Well… shit. You know, had this episode ended with a young Fox Mulder waking up on the couch with his kid sister Samantha sitting on the living room floor beside him watching Gunsmoke, sat up and said “Wow, I just had the craziest dream” to his parents who were entering the front door from playing canasta or pinochle or swap the wives or whatever couples in the seventies did at their neighbors’ house, it might have been only slightly less rewarding than this episode. At least, up until the last couple of minutes. While Mulder makes his way to a smoky rendezvous with his primary nemesis, Agents Scully and Einstein find themselves at the epicenter of a seemingly global epidemic. In the middle of a total meltdown of the infrastructure, former X-Files agent Monica Reyes crawls out of the woodwork to confirm for Scully the very thing that Clyde Bruckman predicted so very many years ago: Scully is immortal. Dana races alongside her young doppelganger to create a vaccine which will turn everyone on Earth into a half-extraterrestrial. Meanwhile, Agent Miller tracks the suddenly ailing Mulder to Cigarette Smoking Man’s house in South Carolina. My disquiet over this episode might have to do with the utterly disappointing (quote unquote) Ultimate Confrontation with CSM. I mean, we’ve been down this tobacco road before, and EVERY DAMN TIME that smug son of a Morley talks his way out from under gunpoint. This time, it’s the old “join me and we will rule this Empire together” ploy. Then he pulls off his opera mask to reveal he’s been in charge and could have made the chandelier fall on the audience the whole time. He just chose not to. Until now. Now seems to be a good time. Maybe. Either way, he’s fully prepared to watch Mulder die. I don’t think he meant what he said about letting him join his exclusive Apocalypse Club anyway. He seems content to only grant the special DNA makeovers to the hot ladies. Pervy old throat-hole-smoking bastard. I also might have found listening to much of this episode’s dialogue to be sort of like swallowing horse pills. It went from just a whole bunch of science being thrust in our faces to awkward melodrama to possible deus ex intravenous solution with barely a pause for air. It all felt unnecessarily hasty, as if this season was planned by an elementary student who doesn’t plan the spacing of his words on a line correctly and ends up having to write smaller and smaller so that he can fit a long word at the end of the line. The power of this episode fell in the final couple of minutes, when it finally felt like the story was getting started. At which point an entire nation cried out “REALLY?!?” (and, if my house is any indication, likely a few choice expletives). I’ve seen some really strong episodes directed by Chris Carter (last week’s “Babylon” being just one example), but what he really accomplished more than anything else with this episode was to make us all really miss the hell out of Kim Manners. Where was Rob Bowman during all of this? Couldn’t the people over at Castle have loaned him to us for an episode? Carter is certainly well-equipped to direct his quirky, gimmicky, standalone monster-of-the-week episodes (i.e. “The Post-Modern Prometheus,” “Triangle,” and the aforementioned “Babylon,” to name a few) but for some strange reason this episode, so steeped in the show’s newly-revamped mythology, plays out every bit as disjointed and maladroit as this season’s opener. I attributed the first installment’s clunkiness to a need to get the feeling back into the atrophied limbs of a show that had been lying virtually dormant for well over a decade. This one suffered from a similar lack of grace, but for different reasons. It seemed almost as if Carter realized he only had an hour to answer a whole caboodle of questions, brought in a couple of field experts to help him craft a story around biological warfare, then ran to his director’s chair with an uncorrected first draft of a script. So. Much. Information. Still, I can dig the sciency stuff. It’s well-researched and grounded just enough in real-world application to trigger my inner paranoiac. If they had thrown in a connection between alien DNA (or the lack thereof) and gluten intolerances and other food allergies, it would have completely blown my mind. As it stood, tying the work of the Syndicate to the recent resurgence of some long-thought-vanquished ailments like measles and smallpox was a baller move. The presentation of this information and what the two lovely ginger doctors were going to do about it might have been better delivered as a mid-episode TEDtalk. Carter’s chosen writing partners for this episode presented a cleanly-reasoned scenario, and that should come as no surprise when we consider their resumes. Dr. Simon is a professor of Virology at the University of Maryland and served as a science consultant for the first X-Files feature film. She also published The Real Science Behind the X-Files: Microbes, Meteorites, and Mutants in October 2001. Dr. Fearon is the Executive Medical Director of Medical Microbiology for the Canadian Blood Services in Toronto. The danger of employing such expertise to help you write a script for your show is that the script is likely to rely heavily on that same expertise, possibly to the detriment of the show’s characterization and action. Oh, and speaking of exposition gone wild, let’s take a moment to talk about Monica Reyes. Her appearance is the true epicenter of my disquiet over this episode. I mean, WTF, Mon? Where was John Doggett when you made a deal with the devil? Surely he could have talked sense into you. This fan is simply unwilling to accept her in the role of Krychek-With-Benefits to CGB Voldemort. During the final season of the original show, she provided a moral compass anchored in humanitarian compassion during her days as an X-File Special Agent, often to a greater degree than Mulder had ever proven capable. So how in the hell did she fall for Cancer Man’s ludicrous reasoning so easily? Even forgiving the unnecessarily cryptic phone conversation with Scully and the stilted, exposition-laden dialogue between her and Scully on the rain-soaked park bench, this woman simply did not act like the same Agent Monica Reyes we came to know fourteen years ago. On the other hand, some other characters were simply short-changed. Skinner is barely visible in the episode, new-blood agents Einstein and Miller are used solely as plot devices and (in the case of Lauren Ambrose’s Einstein at least) a sounding board toward which Scully could lob figurative science grenades. Miller is barely an afterthought, responsible for the “well, duh” moment when he thinks to track Mulder’s cell phone, and what might be the most anticlimactic hostage rescue in the history of television. Although, when you consider the fact that Robbie Amell has died no less than three times over the course of two seasons of The Flash over at the CW, he’s probably looking at this as an “any episode you walk away from…” win. Joel McHale’s Tad O’Malley is a presence in the episode, but not nearly to the capacity he served in the season opener and first part of this story. Instead, he is relegated to his web show, thankfully preventing him from macking on Scully in his limo and making us all feel squirmy inside. All of the talking and running around and more talking followed by even more talking and red-rimmed-eyes pleading for an explanation leads to the episode’s true centerpiece and what seems like the culmination of events set in motion all the way back when Chris Carter directed his very first episode of the original series and Duane Berry took Dana Scully on a road trip to Skyland Mountain. The problem is this climax hits at precisely the end of the episode. Specifically speaking, the final two minutes of this miniseries accomplished what many fans have been waiting and hoping for since the cancellation of the show back in 2002. It looks as if Scully is going to find herself aligned in parallel yet direct opposition to the Smoking Man. That is, if we ever get to return to the world of the X-Files. Fan response to this event seemed steady and positive, so it would seem to be an extreme likelihood. In fact, the morning after this episode aired, David Duchovny’s Facebook page shared a mocked-up screen shot of the X-Files’ opening credits tagline which read “The Truth Is On Hiatus.” Let’s just choose to take this episode’s actual opening credit alternative tagline of “This Is The End” to simply be indicative of Carter’s fondness for The Doors’ music. Because this had damn well better not be the end, Carter. By and large, the last few weeks have been a rollicking hoot. So what if they stumbled a little on the dismount? It’s the X-Files. It’s never easy. We need to accept that every answer will result in at least two more questions. So, this writer is going to sit vigil and go back to his habit of making a fervent wish every time the clock reads 10:13. What could possibly happen next, now that Scully has been singled out by a UFO in front of what appears to be the entire population of Washington, DC? Will she really be able to redistribute her DNA wealth to the rest of the unchosen planet? Is William really the keystone to everything, just like the crazy UFO cultists predicted back in 2001? Let’s all hope we’ll get an opportunity to see how this plays out. But if you’re reading this, Mr. Carter, I want you to know that I was totally kidding about that “young Mulder waking up from a dream” idea. Please don’t do that. That would really piss us all off. Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related John E. Meredith Just watched this morning, and I’m still digesting. It doesn’t work as an ending, obviously, any more than the last film did. What it mostly did was to rekindle my hopes for yet more, more, more. So we’ve got to escape the aliens (?), find William, and save Mulder in order to finish saving the world? Seems like Mr. Carter has upped the ante and set us up for one helluva batch of at least six more episodes. Or will we be looking at the movie that we should have had last time? In any case, I’m suffering from a case of X-Files blueballs at the moment.