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Feb 21 2013 4:00pm

Reopening The X-Files: “Hollywood A.D.”

Reopening The X-Files: Hollywood A.D.

Season 7, Episode 19: “Hollywood A.D.”
Original Airdate: April 30, 2000

“Hollywood A.D.” is not so much an X-Files episode as it is an X-Files pageant, a presentation put together for Parents Night or whatever. And we’re the parents in this scenario, so that’s fun. Tucked full of in-jokes and fairly unconcerned with having a cogent plot (or a plot, period), it oughta be excruciating to watch. But it isn’t. It’s sweet, actually, it’s all your favorite people getting to have some fun. God, when was the last time we all had some fun?

[Ms. Leoni’s shoulder’s made of turkey.]

Feb 7 2013 4:00pm

Reopening The X-Files: “All Things”

Season 7, Episode 17: “All Things”
Original Airdate: April 9, 2000

Hey Scully what's going on with you these days! Like belief-wise, still Catholic? Eh? Believe in aliens or whatever? Not sure? Eh? Okay great, here's an episode called “All Things” that's going to cover, again, this ground, again, about whether or not Scully has the capacity to believe in things that are unusual. Wait, isn't that the premise of this entire show, sort of, you ask me? And I say yes. Except this time the episode was written and directed by Gillian Anderson. Okay so what does that mean for me, you ask? I tell you: Buddhism.

[Is that beautiful, or what?]

Jan 31 2013 4:00pm

Reopening The X-Files: “En Ami”

Reopening The X-Files on En Ami

Season 7, Episode 15: “En Ami”
Original Airdate: March 19, 2000

Throughout the run of the show, the Cigarette-Smoking Man has appeared both as a simple bogeyman and a complex figure whose life has been a series of painful choices. The latter is interesting, of course—the Cigarette-Smoking Man as a steely-eyed family man, raising Samantha Mulder as his own alongside a son he would later be the death of—but there’s plenty of merit in the former. Since The X-Files has so often disregarded consistent character development, having a guy who you can always count on to be Very Bad is both a comfort and a mile marker. Draw too much sympathy for a guy like that and he ceases to be useful, as a Very Bad. Starts, instead, to be sort of depressing. 

[Just do your damn job.]

Jan 24 2013 4:00pm

Reopening The X-Files: “X-Cops”

Reopening The X-Files on X-Cops

Season 7, Episode 12: “X-Cops”
Original Airdate: February 20, 2000

Nothing like the threat of a Cops crossover to put a scare in the honest X-Files fan, am I right? The drunk great-uncle of reality programming, Cops has been fighting the good-ish fight since 1989, inspiring all manner of parody and satire and terrible jokes and your friends to sing “Bad Boys” while hanging their heads out of a moving vehicle. It’s the sort of show that has no place mixing with Fox’s prestige program—even in the year 2000, when that prestige program was maybe losing a bit of its luster, maybe, a little. So it is against all odds, then, that “X-Cops” is a smart little gem of an episode.

[Because the FBI has nothing to hide.]

Jan 17 2013 4:00pm

Reopening The X-Files: “Sein und Zeit”/“Closure”

Season 7, Episodes 10 and 11: “Sein und Zeit”/“Closure”
Original Airdates: February 6 and February 11, 2000

Samantha Mulder has always been a concept. Never really a character, just a motivation, a young girl who disappeared and, through her disappearance, defined the lives of those she left behind. Mulder would not be Mulder if his sister had not disappeared, and thus, Samantha Mulder is important. But: not as a person. She has never had personhood, never had dimension. Never even really had consistent casting. She has been there when she was needed to serve the story, and now, she is done.

[I'm sure you're busy.]

Jan 10 2013 12:00pm

Reopening The X-Files: “Millennium”

Reopening the X-Files on Millennium

Season 7, Episode 4: “Millennium”
Original Airdate: November 28, 1999

I think it must be nice, when one of your television shows is canceled, to be able to have another television show available, like if you need to tie up some loose ends. I think this is actually nice! And this is what Chris Carter got to do when Fox shut down his second television program, Millennium. Lo, the adventures of Frank Black, Depressed Former FBI Agent, did not have to end, not so long as the adventures of Mulder and Scully, Slightly Less Depressed Current FBI Agents, were ongoing. Both shows thrived on shadows and supernaturality; it should have been a match made in weirdo heaven. It was, instead: just okay.

[First and 18.]

Dec 27 2012 12:00pm

Reopening The X-Files: “The Sixth Extinction”/“The Sixth Extinction II: Amor Fati”

Reopening The X-Files: “The Sixth Extinction”/“The Sixth Extinction II: Amor Fati”

Season 7, Episodes 1 and 2: “The Sixth Extinction”/“The Sixth Extinction II: Amor Fati”
Original Airdates: November 7 and 14, 1999

What happens when you care about a show, and it doesn’t care back? I mean that happens all the time, let’s be honest, shows don’t care about us. They are shows. We are people. It is a one-sided relationship and yet, you hope. That what you invest will mean something, and, in the case of these episodes, you hope that you have enough investment to give. “The Sixth Extinction” and “Amor Fati” want a lot from you. Primarily they want tolerance, and attention. They have some sort of story to tell but it is big and it is wild and it is, quite often, very silly. So then, we have to ask ourselves. Is it okay to stop caring?

[No one leaves here before me.]

Dec 20 2012 12:00pm

Reopening The X-Files: “Biogenesis”

Reopening The X-Files: "Biogenesis"

Season 6, Episode 22: “Biogenesis”
Original Airdate: May 16, 1999

Okay so who are these aliens anyway. Does anyone know? They’re grey or they’re shapeshifters, they’ve got a life force made of black oil, they’re immensely powerful I guess, who knows, every time we meet them they’re half in shadow and there’s some completely wacked-out music playing. But. Throughout this campaign of non-information there has been one consistency, one half-acknowledged plot necessity. Alien life is old. How old is it? It’s so old that it’s maybe the reason we’re even here.

[You go ahead and prove me wrong.]

Dec 13 2012 12:00pm

Reopening The X-Files: “Field Trip”

Reopening The X-Files on Field Trip

Season 6, Episode 21: “Field Trip”
Original Airdate: May 9, 1999

A redhead and a gentleman argue in a motel room. They’ve spent all day in the woods together, and she’s upset with him. “I thought we had a good time,” he says. “You had a good time,” she says. “Tromping around and leaving me a half a mile behind.” The gentleman apologizes to her. The redhead forgives the gentleman. Then the redhead and the gentleman lay down and die.

[Whatever happened to the most logical explanation?]

Dec 6 2012 12:00pm

Reopening The X-Files: “Arcadia”

Reopening The X-Files on

Season 6, Episode 15: “Arcadia”
Original Airdate: March 7, 1999

What is more terrifying than perfection? Than knowing that it exists, knowing that it is possible, knowing that you—definitely—have not yet achieved it? Who would want to be surrounded by perfection, to be entirely devoted to its pursuit? In “Arcadia,” Mulder and Scully go undercover at a creepy planned community that has had some creepy unexplained deaths and Mulder pouts. “This isn’t an X-File,” he says. “Sure it is,” says Scully. “It’s unexplained.” But no, it’s more than that. It’s perfection. It’s the eeriest, most unforgivable thing there is.

[You can’t just put in a swimming pool.]

Nov 29 2012 12:00pm

Reopening The X-Files: “Two Fathers”/“One Son”

Reopening The X-Files: Two Fathers / One Son

Season 6, Episodes 11 and 12: “Two Fathers”/“One Son”
Original Airdates: February 7 and 14, 1999

Okay so we're halfway through season six and it's a mythology two-parter. This is, it's been five and a half years of mythology at this point, it's been oilians and shapeshifters and Consortiums and rebels and even if you have managed to keep track of it, you probably haven't always managed to make sense of it. And the thing is—they know that. They they, the people making this show, they know. They know that there's mythology fatigue. How do I know they know? Because they made us these episodes. And blew everything up.

[You've never seen one before, have you?]

Nov 15 2012 12:00pm

Reopening The X-Files: “S.R. 819”

Reopening the X-Files on S.R. 819

Season 6, Episode 9: “S.R. 819”
Original Airdate: January 17, 1999

People don’t die so much on The X-Files. I mean, people die on The X-Files all the time, and if you’re an informant you’ve really got to watch your back, but this is six seasons and a movie and we’re talking fairly minimal recurring character death. So what are we to think, facing a cold open with a flat-lining Walter Skinner? Are we thinking, this is it, they’re killing someone off! Or are we thinking, oh hey! It’s the Slightly Disappointing Semi-Annual Walter Skinner Episode.

[Who did this to me?]

Nov 8 2012 12:00pm

Reopening The X-Files: “Dreamland I”/“Dreamland II”

Reopening the X-Files on Dreamland part 1 and 2

Season 6, Episodes 4 and 5: “Dreamland I/Dreamland II”
Original Airdates: November 29, 1998 and December 6, 1998

The body-swap narrative, she is a satisfying old gal. A morality tale with a science fiction spin; empathy, but for real this time. “Dreamland”  is the story of a couple of G-Men who get body-swapped and nothing really bad comes of it, except one of them gets a slightly cleaner apartment and the other, possibly, a better marriage. It absolutely shouldn’t work—heaven’s sake, it’s a two-part episode with a single part concept—but somehow, it does. Endearingly so.

[You think being a Man in Black is all Voodoo mind control?]

Nov 1 2012 12:00pm

Reopening The X-Files: “Triangle”

Reopening The X-Files on Triangle

Season 6, Episode 6: “Triangle”
Original Airdate: November 22, 1998

For a science fiction television program, The X-Files is not particularly interested in time travel. We’ve had fortune-tellers, missing time, and an old man who encouraged us to Fight the Future, but not so much with the landing in the past/waking up in the future. “Triangle”—which drops Mulder onto a Nazi-laden luxury liner in 1939—could have been the category winner, but, unfortunately, it’s more party trick than TARDIS up in here.

[How’d you like to see the stars on the American flag?]

Oct 25 2012 12:00pm

Reopening The X-Files: “Drive”

Reopening The X-Files on Drive. In which Bryan Cranston points a gun at us for the first time ever! Memories.

Season 6, Episode 2: “Drive”
Original Airdate: November 15, 1998

Let’s say you’re the kind of person who goes around saving the world. Sometimes in a big way. Sometimes in a small way. But always: with the saving. And it’s a good life to have, or anyway, it’s a good thing that you’re doing. Except when you’re saving the world, there’s this catch. There’s this catch that when you’re saving the world, you don’t get to choose who you save. When you save the world, you save everyone. Even the lousy, nasty, slur-spewing ones.

[I can think of something else I’d like to call you.]

Oct 18 2012 12:00pm

Reopening The X-Files: “The Beginning”

Season 6, Episode 1: “The Beginning”
Original Airdate: November 8, 1998

The strangest thing about “The Beginning” is how much it cares about “The End.” After the bright, broad bombast of Fight the Future, you might expect another crowd-pleaser, something to lock down those potential new fans who might be interested in the show now that they’ve seen what it can do with bees and Antarctica. But “The Beginning,” is really “The End, Part II,” a tough-nosed mytharc that wants to define the show’s future rather than fight it.

[Is there going to be data to back this vague, omnibus account?]

Oct 11 2012 12:00pm

Reopening The X-Files: Fight The Future

Reopening The X-Files: Fight The Future

The X-Files: Fight The Future
A Major Motion Picture
US Release Date: June 19, 1998

Fight the Future might be better named Sheesh, Hubris, You Guys! A real-live-movie-film premiering between seasons 5 and 6 of The X-Files—what is that! What is that at all, a movie that airs during the run of a hit television program? A film that will both satisfy hardcore fans and entertain the average Joe Popcorn, you had to be a brave and bold showrunner to think that would work. And with so many expectations riding on this thing, it's a miracle that Fight the Future holds up as well as it does.

[Don't think! Just pick up the phone and make it happen!]

Sep 27 2012 12:00pm

Reopening The X-Files: “The End”

Reopening The X-Files on The End

Season 5, Episode 20: “The End”
Original Airdate: May 17, 1998

Oh, my friends. There’s a movie a’coming. It’s been there for months, lurking just around the bend, slotted between Season 5 and Season 6. And if you get into your imagination time machine and pretend it’s the spring of 1998, it’s like this: you know it’s there, you’ve known the whole time, but you haven’t had to think about it until right now, until “The End,” a season finale that has the unpretty job of setting up both a major motion picture and the rest of the freaking show.

[My long term plans? You got them right there in your hands.]

Sep 20 2012 12:00pm

Reopening The X-Files: “Patient X”/“The Red and the Black”

Reopening The X-Files on Patient X / The Red and the Black

Season 5, Episodes 13 and 14: “Patient X”/“The Red and the Black”
Original airdates: March 1 and March 8, 1998

After going several rounds with multi-part mytharc episodes that froth quite a lot but pay out not much at all, “Patient X” and “The Red and the Black” are basically just a joy. Here are two completely comprehensible episodes that manage to introduce a new layer to the conspiracy without further obscuring the big picture, and, bonus, they've got some lovely bits of character development and excellent performances from nearly everyone present. Has someone been peeking at my Christmas list?

[Destiny, fate, how to throw a curveball.]

Sep 13 2012 12:00pm

Reopening The X-Files: “Bad Blood”

Reopening The X-Files on Bad Blood

Season 5, Episode 12: “Bad Blood”
Original Airdate: February 22, 1998

There was a time when a television program could do a funny vampire episode that did not contain even one joke about vampires sparkling in the sun, do you remember that? “Bad Blood” is just such a vintage gem, a Vince Gilligan-penned monster-of-the-comic-relief with an irresistible premise and no brooding whatsoever. It’s also The X-Files’ funniest episode since the departure of Darin Morgan and a delightful send-up of the show’s most crucial relationship.

[Do you have an old cemetery in town, off the beaten path, the creepier the better?]