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. S9E7: “John Doe” (w: Vince Gilligan/d: Michelle MacLaren) Newcomer MacLaren must have impressed Gilligan with her direction on this episode, considering she would go on to act as an executive producer for his Breaking Bad. She would even direct nearly a dozen episodes of his magnum opus. I beat on this horse quite often in this forum, but I can’t help but consider Breaking Bad to be in some small ways, a part of the legacy of the X-Files. Considering Vince Gilligan’s involvement with the latter half of the series, appearances from Bryan Cranston (season six’s “Drive”) and Aaron Paul (this season’s “Lord of the Flies”), as well as some thematic elements of his X-Files episodes (in particular “Pusher” and “Kitsunegari,” in which he seems to begin pondering the ways in which we abuse our power over others which would become a central element of his later series), there would seem to be a solid through-line. Doggett awakens inside of a warehouse when someone tries to steal his shoes. He chases the man outside into a village somewhere in Mexico where they are both stopped by the police. Doggett is surprised to realize he cannot remember so much as his own name. Lacking papers or any form of identification, the local police toss him into the drunk tank where he languishes for over a week. While there, Doggett has occasional flashbacks of his son Luke, but he can’t make any sense of them. Another prisoner named Domingo makes his acquaintance. Once Domingo is released, he arranges bail for Doggett. For this kindness, Domingo expects Doggett to assist him in his coyote operation of sneaking Mexicans across the border and into the U.S. Doggett refuses, causing a confrontation between Domingo’s man and the amnesiac FBI agent. Doggett’s Quantico training allows him to disarm the man and he leaves. Meanwhile, back in Washington, Kersh has decided that more than a week is more than enough time to divert the resources of the bureau toward finding one of their own. Scully and Skinner aren’t yet ready to give up, though. And Reyes, who we learn was raised in Mexico, is equally unwilling to surrender the search. She traces Doggett to the town where he was last seen and is able to find him. He still has no recollection of his identity or of any aspect of his life except for the hazy memories of his son. Agent Reyes has the unenviable honor of reestablishing the fact of Luke’s death in Doggett. The shock ignites his memory as everything comes flooding back to him. While he deals with a near breakdown over having to relive the loss of his son, the local authorities arrive. They are all under the thumb of Caballero, a local drug lord who also happens to be a “memory vampire,” sucking and feeding on the memories out of people who threaten his cartel. Doggett had come to Mexico in pursuit of a lead connected to the cartel and fallen prey to Caballero. Doggett and Reyes are rescued by Skinner working alongside the Mexican Federales. Doggett explains that he needs the bad memories of his son, because without them he wouldn’t have the good memories. This is one of the standout episodes of the season. It’s extremely humanizing for Doggett. What’s more, if finally cements the partnership between Doggett and Reyes in a way that has thus far proven elusive for the production team this season. It is a solid hour of procedural television with a twist of supernatural. However, it’s difficult to consider it a great X-File, when one considers there is not even an attempt at an explanation for the outlandish memory vampire. Still, the production quality and engaging story make it a truly engaging hour of television. Vince Gilligan’s sensibilities and storytelling are reminiscent of comic book science and logic. The concepts are fascinating, but the science is shaky at best. His basic idea of a “memory vampire” works well within the context of the episode, but not even the slightest attempt at apologetics are offered for the guy. It’s just another of Gilligan’s monsters of the week, which have proven effective even without any pesky scientific or even folkloric backing. The production value was excellent, especially considering this was Michelle MacLaren’s first time directing an episode of television. She would go on to helm episodes of Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones (among others), but this episode is the first line on her director’s resume. S9E8: “Hellbound” (w: David Amann/d: Kim Manners) Amann was tasked with finding a dark spot in the seemingly untarnished Monica Reyes. The result is probably the closest thing to a classic X-Files episode we’ve seen to date in the ninth season. The real star of this episode was the makeup effects team, with their groundbreaking depiction of skinless humans. Latex was sprayed onto mannequins, then removed and applied to actors and/or other mannequins built to resemble the respective actors. Veins and other details were added on top of the latex layers. The end result was possibly the goriest effect in the history of a show which traded heavily in icky things. Only the episode’s title seems superfluous. It’s referenced in the story, but only in the opening scene and then again as an identifier at the stories’ climax. Dr. Lisa Holland meets with a group of ex-cons in the basement of the Calvary Church. The members of her group have all turned their lives around after leaving prison. One member, Terry Pruit, has a tattoo on his shoulder that says “Hellbound.” He tells his fellow attendees that he keeps the ink as a reminder of who he was before getting control of his anger. Another man, named Ed, scoffs at the other members of the group, telling them that it is impossible for anyone to change the way they are. Victor, another member of the group, tells Dr. Holland and the rest that he’s been having nightmares wherein he sees people with their skin peeled off. In point of fact, these aren’t dreams so much as visions, as evidenced when Victor looks at Ed and sees him sans epidermis. A couple of hours later, Victor is murdered, his skin carefully peeled from his body. Agent Reyes calls a 2AM meeting of the X-Files ghost stoppers club so that Scully can examine the body and Doggett can question her need to take on this case. She explains that Victor’s confession at the group meeting just before his death was a premonition, marking this as an X-File. Doggett tries unsuccessfully to not treat his partner like she’s a total wingnut. Meanwhile, Terry and Ed are working a late shift at a pork processing facility and they exchange a few heated words. Terry experiences a vision similar to that seen by Victor before his is attacked and skinned alive as well. The agents arrive at the meat processing plant and are greeted by local police Detective Van Allen, who appears to be apathetic about the case. Scully, who is pursuing her own line of inquiry, finds a retired medical examiner named Bertram Mueller. Mueller had filed a report of an autopsy in 1960 of a body that was in the same condition as the one she had examined the night before. He explains to her that the one she read about was merely one of four victims, all of which were very expertly skinned alive. In the end, the primary suspect killed himself. At the abattoir, while Doggett examines Terry’s body hanging by the ankles from one of the meat hooks, he realizes that the man is still alive. Terry names Ed, causing the agents to take the other man into custody for questioning. Ed professes his innocence, and Reyes believes him. Detective Van Allen arrives to kick Ed free on the basis of a corroborated alibi for the prior night’s activities. On his way out, Ed sees a vision of Dr. Holland without her skin. Scully, at her end, realizes that the two victims’ birth dates quite curiously coincide with the dates on the death certificates for two of the victims from the 1960 case. Reyes insists that Ed is the next victim, so Doggett stakes out his house. After an extended period of inactivity, the agents enter the house to find Ed tied to the dining room table, also without his skin. There is a rag stuffed in his mouth that is covered in coal dust. This clue leads Fred and Daphne… er, John and Monica, rather… to the abandoned coal mine on the outskirts of town. Doggett finds the remains of a sheriff who apparently shot himself in 1909. Reyes finds a collection of newspaper clippings which allow her to piece together a possible explanation. Dig it: in 1868, four of the miners murdered a man and skinned him alive. Ever since then, all five of their souls have been caught in a cycle of reincarnation. The victim is reborn and grows up to prey on the reincarnated souls of his four murderers. The cycle takes just a little over four decades to play out each time, which means that 1909 was the first wave, 1960 the second, leading to the third time in 2001. Monica’s attachment to the case seems to indicate that her soul is somehow connected to the case, but she has been unable to ascertain how. Realizing that Dr. Holland is the next victim, the agents rush to protect her only to discover that Detective Van Allen has been the killer all along. He is shot during the confrontation and rushed to the hospital with his injuries. Reyes tells Scully that her soul has been involved with this case since its beginnings and has reincarnated along with the other men after failing to stop the killer each time. This time, however, she was able to stop him before he could complete his cycle of killing. In the hospital, Van Allen dies from his injuries. At that same moment, a baby is born elsewhere in the same building, implying that the cycle has begun anew. It could be argued that the writer planted the title of this episode as misdirection, in order to lead the viewer to consider the possibility of demonic activity as a red herring. In fact, when Pruitt talks about his dreams at the beginning in the church basement, it’s an easy leap to make to a Dante-esque vision of human souls being flayed alive in some ring of Hell. Whatever the case, this is a well-rounded hour that keeps us guessing all the way to the climax, when Agent Reyes is finally able to offer a succinct explanation for the events and her possible role in them. It even has a tight little button at the end that begs for a title card to scroll up saying “The End… Or is it?” Maybe when the X-Files are revived again in the year 2042 (only 26 years away!), whichever agents are languishing in the basement corridors of FBI HQ will have to face off with that baby from the end of the episode. They’ll need to pay a visit to Monica Reyes in her retirement home to seek advice on the case. I’ll get to work on the script. S9E9: “Provenance” (w: Chris Carter & Frank Spotnitz/d: Kim Manners)/S9E10: “Providence” (w: Chris Carter & Frank Spotnitz/d: Chris Carter) Frankly, this is the closest this season ever got to truly feeling like The X-Files up to this point. Maybe it’s due to the fact that Mulder’s name keeps coming up in these episodes or maybe it’s just because Scully actually has something to do. Whatever the case, as strong as some of the individual monster-of-the-week episodes are this season, it’s these episodes dealing with baby William, the Super Soldiers and the search for the fugitive Fox Mulder that would seem to kick off some sort of chain reaction. The following couple of episodes really take on the tone and feel of the show in its prime as well. Even “Underneath” (which we’ll get to in a bit), despite its considerable flaws contains a glimmer of the synergy between its stars that hasn’t been present for much of this season. Perhaps the new team needed a bit of time to find their footing. After all, Carter and Spotnitz had set out to establish X-Files: The Next Generation with this season, so it would hardly be surprising that things would get a tad muddy for a bit. But whatever the case, this two-part story with such direct ties to the three-parter which bridged the end of the sixth season into the seventh season felt incredibly rewarding for longtime fans. This story was to introduce another new player into the mix. Alan Dale, who sounds like one of Robin Hood’s men but seems typecast as something more akin to the Sheriff of Nottingham, begins stalking the corridors of the J. Edgar building. His character would come to be known as The Toothpick Man, and he will prove central to a newly-formed incarnation of the Syndicate, which we saw destroyed in the middle of the sixth season by faceless aliens with their super magic immolation wands (“One Son”). I should probably try to find a better name to call those things. When a motorcyclist attempts to cross the Canadian border into the US, he is pursued by two shockingly zealous border guards. The chase ends with the bike and rider caught in a fiery explosion. The rider crawls away from the wreckage before the guards can get there, but a bag is left behind. Some familiar-looking (to us, at least) rubbings are found inside. In Washington, Scully is called into an ambush with Deputy Director Kersh, Assistant Directors Follmer and Skinner, and a handful of other men. Once she’s seated, they ask her if she can identify the rubbings recovered from the invader from Canada. She tries to question them about the origin of what is being presented to her, but ultimately decides to match their lack of candor with her own feigned ignorance. Instead, she rushes down to the basement to confer with Doggett and Reyes about her encounter with an alien ship off the coast of Africa two years earlier. At the time, she had worked extensively with another expert to decipher the markings on the hull of the ship and found human DNA sequences, passages from the Bible, the Quran, and probably the recipe for Coca-Cola. It was like the Rosetta stone for all of humanity. The rubbings from that other ship alone were enough to activate some dormant corner of Mulder’s mind, driving him into violent rage and prompting his temporary institutionalization. If there are more of these rubbings floating around, it’s cause for concern for Scully. Meanwhile, the motorcyclist is able to heal his wounds from the crash using a chunk of alien ship he’s been carrying in his pocket. Probably forgot he had it. You know, with all the excitement of the car chase and being blown up and all. In Alberta, Canada, a UFO cult led by a man who calls himself Josepho is busy excavating an alien ship like the one Scully had found along the Ivory Coast a couple of years ago. At the FBI, Doggett manages to acquire the rubbings which had been shown to Scully as well as a personnel file on the man on the motorcycle. As it turns out, he is a fellow FBI agent named Robert Comer. Reyes examines the rubbings and realizes they are from a different ship than the ones Scully had worked on and kept on file. Meanwhile, Agent Comer inexplicably arrives at Scully’s apartment, attacks Scully’s mom and locks himself in the nursery with baby William. Scully gets home and shoots Agent Comer as he is trying to smother the baby with a pillow. As he lies wounded on the floor, Comer tells Scully that her baby “has to die,” but has too many bullets in his belly to further explain his outrageous statement. After asking Agent Reyes to take William and her mother out of the apartment to safety, Scully finds the artifact in Comer’s coat pocket. News of Comer’s death and his role as an FBI agent reach Josepho and his UFO cult/sandbox club. Back in Washington, Kersh and Skinner tell Scully that Comer had gone undercover into the cult to investigate a series of death threats targeted against Fox Mulder, but had stopped reporting when the cult moved to Canada. Josepho had been a member of the US military before founding his cult. When Reyes brings Scully her baby, the alien artifact springs to life, flies through the air, and floats above William’s head. Scully’s mom-sense tingles and she determines to get William out of the apartment to someplace safe. Outside, Doggett sees a woman watching them load the baby into the car. He sends Scully and Reyes along without him and attempts to confront the woman. She responds by running him over with her car. Scully passes William to the Lone Gunmen. Incidentally, Byers is the most maternal member of the trio. At least, until the woman who hit Doggett turns up and puts a gun to his head in order to take the baby away. In a flashback to the Persian Gulf War, Zeke Josepho watches as a group of four Super Soldiers appear and dispatch the enemy forces that had ambushed his platoon. This experience was what set the Lieutenant Colonel on the path to establishing his UFO group, eventually leading to the discovery of the space ship which his group has uncovered in Canada. At FBI headquarters, AD Follmer is briefing the task force set forth to find William Scully. The Lone Gunmen are tasked with looking at mug shots to identify the woman who took the baby from them, but they pass the suspect’s face without saying anything. Instead, they take the information to Scully and Reyes. Byers had slipped a cell phone under the cushion of William’s car seat before he was taken, allowing Langley to locate the car seat’s location. Scully and Reyes follow their directions, but find an abandoned SUV with the car seat inside. Desperate, Scully uses the alien artifact to heal the hospitalized Agent Comer from the gunshot wounds she had inflicted at her apartment. He explains that Josepho’s cult’s belief system is based around the notion that the ship in the Canadian wilderness contains a physical manifestation of God. Additionally, William and Mulder are all twisted up into an ancient prophecy. If Mulder lives, William will grow up to lead humanity against the alien colonists. If Mulder dies, William will instead ally himself with the colonists. According to Comer, the cult has already killed Mulder in order to ensure the alien colonists’ success. Ergo, his attempted infanticide was a last-ditch attempt to save all of humanity. Scully and Reyes’ questioning of Agent Comer is interrupted by the arrival of Toothpick Man (who had been one of the mysterious men present during Scully’s interview at the beginning of the last episode). He orders them to leave him alone with Comer. Skinner soon reports to them that Agent Comer is dead. Scully follows a lead to Calgary, where the woman who had abducted Scully has been spotted. This leads her and Reyes out near the spot where Josepho’s people have been working. As William is presented to the rest of the group, the ship begins to move and blasts out of the ground. From a distance, Scully and Reyes watch as it rises up from the site and flies away. They rush to find all the members of Josepho’s cult burned alive by the blast, but William is safe and untouched by the ship’s energies. At FBI headquarters, Follmer reveals that he doesn’t have the stomach for this sort of thing by requesting that his name be removed from the reports. Kersh smacks him down before meeting with The Toothpick Man. A close look at the back of the mysterious man’s neck reveals the telltale ridge that indicates Toothpick Man is one of the Super Soldiers. Let’s talk a little about Walter Skinner. He’s been around the block with the X-Files. When he was introduced all the way back in the first season, it seemed that he was being used by CSM (and the Syndicate) to keep Mulder and Scully in check. But then an evolution happened. He put up that “No Smoking” sign on his desk. He actually kicked Cancer Man out of his office at one point. It wasn’t long before he revealed himself as a staunch (if cautious) supporter of Mulder, Scully, and the X-Files division. He has kept his lips buttoned about the fraternization between his two pet agents for God knows how long. But now he’s back to being a withholding dick along with the rest of the top brass? What gives, Skinner? It’s possible to look at Skinner’s alliance and consider him a traitor to the greater cause of the X-Files, but consider this: if he stands up to these men (Kersh, Follmer, and the rest), he will be shut out. Skinner has always played a long game. He’ll keep up appearances until the time is right and then act in the best interests of Scully and the X-Files. Sure, he wants to keep his job, but it’s more than that. Skinner needs to maintain a level of access that can never be granted to a lowly X-Files Special Agent, and he knows it. In order to protect the unit he has adopted as his personal pet project, Walter has to carouse with some strange bedfellows. And it’s certain he is mindful of the fact that he has a unique opportunity to learn the machinations of this new version of the Syndicate that seems to be springing up around him. He’s not about to throw in with them, but he will most assuredly try to squeeze as much information from them as he possibly can. The other big questions presented by this story arc have to do with William and Mulder. Being a single mother is challenging under the best of circumstances, but when your child is the Messianic fulfillment of an end-time prophecy and is being sought by UFO cultists bent on presenting him to alien colonists? Even Lorelai Gilmore would have given up and gone back to the mansion. One must really wonder how long Scully can successfully protect her baby. With these revelations of her son’s importance and the resulting threats aligned against him, it would almost seem that joining Mulder as a fugitive on the run might be a viable option. Except now she isn’t even able to confirm whether Mulder is still alive or if he has fallen victim to the prophecy-ensuring cultists as Agent Comer told her. If she were to leave, she might be better able to hide him from view. But she would also be leaving behind the shelter of her network of defenders. But even with Skinner, Doggett, Reyes, and the Lone Gunmen allied around her, what sort of life can she ensure for her son? S9E11: “Audrey Pauley” (w: Steven Maeda/d: Kim Manners) For the second time this season, Maeda sent one of the X-Files agents to spend the entire episode in a hospital bed. Unlike the earlier episode (“4-D”), now it’s Monica Reyes’ turn to lie in bed while Doggett does all the running, not the other way around. That’s not to say this is the same story. Sure, it’s dealing with concepts of our relative placement in time and space, but this time it’s much more metaphysical than sci-fi. Reyes doesn’t spend the episode tucked away in another dimension of reality. Instead she finds herself caught in some sort of spiritual construct. The end result is one of the strongest stand-alone episodes of the season, even if it lacks any real explanation. As far as lineage goes, this story easily owes more to The Twilight Zone than Kolchak. Perhaps it’s this factor which makes it feel so convincingly like a classic X-File. Much of the emotion of this episode emanates from Robert Patrick’s performance. In actuality, it gets a little uncomfortably voyeuristic at a couple of points. Just before this episode was filmed, one of Patrick’s close friends Ted Demme (nephew of Jonathan Demme, and a director and producer in his own right) had died suddenly while playing a game of basketball. As a result, Robert’s raw emotions were just visible under the surface throughout the entirety of this episode. He said afterward that he was afraid he had allowed too much of that emotional quality to bleed through onto the screen, but his desperation and barely-contained grief really helped to drive home the earnestness of this story. After dropping Doggett off at his house (with a bit of warmly sportive mutual banter, one might note), Monica Reyes’ car is struck by a drunk driver. She is rushed to a local hospital, with Doggett and Scully close behind. As Scully studies her charts, she reaches the same conclusion as the attending Dr. Preijers. Monica’s comatose state is showing no brain activity. While her bodily functions seem stable, her brain has shut down. The doctor informs the two agents that Reyes had a living will and was an organ donor. Dr. Preijers has already contacted some organ extraction teams to stand by. However, John Doggett is unwilling (and possibly unable) to face such a stark reality. Monica, meanwhile, has awakened in an empty shell of the hospital. There are no signs, no doctors or nurses. When she walks out the front door of the building, she finds that the hospital seems to be free-floating in a foggy void. Inside, she meets two men. One of them, Stephen, says he had entered the hospital experiencing chest pains and believes that they are dead and trapped in this place as their afterlife. He introduces Reyes to another man who had suffered a head injury on a construction site. Monica goes exploring alone and encounters a timid woman who runs away from her, vanishing as she rounds a corner into a wall. When she returns to the two men, the construction worker is having some sort of seizure and vanishes in a slow sizzle of light. Over in the actual hospital, the same construction worker is mourned by his family members as the doctor turns off the monitors next to his bed. In the hallway, the woman Monica had followed in the other place looks into the room sadly then pushes her cart down the hall. The woman’s name, we will come to learn, is Audrey Pauley. While Doggett doggedly grasps at straws for reasons to delay the removal of Monica’s life support (or her organs, for that matter), Audrey enters the room to tell John that Monica isn’t gone. She leaves him in his bafflement and goes to her room in the basement of the hospital. She assists with odd jobs around the hospital and is allowed to use this room in return. In the center of her room is a scale model of the hospital itself. Somehow Audrey is able to focus her concentration on this dollhouse and place herself inside the floating Phantom Zone hospital where Monica and her new friend Stephen are having a really lame pajama party. Sure it’s a little St. Elsewhere, but just play along, OK? In conversation, Audrey tells Monica that she has spoken to Doggett and that he loves her very much. Monica also learns that the socially-awkward Audrey is severely dyslexic. Noting the lack of wall signs and the gibberish on all of the charts and papers at the nurses’ stand, the agent determines that the place where her soul is currently trapped is Audrey’s own creation. Monica relays a message through Audrey back to Doggett, which strengthens his resolve to keep the organ collection doctors at bay. A nurse questions Dr. Preijers about an injection she saw him administer to Reyes when she came in, and he responds by killing her. Doctors can be so temperamental, can’t they? John goes back to Audrey’s room with her and learns of the hospital model. Unfortunately, Dr. Preijers has followed them and steps in after Doggett leaves the room. He has purposely killed untold patients by putting them into a state where their brains are inactive then pulling the plug on their life support, although his motivation for this activity is never stated. Audrey barely has time to enter the model of the hospital and advise Reyes to throw herself into the void outside the hospital door in order to return to her body before the doctor attacks her. Reyes awakens minutes before the life support is to be unplugged and immediately tells Doggett to check on Audrey. He finds and captures Preijers exiting her room with an empty hypodermic. Unfortunately, Audrey lies dead on the floor next to her beloved hospital model. The actress who so effectively guest-starred as this episode’s title character has proven to be something of an X-File herself for this writer. In preparation for this column, I found something rather curious. Tracey Ellis, having appeared here for the second time on this show (the first was season three’s “Oubliette”) after a string of appearances on high-profile television and film throughout the Nineties (Legends of the Fall, Dharma and Greg, and Star Trek: Voyager, to name a few), simply vanished after this episode. Her IMDB bio lists a couple of her movie appearances, but her resume simply ends with this episode of The X-Files. There is a Facebook page which would seem to belong to her, but there aren’t any pictures attached and the content of the page seems to be equally dedicated to postings of food porn from some guy named Paul Hollywood and tracking the movements of an African-American Actress named Tracey Ellis Ross (who is in turn Diana Ross’ daughter, btw) and is clearly not the same Tracey Ellis that appeared in this episode. If she simply decided to walk away from acting and the whole Hollywood scene, I can certainly respect it. In fact, as swan songs go, this particular hour of television is an admirable choice. I just find it odd that someone can so effectively disappear without a trace from as recognizably public of a life as that of a television and film actor. Ms. Ellis, if you’re out there reading this somewhere, we just want to commend you for your performance in this episode. Also, damn you for creating a puzzle to which my normally commendable research skills couldn’t find a solution. S9E12: “Underneath” (w: John Shiban/d: John Shiban) It seems something of a shame that this incarnation of the show didn’t last long enough to make more use of the fact that John Doggett was once a cop in New York City. What’s even more of a shame is that it would be utilized in such an overall lackluster episode. Shiban, a longtime contributing writer of the show, sat down in the director’s chair for the first time with this episode. Unfortunately for him, this was about the time that the suits and desks at Fox Television were growing nervous about the steady ratings decline of one of their most expensive shows. Accordingly, they began stepping in and meddling (thereby ensuring the show’s demise, if you ask me) and this episode nearly didn’t see broadcast. It was produced to air as the season’s ninth episode (right before the “Provenance”/”Providence” two-parter), but was held up by network quality control. Thirteen years previously, Robert Fassl was caught and convicted of murdering a family of three with a screwdriver. The case was a career maker for young NYPD officer John Doggett. In the present, Fassl is on the verge of release, based on new DNA evidence that seems to exonerate him. Doggett rushes to New York to try to prevent a newly-freed Fassl from killing again. Reyes and Scully tag along to provide moral support. Or maybe to talk sense into him. They sort of vacillate on that point. Upon his release, Fassl’s lawyer faces the horde of news microphones while Fassl bursts into fearful sweats over the vision of some sort of dark Jesus/angry Dead Head watching from across the street. His lawyer Jana Fain does the only sensible thing for a New York lawyer and brings the recently exonerated con back home to stay with her and her elderly housekeeper. Fassl retires to his room to furiously rub his Rosary (I didn’t mean to make that sound so dirty, but I’m not gonna change it; this week’s installment brought to you by Pope-sicles! They’re sacri-licious!). His bead-abuse seems to keep him from doing whatever it is that is making him sweat so much until he looks up and discovers his bloody hands and the words “kill her” written in bloody letters on the wall. Angry Jesus appears in the corner (“when there was only one set of footprints, that was the time I slung your lifeless corpse over my shoulder”), prompting Fassl to beg him not to act on the words on the wall. The next morning, Fain explains some house rules to her guest. When she leaves him alone in the house in the middle of the night, he needs to refrain from riffling through her unmentionables drawer. Come on, lady, the guy just got out of a thirteen year stint in the pokey! And you’re gonna begrudge him an opportunity to dig through your underwear drawer? These lawyer types are always so uptight. Also, she mentions that the housekeeper seems to be missing, so Fassl should make his own breakfast. “OK, gotta go to work. Don’t forget about the undies. Don’t spoil your dinner with Oreos.” Of course, the housekeeper is shoved in a kitchen cabinet. Using a mop, he smears the bloody corn syrup around until the camera stops rolling and disposes of the body. At least, it would seem he disposes of it. There’s a kitchen cleaver involved in his process, but the rest is left to the imagination. Scully, who is getting really sick of rerunning this DNA test for Doggett by this point, tells her fellow agent that the DNA matches in all but one of the thirteen sciency things and only a blood relative of Fassl could have been such a perfect match. But Fassl was an only child and an orphan. Weird, right? Reyes wins a gold medal in Conclusion Jumping by deducing that Fassl is transmogrifying into a different person to commit the crimes. You know, like how a communion wafer turns into the flesh of Christ? Except with a whole person. Doing evil, destructive things. But at least he sort of looks like Jesus. Meanwhile, the Assistant District Attorney drops by the lawyer’s house unannounced to talk about Fassl’s payout from the state of New York for his thirteen year incarceration (standard operating procedure, right?). Evil Jesus appears and kills him as well, leaving Fassl to clean up the mess. Again. Dammit, Evil Jesus! Fain comes home later that night to see Evil Jesus standing behind her in the bathroom mirror. However, instead of killing this one, he runs out of the house into the night. Doggett and Reyes, on stakeout on the street in front of Fain’s mansion, see the bearded man run out the front door and into the night. The chase takes them down into the nearby sewers, where Doggett shoots the bearded man who falls into the water of the storm drain. When he surfaces, he has reverted back to Fassl. Reyes finds Fassl’s stash of body parts in an adjoining part of the sewer, including the ADA and the housekeeper. If only Mrs. Dowdy could have seen how well-organized he kept his murderous trophy room, I think the old girl would have been suitably impressed. Reyes sums up the entire episode by reminding Doggett that none of it matters as long as the case is solved in the end. Just make it to the end. That’s about the best you can hope to do sometimes. The finished product feels like the effort of a first-time director, frankly. There are entire swaths of dialogue that are all but lost to the sounds of hard-soled shoes tapping and echoing their way down a marble hallway. It’s almost as if there is a directorial mandate to mic the floor in every scene. True, there’s a reference in the script in which Doggett mentions the sound of blood squishing in the carpet of a crime scene under his shoes (which we can hear in the opening sequence), but it’s hardly enough to necessitate such a pervasive imperative in the finished production. Maybe if the action were centered around a series of mysterious deaths within a troupe of tap-dancers, it would be a sensible choice. Otherwise, it just seems like a completely avoidable glitch in the production. The story itself scrabbles with its bare claws to hold itself together, which is unusual for a Shiban-written episode. Overall, this would stand up to be among the rare clunkers of the final season of this show. S9E13: “Improbable” (w: Chris Carter/d: Chris Carter) You know, when someone like Burt Reynolds expresses a desire to be on your show, you step up and make it happen. Reynolds had relayed a message through Robert Patrick (is there anyone in Hollywood this guy doesn’t know?) to Carter that he would be interested in a guest spot. What Carter put together really is a work of sublime genius. An impassioned treatise on numerology with an impish God as the centerpiece? With an Italian Bossa Nova soundtrack to boot? All that AND a guest appearance by Ellen Greene? Oh, count me in. Carter felt that the season was travelling through dark waters and desired to brighten things up a bit with this episode. He succeeded in assembling one of the most enjoyably watchable hours of the entire season. A man sits down at a bar in a casino and has a strange conversation with another man playing solitaire. The stranger seems to know everything about the first man, including the fact that he’s a killer. The stranger half-heartedly tries to convince the man not to follow a blonde into the ladies room, but to no avail. Moments later, another woman screams that there has been a murder in the restroom. Agent Reyes has been going through unsolved cases and found a link between several based on Numerological theories. The victims’ names and birthdates link the otherwise unrelated deaths through numeric chains. Scully is on the verge of dismissing her fellow agent’s theory when she notices the same mark on the face of all of the victims in the cases she has presented. They are, in fact, linked to the same killer with some sort of triple circle insignia on his ring. Reyes consults a local numerologist on the case. Unfortunately, before she can communicate any findings to the agent, the killer walks into her office. The killer notices the man from the bar playing three-card monte outside of his apartment building and seeks to confront him. The stranger is nonplussed, despite seeming to know the man’s capabilities. Back at the FBI, Reyes’ theories about numerology being the key to solving the case go over with the assembled task force like they were handed a pop quiz in math class. However, when the series of murders are pinned on a map, they form a spiraling shape along the Eastern seaboard of the United States. As Scully and Reyes finish going through the crime scene at the numerologist’s office, they encounter the killer in the building’s elevator. Scully is the one to recognize the three sixes on his ring as being the cause of the imprint on each of the victims’ faces. Unfortunately, he escapes as the elevator doors close with him inside. The two agents race down the stairs into the building’s parking garage, but they are too late to stop a car from exiting. The gate drops and they are effectively trapped inside the garage. As they attempt to secure the garage, they find a man sitting in his car. It is the strange man who has been interacting so freely with the killer. Realizing that they are trapped until someone can come along to open the door to the building or the gate leading out of the garage, they agree to the man’s challenge to play a round of checkers. Looking at the red and black pieces on the board, Reyes realizes that the killer’s victims were chosen in groups of three following a particular pattern. First he kills a blonde, then a brunette, followed by a redhead. Based on this, she believed she and Scully to be in danger. Sure enough, the killer has been lurking in the garage during the checkers tournament and sets out to complete murders eight and nine, bringing the third part of his cycle of three threes to an end. Luckily, Doggett steps into the garage just in time to fire three bullets into the killer. When Scully and Reyes go looking for the man with the checkerboard, he is gone. In the end, there is a party in the Little Italy neighborhood where the killer had lived. The camera zooms up and away to reveal that the city looks just like the face of the enigmatic mystery man. Who is probably God. The most rewarding part of this incredibly quirky episode is the way numbers are playfully interjected into every scene. When Monica raises the shade in the Numerologist’s office, she completes a pattern of open windows on the building which recreate the six dots on a domino being held by Burt Reynold’s character. Even the six buttons on Agent Reyes’ coat form a domino pattern. Scully begins her autopsy at 6:06pm, and calls Reyes at 9:09pm at the end of the episode. The task force leader carefully counts off objectives on his fingers. The numerologist’s office number is 333. Even the dialogue is peppered with phrases like “six of one, half a dozen of the other” and such. Additionally, the music used throughout this episode is composed by a French writer, actor, and recording artist by the name of Karl Zero. It’s one of those episodes that was a true pleasure to revisit, particularly with the dark times that have been so prevalent throughout this season thus far. See larger image X-files, The Complete Season 9 Blu-ray The ninth electrifying season of The X-Files reveals one astonishing truth after another, as even more mesmerizing stories of conspiracy, the paranormal and extraterrestrial realities unfold. Scully grapples with the revelation about baby William s powers, while interest in the murder of Agent Doggett s son is rekindled. The existence of super soldiers hints at a much bigger government conspiracy one that Mulder has refused to back down from revealing, which brings him to a final, no-holds-barred confrontation with those who would deny the truth. Bonus Features:Disc 1:**Nothing Important Happened Today**Nothing Important Happened Today II**D monicus**4-D **Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary by Chris Carter and Frank Spotnitz**Special Effects Sequence by Mat Beck with Commentary by Paul Rabwin**Nothing Important Happened Today II International Clips Disc 2:**Lord of the Flies**Trust No 1**John Doe**Hellbound **Deleted Scene with Optional Commentary by Chris Carter and Frank Spotnitz**Special Effects Sequences by Mat Beck with Commentary by Paul Rabwin**Trust No 1 International Clips Disc 3:**Provenance**Providence**Audrey Pauley**Underneath **Deleted Scene with Optional Commentary by Chris Carter and Frank Spotnitz**Special Effects Sequences by Mat Beck with Commentary by Paul Rabwin**Provenance International Clips Disc 4:**Improbable**Scary Monsters**Jump the Shark**William **Audio Commentary on Improbable by Chris Carter**Audio Commentary on Jump the Shark by Vince Gilligan, John Shiban and Frank Spotnitz**Deleted Scene with Optional Commentary by Chris Carter and Frank Spotnitz**Special Effects Sequence by Mat Beck with Commentary by Paul Rabwin**William International Clips Disc 5:**Release**Sunshine Days**The Truth **Audio Commentary on The Truth by Kim Manners**Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary by Chris Carter and Frank Spotnitz**Special Effects Sequences by Mat Beck with Commentary by Paul Rabwin**The Truth International Clips**Reflections on The Truth Featurette Disc 6:**2008 WonderCon Panel**Documentary: The Truth About Season 9**The Making of The Truth**Secrets of The X-Files**More Secrets of The X-Files**Reflections on The X-Files**Threads of Mythology: Super Soldiers**X-Files Profiles: Monica Reyes and Brad Follmer**Television Spots New From: $17.88 USD In Stock Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.