Obviously the season was most prominently influence by Gillian Anderson’s pregnancy resulting in only rare appearances in the first six and total absence during the seventh episode. Despite having a clever solution for explaining her absence with Scully being abducted the season has some problems to cope with these circumstances. Most of the early episodes of the season are lacking the typical X-Files spirit with Mulder often investigating alone. I don’t quite get why they introduced Krycek this late. And why they took him of the show right before Scully’s absence resulting a (really bad) episode of Mulder operating all alone.
I’m also not that happy with how they handled the abduction story. I didn’t like the episode of Scully’s return which seemed painfully esoterical to me while it explained exactly nothing about what happened to her. And then it’s business as usual again and nobody cares about what happened until it gets mentioned again as early as the season finale. There was a lot of potential surrounding this workaround and they completely wasted it.
The cases Mulder and Scully investigate are becoming more diverse again after the show’s focus narrowed dangerously towards the end of the first season. And in total contrast to conentional crime shows they don’t remotely are able to solve all their cases. They even have a real tough time in the middle of the season not solving several cases in a row, sometimes not even knowing what’s going on. I like that, it feels way more real.
In my opinion X is a rather bad substitute for Deep Throat. The deeper into the season the more I began to wonder why X even bothered to show up every time Mulder calls him. And why Mulder keeps calling him in the first place. Their relationship becames rather unfruitful real when X always keeps saying that Mulder should stop calling him and that he can’t tell him what he wants to know. And Mulder not only doesn’t get any useful information, sometimes X even deceives him like in the crazy dark matter episode when he kidnappes the man with the atomic shadow. However Mulder keeps calling him. I don’t get it.
At last the mythology is all over the place. There’s a really neat two-part episode (well, it’s one-and-a-half plus Mulder having an arctic adventure) but all the mythology episode are totally unconnected. There’s project Purity again, Scully being abducted by aliens, alien clones and a headhunter, Mulder’s father being part of the conspiracy and alien body seemingly misused as lab rats. They always start new topics, but they don’t come back continuing them until now.
In this second season finale we don’t have to wait long until the mythology kicks in. Even before the opening credits begin we get to see an alien dead body found by a member of the Navajo. But as the episode evolved we realize this isn’t about some new creepy alien stuff (yet), but about the big conspiracy. About Mulder’s father having been part of a secret project team along with the Cigarette Smoking Man. About how they take drastic measures to defame Mulder by putting drugs into his fresh water after he got hands on secret government documents. About how they even kill Mulder’s father in order to prevent him giving too much information to his son. Well, did they? The smoker says otherwise. We see the fall and rise of Agent Mulder and his apparent death at the end. While all this is really well done I’m a little bit unsatisfied with what the writers give away about the mythology or even more which direction they chose this time. Because again it’s totally new. We had some stuff about military using alien tech, we had some stuff about a secret project breeding hybrides, we saw an alien headhunter an alien clones and now: alien bodies with smallpox vaccination marks? I mean that’s really cool but I’d rather get at least some answers or at least mentions of all the other things before getting new questions. After rewatching two seasons I can’t agree with the people saying the show’s mythology lost focus in the later seasons. It never found a clear focus in the first place.
Sometimes X-Files writers bring themselves and their episodes into trouble trying too many things at the same time, putting too many themes together that don’t fit. “Our Town” proves these experiments don’t have to fail inevitably. We get cannibalism, small town mystery, longevity, foxfire, tribal mystery and creutzfeldt-jacob disease carefully put together into one episode (although in my understanding foxfire is a term that describes bioluminescence, cold light, and can’t possibly have anything to do with burnt ground). The episode changes its course smoothly several times, leading the agents from early assumptions about foxfires and hallucinations from repetitive work over contaminated chickens to the cannibalistic cult. It’s nice to see how they get closer to the truth step by step instead of solving it in one sudden revelation. Anyhow there are some downsides: Technically this isn’t the series’ best work yet, the soundtrack in particular, which simply seems recycled from other tribe or cult episodes. And then there’s – again – Scully in distress and Mulder saving her at the last second. Gets old.
Being all into physics and quantum mechanics, I’m having soem big problems with this episode. And you don’t even need to know all this nerdy stuff to see the story about a man’s shadows turning into a black whole is a little far-fetched. Nearly every line of dialogue containing scientific terms is wrong to such an extent, it destroys any suspense of disbelief I’m able to bring up. It’s just buzz words – dark matter, anti-matter, black holes, quantum particles – smashed together without caring about what they actually mean. Besides this the story’s core about a man who becomes an unwillingly deadly weapon after an experiment went wrong is quite interesting. And adding the gouvernment kidnapping him in order to harvest his ability is another nice point. Although I have more and more trouble to understand the relationship between Mulder and X. X constantly says he doesn’t want to meet up again and he’s fearing for his safety. But he always appeares – even if he has nothing to say. And Mulder still summons him although by now he should know X won’t help him. In fact in this particular case, X takes over the case, kidnaps the suspect, turns him into a lab rat and leaves Mulder with nothing. Nice work, Mr. Mulder!
I loved the constant state of chaos in the first twenty minutes of the episode that peaked with the arrival of the helicopter at the gas station. Nobody knows what was going on. Mulder and Scully don’t know what the case really is about, the local police doesn’t know why there is FBI, a third and maybe forth party arrive and take action on their own. And then the episode turns left into a discussion of misinformation that ruins – well not everything but a lot. There are way too many people talking about information politics suddenly. The refugee’s wife for example. Totally implausible she cares about what the public will know about all this while she’s arrested. And why is there the Cigarette Smoking Man? It feels weird having him here in a non-mythology case (the episode’s end implies there’s more to come, but I think that’s just the standard X-Files stand-alone cliffhanger ending). Finally I don’t get the point of all this. Why are Mulder and Scully even sent out to this case? Skinner says, they never stood a chance to get real answers and that’s why they sent them, but that doesn’t make any sense. If it’s a whole conspiracy, don’t they have a special team at the FBI to cover up these pharma experiment cases? Why send the X team, two people eagerly trying to unravel major conspiracies? It’s not even an X-File. To teach them a lesson? That’s insane! Oh, and did Scully really in some way killed the nice doctor? She’ll have some sleepless nights now.
“The Calusari” is an average episode with some common problems we’ve seen in several episodes before. I quite like how the show sometimes doesn’t give away the whole solution to a a mystery. But some times it’s the absolute opposite: there are just too many explanations given and they just don’t want to fit together. “The Calusari” is such a case. What did really happen here? The little boy killing his younger brother as indicated by the teaser? A dead twin possessing his brother in order to cause evil? The ultimate evil (that also became once manifest in Hitler as the episode tells) possessing the little child? So why the twin story? Why can the evil be seen as a ghost? And later as the boy Michael while in some way still in possession of Charlie? There are way to many pieces (and some even totally unrelated mystery components like the electrical malfunctions) and they don’t form a story that works well enough or at least is innovative (since it’s mostly an Excorcist rip-off, but well-crafted at least) to just overlook the inconsistencies.
This is kind of a special episode for. Back in my school days when I wasn’t watching The X-Files yet, a few classmates of mine made a presentation about the show, covering this episode in particular. I now know why they chose this example: Humbug is brillant in so many ways: it has a strong and innovative story, a creepy setting and as an entirely new element to the show a great sense of humour. I’m not talking about some of Mulder’s lines we get now and then but Mulder and Scully getting caught digging up a potato in the sherrif’s backyard. And a lot for of wonderfully crafted situation comedy including the ending. It’s unusual for the show but it absolutely works. And that’s not all, there is more to this episode: it’s taken its characters, former and current members of a freak show, serious and creates a sense of wonder in this unusual setting (not long ago I would have said: if you’re making a mystery show you can’t do it wrong with a freak show story – well, American Horror Story recently proved otherwise). I also want to praise the filming, which is particularly good in this one, especially the scene when Scully talkes to the “two-face” man and we can follow his face from different perspectives through some mirrors.
Oh, boy! I’ve seen pretty bad make-up effects, but the old-age make-up in this episode is spectacularly terrible. At the end of the teaser I didn’t even realize they rescued a boat full of old people – I thought they were zombies! And old Mulder looked absolutely ridiculous, like his face was made of latex slowly melting away. Okay, you could say: hey, it’s not normal aging, it’s accelerated by mystery mumbo-jumbo, it doesn’t have to look natural. Well, the character don’t seem no notice any difference. They instantly recognize the rescued people as “just old”. Beside the incredibly bad make-up there was, well, not so much. The episode had literally no story. Mulder and Scully were trapped on a ghost ship and aged rapidly. The never really found out why. They never really found out how to stop it. And then it ended with Mulder and Scully in a hospital, becoming young folks again. No explanation whatsoever. That’s totally lazy! Don’t write stories you can’t imagine any proper ending and instead invent some deus ex machina. Again I was remembered a little bit of “Gender Bender”, but that episode was interesting. “Død Kalm” however, was not. Can anybody translate the title? The first word translates “dead”, but the latter doesn’t seem to exist in norwegian language.
Let’s do a short recap of what we saw: Pregnant animals are abducted from a zoo. By aliens. They steal the animals’ unborn children. And then the animals reappear miles away from that zoo. And are invisible. Until they are not and die. And the FBI interrogates a gorilla. Say Whaaat?! This is crazy! I admit the idea of aliens abducting animals has its charm. We already know aliens are abducting humans, probably to examine them on their ships. So why not animals? And the zoo, where all the different species are in one spot, is the perfect place for this. So, until here it all makes perfect sense to me. But why in god’s name are the animals invisible? Okay, okay, I know. They couldn’t have filmed the opening scene showing a real elephant rampaging. And what about the tiger? It gets invisible and out of his cage – and then attacks a man right outside. And then disappears from the surface. What happened here? Did the aliens’ teleporting device failed the first attempt and beamed the tiger just two meters, in front of its cage? And what about the gorilla? Did the aliens actually tell him what their plans are? Are you kidding me?! And then there’s the problem with aliens apart from the alien mythology arc. There are some similarities to the first seasons’ episode “Gender Bender”. But while “Gender Bender” is leaving the viewer with no explanation at all apart from “it’s aliens, so just except all the mystery mumbo-jumbo we showed you”, this episode’s alien explanation at least makes sense and doesn’t contradicts the overall arc. In the end this episode was entertaining and technically really well done, but on the other hand incredibly messy and ridiculous.
Unfortunately “End Game” can’t keep up with the two-parter’s first part “Colony” at all. There are two main reasons for this: Mulder acts totally implausibly here and the episode’s story seems twenty minutes short. Let’s start with the first point: The entirety of Mulder’s life and carreer is dominated by his search for Samantha, the show often showed us her abduction is still haunting Mulder every day. And now shortly after her return he trades her for Scully and loses her again and it doesn’t seem to effect him too much. If at least he had major doubts of her being his real sister, but he tells Scully otherwise. I don’t by Mulder’s action in this episode at all. And secondly it seems like they only had a story for one and a half episodes since the whole plot about Samantha and the doctors just ends right in the middle. Mulder’s journey to the north pole rather feels like a long epilogue which ending we already know from the beginning of “Colony”. At least “End Game” (a title way too dramatic) tells us some more about the aliens: They will colonize earth, but not yet. The cross-breading project was initiated by two renegaders and is despised by the rest. And Samantha is still alive – who would have doubted that?