In a highly publicised move, The X-Files moved production from Vancouver, British Columbia to the more sunny plains of Los Angeles, California. It was a noticeable change right away, the very first shot of the episode being the blazing sun over a barren desert. There was also another subtle change as well. For a series that was famous for some of its darker leanings, with a touch of comedy every now and then, The X-Files was about to embrace its more comedic and quirky stylings.
Although season six is forever credited with being highly comedic, or the moment the show embraced comedy more, in fact it was the show’s fifth season that saw the show embrace comedy and the quirky, coming off the back of an incredibly dark, fourth season. Amazingly season six would see the show deliver the goods yet again, with a run of episodes that would see it deliver some of its best ever episodes.
One of the most dazzling television productions of the 90’s, and still is today, “Triangle” is another work from The X-Files creator that would push the show in a visual way that was astonishing. A delightful work of surreal fluff, the episode is basically the glorious love child of The Wizard of Oz and Raiders of the Lost Ark, throwing in what is possibly a long form dream sequence, Nazis, a big punch up in its climax and the series’ most dazzling sequence, as Scully runs around the entire FBI trying to find a way to save Mulder, all of which is filmed in never-ending long-takes.
Yes, you can see the joins at times, but this still takes the breath away, and pays of beautifully during a key split screen sequence where two versions of Scully cross over into each other’s space in a manner that simply boggles the mind.
Incredibly entertaining and a massive amount of fun, this still is a series highlight after all these years.
Without doubt the most underrated script ever written by Vince Gilligan, “Tithonus” has become lost in the light of such acclaimed efforts as “Small Potatoes” and “Bad Blood”. One of his darker episodes of the show, the episode takes one small element from Darin Morgan’s third season classic “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose”, and pays it off in a superb way.
A brilliantly constructed mystery, complete with a superb central guest performance from Geoffrey Lewis, the episode sees Gillian Anderson once again deliver great work, with the episode effectively turning into a two person play during the last third of the episode between Anderson and Lewis.
Subtly and beautifully philosophical, and asking many questions on death that is unheard of from a mainstream, network television series, this is an episode that has sadly fallen through the cracks and simply demands to be rediscovered.
Every genre television show at one time or another will do the Groundhog Day episode, and so it is The X-Files delivers “Monday”, and one of its all time classics.
Complete with running jokes involving a leaking water-bed, soaking mobile phones and the world’s most boring FBI meeting, “Monday” gets top marks for not making Mulder or Scully aware of their predicament, instead having it be guest character Pam (great work from the late Carrie Hamilton) trying to alert our heroes, frequently with no luck.
Funny, yet with a subtle philosophical slant that questions themes of deja vu and fate, the episode works for the most part as a laugh out loud comedy before sucker punching the audience with a dark ending that comes as a massive shock after the humour before hand. In fact it’s only when one rewatches the episode, or think about it, that one can see more darkness amongst the comedy than previously thought.
Delightfully silly, amazingly “Arcadia” had something of a troubled production when it came to visually realising its monster. It shows little signs of trouble, coming across a witty, funny comedy that not only puts Mulder and Scully undercover, but basically baits shippers by having them pretend to be a married couple.
A lovely tip of the hat to classic American sitcoms, our heroes go undercover as Rob and Laura Petrie, and Daniel Arkin’s teleplay has some of the most obvious fun that one can think of with such a set-up, but also throws in some lovely satire on gated communities and their dependencies on “the rules”.
The monster is brilliantly kept to the shadows, and the episode itself manages to mix gory set pieces and a brilliant dollop of humour, and has become rightfully regarded as a fan favourite.
Without a doubt the most underrated episode of the entire ten (soon to be eleven) season run of the show, “Field Trip” is an episode that is best viewed not knowing what it’s actually about.
The episode starts of as one thing for half the time, before throwing in a psychedelic twist of sorts halfway through, with half the fun being how the hell our heroes are going to escape from their predicament at the end of the episode. Best of all, just when you think they’ve escaped, the episode throws another curveball.
That it throws in Mulder finding an alien and having the proof that he has always wanted is definitely an alarm bell that all is not what it seems, and then proceeds to have a whole heap of fun with its hallucination story line, throwing in a Mulder funeral and having Scully’s skepticism thrown at her face at every opportunity.
With a teleplay from Vince Gilligan and John Shiban, and coming from a story by Frank Spotnitz, not to mention unsurprisingly brilliant direction from Kim Manners, and a guest starring role for Supernatural’s Jim Beaver, the episode is a brilliantly crafted, underrated joy and is another of the sixth season’s most quiet, underrated masterpieces.
And the worst…
Not so much a terrible episode, but more of a massive disappointment given that as a season finale dealing with the show’s mythology, it was coming on the heels of the epic two-parter “Two Fathers”/”One Son”, a pair of episodes that saw the series deliver some massive revelations and brought a sense of resolution to many of the series’ mythology threads.
The worst thing that “Biogenesis” does is that instead of opting to bring more closure to other dangling threads, especially since this was an episode that was set to lead to a seventh season that was heavily anticipated to be the last one the show was going to produce, it opts to open a whole new can of worms, leading to new questions and ones that look as if it’s not going to deliver much in the way of answers.
It has some interesting call backs to “The Erlenmeyer Flask” and “The Blessing Way”, but it basically runs around in circles after coming off the back of a season that saw the show deliver a sense of momentum, as well as answers to some of its mysteries, not to mention having a lovely skip to its step in many of its episodes.
For a sixth season that felt very fresh most of the time, “Biogenesis” brings the season to a heavy-handed halt when it should have been aiming for something more substantial and exciting and it doesn’t even have the nerve to play with the Skinner/Krycek dynamic in an interesting way given the brilliant set up at the end of the season’s earlier “SR 819”.
An epic disappointment, it does have a gorgeous visual to end the season on, but very little else to feel comfortable with going forward, and in fact the story only gets even more monotonous with the season seven premiere.