Is the Truth in Here? Cuttings from The Kilian Melloy Punk Rock X Files Episode Guide

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Tuesday July 8, 2008

Back in the day, when I wrote for wigglefish zine, one of my weekly duties was to prepare a capsule review for the new episode of The X Files.

Remember The X Files? FBI Special Agent Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) was tall, dark, and half-crazy with suspicion about ghouls and goblins and alien abduction theories. Willing to invest in any outlandish example of what he called "extreme possibility," Mulder channeled all the mid-1990s anti-government paranoia that the fledgling Internet and its fringy chat rooms could come up with.

Chief among the wild rumors that series creator Chris Carter and his writers used: a world-wide conspiracy, hatched in Roswell after a flying saucer crash, in which the governments of the Earth colluded with alien invaders to create a clone underclass of alien/human hybrids. It all had to do with colonization and black oil and secret programs to immunize people against a virus that turned human bodies into incubators for otherworldly beings.

The show's complex, multi-layered "mythology" generated season after season of well-written episodes that gradually peeled back secrets, lies, and obfuscations; just about the only wacko conspiracy fantasy the show didn't exploit was the one about Chinese soldiers wearing UN uniforms lurking in the sewers of New York and waiting for the go-ahead to overrun America. (If the show had gone on longer than it did, I wouldn't have been surprised to see that, too, become fodder.)

But let's not forget Mulder's brilliant, skeptical partner, Special Agent Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson). Her attempts to reign in Mulder's enthusiasms and explain away instances of the supernatural and the extraterrestrial usually fell short in the face of the mounting evidence accumulated by the mythology episodes, let alone the monsters-of-the-week that the show's many stand-alone stories pitted the duo against: vengeful half-human bats, werewolves, mutants, and other unseen forces that prowled the night and killed at random.

The show ran for nine seasons, spawning one theatrical film along the way, 1998's Fight the Future, which turned out to be a bridge between the fifth and sixth seasons of the TV show. Now, six years after an unsatisfactory series finale, Mulder and Scully are headed back to the big screen with a new feature-length adventure titled I Want to Believe, opening July 25.

Creator Chris Carter has hand-picked eight episodes from the TV series that, we are led to believe, tie into the new film's story. Collected into a DVD set that is released today under the title Revelations, which is billed as an "Essential Guide to the Movie," these eight episodes span the show's first six seasons and range from the comic to the dramatic, and from the monstrous to the sublime.

How these episodes, in all their range and variety, have a bearing on the new movie is anyone's guess, but by digging through some files of my own--the Kilian Melloy Punk Rock X Files Episode Guide, which originally appeared at wigglefish--I'm hoping to unearth a few clues as to what the new film might hold.


Synopsis: Fox Mulder, remarkably gifted FBI profiler with a taste for the basement files generically labeled with an ’X’ to denote that they seem to involve paranormal forces, is assigned a new partner in the person of Dana Scully, no-nonsense medical doctor and forensic examiner who was recruited into the Agency right out of med school. Initially, the two have reservations about working together: Mulder regards Scully as a watchdog imposed upon him by the FBI’s disapproving hierarchy; Scully, meantime, finds Mulder willfully blind if not obsessive in his quest to prove the existence of goblins, demons, aliens, and vampires. It isn’t long before a particularly gruesome case involving UFOs, murdered high school buddies, and tiny transponders that seem to control behavior bring both agents--and the viewer--to the brink of comprehension. (Writer: Chris Carter. Director: Robert Mandel.)

Rating: XXXX

THE EVIDENCE SUGGESTS that this episode will connect to the movie strictly in terms of how the characters first met; none of the other episodes on this DVD set have to do with aliens or abductions.

Beyond the Sea

Synopsis: Brad Dourif guest stars as a stressed-out killer on death row whose near brush with execution has given him psychic abilities, as well as a keen wish to avoid a repeat of the lethal gas gig. His offer is simple: arrange for a pardon and he’ll tell our intrepid agents where to find a young couple who have been kidnapped by a psycho killer. Moreover, he’ll give Scully the message she most wants to hear from her recently deceased old man. (Writers: Glen Morgan & James Wong. Director: David Nutter.)

Rating: XXXX

THE EVIDENCE SUGGESTS that the movie might involve flashbacks or visions of some sort, perhaps to Scully’s late father, who never approved of her line of work.

The Host

Synopsis: A Russian trawler imports a terrifying menace from the radioactive inferno of Chernobyl. Soon, American sewers are crawling with... Flukeman! (Writer: Chris Carter. Director: Daniel Sackheim)

Rating: X1/2

THE EVIDENCE SUGGESTS that when he was choosing episodes for this DVD set, Chris Carter was less concerned with the quality of individual episodes for this collection than with thematic resonances. Even so, what the hell could the movie have to do with this piece of drivel, which is so bad that the show itself, in a third-season episode, used a tabloid headline about the sewer-dwelling creature as a visual gag? One theory: though this is a "stand-alone" story separate from the alien conspiracy storyline of the show’s "mythology" episodes, there may be a reference to the alien doings, especially if the monsters in the new movie are mutants of some sort. After all, those various programs dedicated to creating alien/human hybrids might have been the source for some of those freaks of nature that Mulder and Scully encountered over the years...

Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose

Synopsis: Peter Boyle guest stars as an insurance salesman whose powers of prognostication are limited to seeing how people’s deaths will occur. This is good enough for Mulder, who’ll take any lead in a series of murders targeting psychics and fortune tellers. Boyle’s performance, which won an Emmy, turns an already strong episode into a wicked black comedy of the first water. (Writer: Darin Morgan. Director: David Nutter.)

Rating: XXXXX

THE EVIDENCE SUGGESTS that Scully’s posited immortality might re-surface in the new movie: in this episode, when she asks Bruckman about how she herself will die, Scully hears the reply, "You don’t." In a season six episode, Tithonus, a man condemned to live forever transfers his curse of life everlasting to Scully, thus making Bruckman’s prediction come true (or so say the fan boys belonging to the Gillian Anderson Testosterone Brigade!).

Memento Mori

Synopsis: Confirming the bad news brought to her by cancer-eating mutant Leonard Betts [played by Paul McCrane in a previous season-four episode], Scully breaks the news to Fox that she has an inoperable, life threatening tumor--the result of her abduction two years before. Upon investigation, Mulder and Scully discover that the members of the MUFON group from the season three episode Piper Maru, who claimed to have been abducted along with Scully, have almost all died of similar cancers in the last year. But that’s just the first layer of the plot... (Writers: Chris Carter, Vince Gilligan, John Shiban, and Frank Spotnitz. Director: Rob Bowman.)

Rating: XXXXX

THE EVIDENCE SUGGESTS that the movie will explore Scully’s back story: her abduction experience (memories of which she never fully recovered), the fact that her ova were harvested for the covert cloning program (possibly leading to several part-alien offspring, a group of identical young men with red hair), her recovery thanks to alien technology, and her subsequent pregnancy, childbirth, and, late in the show’s run, decision to give up her and Mulder’s son for adoption. (Indeed, rumor has it that Mulder and Scully’s child will be part of the new movie’s plot in some way.)

The Post-Modern Prometheus

Syopsis: A black and white ’comic book’ episode involving a two-faced mutant, mysterious pregnancies, and--ulp--a Cher concert. This is one over-wrought and incredibly bizarre, but incredibly funny, chapter in the X Files saga. (Writer and Director: Chris Carter.)

Rating: XXX

THE EVIDENCE SUGGESTS that the new movie will have a sense of humor; after all, this episode was a tongue-in-cheek version of the Frankenstein’s monster story. Or this could be another indication that the film’s monsters will be the result of genetic tampering. Or, who knows? Maybe Cher will pop up in I Want to Believe; after declining to appear in this episode, Cher had second thoughts, expressing regrets for her decision.

Bad Blood

Synopsis: Roshomon and Scream, Blackula, Scream! are forced into an unnatural hybridization by Sinister Government Forces! Vince Gilligan’s script is witty, once in a while inspired, as Mulder and Scully offer differing perspectives on The Case of the Pizza Delivery Vampire. (Writer: Vince Gilligan. Director: Cliff Bole.)

Rating: XXXX

THE EVIDENCE SUGGESTS that the new movie’s bad guys might be some sort of vampires; the preview has a 30 Days of Night look and tone, and there are a few quick shots of faces that could easily belong to creatures of the night. And again, selecting this episode rather than the show’s other vampire adventure, season two’s 3, might be Carter’s way of assuring us that the film will have a few comic touches.


Synopsis: A young writer has lost his heart to Agent Scully. Does he expect her to return the favor? A string of perplexing murders involving psychic surgery would seem to indicate that he won’t rest until Scully is his--all his. An involving, ingenious episode, even if the writing is somewhat self-referential. (Teleplay: Chris Carter. Story: John Shiban and Frank Spotnitz. Director: Kim Manners.)

Rating XXXX

THE EVIDENCE SUGGESTS that the Gillian Anderson Testosterone Brigade is still very much active and a part of this movie’s production team; this episode was the result of the crush the show’s writers had on Scully. Or maybe the fact that this is the lone selection from the show’s sixth season, and that there are no picks from the seventh, eighth, and ninth seasons, is an indication that Carter wishes he’d stuck to his original plan to run the show for only five seasons.

We don't know what the movie deals with, but we hear that it won't be aliens. Rather than address the series' many hanging threads by bringing us another mythology story, Chris Carter has decided to make a monster movie that happens to involve Mulder and Scully, now six years older than when we last saw them in May, 2002, with the last episode of the TV show, which ended with the duo on the lam, Mulder running from a bogus murder charge and Scully apparently ditching home and career to join him.

Or, maybe not: the previews for the new movie make it look as though Scully is back in the FBI as a field agent, while Mulder must have somehow beaten the rap, since he's now being called in as a consultant on the strange case of a priest (Billy Connolly) who receives psychic transmissions.

In previews for I Want to Believe, Scully mutters that she's "done chasing monsters in the dark," but if there's anything The X Files has always delighted in, it's answering two questions and asking a dozen new questions at the same time. Maybe there are more monsters still out there for our heroes to track down.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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