5×07: Emily

“Okay then. How do you feel now? Why don’t you tell me what your company’s really in the business of. Huh? Abducting women and stealing their unborn children? Medical rapists! That’s all you are! You don’t care if that little girl dies! She’s just a lab rat to you!”
—Fox Mulder

The enigma that is little Emily Sim continues as Scully attempts to reverse Emily’s declining health while Mulder gets to the bottom of her creation.

Emily

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Max: If the first episode of this two-parter dealt primarily with the deep emotions that the discovery of the little girl named Emily stirred up within Scully, then this installment represents the the usual twists and turns that are the familiar contours of conspiracy within The X-Files. Called to San Diego ostensibly as a character witness on Scully’s behalf in her attempt to adopt the child, Mulder’s conjectures to the deciding judge over what Emily could possibly be opens up the avenues we as viewers will traverse.

Throughout the episode, I could not help but draw comparisons to the show Orphan Black, which just completed its second season. Both involve genetic experimentation which results in the birth of human girls whose sole purpose seem to be the product of illicit pharmaceutical research. In “Christmas Carol,” Scully contended with the roles that society prescribed for her versus those she ascribed to herself. Continue reading

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5×06: Christmas Carol

“When your father died, it was a long time before he left me. I saw him in my dreams. The phone would ring, and just for a moment I was sure it was his voice. You’re doing the same thing with Melissa. You’re seeing her in this child, but that doesn’t make this child my granddaughter. We’re still connected to them, Dana. Even after they’re gone.”
— Margaret Scully

Christmas vacation doesn’t exist for Scully who gets a mysterious phone call that leads her to a little girl she believes could be the daughter of her dead sister, Melissa.

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Radhika: Scully’s cancer may be in remission at this point in our heroes’ story, but the repercussions of her abduction and illness have not faded away. “Christmas Carol” revisits Scully’s journey by adding a new layer to the mix — the presence of a mysterious child who carries the Scully family genes. As a result, we end up delving further into Scully’s thoughts about the personal life she has sacrificed and the desire for the child she didn’t realize she wanted until that chance was gone.

It’s Christmas, and Scully’s spending time with her brother Bill, his pregnant wife Tara and her mother. But normalcy is not in Scully’s cards. So when she receives a mysterious phone call from someone who sounds like her dead sister, Melissa, she gets caught up in a case involving the apparent suicide of a woman named Roberta Sim. The lead detective says Roberta died before the call was made and her husband, Marshall Sim, is reluctant to be helpful to the investigation. Continue reading

5×05: The Post-Modern Prometheus

“Why would you do that?” – Fox Mulder
“Because I can.” – Dr. Francis Pollidori

Our heroes venture to rural Indiana on reports that a local woman claims to be impregnated by a hideously deformed monster. Naturally, Mulder cannot pass something like this up…

The Post-Modern Prometheus

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Max: In what is the most audacious and bold experiment of The X-Files to date, Chris Carter penned and directed a loving homage to one of the most enduring monster stories of all time, that of Dr. Frankenstein and his woefully misunderstood creation. Titled from the subtitle of Mary Shelley’s original 19th century novel that originated the tale, “The Post-Modern Prometheus” takes its most direct inspiration from the classic 1931 film adaptation of the Frankenstein novel directed by James Whale with Boris Karloff portraying the monster. Shot entirely in quite breathtaking black and white (like the 1931 film), the episode blends the expressionist pathos of the film with a uniquely 1990s comedic sensibility. It may not be the strongest episode of the series, but it does not fall flat either as a reinterpretation of the Frankenstein mythos or as an episode of the series. Continue reading

5×04: Detour

“You ever seriously thought about dying?” — Dana Scully
“Yeah, once, when I was at the Ice Capades.” — Fox Mulder

En route to a teambuilding conference, Mulder and Scully conveniently manage to find an X-File when they’re stopped at a roadblock because an unknown predator is on the loose.

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Radhika: I will always love “Detour,” and that’s because as some of you may recall, it was the first full episode of The X-Files I ever watched. (I was still fairly young — 12 — when this aired, and my tendency to get frightened by anything when I was a kid made it hard for me to sit through an entire episode). This is the episode that led to an encyclopedic knowledge of episode titles and character biographies that I cannot shake to this day, even though I barely retain half this level of information about the other TV shows I watch.

“Detour” builds on a classic X-Files formula — it’s a Monster of the Week episode, it takes place in a Florida forest, which looks suspiciously like Canada, and there’s some classic Mulder and Scully banter for all to enjoy. Some critics of the episode have said this episode is a little too derivative of “Quagmire” and others have said the case is weakened just for the sake of bringing us special character moments.

In retrospect, perhaps the case is a little weak. And I have certainly criticized other episodes for being too derivative of past installments. But “Detour” also remains suspenseful and creepy even with any flaws, and I personally do feel the character moments are genuine. There is much dialogue here that Philes I know loved to quote back in the day, and still do sometimes. Formulaic can be a good thing when it’s done right, and I strongly believe it’s done correctly in “Detour.” Continue reading

5×03: Unusual Suspects

“Listen, we got FBI agents running around, military police. Whatever the hell is going on around here, it’s big. And your lady friend is somehow at the center of it all.” – Melvin Frohike

Unusual Suspects

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Two hackers and an employee of the Federal Communications Commission get tangled up with a mysterious woman and a federal agent, and that’s just the beginning of the story.

Unusual Suspects

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Max: Before I begin laying out the episode proper, I just wanted to make note of a major milestone in not only the series, but right here on Apt. 42 Revisited. “Unusual Suspects” marks the one hundredth episode of The X-Files aired/reviewed (due to the production schedule though, “Redux II” has that honor in terms of episodes produced) and its unique place in the program’s history is reflected in the telling of exactly how Fox Mulder got involved with the men that he would in the future rely on to provide him with first-rate information. Set in 1989, the episode doesn’t feature Scully at all, and with Mulder in only a few scenes, this is our most prolonged exposure thus far to the beloved Lone Gunmen, even if this was before they teamed up together.

Set around a Baltimore area computer convention, the episode’s inciting moment is when then-FCC liaison John Fitzgerald Byers encounters a troubled woman who claims to be looking for her possessive ex-boyfriend after he kidnapped their daughter. The woman comes with a lead that he is in the Baltimore area, as well as an obscure reference to the old Arpanet defense network (the predecessor of today’s Internet). Continue reading

5×02: Redux II

“Four years ago, while working on an assignment outside the FBI mainstream, I was paired with Special Agent Dana Scully, who I believed was sent to spy on me. To debunk my investigations into the paranormal. That Agent Scully did not follow these orders is a testament to her integrity as an investigator, a scientist and a human being. She has paid dearly for this integrity.” — Fox Mulder

Scully is hospitalized as she battles her deadly illness, while Mulder continues his quest to find a cure and is offered an unlikely alliance with a certain smoky figure.

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Radhika: Though in retrospect, it can be argued that the “Gethsemane” trilogy was the start of a messy X-Files mythology — and perhaps didn’t really need to be a trilogy to begin with — “Redux II” puts us in the right place to start season five. Scully’s cancer goes into remission, some key figures are eliminated and Mulder’s grappling with a loss of faith that adds a new tension to the series.

After Scully collapses in “Redux,” Mulder gives up his ruse and comes out of hiding (as Skinner says, “You’re looking pretty good for a dead man”). Naturally, the Cigarette Smoking Man gets involved; telling Mulder the vial of deionized water he found actually does contain the cure for Scully’s disease — a chip that needs to be inserted in her neck. As Scully decides to give it a shot, the CSM’s manipulation of Mulder continues — he arranges a meeting for Mulder with “Samantha” (clearly a cloned version) who says she’s only ever known the old smoke machine as her father. And then comes the kicker: the CSM will give Mulder the “truth,” if he’ll quit the FBI and work for him. Continue reading

5×01: Redux

“But I’ve seen aliens. I’ve witnessed these things.” – Fox Mulder
“You’ve seen what they wanted you to see. The line between science and science fiction doesn’t exist any more. This is about control, of the very elements of life. DNA – yours, mine, everyone’s.” – Michael Kritschgau

Our heroes take different paths to uncover the truth after the shocking revelations of last season put their work in a new perspective.

Redux

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Max: After the paradigm shift we witnessed in “Gethsemane,” it would not be out of character to have Mulder actually eat a bullet when told his work has all been a lie. Now, we know at this point that we wouldn’t have a show without one half of the FBI’s dynamic duo, so it is a relief when we learn that it is the body of DoD employee Scott Ostelhoff that Scully identifies as Mulder’s after Mulder discovers that Ostelhoff has been spying on him in an adjacent apartment. What unfurls then in this episode is our agents working to uncover the men responsible for perpetuating the lies that have turned the X-Files into an exercise in futility by documenting evidence to their crimes.

Mulder heads off to the DoD facility where Ostelhoff worked, and while there Kritschgau, the man who pulled the curtain aside during last season’s finale, intercepts him to reveal further information about the government’s long con on the American public regarding the existence of extraterrestrial life. Continue reading