The X Files Mini Reviews 1.19 Shapes

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The X Files: Season 1 Episode 19 Written by: Marilyn Osborn Directed by: David Nutter

Has there ever been an episode of American television series featuring Native Americans that isn’t incredibly questionable? This won’t be the last time they pop up on The X Files but they do at least get slightly better treatment than this. I’ve never met any Native Americans so I have no idea if they’re really like this but I can’t imagine they all go around talking about ancient beliefs 24/7.

So we’re doing a werewolf story. Why not? We’ve got werewolves and Native American mythology how bad can it be? Well pretty bad. Maybe it’s just me but I kinda feel werewolves are a bit too mystical for The X Files. It feels kind of silly. We also learn that the very first X File, started by J. Edgar Hoover himself, was about werewolves too.

I just didn’t find the episode that engaging and all the stuff with the Native Americans left me feeling uncomfortable. Isn’t it bad enough that you stole their country from them without mocking their cultural legacy in schlocky episodes of The X Files? Mulder is incredibly patronising to the sheriff at times, trying to be nice but talking to him like he’s some sort of lower life form that needs a moral boost from the big time FBI agent, and it’s just all a bit awkward. Ah well we’ve got a few more episodes before the show will offend anyone else.

For me an out and out monster is not something I really want to see in The X Files. I prefer my genetic mutants and missing links to full on classic horror beasties. It’s not really an episode I’d choose to watch and won’t make anyone’s essentials list.

Rating: 5/10

The X Files Mini Reviews 1.18 Miracle Man

The X Files: Season 1 Episode 18 Written by: Howard Gordon and Chris Carter Directed by: Michael Lange

This will not be the last time that The X Files tackles religions and personal faith but this episode is unique in that it’s a Mulder story. In future episodes when religion is at the core the story usually focuses on Scully and her own struggles with her faith and the things she sees on The X Files. Mulder is usually incredibly sceptical when it comes to religious phenomena so Miracle Man provides quite an interesting insight into the character of Mulder.

Miracle Man is a fairly straight forward episode. The paranormal mystery is a man who can heal people but now appears to be causing those he’s supposed to be helping die. This is the basic mystery that Mulder and Scully are required to solve and it’s all fairly rooted in traditional procedural style stuff. Apart from Mulder’s visions of his sister and whether or not Samuel is the miracle man he claims to be.

Overall it’s an episode I enjoy. The cruel twist at the end for the sheriff feels almost Twilight Zone in nature. The guest cast are all engaging and the motivations for the plot are fairly well grounded. Once again we’re not given any confirmation whether this is a genuine case of miracle healing or just fraudulent chancers fleecing everyone for what they can. Not an essential episode by any means but certainly an enjoyable one.

Rating 7/10

The X Files Mini Reviews 1.17 E.B.E.

The X Files: Season 1 Episode 17 Written by: Glen Morgan and James Wong Directed by: William Graham

Back in the hands of the all star writing team of Morgan and Wong the slide into mediocrity comes to an end. The last few episodes have been far from unwatchable but since Morgan and Wong were last on writing duty there hasn’t been any real outstanding episodes. E.B.E. is a return to what makes The X Files great. Aliens and conspiracy.

The episode also introduces us to my all time favourite X Files supporting characters; The Lone Gunmen. You don’t get the feeling these characters were intended to be returning characters but thankfully they are and become so popular they’ll get their own spin off series eventually (which personally I loved). The Lone Gunmen are always funny but also add some useful assistance to our heroes.

Mistrust and paranoia are at the heart of this episode and there is some really good stuff in this episode. Perhaps most importantly we are finally given proof that not even Deep Throat can be trusted. Too often he’s been used just to move the story on, giving Mulder the next piece of the puzzle, or just for an information dump but this episode gives him his own agenda. We finally begin to question just why he’s been so willing to help Mulder out at risk to his own personal safety. This episode makes Deep Throat a much more interesting character and I’m certainly looking forward to seeing where he goes next.

Rating: 8/10

The X Files Mini Reviews 1.16 Young At Heart

The X Files: Season 1 Episode 16 Written by: Scott Kaufer and Chris Carter Directed by: Michael Lange

Uh oh a former colleague of Mulder’s has turned up that can’t end well! Once again we’re facing a case that is a blast from the past for one of our heroes. This time it’s Mulder and one of his biggest failures as an FBI agent. This time it’s John Barnett a salamander handed criminal that Mulder helped bring to justice years earlier (not before his inaction led to the death of another colleague though which he feels a wee bit guilty about and plays a big part in the episodes finale).

This episode isn’t really that paranormal. It’s all about the science. I don’t know how close scientists are to using salamanders to help humans regrow missing limbs but for the love of god learn from this episode and don’t test this shit on criminals. The last thing we need is super powered criminals.

We haven’t seen Deep Throat for a while so it’s good to see him again. I’ve always thought of him being a major part of the mythology but that really isn’t the case. The mythology hasn’t really been established yet and Deep Throat just seems to pop by for any old shit.

This is another episode that isn’t really essential but it is kinda fun. This hasn’t been the strongest run of episodes which is especially disappointing after the highs reached by Beyond The Sea but hey next time out we get the debut of the Lone Gunmen and I love those guys!

Rating: 6/10

The X Files Mini Reviews 1.15 Lazarus

The X Files: Season 1 Episode 15 Written by: Alex Gansa and Howard Gordon Directed by: David Nutter

Ah the classic body swap story. Except one of the body dies and there’s no going back. Lazarus is not an incredible episode. It’s a pretty dumb one to be honest but it’s a lot more fun than Gender Bender and slightly less offensive.

The body swap itself is a bit daft. The spirit of bank robber Warren James Dupre being transferred into the body of FBI Agent Jack Willis after a shootout at a failed bank robbery is an interesting concept but the fact that Dupre’s tattoo also transfers across bodies is just dumb.

Christopher Allport carries the episode quite well as the Willis possessed by Dupre. It’s hammy stuff but it’s an enjoyable watch. There is nothing particularly ground breaking in the episode. We get a bit more of an insight into Scully’s past and how unwilling she is to believe the crazy shit that happens right in front of her eyes. Unfortunately she also gets to play the role of the damsel in distress again which is a bit of a shame.

I did laugh at the disappearing tattoo at the episode’s conclusion. This is another non-essential episode of The X Files. We’ve had a few episodes now that really have much to them and it makes me very thankful that most shows have dropped the 24 episode model and we get more killer and less filler. In summary this is a dumb but fun episode but very skipable.

Rating: 6/10

The X Files Mini Reviews 1.14 Gender Bender

 

The X Files: Season 1 Episode 14 Written by: Larry Barber and Paul Barber Directed by: Rob Bowman

After the unforgettable Beyond The Sea we get an episode I wish I could forget. Gender Bender is the sort of episode that would not get made in these more enlightened times.  The attitudes to gender and sexuality here are almost prehistoric. The episode feels judgey and a little preachy at times. And basically downright offensive.

By today’s standards this episode is pretty crude but it’s not all bad. This episode sees the debut of two people who become major players in The X Files. Director Rob Bowman makes his debut with this episode and he goes on to be a major influence on the rest of the series. In front of the camera we also get the first appearance of Nicholas Lea playing a huge douche nozzle. From next season he’ll intentionally be playing a total shit in the form of Alex Krycek.

Overall a gender swapping Amish stand in is not really that compelling a story and the ending feels a bit like a cop out. The absolute cheek of the crop circle ending might be good enough reason to give this episode a watch. Not many episodes have the gall to end with such a cheap and out of nowhere reveal.  This is not an essential episode and if you’re not a completist I’d recommend skipping it completely. It’s not Space bad, but it’s pretty bad.

Rating: 4/10

The X Files Mini Reviews 1.13 Beyond The Sea

The X Files: Season 1 Episode 13 Written by: Glen Morgan and James Wong Directed by: David Nutter

Beyond The Sea marks a real turning point in The X Files. There have been good episodes before this one but for the first time the show has a real soul. Previously you could treat The X Files as an anthology show but with Beyond The Sea the characters of Mulder and Scully become more human.

Beyond The Sea sees Mulder and Scully swap roles for the first time. Mulder approaches his scepticism of murderous psychic Luther Lee Boggs with as much passion as he does his belief in UFOs. It’s quite extraordinary to see just how little he is willing to believe Boggs the more Scully is taken in by him.

This episode is a real testament to Gillian Anderson as an actress. Given plenty to work with she really is phenomenal in this episode. She is matched expertly by special guest star Brad Dourif. Apparently they had to pay over their normal guest star fee but it was certainly worth it. The scenes between the two of them are electric and we finally get an insight into the real Dana Scully.

We’ve only just passed the half way point of the first season but Beyond The Sea is a whole new level of quality. It is an episode few will surpass over the next nine seasons. It is an essential episode, quite possibly an all time top ten episode, and one that should not be missed. The ending is devastating and Dourif does enough to make you pity a brutal killer.

Rating: 10/10

The X Files Mini Reviews 1.12 Fire

The X Files: Season 1 Episode 12 Written by: Chris Carter Directed by: Larry Shaw

This is a episode I would personally describe as a bit of a clunker. It features some of the most cringe worthy dialogue in the show’s run and Mulder’s old flame (fire puns are very much the order of the day) is more annoying than anything but that might just be my lack of fondness for the American stereotype of us Brits.

Mulder’s fear of fire is established in this episode but is never mentioned again. Not even when he’s literally set on fire at the end of season 2. We do get an appearance from Mark “that guy’s been in everything” Sheppard who does his best with what he’s given which isn’t much.

The biggest problem with this episode is Phoebe Green who just gets on my tits. She’s British so she gets to say bugger because Americans seem to think that word is far more popular over here than it is. Quite frankly the character is just racist and rather obnoxious.

A guy who can set fire to shit just isn’t that interesting when you’ve already seen liver eating mutants and murderous clones. And if you want to flesh out Mulder’s past at least make it a bit less obnoxious and irritating. This is another skipable episode  but it’s not quite Space levels of bad. Watchable but you’re not missing much by giving it a miss. Unless you really love flame based punnery and creepy references to defiling Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s final resting place.

Rating: 5/10

The X Files Mini Reviews 1.11 Eve

The X Files: Season 1 Episode 11 Written by: Kenneth Biller and Chris Brancato Directed by: Fred Gerber

Ah man that cold open! I’m not gonna lie I love this episode. Eve has always been one of my favourite episodes of the first season of The X Files. There’s always something enjoyable about creepy and murderous kids and when they’re twins it’s even spookier!

This episode is extremely well cast. The twins as the young Eves are great and the always delightful Harriet Harris as the older Eves is just fantastic. This episode is wonderfully creepy throughout. I’m a huge fan of The Boys From Brazil and this episode echoes that without coming across as a poor man’s version of it.

Perhaps one negative in this episode is the apparent over reliance on the character of Deep Throat to relay the information Mulder needs to progress with his investigations. When he’s popping up in none mythology episodes you know he’s only really there to nudge Mulder and Scully on to the next clue they need. Eleven episodes in and he’s becoming the get out of jail card for any dead ends in a plot.

But aside from this I consider this one of the most fun episodes of the season. It’s a good old fashioned demonic child story. If you hate children then this is the story for you! It’s fairly down to earth when compared to the aliens and liver monsters and this is the kind of story that probably should make us fear what future science has planned for us!

Rating: 9/10

The X Files Mini Reviews 1.10 Fallen Angel

The X Files: Season 1 Episode 10 Written by: Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa Directed by: Larry Shaw

And we hit double figures with an episode that is a vast improvement on the previous. This is before The X Files mythology is established so the scope is not quite as big as the seasons that lay ahead of us but we get our first taste of just how far the government is willing to  go to withhold the truth.

Fallen Angel introduces one of the most likeable characters in the show’s run. Alien abductee and huge Mulder fan Max Fenig makes a huge impression and provides us with a nice mirror for Mulder to look in. Just how far away from being like Fenig is Mulder? If he was working at the FBI would Mulder have ended up in NICAP?

Mulder comes across as a bit of a dick at the start of this episode but we also get to see a gentler side of him when he cradles a convulsing Max. This is one of the first times we really get to see how much this cause means to Mulder and how far he is willing to go.

This is the first of several times The X Files face closure and we get our first hint at just how dangerous they are seen to be by the shadowy government figures we meet throughout the series. Fallen Angel is another brick in the foundation of establishing The X Files mythology and is definitely worth a watch.

Rating: 8/10