Season Five

5x02 Redux 11/02/1997

Between the seemingly endless voice-over narration recited by both Mulder and Scully, and the reams of expository dialog delivered by Michael Kritschgau, this may well be the most verbose episode of the entire series. The montage of images that accompany Kritschgau’s breathless recounting of fifty years of conspiracy theory owes much to similar sequences in Oliver Stone’s JFK. While Scully’s lab work establishes a link between her cancer and genetic material related to the fake alien body discovered in ‘Gethsemane’, Mulder infiltrates both the Department of Defense and The Pentagon in search of a promised cure for her disease. Meanwhile, the FBI continues its inquiry into Mulder’s ‘suicide’, and Scully begins to suspect that Skinner may be the Syndicate’s mole inside the Bureau. This seems like a busy episode, but it’s really just setting the stage for the real resolution still to come in the final part of the trilogy.

5x03 Redux II 11/09/1997

Mulder meets his sister and is shocked to hear her refer to the Cigarette-Smoking Man as her ‘father’. He later receives a job offer from CSM, who fulfills his part of the ‘Momento Mori’ deal by providing a cure for Scully’s cancer. In the meantime, Mulder names Section Chief Blevins as the mole within the FBI—a big revelation that would have been a lot more meaningful if we’d actually seen Blevins more than a few times before ‘Gethsemane’. Meanwhile, CSM becomes a target for a Syndicate assassination attempt. Scully’s cancer goes into remission, although it’s unclear if the newly implanted microchip provided by CSM was responsible. This is a satisfying episode that ends the cancer storyline that won Gillian Anderson her Emmy Award. It also turns Mulder into a skeptic as far as alien abductions are concerned. It’s a change in direction that will persist throughout the season.

5x01 Unusual Suspects 11/16/1997

In a flashback to 1989, we see how the Lone Gunmen met each other, and opened FBI Special Agent Mulder’s eyes to the possibilities of government conspiracies long before he discovered the X-Files and was partnered with Scully. The action centers around Susanne Modeski, a government scientist who has been framed for murder for trying to blow the whistle on proposed tests of a paranoia-inducing gas that she helped develop. The episode is a good mixture of humour and drama. Richard Belzer is on hand as Detective Munch, the character he played on Homicide and later Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and there’s even a surprise appearance by X, proving that he was part of the conspiracy years before he replaced Deep Throat. Based on this episode, the Lone Gunmen would seem like good candidates for their own series, but time would prove that this wasn’t necessarily the case.

5x04 Detour 11/23/1997

As the title suggests, Mulder and Scully get sidetracked in this episode. On their way to a team building seminar in Florida, the pair stumbles into a case involving mysterious creatures who are trying to prevent urban encroachment into the forest where they live. This episode isn’t really all that different from Season One’s ‘Darkness Falls’, except for the fact that Mulder and Scully are all alone in the woods this time. Scully seems a lot more willing to flirt with her partner then she has been in the past. She even shows up in Mulder’s motel room with a bottle of wine at one point. She also serenades him with an off-key rendition of Three Dog Night’s ‘Joy To The World’. While ‘Detour’ won’t make anyone’s Top Ten list, it’s still an enjoyable Monster-of-the-Week effort.

5x06 The Post-Modern Prometheus 11/30/1997

Mulder and Scully investigate a case involving The Great Mutato, a Frankenstein-like creature who turns out not to be the monster everyone assumed he was. ‘Prometheus’, written and directed by Chris Carter, is easily the most bizarre episode of the entire series. Filmed in black and white as an homage to the films of James Whale, it opens and closes on images in comic books, making it unclear if this is a ‘real’ X-Files case, or an ‘imaginary’ tale involving FBI agent Mulder, who—according to this episode—has appeared on Jerry Springer’s talk show. The versatile Chris Owens is unrecognizable under layers of makeup as Mutato, and John Hurley (Seinfeld’s J. Peterman) is appropriately over-the-top as Dr. Polidori. By far the best thing about this episode is the final scene, where we get to see a smiling Mulder and Scully dance to Cher’s version of ‘Walking In Memphis’.

5x05 Christmas Carol 12/07/1997

A couple of mysterious phone calls put Scully into contact with Emily, a three-year-old girl whose adoptive parents both end up as murder victims. Initially, Scully believes that Emily is the daughter of her late sister Melissa, but DNA tests soon reveal that the actual identity of the mother is someone even more surprising. This indirect sequel to ‘Momento Mori’ is another showcase for Gillian Anderson, as she carries the episode virtually on her own. It also gives us a rare glimpse into Scully’s life—such as it is—away from her partner, as she travels to San Diego with her mother to spend Christmas with her brother and sister-in-law. Those mysterious phone calls seem to originate from Melissa’s ghost, a point that this episode never elaborates on, and one that Scully herself seems willing to accept without too many questions.

5x07 Emily 12/14/1997

While Scully attempts to find a cure for the disease that affects her daughter, and starts proceedings to legally adopt her, Mulder begins his investigation at Prangen Industries (where Emily was participating in a clinical trial) and ends up at a nursing home where some very unlikely mothers have given birth recently. ‘Emily’, with its shape-shifting aliens, human embryos and toxic green blood, is the polar opposite of the more down-to-earth ‘Christmas Carol’, but it’s still more satisfying than the conclusion of most Mythology Arc two-parters. Special mention should be made of the teaser—a dream sequence which shows Scully walking in the middle of a sandstorm, and then dissolving into sand herself. Mention should also be made of the vials of green fluid that Mulder takes from the lab in the nursing home. Although they would seem like the perfect plot device for future episodes, they’re never mentioned again.

5x08 Kitsunegari 01/04/1998

In this sequel to Season Three’s ‘Pusher’, Mulder and Scully head up an effort to recapture Robert Modell, who has escaped from prison. Scully assumes that Modell is targeting her partner, but Mulder soon comes to the conclusion that there is someone else—with powers identical to Modell’s—involved in the case. This is a clever updating of one of the better Monsters-of-the-Week, with a genuinely effective twist in the story. It doesn’t quite reach the same levels of intensity as ‘Pusher’, but the original episode did set a high standard. Both Scully and Assistant Director Skinner get into emotional arguments with Mulder over his interpretation of events surrounding the case, although you have to wonder why they’d even bother. Don’t they both know by now that Mulder is always right?

5x09 Schizogeny 01/11/1998

Mulder and Scully travel to Michigan to investigate a case of death caused by trees in an orchard that are seeking vengeance against the perpetrators of child abuse. Although this episode isn’t as bad as you would think from that description, it is one of the weaker efforts of Season Five. The script isn’t as clear as it could be, lessening the impact of the elements of the story dealing with abuse, and the axe-wielding Ramirez—who pops up just in time to explain to Mulder and Scully what’s happening—is too much of a cliché to take seriously. On the other hand, Chad Lindberg does good work portraying teenager Bobby Rich. He’s the series’ most convincing member of Generation X since Giovanni Ribisi in Season Two’s ‘D.P.O.’.

5x10 Chinga 02/08/1998

While on a vacation in Maine, Scully stumbles into a case involving a haunted doll that is capable of making people do really nasty things to themselves. Even though the script was co-written by novelist Stephen King and series creator Chris Carter, the horrific elements of the story are a disappointment: they’re too derivative of better things that King and others have done elsewhere. The best parts of the episode are the phone conversations Scully has with her partner as Mulder—apparently with nothing better to do while she’s away—keeps calling up with suggestions that are less than helpful. In that sense, ‘Chinga’ can be viewed as little more than a remake of Season Three’s ‘War of the Coprophages’ turned upside down. Be that as it may, any episode that lets us see Scully relaxing in the bathtub is—by definition—a good episode.

5x11 Kill Switch 02/15/1998

A massacre at a Washington diner puts Mulder and Scully on the trail of a sentient artificial intelligence which is loose on the Internet. Along the way, they meet Invisigoth (a.k.a. Esther Nairn), a hacker who wants to upload her consciousness into cyberspace. For the second week in a row, the series makes use of ‘name’ writers: in this case science fiction authors William Gibson and Tom Maddox. The result is a successful union of X-Files paranoia and cyberpunk sensibilities. Combining big production values (the exploding cargo container), interesting locations (the swing bridge), and well-drawn characters, ‘Kill Switch’ has a little bit of everything. It even puts The Lone Gunmen to good use. Special mention must be made of Mulder’s dream, in which Scully bursts into the room and beats up a number of women in a manner that would make Emma Peel (not to mention Buffy) proud.

5x12 Bad Blood 02/22/1998

The truth is way out there as Mulder and Scully explain to each other what they think happened on a trip to Texas to track down a vampire. In the process, Duchovny and Anderson have great fun playing slightly exaggerated versions of their characters, as we see Mulder through Scully’s eyes, and vice versa. We also see each of them as they see themselves. This is a very funny episode due to the fact that the pair behave like a couple who have been married to each other just a little too long. It also contains the most hilarious autopsies you’ll ever see. ‘Bad Blood’ was written by Vince Gilligan, who demonstrates once again that he is Darin Morgan’s heir apparent—the only writer willing (or able) to take the series apart, and put it back together in a slightly different manner. This is Season Five’s best episode.

5x13 Patient X 03/01/1998

The role reversals are complete in this episode, as the post-‘Redux’ Mulder insists that alien abductions are nothing more than a government conspiracy to cover up the development of biological weapons, while Scully finds herself more than willing to consider extreme possibilities. The centre of their attention is Cassandra Spender, a self-proclaimed multiple abductee whose son Jeffrey is an FBI agent. The younger Spender is played by Chris Owens, seen previously as the young Cigarette-Smoking Man in Season Four’s ‘Musings Of…’ and ‘Demons’. Throw in Marita Covarrubias, Alex Krycek, the Well-Manicured Man, various members of the Syndicate, a potential vaccine against the Black Oil—developed by the Russians and stolen by Krycek—and incidents where abductees are ‘called’ to locations where they are subsequently burned to death, and the result is a busy Mythology Arc episode that sets high expectations for Part Two.

5x14 The Red And The Black 03/08/1998

While the Well-Manicured Man tries to make a deal with Krycek to obtain the stolen Russian vaccine, Scully undergoes hypnosis in an attempt to recover lost memories of what happened at the dam where Cassandra was taken yet again, and many of the other abductees were burned beyond recognition. The first big revelation is that there is a faction of rebel aliens at war with the group which plans to colonize Earth at some point in the future. The capture of one of these rebels—his eyes and mouth sewn shut against the Black Oil—prompts a division within the Syndicate over whether to turn him over to the colonists, or wait until the vaccine has been tested, to see if resistance against the aliens is possible. The second revelation is that the Cigarette-Smoking Man is alive and well in a cabin in Quebec, and that he’s Jeffrey Spender’s father.

5x15 Travellers 03/29/1998

In the second flashback this season—this time to 1990—Mulder is introduced to the X-Files as he meets former FBI agent Arthur Dales. Dales tells Mulder about a case from 1952 concerning xenotransplantation; a case that involved a certain Department of State employee named Bill Mulder. ‘Travelers’ pays tribute to The X-Files’ most obvious influence by casting Darren McGavin, the star of Kolchak: The Night Stalker, as the present-day (1990) Arthur Dales. It then proceeds to give him and Duchovny virtually nothing to do by setting most of the action in 1952. (Gillian Anderson is totally absent). Trivia buffs take note: this is one of two episodes where Mulder can be seen wearing a wedding ring. (It was also visible—just barely—in ‘Unusual Suspects’). This is also the only time in the series where we see Mulder smoking.

5x16 Mind's Eye 04/19/1998

Lili Taylor steals this episode with her portrayal of Marty Glenn. Blind since birth, Glenn is able to ‘see’ through the eyes of her father, and is powerless to stop the series of murders he begins to commit once he’s released from prison. The Season Five role-reversals take a 180° turn here, as Mulder, a believer once more, makes a wild leap to…exactly the right conclusion, while Scully—who’s off-screen for much of the episode—struggles to keep up. Lili Taylor, who received an Emmy nomination for playing Glenn, manages the difficult task of making her a very unsympathetic character. She also plays off against David Duchovny quite effectively, giving the scenes between Glenn and Mulder an added spark. With a more satisfying ending than most episodes, ‘Mind’s Eye’ is one of the highlights of Season Five.

5x17 All Souls 04/26/1998

Scully experiences visions of her daughter Emily as she looks into a case involving quadruplet girls—all born with severe physical and mental defects—who are suffering mysterious deaths. The story is told in flashback as Scully relates the events while in a confessional. This week, it’s Scully who wants to believe, while Mulder plays the skeptic. (Can’t these people make up their minds?) The whole thing seems like a remake of Season Three’s ‘Revelations’, as Scully comes to the belief that she has been chosen to protect these girls from the devil so their souls can be recalled to Heaven. The best thing about ‘All Souls’ is the fact that it gives Gillian Anderson a showcase after her low profile in the previous couple of episodes. Her performance here reinforces the fact that her Best Actress Emmy Award was no fluke.

5x18 The Pine Bluff Variant 05/03/1998

Mulder goes so far undercover to infiltrate a group of domestic terrorists that not even Scully knows what he’s doing. This may well be the scariest episode of the entire series, simply because it’s the most plausible, and the passage of time has only served to make its bio-terrorism plot even more conceivable now than it was in the spring of 1998. You really have to be paying attention to keep track of whose side everyone is on, and of who knows what, but in the end, John Shiban’s script for this episode makes more sense than most. Scully’s initial doubts about Mulder’s actions fit well with the (sometimes abrupt) changes that he has gone through in Season Five. If he doesn’t know what he believes in anymore, then it makes sense that she may not know what to believe about him.

5x19 Folie A Deux 05/10/1998

Mulder investigates a telephone sales office where one of the employees, Gary Lambert, claims his boss Greg Pincus is a monster who changes his co-workers into zombies. For the first part of the episode, you have no idea if Lambert is telling the truth, or is simply seeing things that aren’t there. Then Mulder starts seeing the monster, too. ‘Folie A Deux’ has an unusual structure: the story reaches a climax part of the way through the episode; then it basically starts over again. In the end, Scully comes to Mulder’s rescue (for a change), and even covers for him in her report to Skinner. The one huge question that the script leaves unanswered is why Lambert, then Mulder, and finally Scully are suddenly able to see what Pincus really is, when no one else can.

5x20 The End 05/17/1998

Mulder, Scully and Diana Fowley, an FBI agent from Mulder’s past, work together to protect Gibson Praise, a 12-year-old mind reader who was the target of a failed Syndicate assassination attempt. Jeffrey Spender plays a significant role as he and Mulder clash over the best way to handle the case. Meanwhile, the Cigarette-Smoking Man, who harbors no apparent animosity over his attempted killing in ‘Redux II’, is reunited with his former employers. Mulder states his belief that Praise contains the key to everything in the X-Files, although it’s unclear why. Once again, Gillian Anderson delivers an outstanding performance. The friction between Mulder’s current partner and his former ‘chickadee’ Fowley (Mimi Rogers) is played beautifully, as are Scully’s attempts to deal with feelings for Mulder that she didn’t know she had. The opening chess match is set in Vancouver because this was the final X-Files episode to be produced there.

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