The Best and Worst of Season 7

Best & Worst of Season 7

Screencaps: 20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

As we suspected, season seven was a tough one for us to revisit. While some episodes contained promising elements and still dared to continue the experimentation of season six, something about The X-Files still feels off in its seventh year. The actors seemed a bit tired, the plots seemed poorly fleshed out and it seemed like the show ought to have wrapped up instead of continuing for two more years.

That said, we still had a few episodes we really enjoyed, along with those episodes we disliked. So in true Apt. 42 Revisited fashion, we’re looking back at our favorite and least favorite episodes of season seven before we plow ahead with looking back at season eight. As usual, two-part mythology episodes count as one for these purposes. Read on and let us know what you think. Continue reading

7×22: Requiem

“There’s so much more you need to do with your life. There’s so much more than this. There has to be an end, Scully.” — Fox Mulder

The end is the beginning is the end as Mulder and Scully revisit the place where they encountered their first case as partners.

Requiem

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Radhika: “Requiem” is a standout mythology episode in an otherwise lackluster season — it is the season finale that can and should have probably been a series finale, and it is frankly one of the best season finales the show has produced. After much of the mythology’s original threads were wrapped up in previous episodes, this episode manages to revisit and revitalize that aspect of the show, providing us with both an end of an era and the start of something new.

After receiving a call from Billy Miles, an abductee our heroes encountered in the Pilot, Mulder and Scully head to Oregon to investigate the possibility that alien abductions have started up again. Seven years after their first case, Billy Miles is now a police officer and another abductee, Theresa Nemman is now a new mother married to Billy’s deputy sheriff, Ray Hoese, who has disappeared. Both Billy and Theresa end up disappearing again, thanks to some havoc wreaked by none other than the Alien Bounty Hunter, taking on the guise of loved ones. Continue reading

7×21: Je Souhaite

“The only thing you people are cursed with is stupidity. All of you. Everybody. Mankind. Everyone I have ever come into contact with without fail. Always asking for the wrong thing.” — Jenn

Be careful what you wish for Mulder and Scully. When a case involves an honest-to-goodness genie, you might just get it.

Je Souhaite

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Max: Vince Gilligan has been quoted as saying that the seventh season of The X-Files is one of his favorites, by the sheer dint of its relish for radical experimentation. We spoke a lot about how the desire to tinker with the formula of the show informed the season prior, but not a whole lot about the season that we are about to wrap up coverage on. The frequent refrain for us has been disappointment followed by ways this could’ve been better or if they would’ve just focused on that then we would have an improved episode. Admittedly, even though Radhika and I have beat up on the show this season, I can somewhat see Gilligan’s point, even though I believe that his biases are showing through in those statements. “Je Souhaite,” an episode penned and directed by Gilligan himself, is a late-season rally, and one of the best episodes I’ve rewatched in a long time.

Anson Stokes is a layabout employee of a self storage facility with aspirations for the good life, so when he finds a female genie wrapped up in a carpet while cleaning out a deadbeat’s storage unit, he thinks he’s hit the jackpot. Unfortunately for him, he foolishly squanders his first two wishes on the unnecessary (shutting his boss up for good) and the utterly impractical (a giant yacht right in the middle of flyover country). When the beleaguered boss asks for our agent’s help after surgeons are utterly baffled by his condition, things just go from bad to worse for Stokes and his wheelchair bound brother Leslie. Continue reading

7×20: Fight Club

“What I’m thinking, Mulder, is how familiar this seems. Playing Watson to your Sherlock. You dangling clues out in front of me one by one. It’s a game, and… and, as usual, you’re holding something back from me. You’re not telling me something about this case.” — Dana Scully

Mulder and Scully investigate a case of doppelgängers that seem to leave a wave of destruction in their path.

Fight Club

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Radhika: And here we are: One of the most reviled episodes of The X-Files, ever, perhaps even worse than some real doozies like “The Field Where I Died” and “El Mundo Gira.” This is an episode I’ve refused to rewatch until I had to for this blog, and I’m not going to lie — I did a little multitasking while watching in an effort to suppress my feelings of rage. I’m happy to report that I was able to stay sane watching it thanks to this approach, but that doesn’t mean I like the episode any better.

The episode generally focuses on Betty Templeton and Lulu Pfeiffer, doppelgängers who seem to have disastrous effects on their surroundings when they’re in the same place at the same time: People fight, the earth quakes, all sorts of mayhem ensues. And it turns out the two women have also been sleeping with the same man, a wrestler named Bert Zupanic. A few facts emerge — the two women actually share the same father, a rage-filled guy in prison. And eventually, we learn that Zupanic also has a doppelgänger/twin — mayhem of course follows when all four doppelgängers are in the same place, and the episode ends on a mildly bemused chaotic note with both Mulder and Scully recovering from injuries resulting from their encounter with these violence-inducing duos. Continue reading

7×19: Hollywood A.D.

“You don’t fool me, Mulder. That bowl is your Holy Grail. Encoded in its ancient ceramic grooves are the words Jesus spake when he raised Lazarus from the dead– still capable of raising the dead 2,000 years later. Proof positive of the paranormal. You could no sooner destroy that than let the redhead die.” — Cigarette Smoking Pontiff

When our heroes get assigned to a case with mystical-slash-spiritual possibilities, their Assistant Director pairs them up with a college roommate looking for movie material.

Hollywood A.D.

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Max: “Hollywood A.D.” is Duchovny’s second time around in the writer-slash-director’s chair, and while it doesn’t hold the same kind of magic that “The Unnatural” did last season, the peculiar way in which fact and fiction collide keeps me entertained throughout the episode.

What starts as a pretty typical case for the employees of the X-Files division becomes anything but when Walter Skinner foists his college pal Wayne Federman on Mulder and Scully. Federman, a writer-slash-producer in Hollywood, is jonesing for some real FBI flavor for his “Silence of the Lambs meets Greatest Story Ever Told type thing” that he has cooking. To this end, he tags along as our agents investigate the bombing of a crypt of a local DC church. The church’s leader, Cardinal O’Fallon, is a powerful man with Vatican-size ambitions, and takes Mulder and Federman on a tour of the wreckage. The moment they find a body allegedly of famed counterculture icon Micah Hoffman and the remains of some apocryphal relics (including a bowl that apparently has an etching of Christ’s voice), things begin to get (in Federman’s words) a little fahkakte. Continue reading

7×18: Brand X

“Tobacco beetle. It’s an herbivore. It eats tobacco. Hence it’s name.” — Dr. Peter Voss
“I understand that, but maybe these don’t.” — Fox Mulder

When a witness who was supposed to testify against the Morley cigarette company dies horrifically, Mulder and Scully are called in by Skinner to investigate.

Brand X

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Radhika: And now we’re back to the more standard Monster of the Week episodes with “Brand X,” an episode that is fairly average in the grand scheme of things, but at least has a few gross-out moments perfectly suitable for The X-Files (and terrifying to me as I hate bugs). In this episode, the agents are up against the antics of Morley, the very cigarette company favored by our favorite cigarette-smoking villain — a nice little touch of continuity in a standalone episode.

A witness and former employee of Morley plans on testifying against the company until he develops a cough and is found the next morning with his flesh eaten away. Skinner, who was tasked with protecting the man, calls Mulder and Scully in for help. We learn that Morley had been trying to engineer a “healthier cigarette,” but the tobacco used is inhabited by a beetle whose eggs survive cigarette manufacturing and end up released in the smoke of cigarettes. Three out of four human test subjects died as a result, and the lone survivor — chain smoker Darryl Weaver — expects an unlimited supply of the cigarettes for his silence. So Weaver is essentially the culprit spreading the beetles around, killing people. Continue reading

7×17: all things

“I don’t think you can know. I mean, how many different lives would we be leading if we made different choices. We… We don’t know.” — Fox Mulder
“What if there was only one choice and all the other ones were wrong? And there were signs along the way to pay attention to.” — Dana Scully
“Mmm. And all the… choices would then lead to this very moment. One wrong turn, and… we wouldn’t be sitting here together. Well, that says a lot. That says a lot, a lot, a lot. That’s probably more than we should be getting into at this late hour.” — Fox Mulder

Spurred on by one of Mulder’s investigations, Scully is confronted with possibilities she’s usually dismissed.

all things

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Max: Last season, David got his chance at writing and directing an episode of The X-Files with the wonderful outing “The Unnatural.” Here, it is Gillian’s turn, and I wish we could say we were as pleased with what she brought to the table, but sadly, there are a lot of issues with “all things,” an episode that throughout my life as a fan of the program I’ve wanted desperately to like. Typically, I have a kind of fascination with ideas that would be stereotypically derided as a New Age hodgepodge (at the very least, they give us a novel way of looking at the cold hard reality in front of us), but Gillian’s execution of those ideas leaves a lot to be desired.

“all things” begins as two separate cases that Mulder has asked Scully to lend her expertise and assistance to (the autopsy of a woman and the unmasking of the makers of crop circles in England), that invariably end up as a single “case” through which Scully is forced to confront choices she’s made in the past, choices that affect how she will carry herself in the present and into the future.

By happenstance, the autopsy results get mixed up with the x-rays of one Dr. Daniel Waterston, the man who was once one of Scully’s teachers in medical school, and whom she carried on an affair with that broke up his marriage. Continue reading