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. S7E16: “Chimera” (w: David Amann/d: Cliff Bole) This episode was produced at least partially out of the need to minimize Anderson’s screen time while she prepared for her writing and directorial debut in the next episode. Duchovny was busy preparing an episode himself (“Hollywood AD,” his sophomore effort as writer/director), which meant that their shared scenes were kept to a minimum. In fact, Scully’s entire performance for this hour was filmed in a single day of shooting. It was a hectic few weeks in the X-Files offices, with both stars writing and directing their own episodes while still shooting still other episodes. Despite the technical specifications dictating elements of the script, Amann puts together a solidly entertaining X-File. In the town of Bethany, Vermont, everything is picture perfect. At least, it is if you live on the right side of town. Martha Crittenden is throwing her annual Easter Egg Hunt, and it’s the social event of the season. At least, it is until Martha’s daughter Michelle is attacked by a raven while Jenny Uphouse (one of those from the previously-implied wrong side of town) looks on. Later that night, Martha is surprised to find the raven on the mantle inside her house. She turns to see a monstrous figure approaching her as the mirror on the wall inexplicably shatters. In Washington, Mulder and Scully are on a lengthy stakeout. Prostitutes in a certain part of town have been disappearing, and the only possible suspect that has been named is a blonde woman. Despite his intrigue at the prospect of an all-too-rare female serial killer, he seems relieved when Skinner calls and asks him to leave the stakeout to Scully and report back to the office. Skinner tells him about Martha Crittenden’s disappearance and Michelle’s claims of a raven’s possible involvement. Because Howard Crittenden is a federal judge, this case has been given a top priority. Mulder leaves Scully on prostitute duty and hops to Vermont. Once there, Howard confesses to Mulder that he believes his wife has been cheating on him. Meanwhile, the sheriff’s wife, Ellen Adderly, is taking a walk along the quiet street when she sees the monster reflected in a car window just before the window shatters. Once again, Jenny Uphouse appears on the scene. That evening, Michelle Crittenden is horrified when she sees the raven outside the window again. Howard goes outside to find his wife’s body buried shallowly in the back yard. The ravens are picking at her corpse. There is a mysterious key in the pocket of her coat. It is also discovered that she was four months pregnant, despite her husband’s vasectomy. Mulder, who is staying at the Adderly residence at their insistence during the investigation, is told by Ellen about her encounter the previous evening. She believes that the being she saw reflected in the car window is responsible for Martha’s death. Mulder speaks of the belief that reflections are sometimes windows into other realities, and that it’s possible that something has achieved a means of crossing through these passages. Ellen suggests that Uphouse is the one summoning this creature. That afternoon, Ellen finds another of the strange keys, matching the one found in Martha’s coat pocket. But before she can ponder its meaning, she finds a raven perched on the end of her napping child’s crib. As she picks up the baby and shoos the bird, she sees the monster in a mirror which abruptly shatters. She runs with her child, mirrors breaking behind her as she runs down the hall and into a closet, closing the door behind her. Her husband, Sheriff Phil Adderly, comes home and finds her still hiding. He leaves in the middle of the night under the auspices of answering an official call. Instead, he has a rendezvous with Jenny Uphouse at a seedy motel. The next morning, Mulder accuses Phil of being the father of Martha’s baby and other indiscretions. Hey, Phil Adderly sounds a little bit like philandering, doesn’t it? Huh. Anyway, Phil is quite forthcoming about his attempt to divorce Ellen a couple of years earlier, but she got pregnant, making him feel obligate to stay. Back at the motel, Jenny is visited by a raven before being attacked and killed by the strange creature. Phil believes that he has somehow summoned this creature with his fooling around. And, in a strange way, he’s sort of right. The monster, it turns out, is some sort of demonic alter ego of his wife Ellen, who is experiencing a sort of Jekyll and Hyde transformation without realizing it. Unwilling to face this side of herself, she always breaks reflective surfaces that reveal her alternative form. Ellen is placed into a psychiatric hospital to be treated for multiple personality disorder. Back in Washington, Scully has solved the prostitute case with the discovery of a man dressed in drag who has been speaking with the girls to convince them to accept Jesus and run away to a halfway house he was operating as a way to help them get off the street and start new lives. Even though something of a stopgap episode to allow the two stars to prepare and execute their own episodes for later in the season, it is still a solid entry. Mulder’s acknowledgement of the complicated nature of his relationship status to Ellen is one of my personal highlights for this installment. His and Scully’s telephone interactions are deftly handled, even providing a couple of chuckles. While once again unable to provide any scientific theories to support the monster, the story is well-paced with enough twists to keep it entertaining. S7E17: “all things” (w: Gillian Anderson/d: Gillian Anderson) Anderson had approached Chris Carter with the idea for this episode during the sixth season. Being a supporter of Buddhist thought as well as a believer in alternative healing, she wanted to find a way to dovetail these things into an episode which would showcase Scully’s growth and increasing openness to new ideas. Her original script came in about fifteen minutes too long for broadcast, so Carter and Spotnitz helped her trim away a few things, but their involvement with the revision process was reportedly minimal. Anderson also found that other shows had been approaching her to direct episodes for them, but she lacked any directorial experience. Upon her request, Carter agreed to make her the first female director in seven years’ worth of the X-Files. The result is a soft, somewhat stylized episode that stands apart while still remaining faithful to the rest of the series. The episode begins with Scully getting dressed and leaving Mulder asleep in his apartment. At the office three days earlier, she arrives to find that Mulder has booked a weekend flight for two to England to try to investigate crop circles that have been appearing in the countryside. She bows out of the trip, believing it to be a waste of time. Through a mix-up at the hospital where she’s picking up some autopsy reports, Scully discovers that a former acquaintance is hospitalized in the cardiac care unit. His name is Daniel Waterston. Scully had been the “other woman” involved in an extramarital affair with him when he was one of her professors in medical school. She had left school and signed with the FBI at the end of their affair. Waterston’s daughter Maggie makes clear that she resents Scully for the impact she had over her family ten years earlier. While running an errand for Mulder to pick up some information on crop circles and heart chakras, Scully is narrowly missed by a speeding truck. If not for a woman stepping out into the crosswalk in front of her, forcing her to brake, she would have likely been killed in the resulting accident. Shaken, she arrives at the address given to her by Mulder and meets Colleen Azar. Tired, worried about Daniel, and spooked by her brush with death, Scully is far from polite to Azar. Back at the hospital Daniel slips into cardiac arrest, prompting Dr. Scully to save his life. She returns to Azar’s house to apologize for her earlier rudeness. Azar invites her inside and talks to her about personal auras and the Buddhist notion of the collective unconscious. She listens politely, but Scully’s inner skeptic begins to show. Going back to the hospital, she is confronted at the door by Maggie Waterston. Her father slipped into a coma less than an hour after Scully “saved” him. Scully leaves, wandering aimlessly until she finds herself in the Chinatown portion of the city. As she walks, she sees the same woman who had stepped in front of her when she was nearly hit by the truck. Scully follows the woman into a Buddhist temple. Inside, the woman is nowhere to be found, but Scully is suddenly stricken with a vision which reveals to her the nature of the condition affecting Daniel’s heart. She returns to the hospital with Azar and a faith healer. After suffering a bit of harsh criticism from Daniel’s doctor, Scully is allowed to continue with the alternative procedure over Daniel’s comatose body. To everyone’s surprise, he awakens soon after. He wants to rekindle his relationship with Scully, but she declines, telling him that she is a different person than she was ten years ago. Leaving him in his hospital room, she retires to a bench outside the hospital where she thinks she spots the woman from earlier. But when she approaches the person, Mulder turns around. He’s returned early after a frustrating trip and was looking for her. They go back to Mulder’s apartment to talk about what she’s been through over the weekend. As they sit together on the sofa, Scully falls asleep. Mulder pulls a blanket over her. Some debate surrounds this episode, especially the opening teaser and its implications. To me, it’s evident that this was the clearest statement of Mulder and Scully’s intimate relationship we’re ever going to get. Some say that she spent the night on the sofa and things remained yawn-inducingly platonic. But the evidence suggests otherwise. When we first see her, she is putting her clothes back on. Behind her, Mulder sleeps on one side of the bed, but the vacant side is disheveled. Also, Mulder appears to have fallen asleep without his pajamas. If you ask me, she awakened on the couch and joined him in his all-too familiar bed where she was likely able to find a way to release the repressed tension of her weekend. A while ago, a dear friend issued a plea on social media. She challenged her friends to find a support for the notion that “everything happens for a reason.” I can’t pretend to know the full circumstances surrounding her request, but I found I was unable to form any sort of an argument one way or the other. Anytime someone is suffering a loss or tragedy, some well-meaning observer will invariably evoke the “everything happens for a reason” platitude. It’s a fact of human existence that none of us is really capable of finding the right words when looking into the abyss of someone else’s pain. But could there be truth in the axiom? Being a rational optimist, I have observed in my personal experience that my most gut-searingly painful times have (if nothing else) been necessary to properly frame my appreciation of the good (or at least less painful) times. Often those things that shake us up the most can also help us to step back and recognize our own growth. From a directorial standpoint in this episode, Anderson took great care to point out the constant rhythm of life. Every single scene of this episode is punctuated with a rhythm, whether it’s the steady drip of a faucet, the beep of a hospital heart monitor, the weighted end of a curtain pull chord hitting the window frame, or the turn signal of her car. The rhythms of life, if we take the time to listen to them, can set a pace for us when we need it. When we move too fast for too long, we can lose the beat and it can take something earth-shattering to help us take a deep breath and find our way back to that rhythm we all share. These personal (Tori Amos would call them little) earthquakes often take the form of loss or sudden tragedy. I would never be so narcissistic as to suggest that such events happen for the sole purpose of resetting the pace of any one person’s life, but if each of us could learn to look squarely into these moments in life, it is possible to find a benefit even while suffering the pain. Even if that benefit is the peace that comes with knowing that you haven’t yet found the limit of your own strength, it’s a victory to be found. One just has to find the will to look for it. All that, and I still don’t think I have an answer for my friend. Still, her plea gave me pause to find my own rhythm again, and I hope she can find hers. S7E18: “Brand X” (w: Steven Maeda & Greg Walker/d: Kim Manners) This one gets really real really fast. Maeda and Walker, the writers of this episode, were primarily inspired the 1999 film The Insider, which exposed the unscrupulous inner workings of corporate tobacco. With this episode, they set out to capture some of that film’s hearty menthol flavor. Tobin Bell, appearing in this episode as the chain-smoking antagonist Darryl Weaver, is a veteran of film and television but is probably most recognizable these days as Jigsaw from the Saw movie franchise. Skinner has been tasked by the director of the FBI to protect Dr. James Scobie on the eve of his testimony against his former employer. Scobie had been an R&D guy for the Morley Tobacco Company. While Skinner and his other agents keep the house locked down, Scobie suddenly develops a cough. Not one of those pesky throat-itch coughs, though. This is the kind of cough where they find you dead in your bathroom with your trachea and lower face chewed into tatters. Skinner calls his pet agents to Winston-Salem to help him navigate this death. It’s certainly a credit to Mulder and Scully that when he’s on the hook for such a high-profile botched job, they are the investigative team he turns to for help, right? After attempting to navigate the labyrinthine network of barriers being constructed by Morley’s lawyers, they are able to determine that Scobie and his former colleague Dr. Peter Voss had tested the new strain of tobacco on four test subjects, three of whom died after exposure. We learn that Scobie had made an arrangement with the surviving test subject, a chain smoker named Darryl Weaver, keeping him supplied with the experimental cigarettes in exchange for his silence. With Scobie dead, Weaver visits Voss to demand that he continue the arrangement. Voss is shaken when Weaver threatens to light one of the contraband smokes in his presence. A chain of deaths similar to Scobie’s eventually leads Mulder to Weaver. While he goes to question the former test subject, Scully’s autopsy determines that a particularly aggressive variation of tobacco beetles had hatched inside the victims’ lungs, causing damage and death as they swarmed up the windpipe and out through the mouth and sinus cavity. Yeah, I know. Scully theorizes that the super-evolved super tobacco beetles’ eggs were able to survive the processing into the experimental cigarettes. The eggs were then cast airborne within the smoke, inhaled into the lungs of the victims, where they hatched and grew. Of course, as she’s making this discovery, Mulder is sitting in a cloud of Weaver’s second-hand smoke. All of a sudden, Mulder’s in surgery having his lungs vacuumed and Skinner is in a lab facing off against Darryl Weaver and his lighter. Weaver threatens to light up in front of Skinner, but he recognizes the threat and shoots him in the shoulder. Scully gets an opportunity to examine Weaver and discovers a way to help her partner. As it turns out, the super-beetle larvae aren’t very crazy about high levels of nicotine. Because Weaver’s habit was equal to that of his fellow test subjects combined, the nicotine in his system was the only thing keeping him alive. Pumping nicotine into Mulder’s system eradicates the larvae still growing in his lungs, saving his life. Upon returning to work several weeks later, Mulder admits to a minor addiction to nicotine. Scully makes him throw away the pack of Morleys he bought on the way to work. This episode had everything I look for in a classic X-File. There’s graphic imagery of desiccated corpses, a seemingly unstoppable monstrous adversary, icky creepy-crawlies, Mulder suffering mortal peril but being narrowly rescued by Scully’s medical and/or scientific acumen, Skinner being blustery and officious but quietly entirely impressed with the kind of crazy shit his agents take in their stride, Scully even gets an opportunity to establish a thin scientific theory for perhaps the first time in a dozen episodes. It’s one of those rare instances where the X-Files did a “ripped from the headlines” type of story, which probably should be deadly for a show like this. But it worked. The basic idea of a corporate whistle-blower under threat from the Big Tobacco Mafioso had become a standard water-cooler talking point thanks to Russell Crowe’s portrayal of Jeffrey Wigand in Michael Mann’s film The Insider. S7E19: “Hollywood A.D.” (w: David Duchovny/d: David Duchovny) Nothing screams “vanity project” quite like casting your wife in an episode you wrote and directed. Despite that, Duchovny’s sophomore effort as the show’s triple threat is a charmingly self-reflective send-up of Tinseltown. He used the opportunity to get some of the old band back together, as well. Wayne Federer and Garry Shandling, both playing themselves in the episode, were colleagues of Duchovny when he was on “The Larry Sanders Show” several years earlier. Of course, Tea Leoni was Mrs. David Duchovny at the time. Sharp eyes can catch Minnie Driver and David Allen Grier in the audience at the premiere of the movie. Duchovny’s rom-com “Return to Me” had just premiered, and he had extended an invitation to his two co-stars from that film to add a little pepper to the audience pan in this episode. Even sharper eyes will catch series creator Chris Carter munching popcorn in the same shot. The episode opens with a dramatic gunfight in a graveyard. Garry Shandling crouches behind a grave stone while zombies fire machine guns at him. A man dressed in a stylized Holy Cardinal costume holds a red-headed Tea Leoni hostage, demanding that “Mulder” return the “Lazarus Bowl” he’s holding. The standoff ends with the Cigarette-Smoking Cardinal shot down, “Mulder” and “Scully” roll down a hill together, landing inside an open coffin. The lid closes on them and they start making out. In the audience of the movie theater watching this blockbuster, Mulder and Scully stare in slack-jawed horror. Several months earlier, Hollywood screenwriter Wayne Federman, played by Comedian Wayne Federman, is an old college buddy of Walter Skinner (“Skin man!”). He’s working on a script involving the FBI and has been granted Skinner’s permission to ride along on a case with Mulder and Scully to get a feel of the flavor of being a special agent with the FBI. Today’s investigation takes them to the church of Cardinal O’Fallon, reputed to be in line to one day become the first American Pope. A bomb has exploded in the catacombs beneath the cathedral, and authorities are considering it to be an attempt on the Cardinal’s life. Mulder and Federman follow O’Fallon down into the catacombs where untold reliquary had been stored for decades. Mulder finds a body in the rubble, which he recognizes as Micah Hoffman, a former counter-culture hero of the 60s who has since disappeared into obscurity. It would appear Hoffman died when his own bomb detonated while he was setting it under the church. A search of his apartment turns up bomb-making materials, counterfeiting devices, and masterfully-made forgeries of pages from a Gospel written by Mary Magdalen. Upon returning to the catacombs, Federman becomes separated from Mulder and witnesses a pile of human bones reanimate, dance for him, and try to push together several pieces of a broken piece of pottery. Even Mulder doesn’t believe his story. They are intrigued by the pottery shards, though. Scully tells Mulder a Sunday School story about a “Lazarus Bowl.” The story goes that while Jesus was busy commanding Lazarus to rise from the dead, a woman was in the room making pottery. Now that’s work ethic right there. The rock star of all rock stars (I mean, they renumbered the calendar for this guy) is in your house resurrecting your nephew from the dead, and you just keep plugging on your pottery order? I guess she was trying to get all the egg platters done before the Easter rush or something. Either way, respect. The grooves in this pottery are thought to have captured Christ’s voice as he spoke the words, like the grooves on a vinyl record. They bring the relic to their analyst at the bureau who finds that the grooves do indeed produce sonic reproductions of a man’s voice speaking Aramaic and commanding another man to rise from the dead. Huh. They return to the church where O’Fallon admits to buying the forged Mary Magdalen text from Hoffman, believing it to be the real thing. Scully attempts to autopsy Hoffman’s body, but has a momentary hallucination where the dead man sits up and talks to her. Mulder attempts to arrest O’Fallon for Hoffman’s murder, believing he killed him in retaliation for selling him the forgeries. But in the middle of the arrest, Hoffman walks into the church, unharmed. He claims to have set the bomb to destroy the forgeries in a fit of regret over his actions. The near-arrest of O’Fallon earns Mulder and Scully a censure at the bureau and a four week suspension. During their forced vacation, they accept Federman’s offer to bring them out to Hollywood to see some of the production of the movie based on their case. On the set, they meet the stars Garry Shandling and Tea Leoni. The latter begs Scully to demonstrate to her how to run in the heels she wears. The former asks considerably more personal insight into Mulder’s personal habits. At the time of the film’s premiere, Skinner informs them that Cardinal O’Fallon has killed Hoffman in a murder-suicide. At the movie premiere, the agents are mortified by the content of the film and leave before the credits roll. They have a conversation on the graveyard set of the soundstage before leaving hand-in-hand to go get dinner using the FBI credit card Skinner had given Scully for the evening. After they leave, several ghosts rise up from the graveyard set and perform a dance number around the Lazarus Bowl prop. Keeping self-reference out of the murky morass of self-indulgence is nearly impossible. In fact, I don’t even know if I can say Duchovny maintained that equilibrium for the entirety of this episode. The references to Tea Leoni’s crush on Agent Mulder and his resulting protestations were just a bit precious for this writer’s taste. The graveyard dance number at the end might have been pushing things a bit over the top. But one can’t help but appreciate the fact that Duchovny cast actual crew members from the show to play the roles of various crew members on the set of the movie being filmed within the episode. That kind of meta-storytelling will nearly always get a nod of approval from this writer. And Skinner’s lurid gaze at Scully across the aisle of the theater is nothing short of hilarious. One can’t help but think that Duchovny directed this episode like he was the captain of a booze cruise. The episode, like a booze cruise, is fun, loose, and kind of a wonder that it made it to the end without sinking. S7E20: “Fight Club: (w: Chris Carter/d: Paul Shapiro) Chris Carter wrote this episode at or around the same time as he was writing the pilot episode for the Lone Gunmen spinoff series, and it would seem his enthusiasm for his new pet project helped to color the tone of this X-File. It bears a strikingly loose tone in comparison to most of his prior scripts. After all, even “Post-Modern Prometheus,” for all its whimsy and its happy ending, had a decidedly dark undertone of loneliness and isolation. This one dwells in a seedy corner of the universe, but it never feels the slightest bit melancholic. Maybe it’s because of Kathy Griffin, appearing here as two of the central characters of the episode. Randall “Tex” Cobb, perhaps most recognizable as Leonard Smalls, the lone rider of the Apocalypse in Raising Arizona also appears in a couple of roles. Interesting side note: Cobb, aside from his acting career, was a professional heavyweight boxer for five years beginning in 1977. But that’s not the interesting part. He was the reason that Howard Cosell, the most pivotal sports commentator of the Twentieth Century (go ahead and try to challenge that), stopped calling boxing matches. In November of 1982, Cobb went fifteen rounds with Larry Holmes while Howard Cosell looked on with increasing disgust. No matter how much Holmes pounded on Cobb, this beast with what would seem to be an iron jaw just wouldn’t fall down. Cosell was ringside and found himself increasingly disturbed by the brutality he was witnessing, especially in the wake of the death of another boxer after suffering brain trauma in the ring a couple of weeks earlier. Afterward, he swore to never call a boxing match again. When asked about Cosell’s decision, Cobb said that he considered it to be “his gift to the sport of boxing.” When asked about the possibility of a rematch with Holmes, he stated that he didn’t think Larry Holmes’ hands could take it. I don’t really know if or how that story pertains to this episode. Consider it a bit of color commentary. Stick with me on this, it gets sort of complicated. A couple of bicycling missionaries are trying to bring their good news to a neighborhood in Kansas City, Kansas. They stop at two separate houses and are treated somewhat rudely by two separate women who happen to be perfect doppelgangers. At the second woman’s house, the door-to-door eternal salvation salesmen break into fisticuffs on the front lawn without provocation. Two FBI agents arrive at the second woman’s house to question her about the incident. The agents themselves are near doppelgangers of Agents Mulder and Scully. From a production standpoint, this makes perfect sense due to the fact that the actors portraying these two agents have both worked as stunt doubles for Duchovny and Anderson, respectively. Additionally, the role of the Scully analogue is filled by none other than Arlene Pileggi, wife to Mitch Pileggi. While they are questioning Betty at her house, Lulu (Betty’s twin) passes in her car. The two agents break into a fight with each other on the front lawn. The next day, Mulder and Scully (for realsies this time) enter the scene to investigate. They learn that one of the women is connected with a professional wrestler named Bert Zupanic. Additionally, Scully learns that the two women have been following each other all over the country for the past several years. Both Lulu and Betty apply for jobs at two distinct copy center store locations. Each is hired despite the managers’ hesitation over their nomadic work histories. Zupanic, it turns out, is a somewhat broken-down relic of a professional wrestler who has made a bad deal with his promoter. Despite his relationship with Betty, Bert still hooks up with Lulu after meeting her in a bar. Later, while Zupanic tries to give his promoter the money he owes him, Betty enters the bar and tries to attach herself to her boyfriend. Bert dismisses her, saying that he needs to handle some business first. She leaves to go to the bathroom. While she’s gone, Lulu enters the bar. When Betty emerges and the two women see each other, an earthquake occurs which shatters most of the glass in the bar and knocks Zupanic unconscious. His promoter, seeing an opportunity, grabs the bag of money from the unconscious wrestler. While Mulder and Scully interview Betty and Lulu separately, each woman tells the exact same story. Having no reason to hold them, Betty and Lulu are released. As they pass each other in the street, a sewer cover blows open and sucks Mulder down into it. Scully, unable to locate her partner, follows a lead to discover the sperm donor from whose specimen both Betty and Lulu were conceived through artificial insemination in a nearby prison. The donor turns out to be the angriest man on Earth. This guy could have given Sam Kinison a run for his money. Meanwhile, Mulder stumbles out of the sewer and goes looking for Scully. Scully, on the other hand, is visiting the prison when she discovers a perfect doppelganger for Bert Zupanic in the form of one of the inmates. At the wrestling match, both women arrive to cheer on their man, but their presence causes the crowd to erupt into a brawl, the likes of which wouldn’t be seen again until… Well, probably just until the next Liverpool/Manchester United match. But still, things get pretty crazy inside the arena. Zupanic’s double arrives under a police escort and the fighting stops. The two Zupanics see each other through the now-hushed crowd, and a fight breaks out between them. This action renews the animosity of the crowd around them. At the end of the episode, Mulder and Scully attempt to file their report despite Scully’s shiner and the fact that Mulder’s jaw has been wired shut. You know, this episode really gets a bad rap, and I just don’t think it’s justified. Is it goofy? Absolutely. Does it contribute anything new or interesting to the series? Not really. But above all, it’s an all-too-rare example of Chris Carter showing his clownish side and just being silly and quirky. The performances from the guest stars are delivered with genuine gusto. The story is wonderfully seedy and weird and dopey and doesn’t really make much sense. But somehow, I find all that to be the source of its charm. If Tom Waits ever went the way of Barenaked Ladies or They Might Be Giants and recorded a children’s album (which will thankfully never happen), I’d like to think that one of the songs would tell a story very much like this episode. It’s undeniably a weird episode. It’s probably quite flawed, too. But I can’t really see it. I have nothing but affection for weirdos like this. S7E21: “Je Souhaite” (w: Vince Gilligan/d: Vince Gilligan) Vince Gilligan finally pulled the trigger and sat down in the director’s chair. He’d been thinking of making that leap for quite some time, but kept putting it off. Since rumors of the show’s cancellation were buzzing as the seventh season neared its end, the time for procrastination had passed. Gilligan wrote this episode with the wish that Jeannine Garofolo would play the central character, but she wasn’t available when time to cast the episode rolled around. To be fair, Garofolo was credited in six features films, appeared on three separate TV shows, and was involved with a handful of short films during 2000 and 2001, so I suppose it’s forgivable that she couldn’t find time to appear on this episode. As perfect of a fit as Garofolo would have been, Gilligan was more than thrilled with Paula Sorge’s performance. Another notable cast member for this particular episode was the casting of then-relative newcomer Kevin Weisman. He has more recently been seen in recurring roles on Scorpion and The Blacklist, but will live forever in our fanboy and fangirl hearts as Flinkman on Alias. The title translates from French as “I wish.” Anson Stokes works at a self-storage place. He’s not exactly the most motivated employee, to the chagrin of his boss Jay Gilmore. To be fair, Mr. Gilmore is not exactly the most motivating boss either. Micromanagement only increases stress and resentment, not productivity. Stokes grudgingly sets in to clean out a storage locker, but finds a woman wrapped up inside of a Persian rug. Gilmore returns to make sure his employee is still doing his job, but his disparagement is cut short when his mouth disappears. Gilmore travels to Washington to meet with Mulder about his situation. Someone has cut him a new mouth, but it’s a pretty ragged job. The agents travel to St. Louis to visit Stokes at his home. They find a large yacht grounded between the Stokes brothers’ trailer and that of the neighbors. Anson isn’t there, but his wheelchair-bound brother Leslie and the woman from the storage container are. They go to investigate the storage locker, but all they find there is expensive antique furniture and a picture of a man they presume to have been the owner. The woman they had just met at the Stokes’ trailer is in the picture from the seventies. She looks exactly the same in a twenty-odd year old picture as she did earlier that afternoon. As it turns out, the rug lady is a genie (jinn, djinn, Barbara Eden, whatever). For Anson, that’s the good news. The bad news is that he’s already wasted two of his three wishes on his boss’ mouth situation and the land-locked yacht in his side yard. The genie tries to suggest that his third wish could be well-spent in fixing his brother’s legs, but Anson is an out-of-the-box thinker and chooses to wish for the ability to turn invisible at will. The genie grants his wish, but he failed to stipulate that his clothes should turn invisible with him. Ever the practical one, Anson removes his clothing, turns invisible, runs out of the house and into the path of a passing truck. His still-invisible body is thrown to the edge of the road where he stays until a passing bicyclist hits him. At the morgue, Scully is positively giddy to examine an invisible corpse. While she calls in scientific and medical experts to share her find, Mulder investigates the previous owner of the storage unit. He had experienced a period of wild overnight financial success in the late seventies. Clearly, he had made a wish or two. It was the last wish that got him. Without going into particulars, let’s just make something clear. When the commercial says to notify a doctor if the erection lasts more than four hours, they mean it. Priapism isn’t an obscure philosophical movement, lads. That three hour and fifty-nine minute mark is the point of no return. It’s important to have a plan. That’s all I’ll say. Mulder also discovers the woman in photos standing behind Richard Nixon and Benito Mussolini. As it turns out, having access to a genie is not exactly as Larry Hagman portrayed. It would seem to invariably end badly. In the meantime, Leslie has taken possession of the genie. His first wish is to have his brother brought back to life. While Leslie attempts to eat breakfast with his zombie brother, he expresses his dissatisfaction with the genie’s customer service. His second wish is for Anson to talk, but that backfires as Anson begins screaming and complaining about how cold he is. He sets out to warm himself up by lighting the gas jets in the oven. The agents arrive outside of the Stokes’ trailer just in time to see it explode. Mulder finds the rug and unrolls Jenn (his name for the genie) and questions her. She tells him that she is five hundred years old, and became essentially enslaved in the role of a genie herself when she wished for long life and power from another genie. She also informs Mulder that she is now obliged to grant him three wishes, since he unwrapped her from the rug. Giving it some thought, he benevolently wishes for peace on Earth. After wandering through a Twilight Zone episode for a bit, he uses his second wish to undo his first wish so that she restores all of humanity. He really takes pause to consider his third wish. After long consideration (and a rough draft typed on his computer), he finally makes his decision. Scully joins him for beer and a movie at his place later that night. At the same time, in a café somewhere, Jenn sits sipping coffee and watching the world go by. Mulder has taken a cue from a Disney movie and used his final wish to free her from being a genie. Had this been the penultimate episode of the X-Files, I don’t think anyone could have had cause for complaint. It’s smart, a little dark, a little snarky, and even a little sentimental. It acknowledges the comfort level of Mulder and Scully’s relationship and even gives us a glimpse into what is likely a typical date night for them. For you youngsters reading this, you didn’t invent “Netflix and chill.” The only difference is we didn’t have Netflix. S7E22: “Requiem” (w: Chris Carter/d: Kim Manners) The network didn’t decide to renew The X-Files for an eighth season until just before this episode aired. As such, it was filmed with cast and crew under the impression that they were producing the series finale. Carter left two major threads (Mulder’s abduction and Scully’s pregnancy) dangling with the intention of resolving them in a film continuation of the series. He kept everyone in the dark about this episode, even going so far as to withhold sections of the script until it was time to prepare the shots. Gillian Anderson and Mitch Pileggi didn’t get the last two pages of the script for their closing scene until Carter himself hand-delivered their dialogue pages on the day the scene was to be filmed. Carter stipulated that the scheduling allow for that single shot to be the last shot of the last day of filming. In as close to an attempt at closure as I think the X-Files is capable, they brought this episode full circle to revisit the very first case Mulder and Scully investigated in the pilot episode. Detective Miles of Bellefleur, Oregon is responding to reports of a crashed air craft outside of town when his cruiser loses power and he almost crashes into another cruiser. One of his deputies, Ray Hoese, is unconscious inside. After checking on Hoese, Miles turns to see someone who looks exactly like Hoese except for the bubbling green goop bleeding out of the three holes in his chest. Meanwhile, we play catchup with America’s favorite couple, Marita Covarrubias and Alex Krychek. Somewhere along the way, Krychek managed to become incarcerated in a prison in Tunisia, and Covarrubias is there at the behest of CSM to retrieve him. They return to America together and meet with CSM. By this time, he is wheelchair-bound and smoking his Morleys through a hole in his trachea. He tells them about the crash in Oregon and that its retrieval will ensure that they can restart the project that died along with the rest of the syndicate in that airplane hangar several months earlier. Back in Oregon, two teenagers (one of which is Finch from American Pie) think it would be rad to see where the thing crashed that everyone’s been talking about. While exploring the area, one of them is scooped up into some sort of energy field which the Alien Bounty Hunter probably uses to mix his martinis. The boy is shaken violently, hidden from sight from his friend who stands a few feet away. Back at FBI headquarters, Mulder is suffering the horrors of an expense audit. It seems the bureau is sharpening its scythe to cut the X-Files’ funding. It comes as a relief when he hears from Billy Miles, an abductee from the very first case Mulder investigated with Scully seven years earlier. He tells Mulder about deputy Hoese’s disappearance. He’s worried that the abductions that were never quite resolved in 1993 have begun again. They travel to Oregon and meet with Billy, who now wears a local badge just like his father. As they reacquaint themselves with the son, Detective Miles enters. No one realizes that the elder Miles is actually the bounty hunter who, after killing Billy’s father, has taken his place in Bellefleur. They go to Hoese’s house and discover that the deputy’s wife is Theresa Nemman who, along with Billy, was another abductee and part of their former investigation. After speaking with Theresa, the agents leave to ponder the information they’ve gathered, but Scully nearly faints. Mulder is concerned and wants her to leave. Later that evening, Theresa answers a knock at the door to find what appears to be her husband. Except he’s not her husband. The next morning, Mulder and Scully join the local authorities at the Hoese residence in order to try to determine what could have happened in the night. Scully nearly faints again, but she’s made of strong stuff and gets her feet under her quickly. She and Billy join Mulder at the alleged crash site. As they explore the woods, Scully is grabbed by the same energy field/milk shake machine that had taken the teenager earlier. This time, however, the energy field spits out its victim. Mulder finds her lying on the ground. In what would likely be in the top three list of Most Intimately Tender Moments Between Fox and Dana, he insists that she should go back to Washington for a medical examination, but she refuses. Billy walks in on the man who looks like his dad, but his suspicion has gotten the better of him. The bounty hunter reveals his true face to Billy. By the time Mulder and Scully arrive at the Miles residence, no one is home. The agents go back to DC to pursue other angles of the investigation. Once there, Krychek and Covarrubias walk brazenly into the J. Edgar building where they meet with Skinner, Mulder, and Scully. They tell the tale of CSM and his (seemingly) dying wish to kick-start the Project again using the recovered spacecraft in Oregon. Krychek explains that they have been unable to find it because it’s cloaked inside of an energy shield. After a bit of discussion, Scully agrees to stay behind to see a doctor, but only if Mulder takes Skinner as his dance partner for the return trip to Bellefleur. Mulder’s concern, other than her health, is her status as a former abductee. If other former abductees are being taken, it would stand to reason that she would be in danger of being added to the ship’s manifest were she to return with him. After he and Skinner leave, Scully and the Lone Gunmen uncover evidence which strongly suspects that Mulder’s abnormal brain activity (back at the beginning of this season in the “Redux” two-parter) actually puts him at risk for abduction. As they make this discovery, Scully has another of her fainting spells and is rushed to the hospital. Back in Oregon, Mulder and Skinner wander into the woods, this time using laser equipment to locate the energy field they seek. Mulder crosses into the field when he finds it. Inside, all of the abductees are standing under a flood light. While Skinner calls for Mulder outside the cloak of the energy field, Mulder joins the group and is taken up into the waiting UFO above. As the ship prepares for departure, the cloaking field around it dissipates. Skinner is able to see it lift up above the tree line and fly away. Krychek and Covarrubias visit CSM to tell him that they were unable to recover the ship. Then, as if to prove that CSM’s day could, in fact, get worse, Krychek pushes his wheelchair down the stairs. They leave, stepping over CSM’s still body on their way out the front door. Skinner returns from Oregon without Mulder and goes to the hospital to break the news to Scully. But Scully has news of her own. She’s pregnant. Thank God this was not the series finale. As much as I felt the previous week’s “Je Souhaite” would have been a satisfactory penultimate episode, this would have been a painful ending. Even with the promise of feature film continuation, this would have hurt. Sure, there was a cyclical resolution in revisiting their first case together, and that served to demarcate Agent Scully’s growth as an agent and an occasional accepter of things she used to dismiss outright. It would also be a true ending to much of what we have come to accept as status quo. Things are going to be very different when we come back from this, aren’t they? This was a tremendous season finale, and a perfect bridge into a brand new era for the X-Files, but it would have made a disappointing series finale, I’m sorry to say. The resolutions which we were given were not impactful enough to balance out the two huge plot threads that were left blowing in the wind. Thankfully, we get to move on to season eight! Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.