandoz, who holds a third matching piece of the same object. When he arrives at Sondoz’ lab, he is greeted by a man who is merely posing as Sandoz. When the real Sandoz arrives at the lab, he finds Merkmallen’s body on the floor. Mulder and Scully are assigned to find Sandoz to question him about the bloody crime scene in his lab, even though there is no body to be found. At the lab, Mulder is given a rubbing of the artifact by the detective working the case. At the sight of it, Mulder develops a piercing headache and experiences acute aural dissonance. After Mulder’s migraine passes, the agents begin interviewing Sandoz’ colleagues at the university, including one Dr. Barnes. We are able to recognize Barnes as the man who had posed as Sandoz to Merkmallen. Barnes is derisive of Sandoz’ and Merkmallen’s belief in the theory that life on this planet was initiated by extraterrestrial beings. Mulder experiences another of his headaches and inexplicably realizes that Barnes is the one who killed Merkmallen. Back at the FBI, an analysis of the rubbing shows the symbols to be Navajo. At Sandoz’ apartment, they find a picture of Sandoz with Albert Hosteen, the WWII Navajo code-talker who has served as an ally for Mulder and Scully in the past. They also find the remains of Dr. Merkmallen shoved into the dishwasher in the kitchen. Mulder is convinced that Sandoz is being framed for the murder. He also thinks that someone else is working this case parallel to them. Skinner elusively pleads ignorance of anyone pursuing this case other than them, but as soon as they leave, he hands over a tape of their conversation to Krychek when he enters the office. Insisting the Mulder stay home and rest because of his headaches, Scully goes to New Mexico to visit Albert Hosteen. She is surprised to find him in an advanced stage of cancer, and perhaps even more surprised when she finds Dr. Sandoz in the hospital to visit the same man she was there to see. Sandoz explains to Scully that Albert had translated some of the fragment for him. The markings translated to a passage from Genesis in the Bible about the seeding of life on this planet during the creation. Back in DC, Mulder goes back to question Barnes, but is overcome by the worst headache yet, forcing him to collapse in a stairwell at the university. When Scully calls him to tell him about her conversation with the elusive biologist, she is surprised when Diana Fowley answers the phone. Could it be that Mulder never changed his emergency contact at work after he and Fowley broke up six and a half years ago? Once Mulder speaks with a considerably irritated Scully, he shares with her his theory that the artifact is proof that aliens created mankind here on Earth. After Mulder hangs up the phone and lies back in his bed to rest, Fowley goes into the next room and reports the conversation to Cigarette Smoking Man. In New Mexico, Albert Hosteen is removed from medical treatment and brought back to his reservation to be entered into a Navajo ritual. Scully believes that his cancer is terminal and medical science has provided all the help it can to him. While she is watching the tribal elders perform their ritual inside the sweat lodge, Skinner calls her to tell her that Mulder has been taken to a hospital with worsening condition. She hops a flight back to DC where she finds Mulder locked in a psychiatric hospital shouting at the padded walls. She speaks with Skinner and Fowley, realizing that she cannot trust either one of them. Back in the X-Files office, Scully has developed an entirely justifiable case of paranoia. She nearly finds a camera hidden in the smoke detector when the phone rings. It’s Sandoz with the news that the other markings on the artifact appear to be a complete map of the human genome, a brass ring which biologists and other scientists have been seeking unsuccessfully for many years. Scully goes to the Ivory Coast of Africa, where the artifacts were found. She discovers that the fragments were broken from the hull of an extraterrestrial ship buried in the sand at the edge of the beach. The Syndicate is dead. Presumably, so are their projects which were the impetus for more than five years’ worth of television. Chris Carter knew it was time to shift the show’s attention toward another facet of extraterrestrials’ presence on our planet. Remember WAA-AAA-AY back in the second episode of the first season (“Deep Throat”) when the titular character said “Mr. Mulder, they’ve been here for a long, long time”? At the time he wrote that scene, I doubt Carter had a clear idea that he would explore the themes he would angle into starting with this episode, but it still struck me when I began this survey that there is cohesion from the pilot all the way to the series finale that I hadn’t noticed in prior viewings. We’ve reached a point in the series where Mulder’s supernatural ideas are beginning to dovetail with Scully’s beloved science, which makes for what amounts to a seismic shift in the series as we move into season seven and parts two and three of this current story. See larger image The X-Files: Season 6 Tcfhe Release Date: 12/02/2008 Run time: 820 minutes Rating New From: $41.30 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.