The Best and Worst of Season 5

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Season five was an interesting season to watch. On some levels, we found it pretty strong — possibly stronger than season four’s overall track record, partially due to the shorter episode order brought about by having a feature film to wrap up. But we started to see more cracks in the mythology as well, from Mulder’s abrupt journey as a skeptic to Scully’s abrupt time as a mother. It was a time for the show runners to get more creative with filming and episode tone, and we certainly enjoyed that. But when episodes fell flat, they fell flat.

Check out our favorite and least favorite episodes below. (Multi-part mythology episodes continue to count as “one” episode.) We’ll see you all soon for our coverage of The X-FIles: Fight the Future! Continue reading

5×20: The End

“There are talks going on right now about reassignment.” — Dana Scully
“For who?” — Fox Mulder
“Both of us. These talks included instructions from the Justice Department to close down the X-Files.” — Dana Scully
“This was all strategized. Every move. I just couldn’t see it. It was all of a plan.”
— Fox Mulder
“Mulder, whatever you may believe, this time they may have won.” — Dana Scully

Everything comes to a head when Mulder and Scully come across the case of Gibson Praise, a telepathic boy who may be the key to all things X-Files.

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Radhika: And here we are, at “The End,” a fitting title for everything it represents — the end of filming in Vancouver, the end of everything as Mulder and Scully know it…. or simply, the end of a season. This was apparently going to be the last episode of the series, with hopes of turning The X-Files into a film franchise. We all know that this did not end up being the case, but it’s still a fairly striking episode — even if certain plot points, such as the shutting down of the X-Files had been seen before in season one. (I can now see how this would have made sense in a full-circle manner had this actually ended up being the series finale.)

The episode opens quite spectacularly at a stadium in Vancouver (also named as the location on the show) with an international chess tournament where a grown man and child prodigy Gibson Praise are playing against each other. But the match ends when an assassin planning to strike Gibson — who moves away when he senses the shooter’s presence — kills the grandmaster. Continue reading

5×19: Folie à Deux

“Dial and smile, Gary.” – Supervisor

Skinner sends our heroes to Illinois so that they can look into possible malfeasance at a vinyl siding company’s call center. What Mulder finds gives him quite the case of the heebie jeebies…

Folie A Deux

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Max: I was talking to my friend the other day about this blog and where were up to and what was coming down the pike and “Folie à Deux” came up in our conversation. He commented on how lousy he thought the episode was, and I thought he was as crazy as everyone made Gary Lambert out to be in this episode. In fact after rewatching the episode, I still hold this assertion. The season is winding down, but Vince Gilligan throws us a truly unsettling MOTW episode to chew on before the season finale sends us on a trajectory that will lead to the big feature film.

VinylRight is one of those companies that you know all too well, that never misses and opportunity to pitch you their products. This being the age before the National Do Not Call Registry, that included cold calling the hell out of housewives and professionals who make it their solemn duty to interrupt your dinner-time routine. The Oak Brook manager is Greg Pincus, a seemingly kind looking fellow just trying to make quota, but one of his telemarketers (Gary Lambert) just sent a manifesto to a radio station claiming something is rotten in Denmark Illinois. Continue reading

5×18: The Pine Bluff Variant

“I’ve risked everything. I’ve given you information. My partner is seriously suspicious. If that’s not enough for you, that’s all I’ve got” — Fox Mulder

Scully gets concerned that Mulder has become a traitor to the FBI when he gets immersed in a deep undercover assignment involving a terrorist group with a biological weapon in its hands.

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Radhika: Every once in a while The X-Files delves into not-so-paranormal territory, and “The Pine Bluff Variant” is one of them. Despite some nitpicky issues with the logic of the story here and there, I would say this is one of the most “realistic” episodes of The X-Files and one of those handful of episodes where we get to see Mulder and Scully deeply immersed in more “mainstream” FBI work.

Scully grows concerned when Mulder lets a suspect, Jacob Haley — part of an anti-government group — go during an undercover operation, which culminates in a man being found with his flesh eaten away. Turns out the guy’s flesh was eaten by a biological agent, which is at least more plausible than the likes of something like El Chupacabra (aka, why I find this episode “realistic”). After growing increasingly paranoid and worried, she eventually learns Mulder’s on an even more undercover mission.

While Mulder deals with the joys of said mission (getting a finger broken!), Scully investigates an Ohio movie theater where the biological weapon has been tested, killing 14 people. Continue reading

5×17: All Souls

“Father, I told you that I had a sin to confess … But the sin of which I’m guilty … I’m not sure if you can offer forgiveness.” – Dana Scully
“What is the sin?” – Priest
“An innocent girl is dead because of me. I could’ve saved her life, but I let her die.”
– Dana Scully

Scully has a profound crisis of faith when Father McCue asks her to look into the mysterious death of a severely handicapped teenage girl.

All Souls

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Max: If “Mind’s Eye” was a showcase for Mulder to empathize with the focus of that episode, then “All Souls” does much the same for Scully, although with a different outcome. We’ve spoken at length how when The X-Files ventures into spiritual matters it can come off as hokey or ham-fisted, and sadly there are quite a few instances of this in this episode, including one moment that belongs in an Enya music video and not our beloved program.

Scully has had to deal with quite a lot of emotional and spiritual baggage this season after coming perilously close to death with her cancer and the discovery of a daughter that was birthed using ovum that were taken from her during her abduction. Ostensibly, this episode resolves a lot of the pain and trauma she has been suffering in silence from, but again, the execution of it could use a few more drafts. Continue reading

5×16: Mind’s Eye

“I think she’s got some kind of sixth sense that lets her see in the dark. Like a bat or something.” — Detective Pennock

Mulder and Scully get caught up in a murder investigation involving a blind woman who can see through the killer’s eyes.

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Radhika: Reminiscent of season three’s “Oubliette,” without completely parroting it, “Mind’s Eye” is an episode I’ve always enjoyed. With a “classic” paranormal mystery and a strong, antagonistic female protagonist at its center, this story is a pretty solid monster-of-the-week episode.

Mulder and Scully are called in to deal with the case of Marty Glenn, a woman who has been blind since birth, who was found at a murder scene. Detective Lloyd Pennock, who has been handling the case, is convinced Marty has a sixth sense and committed the crime. But while Glenn — who has a fairly extensive rap sheet — is uncooperative, Mulder’s not sure she committed the crime. He is pretty certain she witnessed the crime somehow.

It turns out Marty can see — sort of. She has visions, which are actually an ability to see what the murderer at the center of this mystery is up to. She can witness the murders he’s committing, and in one slightly chilling scene, she can observe the murderer observing her. Even though Marty turns herself in at one point, trying to claim responsibility for the murders, law enforcement becomes convinced of her innocence. And we find out the killer, Gotts, is both Marty’s father and the man who stabbed her mother to death while Marty was in the womb. Continue reading

5×15: Travelers

“Have you ever heard of HUAC, Agent Mulder–the House Un-American Activities Committee? No, no, no, it was before your time. You wouldn’t know. They hunted communists in America in the ’40s and ’50s. They found… practically nothing. Do you think they would have found nothing unless nothing… was what they wanted to find? Hmm?” – Arthur Dales
“Uh… I’m sorry, sir. I-I, uh… I don’t, I don’t see the connection.” – Fox Mulder
“Maybe you’re not supposed to.” – Arthur Dales

Travelers

20th Century Fox

In 1990, a less than routine eviction brings Mulder to the door of former agent Arthur Dales, where he learns of an old X-File connected to his father.

Travelers

20th Century Fox

Max: Season five has been structured almost like a referendum on the series as a whole, looking back on four seasons of paranormal activity and reexamining the tumultuous relationship of Mulder and Scully. From the rebooting antics of the opening episodes to the recent explosive conflicts to looking back to how Mulder met the Lone Gunmen, this season has done quite a bit of shaking the Etch-A-Sketch. Flashing back to 1990 (after the events of “Unusual Suspects“), and then to 1952, “Travelers” follows Mulder’s attempt to learn more about an elderly man named Edward Skur who died during an attempted eviction, but not before uttering the name of “Mulder.” Continue reading