7×12: X-Cops

“Mulder, have you noticed that we’re on television?” — Dana Scully
“I don’t think it’s live television, Scully. She just said [bleep].” — Fox Mulder

In which Mulder and Scully try to answer the eternal question: “Bad boys, bad boys, whatcha gonna do?”

X-Cops

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Radhika: Unpopular opinion time: Despite the majority of X-Philes and critics fawning over “X-Cops,” a parody of long-running reality TV show, Cops, I have never really been able to warm up to this episode. And not much has changed for me this time around either. Rewatching the episode allowed me to appreciate aspects of it from a critical lens, so I will at least give credit to some clever elements. But the weak monster story, my general dislike of Cops and some pacing issues in the middle still make me feel like this episode really isn’t all that. (Don’t worry if you’re a fan — I’m pretty sure Max is fond of this one, so you’re not just going to get a giant whine-fest here).

In the episode, a camera crew for Cops is following around a deputy with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Keith Wetzel. Wetzel is investigating reports of a monster and before we know it, an unseen force has flipped his police car, and The X-Files credits roll. When we return (with this episode of Cops continuing on), Mulder and Scully are also at the scene, which results in the two agents getting filmed for the show. Continue reading

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7×11: Closure

“Word of advice, me to you: Let it be. You know, there’s some wounds that are just too painful ever to be reopened.” — Agent Schoniger
“Well, this particular wound has never healed. And Mulder deserves closure, just like anyone.” — Dana Scully

In the conclusion of this two-parter, Scully helps Mulder follow clues to Samantha’s ultimate fate.

Closure

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Max: We spoke a lot about the feelings that churned up in the wake of losing loved ones, both from death and disappearance in our writeup of last episode, particularly the unimaginable grief that can threaten to consume every waking hour. I was preparing myself for the worst coming into “Closure,” given its eventual complete surrender to the new agey construct of walk-ins. Maybe I have softened as I’ve gotten older, but it wasn’t an abomination of storytelling. But to keep myself honest, it is still an incredibly hokey concept, the execution of which here does it absolutely no favors whatsoever. The fact that the episode lives and dies on the effectiveness of the walk-in construct thus dooms it to an eternity of eye-rolling.

Picking up with the Amber Lynn LaPierre case, Mulder and Scully encounter at the police station a man by the name of Harold Piller, who offers his services as a police psychic (he even has a business card!) to assist on the case. Taking Harold to the graves of the exhumed children, Mulder asks him to sense what happened to Amber Lynn, but Harold states that her spirit was never there. Continue reading

7×10: Sein und Zeit

“She was trying to tell me something. She was… trying to tell me something.”
— Fox Mulder

“Mulder, she was trying to tell you to stop. To stop looking for your sister. She was just trying to take away your pain.” — Dana Scully

Old wounds open up when Mulder gets involved with the case of a young girl who has disappeared, only to lose his mother to suicide as things heat up.

Sein und Zeit

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Radhika: So here we are — watching the first of a two-part installment that was meant to bring us answers and closure to the Samantha Mulder arc. The episodes as a whole ended up being somewhat controversial, because even as folks found certain parts powerful, the resolution couldn’t make everyone happy. But let’s start by taking a look at this episode, which to me feels like the first episode this season with some genuine soul in it, even when certain characters and writing choices annoyed me a bit.

Mulder gets drawn into the case young Amber Lynn LaPierre who disappears from her California home one night. The parents say they found a note in the girl’s room, but the note (which mentions Santa Claus) gets traced to the mother. Despite it seeming as though the family was involved in the girl’s disappearance, Mulder believes they weren’t. A similar Santa Claus note can be linked back to a 1987 case as well that involved a now-imprisoned woman who claimed to have visions of her dead son before he disappeared (just as Mr. LaPierre did).

And then something else happens — Mulder’s mother dies of an overdose of sleeping pills, burning all her pictures of Samantha. Convinced that it’s a cover-up of a murder, he asks Scully to perform an autopsy, which confirms what Mulder doesn’t want to hear: His mother did in fact kill herself while suffering through a debilitating illness. Mulder ends up talking to the imprisoned mother from the 1987 case, and she brings up the concept of “walk-ins,” spirits that take children to protect them from harm. No matter what the explanation at this point, we do start to see Mulder — distraught after losing his mother — doubting the alien abduction narrative that’s surrounded his sister’s disappearance. Continue reading

7×09: Signs and Wonders

“Maybe it’s symbolic. I mean, serpents and religion have gone hand in hand. They’ve represented the temptation of Eve– Original Sin. They’ve been feared and hated throughout history as they’ve been thought to embody Satan– to serve Evil itself.”
— Dana Scully
“Maybe these ones actually do.” — Fox Mulder
“These particular serpents actually were serving Evil? Are you going to type that on our travel request?” — Dana Scully

Mulder and Scully tussle with some pretty poisonous snakes as they investigate the death of a church congregant.

Signs and Wonders

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Max: Here we go again with the religion. To paraphrase a well worn cinematic trope, just when we thought we were out, they pull us right back in. Granted, this is far from the last time that religion will play into an episode of The X-Files, but it does get a bit tiring after a while. What “Signs and Wonders” does bring to the table though is an interesting lens on the whole spirituality shebang and some pretty terrifying moments. To be honest, while I was rewatching this episode I was kinda wishing I was doing anything but, although giving things about a day to let my thoughts on it marinate in my head, perhaps other things contributed to that malaise.

When the pious Jared Chirp is found dead under mysterious circumstances (It wouldn’t be an X-File without A: a body and B: mysterious circumstances), our heroes travel to Tennessee to puzzle out the cause of death. An autopsy shows that he died from snake bites, but no traces of the creatures can be found. Mulder and Scully question the man’s current (Rev. Samuel Mackey) and former (Rev. Enoch O’Connor) pastors to see if they could shed light on the situation. Continue reading

7×08: The Amazing Maleeni

“So basically he died of a heart attack, somebody crept up behind him, sawed his head off and then glued it back on all in the space of 30 seconds. Does that make sense to you?” — Fox Mulder
“No. Which makes it even stranger still because, as far as I can tell, his body has been dead for over a month. I see signs of refrigeration.” — Dana Scully
“And yet he performed yesterday. What a trooper.” — Fox Mulder

Our agents investigate a case involving a magician who turns his head 360 degrees and is later found dead without a head.

The Amazing Maleeni

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Radhika: “Good enough.” “Pleasant enough.” I fear these are going to be my descriptions for many season seven episodes, and such descriptions probably apply to “The Amazing Maleeni,” as well. It’s an episode that isn’t quite an X-File, honestly, and while there are a few pleasant moments that I chuckled at out loud, I found my mind wandering here and there while watching it. So I may not have very much to say here.

Mulder and Scully are called in to investigate when the head of magician The Amazing Maleeni falls off after he performs a trick that involves twisting his head 360 degrees. Though Maleeni’s head was cleanly cut off, Scully discovers that he had actually died of a heart attack about a month earlier and may have been refrigerated. Cue the discovery of a twin brother wearing a neck brace… who has no legs, due to getting into a bad car accident in Mexico (or so he says). Continue reading

7×07: Orison

“I’m going to run you a bath.” — Donnie Pfaster

Our heroes are tasked with recapturing the infamous Donnie Pfaster, and Scully has to come to terms with a trauma renewed.

Orison

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Max: I went into “Orison” with high expectations. After all, I’ve always regarded the return of Pfaster as a vastly better entry than Robert Patrick Modell’s curtain call in the fifth season. It certainly is on par with “Tooms” and its liver-eating psychopath in The X-Files‘ trifecta of MOTW encores. However, my appreciation for Nick Chinlund’s delightfully chilling performance is severely undercut by the need to make overt the supernatural elements that were only window dressing for very real horrors back in “Irresistible.”

A prison preacher — and former convict — by the name of Orison crafts a means of escape for Pfaster via some rather freaky signs and wonders, which naturally brings Mulder and Scully into the picture as the US Marshals find their experience with everyone’s favorite death fetishist valuable. Scully, of course, is shaken by the prospect of Pfaster on the lam and channels a justified anger into apprehending him. Mulder meanwhile investigates exactly how Pfaster escaped, linking it to two other jailbreaks that happened apparently without anyone noticing. Continue reading

7×06: The Goldberg Variation

“What if this man had some kind of special ability? Some kind of genetic predisposition towards rapid healing, or tissue regeneration?” — Fox Mulder
“So, basically, what if we were looking for Wile E. Coyote?” — Dana Scully

Our heroes encounter the strange case of… the luckiest man in the world.

The Goldberg Variation

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Radhika: Season seven has so far consisted of a mysterious ailment striking one of our leads, a brain-eating monster, a murderous super-powered teen and zombies, which makes it about time we got something lighthearted to watch. So now we have some relief in the form of “The Goldberg Variation,” a more comedic episode with heart.

The episode centers on one Henry Weems, a Chicago man who wins $100,000 playing poker against mobster Joe Cutrona who attempts to kill him by having him thrown off a building. Weems walks away uninjured, which naturally attracts the attention of Mulder and Scully. They meet up with Weems, a handyman at an apartment building — his apartment is full of Rube Goldberg machines, which he seems to have a fascination with. So naturally, the next time one of Cutrona’s men shows up to kill Weems, the assassin manages to die in an accident reminiscent of how a Rube Goldberg machine operates, while Weems is unscathed. Continue reading