The Best and Worst of Season 9

Screencaps: 20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Screencaps: 20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

It’s no secret that season nine is our least favorite season (and the least favorite of most X-Files fans). It wasn’t just because Mulder was gone or Scully was sidelined — the stories genuinely felt tired after a somewhat creatively boosted season eight. Our snark and boredom were pretty obvious in most of our rewatch posts for this season. But there were at least a few episodes we enjoyed, even if they wouldn’t make any “classic of all time” lists. And there were naturally episodes we disliked even more than others.

So here we go, time for our last look at the best and worst episodes of The X-Files’ original run. As always multi-part mythology episodes count as one installment for our purposes: Continue reading

9×19 & 9×20: The Truth

“You’ve always said that you want to believe. But believe in what, Mulder? If this is the truth that you’ve been looking for then what is left to believe in?” — Dana Scully
“I want to believe the dead are not lost to us. That they speak to us as part of something greater than us — greater than any alien force. And if you and I are powerless now, I want to believe that if we listen to what’s speaking, it can give us the power to save ourselves.” — Fox Mulder

Mulder returns, a courtroom drama ensues and somewhere in the middle of it all, the truth is still out there.

The Truth

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Radhika: Oh boy. Here we are, about two years after starting this blog, at the series finale of The X-Files. It feels like something of a bittersweet step, considering how gung-ho we were about the bulk of the show until we got to the last couple of seasons. As far as series finales are concerned, this one was something of a mixed bag for most people when it aired — not particularly great, though at least saved by the fact that we got to see Mulder and Scully together again. And I still have mixed feelings revisiting it now, years after the show ended, having had time to reabsorb the series’ various threads and knowing that a six-episode TV revival is on its way. In retrospect, the finale is a little boring, even with some exciting elements thrown in there. It also makes a little more sense than I thought it did in the old days. It’s not quite the bang that I would have wanted this show to go out on, but let’s face it: Most series finales aren’t particularly satisfying. Continue reading

9×18: Sunshine Days

“What I witnessed was Freaksville, man! My friend was murdered. Who would have thought this could happen at the ‘Brady Bunch’ house.” — Mike Daley

The final MotW episode of the original run has our heroes face a lonely man who has a thing for a certain classic sitcom.

Sunshine Days

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Max: I first tried to tackle this post about five or six times before I said uncle and chalked things up to a case of writer’s block. However, thinking about things later, the frustrations I experienced were a bit apropos for “Sunshine Days,” a maddening episode I’ve always considered one of the weakest entries in the series — and now I can’t help but like parts of it. The final MotW of the original run, it doesn’t have the iconic pathos of a “Clyde Bruckman” or a memorable freak like Eugene Victor Tooms, but the episode is a showcase of the possibilities that could be and throws in some laughs before the series finale wraps up the mythology.

When a guy named Blake drags his friend Mike to a house he swears is the Brady Bunch house, Mike is astonished to find his friend is telling the truth. But while Blake’s curiosity draws him further inside, Mike is spooked and waits in the car. That is when Blake shoots out from the roof of the house and lands smack dab on top on Mike’s car, dead from the impact. Continue reading

9×17: Release

“You’ve been following my son’s case.” — John Doggett
“For a long time. He calls to me.” — Rudolph Hayes

Doggett is drawn back to trying to figure out his son’s murder thanks to a mysterious FBI cadet.

Release

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Radhika: I’ll be honest: Even though “Release” tackles a plot point that is pretty significant for the Doggett character, I had largely forgotten about it by the time I rewatched the episode for this blog. This is something of a damning thing to say under normal circumstances, but I will also confess that while it is not a flawless episode, I was pleasantly surprised revisiting “Release,” which is reasonably atmospheric, compelling and emotional compared to the bulk of this season.

It begins when Doggett receives a tip that leads him to a dead body in an abandoned apartment building. When Scully performs an autopsy, one of her students, Rudolph Hayes, guesses that the victim had met a killer in a bar and the murder is eventually linked to another killing. Doggett and Reyes work with Hayes who eventually leads them to ex-mobster Nicholas Regali. It turns out that Hayes has a bit of an obsession with crime scenes — his apartment walls are plastered with crime scene photos, including those related to Doggett’s dead son, Luke. Hayes tells Doggett he believes a man named Robert Harvey kidnapped Luke, but that Regali was the man behind his murder. Continue reading

9×16: William

“It’ll never be over. They’ll always know what he was. They’ll never accept what he is.”
— Jeffrey Spender

Scully makes the most difficult choice of her life as a shadowy individual forces her hand.

William

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Max: What an incredibly dour, depressing, and tragic episode this is. Granted, mythology episodes aren’t the feel-good hits of the X-Files world, but there is no relief and no exit from the simple fact that Scully has to give up William — the miracle baby she thought she could never have — in order to ensure his safety from those who wish to exploit him as a pawn towards alien colonization.

Really this is the story of two characters devastated by the effects that the government conspiracy around extraterrestrials had on their lives — our beloved Dana Scully and the weasel-made-good Jeffrey Spender. When a badly burned and scarred Spender sneaks into the X-Files office and assaults Doggett in an attempt to flee, Scully is called in. Continue reading

9×15: Jump the Shark

“You got to admit, Byers. It hasn’t exactly been our year. And to top it all off, we screwed the pooch pretty good today. Maybe we should pack it in.” — Melvin Frohike
“And do what instead? We never gave up. We never will. In the end, if that’s the best they can say about us, it’ll do.” — John Fitzgerald Byers

In which we bid farewell to a trio of misfits.

Jump the Shark

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Radhika: So here it is: “Jump the Shark,” the moment where we say goodbye to The Lone Gunmen, a trio that often brought humor as well as occasional moments of depth, to The X-Files over the years. While the trio had never been major characters on the series, they did have their chance in the spotlight during a short-lived spinoff prior to season nine. So this episode winds up serving as a coda to that series as well with somewhat mixed results.

Former Man in Black Morris Fletcher, first introduced to us in the “Dreamland” episodes of season six, approaches Doggett and Reyes, claiming that Yves Adele Harlow — an acquaintance of The Lone Gunmen — is a super soldier. The Lone Gunmen don’t believe this, but then Harlow murders an immunology professor, prompting a lot of questions. Harlow reveals that the man had been experimenting with shark immune systems and grafting pieces of the animal onto his body to become something of a biological weapon. Her father, an international arms dealer, was funding this research. And meanwhile Fletcher, a bit clueless about the extent of these underhanded dealings, had been hired to find Harlow and stop her from foiling things. Harlow also reveals that there is a second biological weapons host that needs to be stopped. 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