The Lone Gunmen: Extreme Government Watchdog Group for Hire

“Oh, I love you guys. I really do. I mean, you’re the ‘Lone Gunmen,’ aren’t you? You guys are my heroes. I mean, look at this crap you print.” — Morris Fletcher
“We uncover the truth.” — John Fitzgerald Byers
“Oh, the truth. Well, see that’s what’s so great about you monkeys. Not only do you believe this horse pucky that we create you broadcast it as well.” — Morris Fletcher
The X-Files, Episode 6×05: Dreamland II

We’ll soon be reviewing “Jump the Shark,” an episode that brings The Lone Gunmen’s story to a close. The episode also concludes the storylines presented in The Lone Gunmen’s short-lived spinoff program, which we’re taking a look at in this post.

The Lone Gunmen

20th Century Fox

Thirteen episodes of network television is not really enough to make any kind of real impact in the media landscape at the turn of last century, let alone in today’s oversaturated cable and streaming megalopolis. This was the case in 2001, when Chris Carter, Frank Spotnitz, Vince Gilligan, and John Shiban cooked up the idea to have a show about The Lone Gunmen. Sure, we’ve hung out with the characters many times since their brief introduction in “E.B.E.” (most notably in TLG-centric episodes in the fifth and sixth seasons), but Carter and company were in expansion mode, even when Millennium and Harsh Realm were canceled.

The show runners set up The Lone Gunmen’s namesake show as one about a type of high-tech detective agency, with the trio using its expertise to uncover decidedly non-paranormal activity. Continue reading

9×14: Scary Monsters

“I apologize. I let my imagination run wild and I ruined both your evenings. Thank you in advance for not yelling at me.” — Leyla Harrison
“Something’s going on here.” — John Doggett
“Wait … there is?” — Leyla Harrison

When Leyla Harrison asks Scully to look into a case, they — along with Doggett and Reyes — have to deal with a lot of scary monsters (and super creeps) in rural Pennsylvania.

Scary Monsters

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Max: With “Scary Monsters,” we get the return of Leyla Harrison, our favorite Mulder-and-Scully loving agent from the accounting department. A kind of extension/sequel to last season’s “Alone,” the episode is yet another instance of Harrison’s surprising knack for landing herself in the midst of an X-File, this time helping a family friend who is concerned when her grandson is moved by his father to a remote cabin in Pennsylvania after the gruesome stabbing death of her daughter. Mixing dread and humor in equal measure, I would say this is a somewhat successful outing, given its competition this season.

Almost immediately, things begin to go awry for our heroes, as Harrison goes behind Scully’s back and ropes Doggett and Reyes into the case. After briefly talking to the father, they are about to pack it in — but their car won’t start and instead sprays blood through the vents. Stuck at the residence during a particularly nasty snowstorm, the trio takes it upon itself to talk to little Tommy about the monsters he claims to be terrified of. Meanwhile, Scully gets a late night visit from a paramour Harrison promised to go out with if Scully autopsies the Conlon family cat. Continue reading

9×13: Improbable

“What did Einstein say?” — Monica Reyes
“Einstein. Now there’s a winner.” — Mr. Burt
“God does not play dice with the universe.” — Monica Reyes
“Nor does he play checkers. Look, Agent Reyes, you can’t reduce all of life, all of creation, every piece of… of art, architecture, music, literature into a game of win or lose.”
— Dana Scully

Our agents investigate a serial killer whose pattern appears to be determined by numerology, while also encountering a rather intriguing man along the way.

Improbable

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Radhika: “Improbable” — aka, the one with Burt Reynolds — is among the better-received episodes of season nine, even though I don’t remember feeling particularly fond of it back when I watched it the first time. Upon rewatching it, I think I have more mixed feelings: There are parts that are genuinely pretty enjoyable and other parts that feel a bit hollow to me, as if Chris Carter was trying to capture the humor of previous comedic episodes so much, that he just kind of abandoned any attempts at a plot for moments at a time.

That’s right, “Improbable” is one of those rare season nine comedy outings, despite a somewhat dark theme at the center of it all: a serial killer whose pattern is determined by numerology to the point where the numerologist that Reyes consults ends up dead. When Scully and Reyes visit the murdered numerologist’s office, they run into the killer in the elevator — but when he seemingly escapes, they end up stuck in the parking garage, where they encounter an enigmatic man we saw chatting with the killer earlier in the episode. Continue reading

9×12: Underneath

“You closed this case. This time around, that was enough.” — Monica Reyes
“What happens next time?” — John Doggett

A case from Doggett’s days in the NYPD comes back to haunt him — and the man who was sent away for the murders of a family thirteen years ago.

Underneath

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Max: Longtime staff writer and executive producer John Shiban steps behind the camera for the first time to direct an episode of The X-Files that he wrote, and he acquits himself admirably — even if the finished product is a bit more of what we’ve come to expect for the show in its ninth season. However, a standout performance by the main guest star helps to elevate “Underneath” from the field, and has me wondering if I would be more laudatory if this MotW happened when Mulder and Scully occupied the basement office.

The cold open is a flashback to the days of New York City in 1989. While a certain up-and-coming FBI agent was meeting three tech nerds in Baltimore, NYPD beat cop John Doggett and his partner answer a call to find a cable repairman in the midst of a grisly triple murder. In the present, an outraged Doggett phones his old stomping grounds while Reyes listens in, aghast that new DNA evidence has allegedly exonerated Robert Fassl, the repairman. Continue reading

9×11: Audrey Pauley

“You say we’re dead. This seem like heaven to you? A big deserted Catholic hospital?”
— Monica Reyes
“I didn’t say this was heaven. For all I know, it’s… hell. I don’t know anything for sure. Maybe this place is a way station; to what comes next.” — Stephen Murdoch

After Reyes gets into a car accident, she “wakes up” in what is essentially an empty hospital, while Doggett tries to figure out how to stop doctors from pulling the plug on her.

Audrey Pauley

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Radhika: I suppose this is one of the better episodes of season nine, even though parts of it feel a bit incomplete or hollow to me. It takes a seemingly ordinary (if devastating) event, puts a paranormal twist on it and we also get some character-building emotional moments for Doggett. But of course, there are portions that feel slow, and Scully feels even more pointless in this episode than she has in other episodes this season, so I really can’t give it too much credit. (I also still find Reyes incredibly dull as a character, so there’s that).

In this episode, Reyes ends up comatose after a car accident and Doggett is determined to keep her alive, despite everyone — especially the doctor who eagerly declares her organ donor status — telling him she’s brain dead and has no hope. Meanwhile, Reyes is not entirely “gone.” She wakes up in a mostly empty hospital floating in the middle of space or some type of void, with barely any writing anywhere, and finds herself encountering two other guys, including a Stephen Murdoch who is pretty convinced they’re dead. Eventually both men disappear — and we, the viewers, are aware that they have been pulled off life support. Continue reading

Dana Scully: Badass Damsel in Distress

“Why do you always have to drive? Because you’re the guy? Because you’re the big macho man?” — Dana Scully, Episode 3×13: Syzgy

Bad Blood

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Dana Scully is a name you often see on lists outlining the top female characters on television. Despite being a fictional character, Scully has inspired women for years, with many admitting that they were driven to pursue careers in the sciences because of her. The majority of TV viewers remember Scully as a tough, no-nonsense FBI agent, often the one bringing her male partner down to earth. But she has also been in perilous situations and suffered a number of tragedies, including her abduction, cancer and the loss of children. Scully has suffered the way countless women and fictional female characters have over the course of centuries, yet she remains in our minds as one of the strongest TV characters in history. And it can even be argued — even though Fox Mulder was the springboard behind The X-Files — that the series was really her story all along. Continue reading

9×10: Providence

“Josepho said God spoke to him of a miracle child. A future savior coveted by forces of good and evil. Josepho believes your son is this child.” — Robert Comer

With baby William kidnapped by the UFO cult, Scully must do everything in her power to get him back while dealing with FBI interference and a whole bunch of prophecy mumbo jumbo.

Providence

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Max: You know that potential we spoke about in the previous post? Well, consider it fully squandered and dumped on with the conclusion of the activities of the UFO cult who so sought out William with reckless abandon. “Providence” is an unholy mess of conspiracy and fortune telling, and while the entire fate of humanity is allegedly in the balance, the stakes in this episode could not get any lower, with our heroes going through seemingly predetermined motions to get to a place where precious little of value is left.

The episode runs on the usual parallel tracks, with the Bureau skullduggery happening in and around St. Mary’s Hospital where both Doggett and the undercover agent Comer were sent after the events of last episode, and a route that leads to the UFO site that Scully and Reyes travel on in order to follow up on information about William’s whereabouts. Inbetween, there are many conversations about picking sides, the nature of truth, of God and belief, and of prophecies that tie the fates of Mulder and William to that of mankind in a fight against a looming extraterrestrial invasion. Continue reading