The Best and Worst of Season 4

Screencaps: 20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Screencaps: 20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

It’s that time again, when we look back at the best and worst of the last The X-Files season we rewatched. Season four wound up being more polarizing than we remembered, as this was a season where some of the best episodes were really top notch, while the worst were actually quite terrible. But that said, it’s still a pretty decent season of the show — part of the “classic” Vancouver years. The mythology, which still mostly made sense at the time, kept growing in this season. It was the year of Scully’s cancer, of some true heart-to-hearts between our favorite agents. And it was also a year for Mulder, occasionally obtuse and oblivious, to grow and face some of his own demons.

So, here we go. As usual, we list our top five favorites, along with our five least favorites. (Multi-part mythology episodes that make the list continue to count as “one” for the purposes of storytelling.) And before you know it, we’ll be onto season five! Continue reading

4×24: Gethsemane

“I come here today, four years, to report on the illegitimacy of Agent Mulder’s work. That it is my scientific opinion that he became over the course of these years a victim. A victim of his own false hopes and of his belief in the biggest of lies.” — Dana Scully

When Mulder comes across evidence of alien life, he is soon faced with the possibility that his life’s work is all part of a larger hoax. Meanwhile, Scully continues to struggle with the impact her cancer has on her health, as well as her personal relationships.

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Radhika: Love it or hate it, “Gethsemane” is probably one of the more memorable season finales of The X-Files. That final line from Scully — “Agent Mulder died late last night from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head” — is striking. I’m sure a few folks found it a cheap ploy (reminder/disclaimer: I did not become a regular viewer until season five). But what this episode does do well is turn the entire premise of The X-Files on its head. That search for the truth, for extraterrestrial life, may just be a giant hoax designed to mess with our favorite believer’s head — a daring move for the show. Continue reading

4×23: Demons

“What was the last thing he said to you?” – Dana Scully
“He said he was going to exorcise his demons.” – Charles Goldstein

Mulder reaches out to Scully after waking up in an unknown room in an unknown place with blood on his shirt that is most definitely not his own…

Demons

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Max: If “Elegy” showed a Fox Mulder who began to truly consider the needs and feelings of others, then “Demons” is is the chance for Dana Scully to repay that kindness, as he calls her dazed and disoriented at 4:50 in the morning, not knowing how he got to a motel room in Providence, Rhode Island with blood on his shirt. Scully meets him at the motel, where she encounters him shivering in the tub attempting to get warm.

Recognizing that he is in shock, she does a cursory medical examination before discovering from the motel manager that Mulder checked into his room a couple of days prior and that he had no visitors. Checking his service weapon, she finds that two rounds have been discharged. When Mulder points to where his car should have been, they find a different car with blood on the steering wheel. Continue reading

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

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