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. S6E9: S.R. 819 (w: John Shiban/d: Daniel Sackheim) Judgement day had come for Walter Skinner. In the new paradigm of the X-Files, he had become an expendable element. As much as he had been cultivated and developed over the first five seasons of the show, since Mulder and Scully’s reassignment under Assistant Director Kersh, Skinner has barely been visible. The show’s creative staff knew it, the fans knew it, and it looked like it might actually be time for Skinner to be eliminated. Shiban wrote a medical thriller to showcase Mitch Pileggi’s character and reunite him with his two pet agents. The true suspense arose from the knowledge that it was entirely possible for Skinner to die. Pileggi spent hours in makeup to apply the skin effects in the episode, and he was rather vocal about his dislike for the process. A couple of long-lost characters put in appearances in this episode as well. Senator Richard Matheson, one-time patron to Mulder and his work, appears here for the final time in the series. Another significant character resurfaces for the first time in a while, but it’s best to leave that until later. In a dark hospital ward, Walter Skinner is pronounced dead by the attending doctor. His veins and arteries protrude through his mottled skin. Having aggressively grabbed our attention, the episode jumps back twenty-four hours to explain things. Skinner is in the boxing ring at the gym, working out against an opponent. The gym is busy, with lots of people milling around. Suddenly, Skinner’s vision begins to swim and he nearly loses consciousness. As he does, he notes a decidedly hirsute man sitting outside the ring. He awakens in the hospital. A doctor notes a nasty bruise on this left side, but declares him to be healthy otherwise. After being released, Skinner makes his way back to the J. Edgar building where Mulder sees him enter. Going to visit his former supervisor, Mulder becomes concerned about his health and calls Scully to come examine him. He recalls an older man touching his wrist earlier that day in the hallway outside of his office. After reviewing the security footage, Scully recognizes the man as a physicist named Dr. Kenneth Orgel, who serves as an advisor for a senate subcommittee on new technology. Mulder and Skinner go to visit the doctor and find themselves in the middle of a gunfight with several men who load Orgel into the back of their car and escape. Mulder captures one of the men, but Skinner orders the agent to release the man once he sees his diplomatic papers. He is an employee of the Tunisian Embassy. Mulder does a background check on the man anyway. He discovers a link between the man and Senator Matheson, but Matheson insists that he has no involvement with any such dealings which creates a dead end for Mulder. Scully, examining a sample of Skinner’s blood, finds some sort of self-replicating carbon material infecting the sample. Left unchecked, this material would replicate enough to completely clog the Assistant Director’s arteries forcing a heart attack. Skinner gets into a gunfight with the Tunisian diplomat in a parking garage along Embassy Row. He is injured, but his assailant is hit by a car driven by an unseen driver. Mulder discovers that Skinner was investigating a Senate resolution (S.R. 819), which he thinks is tied to the current circumstances. Senator Matheson attends a meeting at a disused power plant, where he witnesses the death of Dr. Orgel, seemingly at the hand of the same shaggy man who was watching when Skinner collapsed at the gym. The mysterious figure operates a device of some sort which seems to be able to control the replication of the same microscopic carbon that is in Skinner’s blood. When he increases the pressure to its highest setting the physicist’s blood stops completely, killing him while the Senator stands watching. Mulder finds his way to the power plant and finds Senator Matheson still reeling from what he had witnessed. The physicist’s body and the shaggy guy are both gone. The Senator warns Mulder to walk away from the whole thing. Of course, Mulder being Mulder, there really isn’t much chance of that happening. Skinner confesses to Scully that he could have and should have been a better ally to them. He remembers the shaggy man, but goes into cardiac arrest before he can put together all of the pieces. The attending pronounces him dead and pulls the sheet over his face. Nearby, the shaggy guy holds up the device he was using when he killed the physicist. Turning the dial down, Skinner awakens on the table. His recovery is rapid and considered miraculous by the medical community. When he returns to work three weeks later, he brusquely dismisses Mulder and Scully when they approach him about furthering the investigation into his case. He orders them to only report of Assistant Director Kersh. As he’s leaving work for the day, he encounters Alex Krychek. Krychek was the shaggy man, and he still holds Skinner in check with the nanobot-controlling device. It finally feels like this new era of the show has found its footing. If one considers that Chris Carter’s master plan was to have moved entirely into feature films after Fight the Future’s release, this run of episodes was never really planned to happen. Working on demand for the network executives, this season of television had to have been cobbled together on the fly to some extent. As such, I am perfectly willing to forgive the digressions of the first part of this season. The stories were diverting, the guest stars fun, and it kept things light and quick. But with this episode, it feels we’re back from vacation and it’s time to get back to business. And for once, coming back from vacation is a most welcome development. While barely a glimpse into the machinations working against the X-Files, it’s clear that the Syndicate’s interest is primarily dedicated to keeping a tight button on that division. They have Weasel-Boy Spender running the unit into the ground, so the only remaining threat to the legitimization of the X-Files is AD Skinner and his known allegiance to Mulder and Scully. And now he’s been effectively taken out of play. At least, it would appear that the Syndicate is pulling the strings. With Krychek, though, it’s hard to tell. He goes rogue more often Gambit (pause for fanboy laughter – crickets). Assuming he is still working for the Syndicate as he was when we last saw him, it would be safe to say that gaining control of Skinner was a bold yet necessary move. In the chess game of this series’ mythology, this episode would likely represent a “check” on the part of the Syndicate and those working for them. S6E10: Tithonus (w: Vince Gilligan/d: Michael Watkins) “…only cruel immortality/Consumes; I wither slowly in thine arms,/Here at the quiet limit of the world,/A white-hair’d shadow roaming like a dream” –“Tithonus,” Alfred, Lord Tennyson See, when dealing with Greek gods, you have to be extremely specific. When Eos asked that her lover Tithonus be made immortal, she forgot to specify that she expected him to have eternal youth. Instead, he just kept aging but never dying. Dick move, Zeus. Just sayin’. “Tithonus”, besides being a meditation on immortality, was Gilligan’s take on the legendary crime scene photographer Arthur Fellig. In an office building in New York City, an older gentleman stalks a young mail clerk through the night-time halls of the offices as she delivers the mail. She breathes a sigh of relief when she reaches the safety of the elevator and the other passengers therein. After joining the group on the elevator, the old man gets out at the seventeenth floor and watches as the doors close on the other passengers. He runs for the stairway, bolting down the steps. On the elevator, the remaining group hears mechanical creaks and other noises that would be filed in the “Noises You Definitely Don’t Want to Hear While Riding an Elevator” category. Something above them snaps and the car plunges down the shaft. In the basement level, the old man is waiting with his camera. He snaps pictures as the blood begin to flow out of the elevator shaft. Assistant Director Kersh partners Agent Ritter from the New York field office with Scully to look into the incident after the agent discovers evidence that suggests photographer Alvin Fellig is somehow involved in a series of crimes which he photographed for the police. Mulder, dripping with jealousy over Scully’s being assigned to what appears to be an X-File without him, makes some early suggestions including spirit photography and soul-stealing through a camera lens, to name a couple. Meanwhile, in New York, Fellig, the old man from the beginning of the episode, watches from a fire escape as a mugger attacks another man to steal his shoes. Hey, some guys have a shoe thing, you know? The attacker spots Fellig taking pictures and puts a knife through the old man’s back. He runs away, leaving Fellig to the same fate as his now-shoeless fellow victim. Fellig stumbles and falls to the ground, but reaches around to pull the knife from his back. He drops the knife and runs away, leaving it to be found later with his prints on it. Those prints are enough to convince Ritter of Fellig’s guilt, but upon questioning, Scully is not convinced. She’s still trying to reconcile the fact that she and Ritter found records dating back to the Sixties in which Fellig looks exactly the same as he does today (well, except for that pornstache phase he went through in the Seventies). After Fellig is treated for his knife wounds, Ritter’s lack of evidence forces him to release his prime suspect. Later that night, Scully takes over on stakeout duty outside of Fellig’s apartment. She decides to confront him when she sees him taking pictures of her from his window. She wants to know how he is able to arrive at crime scenes so much earlier than anyone else. As an answer, he invites her to join him for a driving tour of the five boroughs. They eventually park the car in view of a prostitute being mishandled by her pimp. Fellig has recognized the pro as his next photo op. While he settles in to wait for the shot, Scully leaps out of the car to interrupt the deleted scene from “Rent”. She saves the girl, but then the girl runs out in front of a truck. Face it, Scully. Heroics ain’t easy. Fellig takes off, ditching Scully with her handcuffed prisoner and the dead hooker. Zeus move, Fellig. She goes back to his apartment to warn him that he should prepare himself to be arrested for basically being a bad citizen. Before it can turn into the Seinfeld finale, however, Fellig shows Scully some of his greatest hits. Several of them show some sort of spectral form hovering over the bodies. He believes this figure to be the Grim Reaper coming to claim his latest acquisitions. Fellig is unable to die, and is sort of over it. He tells her that he had contracted the yellow fever at the end of the 19th Century, but when Death came to claim him, he refused to look into the Reaper’s face, so he claimed the nurse watching over him instead. Since that day, he’s been able to tell whenever someone is about to die and follows them until it happens hoping to look Death in the face and finally end his life. As he tells his story, he realizes that Scully is about to hit her expiration date. As he prepares his camera, Agent Ritter bursts through the door and fires at Fellig. The bullet passes through the immortal and strikes Scully in the abdomen. She sinks to the floor, coughing up blood. Her eyes fill with terror, but Fellig insists that she close her eyes. He holds her hands and assures himself that she is closing her eyes before turning around and looking up. He dies. At the hospital, Ritter tap-dances an apology for bursting into a contained situation with his gun blazing and shooting his ally. Zeus move, Ritter (I’m determined to make this catch on). Mulder enters after Ritter leaves, telling Scully that Fellig died from a single gunshot wound. Also, her doctors are astounded at her recovery. While tempered by shades of the earlier episodes “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose” and “Unruhe,” this installment was able to stand firmly on its own as a heartfelt monster of the week episode. Scully, who is given a chance to stretch her legs and do a little casework, fails utterly in solving it by insisting upon getting to the truth instead. Her acceptance of Fellig and his “gifts” is a benchmark in her character’s arc. When we think back to her interactions with Clyde Bruckman, it’s impossible not to see the growth of her character over the past several years. Mulder cooling his heels back at his FBI cubicle while Scully is out on an X-file is a delectably frustrating development, as well. All that Mulder witnessed in Antarctica during Fight the Future had graduated him from “annoyance” to “severe threat” level for the Syndicate’s mysterious programs. His current professional emasculation is a tactic they’re likely going to eventually regret. Zeus move, Syndicate. Nah, forget it. I’m over it. Besides, it’ll never catch on. S6E11: Two Fathers (w: Chris Carter & Frank Spotnitz/d: Kim Manners)/S6E12: One Son (w: Chris Carter & Frank Spotnitz/d: Rob Bowman) Make no mistake: this two-parter was HUGE. We see the return of Cassandra Spender after her abduction last season (earning Veronica Cartwright an Emmy nomination, by the way). We watch the slow unraveling of Jeffrey Spender’s duplicitousness. Mulder and Scully find their strength again with each protecting the other, shoulder-to-shoulder. We sit in a smoky confessional with Cigarette-Smoking Man as he reveals all the secrets of the conspiracy he’s been holding together for most of his life. We learn that CSM actually has a name. But more impactful than any of these is the fall of the Syndicate, putting an end to their fifty-year enterprise to prevent the colonization of our planet by an extraterrestrial force. After months of monster-of-the-week stories, this one delivered the goods in the biggest possible way. Inside a familiar-looking rail car laboratory, doctors run tests on a subject on the table. They step outside as Dr. Openshaw arrives, informing him that his twenty-five year project is complete and successful. As they prepare to celebrate the completion of the project, faceless alien rebels appear and set them all aflame with their incendiary Hitachi vibrator-looking weapons. The only survivors are Dr. Openshaw and the patient. Openshaw is injured, but the alien leaves Cassandra Spender asleep on the table inside the lab. AD Skinner alerts Agent Spender to his mother’s return after being missing for a year. Spender is understandably exasperated when she tells him that she only wants to speak with Mulder about her experiences over the past year. When Spender approaches Mulder, he assumes that it is some sort of trap which would empower Deputy Director Kersh to cut the leash on his pet peeve for good. Cigarette Smoking Man visits the facility where Dr. Openshaw is being treated for his burns in a hyperbaric chamber. After the doctor informs him that the procedure involving his ex-wife Cassandra Spender is the first successful alien-human hybrid, CSM shuts off the oxygen in the chamber, killing the doctor. Next on his hit list is his ex-wife. Her existence is a threat to the project the Syndicate has been employing him to protect for the past several decades. Meanwhile, one of the shape-shifting alien rebels kills and replaces one of the Syndicate’s elders. Mulder and Scully arrange a clandestine meeting with Cassandra. Her view of the aliens has evolved considerably since they last met, as she has come to realize that the aliens are an invading force and not the benevolent saviors she once thought them to be. The agents are surprised to find that Cassandra’s legs are healed, where she had once been confined to a wheelchair. She appears perfectly healthy, in fact. At Syndicate headquarters, Alex Krychek is completing his presentation of the rebels’ recent activity. A Syndicate elder (who is secretly one of the alien rebels) proposes that they consider aligning themselves with the rebel aliens against the ones bent on colonization. CSM shoots him down, noting that he was one of the men who had argued against such action. They allied themselves with the colonizers in order to buy time to build a secret defense against them, and to change course now would jeopardize their entire enterprise. Mulder and Scully, knowing that their computers are being monitored for such activity, break into Spender’s X-Files office and use information given them by Cassandra to discover CSM’s identity: CGB Spender (Clive Gilmour Bennigan?). Despite Skinner attempting to help them, they are discovered in the office by Agent Spender. Deputy Director Kersh salivates openly as he suspends Mulder and Scully from the FBI. It might as well be Kersh’s birthday. While Mulder pouts, Scully gets to work and finds evidence that CGB (Calvin Gallup Bridgeton?) Spender and Bill Mulder (Mulder’s dad) had worked together on some sort of ultra-secret project for the State Department. CBG (Cystic Biennial Graham?) has a father/son chat with Jeffrey where he smacks him around a bit and berates him (“You pale to Fox Mulder” = shivers) before offering him the job of killing the Syndicate elder he thinks is actually an alien rebel spy. Thanksgiving dinner would be awesome in the Spender house. With his own whooshy switchblade alien killing stiletto in hand, he gets into the car with Krychek to go visit the treacherous impersonator. Spender chokes in his attempt, but Krychek steps in before the alien can kill him. While Krychek does his Krychekian things in the house, Spender sits and stares at the man rapidly melting into a gooey green stain on the Persian carpet. He becomes even more withdrawn as Krychek tells him about his father’s responsibility in the experimentation done on his mother and that his task tonight was in support of that same work. Like Cameron’s breakdown after the Ferrari dies in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Spender is working through some daddy issues. While all this is going down, CGB (Constant Grief Broker?) is sitting with Agent Diana Fowley, detailing every aspect of the conspiracy he’s been protecting for all these years. He’s looking for someone to inherit his legacy, and he sees more potential in her than in his own son. She agrees to help. Mulder, meanwhile, has contacted Skinner to tell him that Cassandra is in danger. He explains that she is the first successful alien/human hybrid and will sooner be killed than allowed to go free in order to protect the Syndicate’s work. Skinner rushes to the hospital where he and Spender discover that she is gone. She has escaped the hospital and arrives at Mulder’s apartment, where she demands that he shoot her so that she doesn’t fall back into the hands of her abductors. Someone begins pounding on the door of Mulder’s apartment as Mulder debates whether to fulfill her wishes and Scully looks on. Before Mulder can decide what to do, the insistent pounding on the door turns into CDC agents bursting into the room. Agent Fowley is with them, and tells Mulder that they are here at her behest to contain an infectious material being carried by Cassandra. Scully talks scientific circles around Fowley’s rationale, but it falls on deaf ears. Mulder and Scully are whisked away to a facility where their clothes are incinerated and they are decontaminated after being separated from Cassandra. After Mulder pieces together an Urkel costume from the clothes offered him, he ventures into the facility’s hallway looking for better-fitting shoes. Surprisingly, he stumbles into his former informant from the UN, Marita Covarrubias. She’s seen better days. Actually, with her red eyes and washed-out complexion, she looks like an extra from the Walking Dead, which is sort of ironic considering actor Laurie Holden’s future resume. She tells Mulder about the experimentation she’s suffered at the hands of the Syndicate as they continue their search for a vaccine against the Black Oil (aka “Purity”). She informs him that the alien rebels want Cassandra dead because the colonists will proceed as soon as they learn of her existence as a successful hybrid. After being released from the CDC facility, Scully and the Lone Gunmen start looking into Agent Fowley’s recent activities. They find that she has a standing monthly appointment in Tunisia, but can’t find why (hey, didn’t we end up in Tunisia with Cancer Man and the Syndicate elder at the end of “Fight the Future”? Hmm…). When Scully presents this mysterious itinerary to Mulder, he is reluctant to jump on the Fowley hate-train. Instead, he lets himself into her apartment to dig through her unmentionables to look for clues. While he’s there, CGB (Casanova Gives Bacteria?) turns up. They have a conversation reminiscent of the one back in “One Breath”, in that Mulder surprises his nemesis and holds him at gunpoint while the other sits infuriatingly at ease. He tells Mulder that his father was the only one who didn’t agree with the Syndicate’s plan to cooperate with the colonists in order to buy time. The rest of the group agreed to exchange family members to the colonists in exchange for an alien fetus so that they could utilize the DNA to work toward hybridization (and, secretly, a vaccine). Since Bill Mulder held out, his daughter had to be abducted in a much more dramatic way than the other members’ offerings. He tells him that full colonization will begin as soon as Cassandra is turned over to the aliens, which will serve as a fulfillment of the Syndicate’s end of the bargain. Spender goes to Syndicate central, but only finds Krychek looking in the seat cushions for loose change or whatever the hell it is that he does there. Krychek tells him that the rest of the members left to meet with the alien colonists. Spender goes to the CDC facility, where Covarrubias tells him that his mother has been taken to the Air Force hangar with the rest of the Syndicate. When Krychek tries to retrieve the alien fetus, he finds it is missing and the scientist in charge of it to be dead. He realizes that one of the rebels must have taken the form of the scientist, and that this strategic move is likely to stop the colonization plans. CSM and Fowley arrive at the hangar where the Syndicate is to meet with the aliens in time to watch as the rebel aliens enter the hangar and immolate the Syndicate, their families, and Cassandra Spender. CSM and Fowley are able to escape the conflagration. The next day, Agent Spender reports to Kersh that Mulder and Scully could have prevented the events of the previous few days and recommends that they be reassigned to the X-Files. Spender goes to the basement to collect his things from the X-Files office, but his dad is waiting for him. CSM shoots his own son in the head. This story arc was the biggest resolution we’re ever likely to get from the X-Files. Carter decided to hit the reset button on the show and tie up several of the story threads that have been dangling since the beginning of the series. The result was a propulsive epic packed with answers. And for once, those answers weren’t offset by even more questions. It’s all a bit head-spinning, and the conclusion is rather abrupt, what with a fifty-year-old conspiracy being reduced (literally) to ashes in a single off-screen moment of screams. One of the things that struck me about this story was how Scully’s instincts have reached a level where they supersede even Mulder’s borderline preternatural proclivities. To be fair, Mulder’s judgement is probably clouded when it comes to Agent Fowley, due to reasons we’ve discussed earlier in this column. Their interactions in the second part of this story would seem to support my theory about Mulder and Fowley’s previous marital status, but I’ll concede that I might be reaching a bit. Scully’s distrust of Fowley, while justified in every possible non-catty impersonal way, presents itself to Mulder as one side of an argument to which we’re not entirely privy. It’s a tribute to Gillian Anderson’s grasp of this character that she pack “why didn’t you tell me you used to be married to this duplicitous bitch we’ll be discussing this later when Frohike and Langley aren’t staring at my ass” into one single level stare. The most gratification from this arc can be found in Agent Spender’s steady unraveling. Characters can surprise us sometimes, and Spender’s resigned recommendation to reassign Mulder and Scully to the X-Files might be his first steps into being a grown-up. In the soundtrack that constantly runs in my head, that moment was a cue for Urge Overkill’s “Girl, You’ll be a Woman Soon” to begin playing in my head. My inner jukebox is constantly turning dramatic moments into ridiculous ones. It would be annoying if it didn’t make me giggle. I might or might not be an undiagnosed schizophrenic. S6E13: Agua Mala (w: David Amann/d: Rob Bowman) This would mark Darren McGavin’s second and final appearance as retired FBI agent Arthur Dales. His character will appear once more in the series, but McGavin would suffer a stroke just as that episode (“The Unnatural”) was set to be filmed, forcing the producers to recast the role. We’ll remember that Dales was the agent who first opened the X-Files in the early fifties, as seen in season five’s “Travelers.” Amann’s concept for this episode began with the agents facing a monster in an abandoned gold mine before evolving into the sea monster in a hurricane story it would become. The title’s literal translation is “bad water,” but aguamala is also a slang term for the Portuguese Man of War, a venomous, tentacled jellyfish. As a hurricane bears down on the Florida Gulf coast town of Goodland, Florida, Sara Shipley and her son are in a battle for their lives. Somehow, the outcome of this battle is contingent on them toppling their full washing machine. Before they can accomplish this puzzling task, tentacles emerge from the house’s plumbing system and ensnare them. Arthur Dales, retired FBI agent (and founder of the X-Files) contacts Mulder. He and Scully are able to fly into Florida just before the airport is closed. Dales sends them out into the storm to the Shipley residence based on chatter he picked up with his ham radio rig. At the Shipley’s house, they can’t find any trace of the residents other than the family cat, but are intrigued by the fact that the doors and windows are all boarded up from the inside. As they explore the house, they are mistaken for looters by Deputy Greer of the local sheriff’s department. Once credentials are established, they go their separate ways. The agents try to reach the airport, but all the roads are blocked. Deputy Greer’s last stop before going back to the station is a condominium complex which has lost power. He walks the halls, checking for citizens in need. Instead, he finds a sea monster eating some poor guy sitting on the toilet. Before he can react, the creature ensnares him with a tentacle around the neck. As Mulder drives through the hurricane-swept streets, he sees the deputy’s vehicle and stops to ask him for help. Inside, he and Scully find Greer clinging to life with the world’s nastiest hickey all over his throat. While Scully improvises an emergency tracheotomy wearing a pin-up girl apron and her signature Lil Wayne blood gang red bandanna face. Meanwhile, Mulder explores the rest of the condo, finding a looter with a heart of gold, a mismatched couple on the verge of becoming parents (she was due a week ago), and the prototype for Fox News viewers holed up in the building. Mulder is able to gather everyone except Captain NRA into the apartment with Scully and Deputy Greer. Greer is moved into an icy bath in the tub to combat his 106-degree fever. While they weigh possible strategies, gunshots from down the hall send Mulder running. Vincent finally relents and leaves his apartment, joining the others. He tells them about the creature that was trying to attack him. Dougie the friendly looter accidentally knocks a container of Epsom salts into the tub with the deputy while he’s trying to relieve him of his wedding ring. Soon after, when the pregnant Angela goes into the bathroom to pee for the five-hundredth time in the last hour, she sees the creature in the tub with the deputy. By the time Mulder and Scully charge into the bathroom, the deputy is gone, leaving only his clothes. Mulder thinks that the creature isn’t a sea monster after all, but that it is somehow made of water, taking form only to attack. Further, he thinks it is the water in the bodies of its victims to feed new organisms it’s planting in them through its tentacles. Realizing the need to evacuate, Mulder goes into the hallway to assure they will have safe passage out of the building. Unfortunately, he is attacked as well. Vincent, believing the agent to be infected and a threat to the rest of them, locks Mulder out in the hall. To make matters even more dramatic, Angela’s water breaks. Which is actually sort of funny, in a literary thematic way. Scully protests that she don’t know nothin’ ‘bout birthin’ no babies, but rolls up her sleeves and gets to work anyway. Out in the hallway, Mulder crawls toward the rainswept courtyard of the condo where he sees the Shipley’s cat. During the childbirth, Scully sees a tentacle coming through the ceiling light fixture. It grabs Vincent. Scully hands her gun to Walter, the dad-to-be, ordering him to shoot at the room’s fire sprinkler. She has determined that the creature only thrives in salt water, as evidenced by the attack after Epsom salt was spilled in the bathwater. The fresh water from the sprinklers holds the creature at bay, saving everyone in the room. The next morning, Scully and the recovering Mulder pay a visit to Dales. After telling their story, he muses that he might not have retired when he did if he had had someone like Scully as a partner. While the creature itself remains something of a cypher by the end of this episode, the convincing performances of the supporting cast keep it moving forward at enough of a clip to make this an enjoyable entry in the series. The most frustrating part about this episode for this writer is how little screen time Arthur Dales gets. It was enough of a treat to have McGavin as a part of this show, but I can only wish he could have had more of a role in the series. On the side of gratification, we finally get to see Mulder and Scully in action utilizing the well-established status quo that has been forcibly cast aside for this entire season. Even the scenario is familiar: Mulder and Scully find themselves trapped in an isolated enclosed space with a group of distrustful strangers while an unknown threat stalks them all. We’ve seen it over and over again, ever since the first season episode “Ice,” and its reiteration here is a signal that things are getting back to normal for our heroes again. S6E14: Monday (w: Vince Gilligan & John Shiban/d: Kim Manners) Here’s an episode in which the series’ two main characters die in the opening teaser. And it’s not even one of the in media res openings I’ve complained about in the past. It’s a real-time bomb blast with Mulder and Scully caught in the epicenter. Gilligan and Shiban create a crafty little X-File here. When casting Pam, the episode’s beleaguered protagonist, Carrie Hamilton (Carol Burnett’s daughter, by the way) embodied the sympathetic-but-not-crazy Pam. Northern Exposure alum Darren Burrows (Ed!) is her mad bomber bank robbing boyfriend. It’s just another Monday morning. Mulder lies on the floor of a Washington, DC bank lobby bleeding out from a gunshot wound. Scully holds him across her lap, trying in vain to apply pressure to the wound. The gunman, his robbery plans turned awry, flips the switch on the bomb strapped to his chest. While Skinner watches from outside, the bank explodes, killing everyone inside. Mulder wakes up. It’s Monday morning. His waterbed (a confused remnant from his forgotten body swap with Morris Fletcher in “Dreamland”) has sprung a leak, causing his alarm clock, cell phone, and the downstairs neighbor to short circuit. Realizing he’s late for a meeting, he rushes to the office. Before he can join the meeting though, he needs to deposit his paycheck so the check he wrote for water damage to his landlord doesn’t bounce. Heading to the bank, he falls into the middle of a robbery situation and ends up being shot by the gunman. Scully walks in and things escalate. While she tries to help Mulder, the gunman detonates his bomb, killing everyone inside. Mulder wakes up. It’s Monday morning. His waterbed has leaked. The alarm clock isn’t working, but his landlord is and demands payment for water damage. In a cheap apartment, Bernard (the gunman from the bank) is prepping himself for his day. His girlfriend Pam tries to convince him to just go to work, but he insists that he has a plan that will change their lives forever. Haunted, Pam gets into the car with him. They park across the street from the bank, and he goes inside. Pam watches as Mulder goes inside after her boyfriend. She watches as Scully walks in. She watches as the police show up. She tries to speak to Skinner, but it’s too late. The bomb goes off inside, killing everyone. Mulder wakes up. It’s Monday morning. This chain of events keeps happening. Each time, it’s slightly different, but the end result is always the same. Pam tries to explain the loop she’s trapped in to Mulder. She approaches Scully in the corridor in the FBI offices and tries to warn her off. Mulder tries to deposit his check in the ATM instead of going inside, but the machine is down. Every time it happens, everything resets and the only one who remembers the whole thing is Pam. Every. Damn. Time. But as the events replay, Mulder begins recognizing her. He can’t think how he recognizes her, but it’s a rush of déjà vu when he sees her. During the climax of one of these iterations, Mulder repeats to himself “he’s got a bomb” just as Bernard flips the switch. When he’s in line at the bank the next time, he finds himself subconsciously repeating the phrase and notices Bernard writing his robbery note at the service counter. He also sees Pam sitting in the car outside the bank window. After calling Scully, he confronts Bernard. Bernard begins his holdup, and it looks as though things will continue in a familiar direction until a confused Scully enters the bank with Pam. Bernard freaks out and tries to shoot Mulder. Pam leaps in front of his gun, taking the bullet for the agent. As she dies, she tells Mulder that “this has never happened before.” Bernard surrenders. Mulder wakes up. It’s Tuesday morning. I have been personally obsessed with this episode ever since it first aired in early 1999. I can’t explain my compulsive attraction with it. It’s really sort of a darkened flip side to the movie Groundhog Day, even though the creators cite the Twilight Zone episode “Shadow Play” as its true inspiration. Its musings on the topics of predestination and free will fascinate me, I suppose. I am plagued with vivid bouts of déjà vu on a regular basis, so I’m sure some of my fixation stems from that. The thought that a day could just keep repeating itself until it turns out the correct way is intriguing. How many times have I lived through this day until I typed this sentence exactly the right way at exactly the right time? How could we possibly know that the universe doesn’t do this? We may live each day thousands or even hundreds of thousands of times until the correct universal scenario plays itself out and we can move on to the next day. It’s not exactly a do-over, but a way for the kinks to work themselves out, like running a sander over a cut piece of wood. The more passes, the smoother the lumber until it is exactly right and the carpenter can move on to the next piece. While not a part of this story, I find it also puts me in mind of parallel realities and the miniscule differences that may exist from one timeline to the next, yet how those differences are little more than tiny snags in the tapestry that begins and ends in the same way from one to the next. What if every single decision we make throughout the day branches a parallel reality where that decision went the other way? I decide to have a glass of orange juice and drink my coffee on the way to work instead of going straight for the coffee. Boom. Alternate timeline, and it’s not even 8AM. What other realities can I create in a day? What if I wear the black Chucks instead of the white ones today? What if I go to the gym instead of… Well, nah, that’s just not realistic. What if I decided to just keep typing examples of divergent choices instead of wrapping this up? I’m sort of starting to ramble here. Maybe I should consider a do-over on this one… S6E15: Arcadia (w: Daniel Arkin/d: Michael Watkins) This episode was the first script from Arkin, a new member of the writing staff. Following a delay with a truck, he had once been fined one thousand dollars for moving into his Greenwich Village co-op after 5pm, according to the three-hundred page list of rules (CC&Rs, aka Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions – and yes, that’s actually a thing because some people are just insane enough to live in a place that forces them to agree to such regimentation) he had been given. His original draft of the script presented a human protagonist who was some sort of bogey-man enforcer of the rules in the community, but Chris Carter wanted a monster. So he rewrote and included references to the Tibetan myth of the Tulpa. The writing staff collectively induced the notion that Mulder and Scully would tackle the case posing as a married couple, which became the shining point of this particular episode. In San Diego County, California there is a planned community called the Falls of Arcadia. It’s peaceful and tranquil and clean and neighborly. So neighborly in fact, that your neighbor will repaint your mailbox for you if it’s the wrong shade of tan. The Klines live in this community, and find an unexpected gift in their freshly-painted mailbox. It’s a tacky wooden whirligig which, despite their community’s strict set of CC&Rs, Dave Kline installs outside their bedroom window so he and the missus can sleep with a metronomic tap-tap-tapping. All. Night. Long. If you ask me, they almost deserve to have a monster enter their house and kill them both. Mulder and Scully move into the Kline’s house posing as married couple Rob and Laura Petrie (sans ottoman) in order to investigate the Kline’s disappearance. It’s their first official X-Files assignment since being reinstated to the division, which is exciting for them. But that’s where anything that could be labeled a “honeymoon phase” begins and ends about this assignment for the agents. A thorough inspection of the house yields only a bit of bloody-looking gunk on one of the ceiling fan blades. Mulder, the eternal nudge, insists upon pushing the boundaries of Arcadia’s rules, so much so that Mike, one of the neighbors, declares to the members of the homeowners’ association that the Petries should be brought into the loop regarding the true nature of their situation. That night, Mike notices that the bulb of his driveway light is broken. In a panic, he rushes out and changes it, but he is too late. A shambling mass of a creature rises from his front yard and attacks him. Mulder and Scully go to visit the president of the homeowners’ association under the pretense of asking permission to install a basketball hoop in the driveway. Mulder notes Gogolak’s collection of Tibetan esoterica, which the man dismisses as a product of his travels around the world seeking items for his store. The next evening, Scully finds a necklace she recognizes as Mike’s in a storm drain when a neighbor’s dog jumps into the drain also. After extracting the dog, Scully finds more of the blood-like gunk on its snout. She leaves the next morning to analyze the two samples in the San Diego field office while Mulder stays home and stakes out their house. Guessing that violation of the CC&Rs is somehow the impetus behind whatever attacks are happening, he declares war on his mailbox, but any acts of aggression he commits against the unfortunate receptacle are quickly and mysteriously fixed. His installation of a pink flamingo on the front lawn prompts an anonymous note in the mailbox pleading with him to “STAAAHP IT” (paraphrased). During a confrontation over Mulder’s late-night basketball jones, the neighbor’s wife is attacked by the creature, but it disappears before Mulder can confront it. Scully, having spent the day analyzing the two samples, informs him that both samples were composed of garbage waste. As it turns out, the Falls of Arcadia were built upon an old landfill, so the soil is rich with waste. The next day, Mulder ups his game by hiring an excavator to dig up his front yard. He claims to want to install a reflecting pool, which is not mentioned in the CC&Rs. In truth, he believes the Klines are to be buried in the yard. He does not find bodies, but unearths the whirligig that had been sent to the former occupants. He finds a marking on it indicating that it came from Gogolak’s company. Mulder goes to confront the association president, accusing him of bringing a Tibetan Tulpa to wreak vengeance upon non-conformists and accuses him of the deaths of the Klines. Back at home, Scully is in the middle of being attacked by the garbage Tulpa over Mulder’s hole in the front yard. A bloodied and beaten Mike (the friendly neighbor from earlier, remember?) appears and shoves her into a closet for protection while he grapples with the creature. Mulder and Gogolak return to the house and hear the struggle happening inside. Mulder handcuffs his prisoner to the mailbox and rushes inside. Gogolak realizes that he’s become a garden gnome on the Petrie’s front lawn as the creature rises up and attacks him. Mulder rushes outside at that moment and stands defenseless as the trash heap turns and begins moving toward him. Gogolak, crushed by his own creation, exhales his last breath. As he does, the creature falls apart into a pile of dirt at Mulder’s feet. Scully emerges from the house too late to see the monster. It’s pretty clear that things are not going well between our favorite star-crossed couple. I’d go so far as to say that things haven’t been going well for some time, actually. We’ll never know for sure, but this fan’s speculation is that some remnant of the events during the Morris Fletcher/Fox Mulder body-swap continued to resonate in Scully’s mind. That discomfort mixed with the threat of censure from Kersh all season likely led to a full break-up. Their meeting at the haunted mansion in “How the Ghosts Stole Christmas” smacked of a jilted Mulder trying to rekindle something with a Scully who is only indulging him out of a sense of obligation. And lest we forget, she is surprised to learn about his waterbed in the previous episode “Monday,” implying that she hasn’t been to his apartment in the past several months. Which makes their forced cohabitation here in “Arcadia” all that much more awkward (and funny). This freeze-out will thaw eventually, but for the present time, Mulder and Scully are very much on the outs romantically despite any feeble efforts on the former’s part to turn up the heat. See larger image The X-Files: Season 6 Tcfhe Release Date: 12/02/2008 Run time: 820 minutes Rating New From: $41.36 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.