6×16: Alpha

“Through some blood curse, this man undergoes some kind of nocturnal transformation. He becomes the same shape-shifting trickster as that mythical dog.” — Fox Mulder
“So what is he going to do? Walk in here, skitter across the linoleum and pee in the corners?” — Dana Scully

Mulder and Scully investigate a number of killings blamed on a dog that is believed to be extinct.

Alpha

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Radhika: Every once in a while, an X-Files episode will annoy me, not just because it’s outright bad, but because it’s boring — the worst sin the show can commit. “Alpha” fulfills the role of the boring episode in season six, and my mind was wandering throughout this rewatch just as much as it did the first time I watched it more than a decade ago.

Mulder receives word of an animal attack on a ship from Karin Berquist, a canine expert, which of course means that he and Scully end up on the case. The dog’s owner Dr. Ian Detweiler says the dog is a Wanshang Dhole, an Asian species believed to be extinct. More attacks occur and Mulder comes to believe the dog has near-human intelligence. As time goes on, we come to realize the dog is capable of mimicking any shape and Mulder eventually believes Detweiler is the animal, tranquilizing himself to stop attacks. It all comes to an end when Detweiler, who indeed does transform into the dhole, ends up in a confrontation with Berquist and both die in a fall out of a window. Continue reading

6×15: Arcadia

“Woman, get back in here and make me a sandwich!” – Fox Mulder

 Mulder and Scully in Suburbia, or: Just What is it That Makes Today’s Homes So Different, So Appealing?

Arcadia

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Max: If I were a psychiatrist, I would diagnose this season with a serious case of bipolar disorder. That’s not to say that the season is bad, or filled with bad episodes, it just has had a hell of a time deciding what it wants to be. A good portion of it is because with the wrap up of the Syndicate storyline and a shift to a post-FTF world, the writers were themselves deciding what the future of the show looks like.

This transition opened the season up to all sorts of experimentation, but also to the very real possibility that they would lose the thread of what made The X-Files such a compelling show to begin with. At least with “Arcadia,” we have a modestly successful episode, even though one can suffer whiplash from the tonal shifts from episode-to-episode this season.

Here, our heroes go undercover for their first official case after being reassigned to the X-Files, looking into the case of a couple that went missing from their gated community under suspicious circumstances. Continue reading

6×14: Monday

“Scully, did you ever have one of those days you wish you could rewind and start all over again from the beginning?” — Fox Mulder
“Yes. Frequently. But, I mean, who’s… who’s to say that if you did rewind it and start over again that it wouldn’t end up exactly the same way?” — Dana Scully

Mulder and Scully are trapped in a time loop where a bank robbery gone awry keeps repeating itself.

Monday

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Radhika: I may not like Mondays, but I love “Monday.” (I’m not sorry). This is probably one of my favorite outings from season six; in fact, I taped the episode when it aired (on a VCR!) and kept watching it over and over again until the next episode aired. And watching it again for this blog, I found that my feelings about it haven’t changed all that much.

A bit of a Groundhog Day-inspired episode, “Monday” is pretty simple, but builds up suspense rather successfully. The viewer gets wrapped up in figuring out how Mulder and Scully will manage to get themselves out of this mess, which isn’t a small feat considering how many episodes of peril we’ve seen up until this point. Continue reading

6×13: Agua Mala

“I been through hurricanes, Mulder, been through the alphabet. But I just got a distress call from my neighbor down the road to set my teeth on edge. You don’t have much time to get to the airport but if you’re the X-Files man you say you are you better get your butt in gear.” – Arthur Dales

Mulder and Scully answer the call (literally) of Arthur Dales, who beckons Mulder to Florida to hunt down a beast of serpentine proportions.

Agua Mala

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Max: After the tumult of the last batch of episodes, and the everything-including-the-kitchen sink experimentation of prior entries, “Agua Mala” returns us back to basic MOTW mode with an outing (if not a standout) that remains solid, a throwback to Vancouver-era atmospherics. Originally conceived much differently than what resulted, the episode’s torrents of rain and stormy weather probably make this the wettest episode of the series.

Former FBI agent Arthur Dales (who we met last season when Mulder asked him about an X-File he investigated in the 1950s) phones his successor and goads him to look into what happened to a neighbor’s husband after the husband was attacked by a tentacled creature in his bathroom. Normally Mulder would be flashlights blazing ready to discover a new species or some cryptozoologic enigma, but Dales is in Florida during hurricane season, not ideal weather conditions to conduct an investigation. Continue reading

6×12: One Son

“You gave them your children! You gave them your wife! You sent them away like they were things.” — Fox Mulder
“We sent them away, Agent Mulder, because it was the right thing to do.”
— Cigarette Smoking Man
“You sent them away to be tested on.” — Fox Mulder
“We sent them so they would come back to us.” — Cigarette Smoking Man

It’s the end of the Syndicate, the unraveling of a conspiracy and the formation of a new ally in Agent Spender in a pivotal moment in the series’ mythology.

One Son

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Radhika: After half a season of meandering for our displaced FBI agents, “One Son” resets the series’ mythology and allows Mulder and Scully an opening for being reassigned to the X-Files. And with the Syndicate eradicated, it’s also time for some potential fresh material to be introduced to the overall myth arc.

This episode has a lot of plot just like its first part, “Two Fathers,” so there’s no point going into the nitty gritty details. The important tidbits, however: Scully works to reveal that Diana Fowley, who has been collecting data on alien abductees, cannot be trusted. And Spender of all people has joined Mulder’s crusade, running into Marita Covarrubias (who has suffered through being experimented on) and Krycek along the way.

The Syndicate is all about saving itself, as usual — the roots of the conspiracy Mulder has been trying to unravel lie in a deal struck ages ago, where the Syndicate aligned with alien colonists in order to be spared when colonization actually took place. Family members (i.e: Samantha Mulder) were handed over to gain access to alien DNA, which was used for the Syndicate’s own attempts at figuring out an alien-human hybrid. By this episode, realizing everything’s going to hell — the Syndicate gathers with family members, ready to turn alien-human hybrid Cassandra Spender over to the colonists, when the faceless rebels who want to prevent colonization appear, and burn everyone to death. The bright side of all this is that colonization has been prevented… for now. Continue reading

6×11: Two Fathers

“This is the end. I never thought I’d hear myself say those words after all these years. You put your life into something… build it, protect it… The end is as unimaginable as your own death or the death of your children. I could never have scripted the events that led us to this. None of us could. All the brilliant men… the secret that we kept so well.”
– Cigarette Smoking Man

The sudden return of Cassandra Spender opens up a whole can of worms for our heroes, where everything seems to be in the balance.

Two Fathers

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Max: Well here we are sports fans, the first entry of a two-parter in which Chris Carter and company decided to tie up a vast majority of the mythology’s threads and blow the whole damn thing up. For nearly six whole seasons (and one feature film), we’ve witnessed Agents Mulder and Scully investigate an elaborate puzzle of conspiracy and secrets buried deep from prying eyes.

I utilized the puzzle metaphor heavily during the first two seasons of this rewatch to express how the writers took a loose association of ideas about the existence of extraterrestrial life to assemble an overarching story. Radhika and I also spoke at length how stuff like Anderson’s pregnancy spurred Scully’s abduction arc, which was pivotal in bringing us alien bounty hunters, black oil, bees, genetic experiments, vaccines, and her cancer. In covering the last season or so, our concerns about losing the thread of the top-heavy mythology grew, something the creative team took to heart when season six convened. Continue reading

6×10: Tithonus

“For the sake of argument. Why bother? I mean, why… why take a picture of Death?”
— Dana Scully
“So I can look into his face. So I can die. Pills don’t work. Razors… gas… bridges — I can’t tell you how many bridges I’ve jumped off of. All I get is wet. I got left behind. I don’t want to be here anymore. I can’t even remember a time when I did.” — Arthur Fellig

Scully works a case involving a crime scene photographer who has a tendency to arrive at the scene just in time to see his victims die, eventually resulting in an encounter with Death himself.

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Radhika: What if you could live forever? It’s one of those questions humanity has been asking itself throughout history. While some greet the idea with enthusiasm, others consider immortality a curse. The title of this episode, “Tithonus,” is an allusion to this notion, referring to a Greek myth about a man who was immortal (though not eternally young) and eventually begged for death to come each day. And that curse of immortality is seen in this episode’s central character, Arthur Fellig, whose name is appropriately the same as that of a real-life photographer who also had a knack for arriving at crime scenes with impeccable timing.

The episode, a little more classically X-Files than the rest of season six, involves Scully splitting off to go work with New York-based Agent Peyton Ritter on a case involving a crime scene photographer who arrives at the scene of a death with slightly too perfect timing. Mulder observes that the case is an X-File and thinks that Assistant Director Kersh is working on splitting them up. Continue reading