4×22: Elegy

“What is a death omen if not a vision of our own mortality? And who among us would most likely be able to see the dead?” — Fox Mulder

Mulder and Scully investigate a series of murders after a witness reports seeing an apparition of one of the victims. Soon, Scully finds herself seeing ghosts as well.

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Radhika: Not shockingly, as its title suggests, “Elegy” is a bit of a melancholy outing. While there is a spooky, initially intriguing mystery at the center of this Monster of the Week, its standout qualities really lie in Gillian Anderson’s performance as a character grappling with her mortality, as well as the exploration of the Mulder and Scully partnership, providing it with a bit of extra emotional heft.

We meet Angie Pintero, a bowling alley owner, and the autistic Harold Spuller who works for him. After telling Harold to go home for the day, Pintero ends up spotting a woman wedged inside a pinsetter and runs out to get help. He realizes a crowd has gathered around the body of a woman who looks exactly like the woman he just saw in the bowling alley.

When Mulder and Scully come in to investigate, they uncover the words “She is Me” on the bowling lane near where Pintero saw the woman, adding to the mystery. There have been other murders of a similar nature as well. Continue reading

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4×21: Zero Sum

“I have lied to you, and I won’t make excuses for those lies, but there’s a reason that I did what I did – one that I think you’re in a unique position to understand. I advised you against a certain course of action some time ago … concerning Agent Scully. I didn’t follow my own advice.” – Walter Skinner

Skinner impedes and assists Mulder’s investigation into the death of a postal worker. Nicholas Cage, be afraid, be very very afraid…

Zero Sum

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Max: “Zero Sum,” while not exploring AD Walter Skinner’s life outside of the Bureau like in last season’s “Avatar,” is a perfect continuation of seeing the forces that make this man tick. The episode also bridges the gaps between elements of the mythology that will be brought to bear as we wrap up this fourth season. As we saw in “Memento Mori,” a desperate and concerned Skinner made a deal with the devil (well, the CSM) and here we see the results of the bargain as he is tasked to clean up the death of a postal worker who died as the result of lethal bee stings, which begins with him deleting files sent by a police officer off of Mulder’s computer.

We’ve seen the bees as a mythology plot device be introduced at the very start of this season, but here they become the primary menace, killing and incapacitating their victims with a form of the smallpox virus. Continue reading

4×20: Small Potatoes

“I don’t imagine you need to be told this, Mulder, but you’re not a loser.” — Dana Scully
“Yeah, but I’m no Eddie Van Blundht either, am I?” — Fox Mulder

When our agents investigate the case of multiple babies born with tails, they find themselves encountering a slightly hard-to-pin-down baby daddy.

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Radhika: In a season chockfull of inbreeding families, Scully’s cancer and slightly awful one-off episodes, “Small Potatoes” is one of the most delightful, welcome episodes of The X-Files ever. It’s not the deepest Monster of the Week episode, and it’s not the most surreal of the series’ comedy episodes, but it remains a pleasure to watch to this day, maintaining its reputation as a fan favorite. Written by Vince Gilligan, while starring Darin Morgan, who himself wrote some of The X-Files’ best comedic episodes, and also featuring some fantastic performances from both David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson, you simply can’t go wrong watching this one.

Mulder and Scully go to a West Virginia town to investigate why five babies there were born with tails. The most recent new mother, Amanda Nelligan, claims Luke Skywalker fathered her child. A little further research indicates that all five babies had the same father and the parents blame the local fertility doctor, since he used insemination to impregnate all the mothers, but Amanda. Mulder spots a janitor nearby who displays signs that he used to have a tail. It turns out that the janitor, a certain Eddie Van Blundht, really is the father of all those babies, but the question is… how? Continue reading

4×19: Synchrony

“So what you’re saying here is the old man is …” – Dana Scully
“Jason Nichols. Although common sense may rule out the possibility of time travel, the laws of quantum physics certainly do not. In case you forgot, that’s from your graduate thesis. (smiling at her) You were a lot more open-minded when you were a youngster.”
– Fox Mulder

Our agents look into the case of a cryobiologist accused of murdering a colleague, but the truth may be stranger than science fiction.

Synchrony

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Max: It is somewhat appropriate that with all the talk of lost time in the preceding two-part mythology episodes that we come to this MOTW episode, as The X-Files dives head first into the well-traversed waters of time travel. While Mulder has thrown out the concept as an off-the-cuff possibility to explain previous cases (most notably bringing up the Philadelphia Experiment in “Død Kalm“), this is the only episode until now to deal with the concept directly. And for a piece of fiction that came out before the hard sci-fi of the 2004 film Primer made accuracy a virtual prerequisite for the genre, the episode teases enough plausible mechanics (and limits the scope of travel) to where it doesn’t distract from telling a cogent story.

The story begins with two academics arguing about possible falsified research when an old man attempts to warn them about a dangerous street and that one of them will be killed at 11:46. A campus police officer apprehends the old man, but one of the academics named Jason Nichols begins to see these ravings come true and tries to stop his colleague Lucas from getting run over by a bus. But he fails to do so, and the bus driver claims Jason pushed Lucas. Continue reading

4×18: Max

“What are these people dying for? Is it for the truth or for the lies?” — Dana Scully
“It’s got to be for the truth. If we owe them anything, it’s to make sure of that.” — Fox Mulder

The mystery surrounding Max Fenig’s abduction and death deepens, as the hunt for an alien artifact carries on.

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Radhika: Generally speaking, “Tempus Fugit” and “Max” are well-remembered episodes of The X-Files’ mythology, with plenty of iconic abduction imagery and heightening intrigue surrounding the conspiracies that Mulder and Scully always find themselves investigating. But in retrospect, I wonder if the storyline could have been wrapped up in one tight episode because in all honesty, while I enjoyed “Tempus Fugit,” I could feel my eyes glazing over during a couple of scenes here. The mythology felt pretty logical up through “Memento Mori,” but I feel there’s a bit of a shakiness in this episode that may indicate the beginning of the convolutions found in later seasons.

The episode picks up where the last left off: Mulder is apprehended by a group of commandos after diving to the bottom of a lake to find an alien spacecraft. And Scully is trying to save the injured Agent Pendrell after he was accidentally shot — poor Pendrell goes on to die off camera, so no happy ending there. Meanwhile, U.S. Air Force air traffic controller Louis Frish is being arrested for false testimony. The official explanation for the crash is that a military fighter craft was mistakenly put on a collision course with Flight 549. But Mulder is more convinced that the crashed UFO he found underwater was involved. Continue reading

4×17: Tempus Fugit

“These men, no. These men are trained to identify moving parts. Hydraulics, electronics. They’re trained to reconstruct those parts and the past and arrive at the present. But they can’t do that because somebody has stolen the past from them. Nine minutes of it. Nine minutes that became a lifetime for those passengers, and now for their families. Someone has got to figure out what happened in those nine minutes. Somehow, we’ve got to get them back.” – Fox Mulder

Mulder and Scully are roped into the investigation of what happened to a crashed airliner when they learn that an old friend was on that flight, potentially carrying some dangerous material…

Tempus Fugit

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Max: “Tempus Fugit” kicks off the spring two-parter of mythology episodes with perhaps one of the most unusual entries in the overall puzzle. Bringing back the beleaguered Max Fenig from season one’s excellent “Fallen Angel,” the cold open is a cacophony of paranoia and horror, with Max being threatened by a mysterious man, but then finding himself with bigger fish to fry as the tell tale sign of bright white lights flood the plane he is on, causing intense turbulence as he braces for another of his many abductions.

This is contrasted by the post-credits scene of Mulder and Scully at a bar, where he surprises her with a cake and waitstaff serenade, managing to remember her birthday this year (with a gift to boot!). Still, this jubilation is predictably short lived as a woman claiming to be Max’s sister Sharon interrupts them and tells them that she was instructed to find our heroes if Max didn’t survive his flight. Continue reading

4×16: Unrequited

“I think he can hide himself from human sight by manipulating something that Scully has referred to as naturally occurring — a blind spot.” — Fox Mulder

Our agents try to stop a seemingly invisible killer who is targeting several U.S. Army generals.

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Radhika: Well, here’s another episode that proves my theory about the unevenness of season four. It appears that there’s about one episode per season that not only isn’t particularly good, it also barely manages to hold my attention — and this is that episode for me in this season. (Incidentally, this has happened to me with other soldier/revenge-themed episodes of The X-Files, which leads me to believe that these types of stories just never ended up being well executed on this show.)

The teaser is actually somewhat compelling: A General Bloch is at the National Mall, giving a speech to veterans of the Vietnam War. Mulder, Scully and Skinner are on the prowl, looking for a potential gunman. The scene closes with Mulder spotting the guy and taking out his gun — but the man disappears, while the weapon still remains pointed at the panicked crowd. Continue reading