Wow, this mythology episode wastes no time. There’s so much in there for both Scully and Mulder. The focus is on Scully in particular meeting a group of women who’ve been abducted just like her. We get to know they’re all suffering from a deadly kind of cancer. And It’s finally clearly confirmed that Scully was not brought into a space ship and probably never abducted by aliens but examined by a Japanese scientist in a lab inside a train. All of this is kinda linked to the hybrid mythology which is rolled out step by step in “Nisei”: There’s a video of an alien autopsy, a train that transports something that looks like an alien hybrid and a great cliffhanger. Awesome episode!
My opinion on this episode is a bit ambivalent. On the one hand it’s a strong study of how Mulder and Scully considering their specific background and experiences handle a case of child abduction very differently. Mulder, having experienced the abduction of his sister, gets all empathic on the former victim who is under suspicion of collaborating with the abductor. However Scully, herself kidnapped just one year ago, judges fast when the evidence begins to point in a particular direction. But on the other hand all this puts the two main characters back into their original cliché roles completely. In this episode Scully only believes in hard evidence. She repulses all of Mulder’s theories, she even doubts he’s thinking clearly considering his background story. It feels a bit weird. On the contrary Mulder gets it all right from the beginning. He doesn’t need much evidence, this time he hasn’t even got a reference case in the X-Files, he just knows what’s going on. I think the episode could have made a much stronger point on his stubborness in these cases if he wasn’t right just this one time. Also Scully wouldn’t appear that antagonistic if she was right in the end going by the facts. And moreover the episode would feel a lot less predictive which it is a least from the middle on. It’s still a strongly crafted episode with great performances of both Anderson and Duchovny that misses the chance to shake up the ways the characters think and just cements their believes.
It’s getting a little hard by now writing short reviews about this kind of episodes, which seems pretty generic: some kind of ghost seeking revenge is killing/hurting/punishing people and in the end he or she is connected to the most unlikely person around. Like the man without legs and arms in this case. Or the dead guy just two episodes ago. Of course, the most unlikely suspect is obviously the killer nearly from the beginning (part because it’s so unlikely). Did anyone really thought it was someone else than the man who can’t even move? There’s a bit of variation this time with the killer having an accomplice and the ghost this time being an out-of-body experience. But otherwise it’s just trying way to hard. The ghost is jumping from the water, diving to the ground, leaving footprints you can see his image in the distance as a man with arms and legs. It’s just calling out “Look at me! I have legs!” undermining the solution. I particularly liked the effect work. The X-Files really starts to stand out in make-up effects. The burned face, wow that looked horrible in a good way. And how they tricked away the arms and legs was also totally believable. Let’s not talk too much about the invisible man in the smoke – there is always some room for improvements.
Oh, a remember this from the old times. Back then in school some friends of mine did a presentation about the X-Files (I think we must have had media as an overall topic since I did something about science fiction) and they also mentioned “2Shy”. Did they even show the episode? I’m not sure, but I think we watched “Die Hand Die Verletzt” in class. Nevertheless I watched “2Shy” back then and I still remember it as full of totally gross scenes, even gory, human bodies dissolving into bloody sludge, and a suspenseful rollercoaster that defined for me what a good episode of the X-Files should look like. Well… reality check: disappointing. “2Shy” is far from being that good. In fact I now think it’s a below-average episode. Yes, it still has a great key-visual when Scully opens the body chamber and there’s just a rotten skeleton left within a big puddle of brown sludge. But that doesn’t make up for the absolutely generic story about a man in need of body fat who murderes overweight women and sucks out theirs. Too much things just don’t add up. He pumps acid into their bodies to feed on their liquified fat but when he leaves the body seems intact. It’s only some time later when the body seems to melt – from the outside, not from the inside! The episode also doesn’t care for giving us some more insight on the characters. The murderer has a need for fat but we’re never shown what that really means until the last scene which is way over the top. Yes, “2Shy” has a few shockers we, the young folks, loved back then. But besides that it’s just another standard freak of the week.
This is another episode that doesn’t give you total closure at the end. Mulder and Scully go for the most probable solution but even they know it might not be the truth. Was there a spirit returned from the dead haunting all the people responsible for his execution? Or was it his wife’s lover who tracked down all the people on the list? Was he somehow possessed by Neech? Maybe Neech took different shapes? “The List” keeps it all a secret, even the list that made the episode’s name: we never get a certain look at this list although in the end – especially after the warden seemingly dies in a car accident – the five names seem pretty clear. You really can’t they this is a written masterpiece since it’s pretty easy to build up a strong scenario but far from easy adding a convincing solution, which “The List” doesn’t even try. But th building up is damn good. The setting is great and The X-Files does another step up presenting seriously disgusting images (and there’s more to come soon). If you just enjoy the ride “The List” will deliver greatly.
This is a very strange mixture, a twisted tale on psychics and clairvoyants. A world where fortune tellers and palm readers are being murdered and a story about two man with not so desirable special abilities: one seeing himself performing murders in the future and the other able to foresee people’s deaths. Including his own. “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose” seems to balance effortlessly on the thin line between a comic fairy tale and darksome murder mystery. It’s really lightfooted in one moment, presenting lines of subtle humour and in the other moments there’s murder, death and suicide. Although I must admit it creates some kind of discomfort watching it. Is this supposed to be funny? Well, the things happened on the screen – they are not. Is this episode dead serious? No, it definitely doesn’t want to be. This episode is Darin Morgan’s second entry after the hilarious second season episode “Humbug” and it’s even more of an experiment. Instead of saying “let’s do a comedy episode” it’s now “let’s make it a totally unique kind of dramedy”. And while “Humbug” was a lot of fun but also told very straightforwardly, “Clyde Bruckman’s Finale Repose” is very cleverly written. Using foretelling and psychic analysis as a telling device the episode can tell its story on different time layers and it all adds up perfectly in the end. I wasn’t so sure about this episode while watching it since, you know, it’s humorous but not that fun. But the more I think about it the more I respect it as a truly great piece of work.
After three episodes of going deeper into the show’s mythology we get the first stand-alone episode of the season. “D.P.O.” is pretty standard: A boy with a special ability (control electricity and lightning), Scully being a sceptic, Mulder believing in the paranormal. Underneath there is a meta-story about a boy living in hsís own world, unable to outgrow his teenage crush on his teacher. The story benefits a lot from the strong performance of guest actor Giovanni Ribisi, kickstarting his film career with this episode. His acting is what lifts “D.P.O.” into good-average territory. Of course there’s also Jack Black in this episode, but I’m a lot less impressed by him. It’s just the “pretty standard” that fits the episode.
When you feel the vibrant tension during a dialogue scene you know there’s something going damn right. In “Paper Clip” there’s this scene between Skinner and the Cigarette Smoking Man. Two strong, self-confident characters. Skinner being in a powerful position in the FBI and struggling with the conspiracy stuff controlled by men beyond his reach who sometimes try to instrumentalize him for their purposes. And the CSM possibly being one of the mightiest men in the whole world, used to being always in control of everything, currently in an unusual imponderable situation of having lost kind of the life assurance for all his life’s work. It’s a real stand-off and it’s awesome. It shows how well-written Skinner is and also shows some uncommon facets of insecurity of the CSM. Even besides this the episode was way better than its predecessor. When the season opener felt like playing for time this feels like opening a new chapter. The alien and conspiracy storylines (and also Samatha’s) finally unite and we get a lot of background information on the consortium (and still even more questions). My only negative point is the whole white buffalo story. It’s feels way too incoherent since this is by no means a Navajo episode (other than the season opener and the previous season finale) and the Navajo guy guarding Melissa also felt rather forced into the plot. Nonetheless this is a wonderful season opener.
in control having
Often the third season of a show is its qualitative climax. The soft spot between finding its own groove in the beginning and the lack of new ideas at the end. So I only expect the best from this season of The X-Files. Unfortunately the opening episode couldn’t live up to this expectations at all. I don’t like the Navajo magic mumbo-jumbo including the near-death drem sequence (similar to Scully’s last season), but I guess it’s a matter of taste. At least we got a second confirmation that Samantha is not dead an disturbing scene of the aliens being killed. There are two bigger issues: some serious plot holes and almost nothing happening or even being answered. So we had this big cliffhanger: Mulder is in the boxcar when it’s blown up. Crystal clear from the beginning he would survive, but how? Well, we might never now. He’s found under some rocks. Did he crawl there through a hole in the boxcar’s hull? So the vehicle carrying all these aliens had a hole? Considering he was lying next to an alien body and all aliens were seemingly killed inside the boxcar: Were they pushed they by the explosion when the car exploded? Whaat?! Seriously, if you can’t solve your cliffhangers, don’t do them in the first place. Then there’s the implant in Scully’s neck. This shows again how sloppy the writing last season was regarding her abduction. So she’s abducted instead of Duane Barry after they found several metal implants in his neck and after she returns nobody cares. Nobody wants to find out what happened to her. Nobody checks for implants?! That’s just ridiculous. There are some nices scenes with the consortium and the CSM losing his temper facing the loss of the secret tape, but nothing big worthy to write about.
It’s time to dive into the crazy chaos of The X-Files’ mythology once again. As I already mentioned in the season summary: Nearly every single mythology episode of this season tells its own story and they seem to be totally unconnected. So I’m pretty sure this is going to be a lot of fun to sort it all out. Maybe. Or is there a hidden red threat we overlooked all the time? Let’s find out!