2×13: Irresistible

“You think you can look into the face of pure evil. And then you find yourself paralyzed by it.” — Dana Scully

Mulder and Scully are called to investigate the case of a death fetishist who soon starts kidnapping and killing women to feed his urges. And Scully, who recently experienced her own abduction, soon finds herself overcome by the case.

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Radhika: “Irresistible” remains one of the strongest episodes of the series, one of those crawl-under-your-skin, downright terrifying stories, despite its lack of actual paranormal activity (minus some perceived shapeshifting and demonic silhouettes.) And it’s terrifying because of how real it could be.

The episode features one of the series’ most memorable villains, Donnie Pfaster, a death fetishist who has been exhuming and desecrating bodies in a Minneapolis cemetery. Mulder and Scully are called to investigate, and Mulder predicts the fetishist may resort to murder to fulfill his urges. He’s proven correct when Pfaster later goes on to kill a prostitute. Meanwhile, Scully continues to grow increasingly uncomfortable with the case, likely processing some of her own demons from her abduction during the “Duane Barry”/”Ascension” arc, and goes back to D.C. to try tracing a fingerprint to a suspect. Continue reading

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2×12: Aubrey

“During their time, Chaney’s and Ledbetter’s ideas weren’t very well received by their peers. Using psychology to solve a crime was something like, um…” – Fox Mulder
“Believing in the paranormal?” – Dana Scully
“Exactly.” – Fox Mulder

Our heroes venture to Missouri to dig into the case of an old FBI agent whose body has been recently unearthed by a local detective, The hows and whys of which fall outside of usual channels…

Aubrey

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Max: Now this is more like it! This season has had some bumps (“3,” “Excelsis Dei”), but we are back on track in the quality department. There is a lot to unpack in this episode which ranges from genetics to Jungian psychology, but as a whole it works to create an effective little universe of actions the long shadow of their consequences. BJ Morrow, a detective with the police in Aubrey, Missouri, is the one who gets the ball rolling when a series of visions lead her to dig up the corpse of a renowned FBI agent, one whose avant-garde practices can be likened to a certain “spooky” acquaintance of ours.

The now desiccated Agent Sam Chaney was one of the first to use psychological methods to profile violent offenders, and he was tracking in the 1940s an individual who was raping women and carving the word SISTER into their chests. Now, after fifty years (concurrent with Morrow’s uncovering of Chaney’s skeleton), the attacks seem to be happening again. Continue reading

2×11: Excelsis Dei

“Mulder, mushrooms aren’t medication. They taste good on hamburgers, but they don’t raise the dead.” — Dana Scully
“Shamans have used them for centuries to gain entrance to the spirit world.” — Fox Mulder
“I think you’ve been reading too much Carlos Castaneda.” — Dana Scully

Mulder and Scully go to investigate a nurse’s claim that she was raped by an invisible entity at a nursing home, and eventually learn that a combination of mushrooms and vengeful spirits have resulted in a case that goes beyond a very bad trip.

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Radhika: “Excelsis Dei” is a bit of a mixed bag for me to watch. It has some classic Mulder and Scully lines. (Mulder: “Whatever tape you found in that VCR, it isn’t mine.” Scully: “Good, because I put it back in that drawer with all those other videos that aren’t yours.”) And thanks to its sad, stark nursing home setting, it has an unsettling quality that doesn’t even require the assistance of the paranormal to spook the viewer. But the concept, while potentially interesting, is a little muddled and the end result isn’t that great. Continue reading

2×10: Red Museum

“Well, Odin and the rest of them are a bunch of vegetarians. They drove the ranch right into the ground, turned 500 head of beef cattle into pets. Calls it a monument to barbarism.” – Sheriff Mazeroski
“Probably went over big with the local ranchers.” – Fox Mulder
“Well, you gotta admit, it takes some big ones to set down in the middle of cow country and start a church like his.” – Sheriff Mazeroski

Our heroes are called in to cattle country Wisconsin to investigate a string of cases involving suspected possession of local teenagers. What this leads them to turns out to surprise both them and the audience alike…

Red Museum

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Max: I spoke of in the review of “Sleepless” how it was basically a hybrid episode, combining elements of mythology and MOTW episodes to make an episode that had the strengths of both. “Red Museum,” on the other hand, is a different beast entirely, one that (correct me if my recall is wrong) is totally unique in the history of the show. That is, this is an episode that begins as your prototypical MOTW episode, along with all the usual iconography (possible possession, weird local religious sect, clashes between social groups). However, midway through the episode, something clicks, a piece of information is revealed, and we see the episode for what it really is, a piece of the mythology all along.

The inciting incident, several teenagers in small-town Wisconsin turn up hours after going missing, with no recollection of events, and with HE (or SHE) IS ONE scrawled on their backs as a result of some kind of demonic rite. Continue reading

2×09: Firewalker

“I’m back and I’m not going anywhere.” — Dana Scully

There’s a killer fungus among us. That’s the takeaway when our favorite FBI agents, reunited at last, find themselves investigating a death in a remote volcanic research base.

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Radhika: A few things I learned while watching this episode: Mulder and Scully are back to investigating the ooky and the kooky, which is a plus. Also, this is not an X-File you want to find yourself eating your lunch during, because you will quickly have the urge to lose it.

Other than that, while “Firewalker” is sufficiently gross and suspenseful in parts, and fairly enjoyable thanks to returning to the show’s old formula, it is in fact… a little formulaic. With the story borrowing heavily from the likes of “Ice” and even “Darkness Falls” from season one, the viewer can’t help but draw parallels between those earlier episodes, even though this one is in a more volcanic setting. Continue reading

2×08: One Breath

“I need to do more than just wave my hands in the air.” – Fox Mulder

Our heroes are reunited when Scully is returned under mysterious circumstances and clinging to life…

One Breath

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Max: In the cold open of “One Breath,” Mulder is shown by Mrs. Scully the footstone she had made in the event that Scully wouldn’t return. Having just relayed a story about an episode in Dana’s youth when she participating in the killing of a garter snake with BB guns with her brothers, Mulder makes the case that the should not give up hope. Now, The X-Files has a long tradition of monologues, allegories, and other devices that are used to frame and enrich the story. It’s been said and noted that frequently these fall into the categories of the maudlin and trite, and we do have a mix here. The story about the snake is definitely a piece of glurge, but the allegorical device of Scully in the boat on a river is surprisingly powerful, even with this being the umpteenth time I’ve seen it.

But this is all scenery compared to the massive shock that Scully’s return has on everyone involved. The nurses and attending physician, having no idea how exactly she came to be at the hospital in Georgetown, earn the wrath and ire of Mulder’s frustrations. Continue reading

2×07: 3

“Don’t you want to live forever?” — The Son
“Not if drawstring pants come back into style.” — Fox Mulder

While Mulder mopes over Scully’s disappearance, he ends up investigating a bunch of ritualistic murders in Los Angeles, which turn out to be the work of vampires… because your average ritualistic killers would be too boring for The X-Files. But it actually turns out that vampires are even duller than an IRS agent in X-Files land.

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Radhika: After a spectacular run of episodes, The X-Files hit its first sour note in season two with “3,” the standalone installment that aired after Scully’s abduction. The episode, which features no Scully thanks to Gillian Anderson going off to give birth, gives us a morose Mulder and an incredibly cheesy, boring, nineties depiction of vampires. Continue reading