Season Six

6x01 The Beginning 11/08/1998

Jeffrey Spender and Diana Fowley—the latter now fully recovered from her near-fatal shooting in ‘The End’—are assigned to the re-opened X-Files, while the Syndicate uses Gibson Praise to search for an extraterrestrial biological entity that burst, Alien-style, from the chest of its human host. In this first episode produced in Los Angeles, Chris Carter attempted to craft a story which would make sense to those who skipped the movie, as well as those new viewers who tuned in because of the movie. He didn’t quite succeed, but he did manage to advance the Mythology Arc somewhat. Scully’s tests indicate that Praise’s telepathic abilities are due to extraterrestrial DNA—DNA that is present in all humans, but dormant in most. And we’re introduced to Assistant Director Kersh, Mulder and Scully’s new superior at the FBI, who will prove to be a thorn in their side throughout the remaining seasons.

6x02 Drive 11/15/1998

In the midst of doing background checks on the purchasers of large amounts of fertilizer—part of their new anti-terrorism assignment—Mulder and Scully get drawn into a case involving Patrick Crump, who has to keep moving in order to prevent his inner ear from exploding. Although it sounds like a mutant version of Speed directed by David Cronenberg, ‘Drive’ is actually another solid script from writer Vince Gilligan. Scully’s explanation is some scientific nonsense about extremely low-frequency radio waves, but who cares? Much of the episode takes place in the car that Mulder is driving west in a futile attempt to keep Crump alive, and Bryan Cranston is quite convincing as the accidental victim of a government experiment gone wrong. The episode ends with a confrontation between the agents and A.D. Kersh about their flagrant disregard of regulations. Significantly this time, Scully is just as unrepentant as her partner.

6x03 Triangle 11/22/1998

This episode—in which Mulder finds himself on board a British ocean liner in the Bermuda Triangle in 1939—is one of the most distinctive of the entire series. Written and directed by Chris Carter, large portions of ‘Triangle’ were filmed on location on board the Queen Mary, now permanently docked in Long Beach. Each act is presented as a single continuous take without edits (or at least, with skillfully disguised edits). The high point is the second act, which follows Scully through the FBI as she scrambles to obtain the information that the Lone Gunmen need to determine Mulder’s whereabouts. Almost as good is the finale, which makes effective use of split-screen techniques to depict ‘simultaneous’ events in 1939 and 1998. Due to the extra picture information required for the split-screen sequences, ‘Triangle’ was the only episode of The X-Files to be broadcast in a widescreen format.

6x04 Dreamland 11/29/1998

Mulder and Scully travel to Area 51 to meet an anonymous informant, but Mulder somehow ends up switching bodies—and lives—with Morris Fletcher, a ‘Man In Black’ specializing in disinformation. This episode makes the most of the humourous aspects of the situation by casting former Saturday Night Live regulars Michael McKean and Nora Dunn as Fletcher and his wife Joanne, respectively. Casual viewers will likely be confused: ‘Mulder’ is played by McKean but looks like Duchovny to everyone except the audience, while ‘Fletcher’ is played by Duchovny but looks like McKean. It’s hard to tell which is funnier: Fletcher’s willing acceptance of his life as a swinging single FBI agent, or Mulder’s despair at discovering he has an overbearing wife and two teenage kids who hate him. Despite the humour, ‘Dreamland’ is still a fairly serious episode, with an excellent cliffhanger ending leading up to Part II.

6x05 Dreamland II 12/06/1998

While Mulder races to find a way to reverse the warp in the space-time continuum which caused him to swap bodies with Morris Fletcher, Scully comes to the realization that her partner really isn’t the man he claims to be. The big surprise in this episode is the fact that Mulder’s apartment actually has a bedroom. When first seen, it’s being used as a storeroom, but Fletcher wastes no time redecorating it with a waterbed and a mirrored ceiling. Another highlight is Fletcher’s encounter with the Lone Gunmen, and his obvious amusement at their gullibility in publicizing the lies he claims to have invented. Together, this episode and its prequel make up a unique entry in the X-Files canon: not only do they form the only humourous two-parter, but they’re also the only two part episode that doesn’t really do anything to advance the larger Mythology Arc.

6x08 How The Ghosts Stole Christmas 12/13/1998

Christmas Eve finds Mulder and Scully investigating a haunted house where two young lovers took their lives years before so they could spend Christmas together for all eternity. Edward Asner and Lily Tomlin play the ghosts of the two lovers—no longer young—in a rare example of the series using big name guest stars. Mulder and Scully run around in circles as the lightning flashes and the thunder crashes, but the overall effect is more annoying than scary. Writer/director Chris Carter is trying to say something about just how lonely his two characters are, but whatever psychological insights he manages to convey are undone by the tasteless image of the pair as they crawl, injured and bleeding, towards the mansion’s front door. This may be a Christmas episode, but it’ll have you wanting to change the channel in hopes of catching a rerun of It’s A Wonderful Life instead.

6x06 Terms Of Endearment 01/03/1999

Mulder, still assigned to doing background checks, is so desperate for an X-File that he’s reduced to rummaging through Spender’s wastebasket. The effort pays off when he finds a case that concerns an expectant mother accused of aborting her fetus, and a father with some sort of satanic connection. Bruce Campbell, the star of Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead movies, plays the father, and he’s perfectly cast as Wayne Weinsider, the insurance salesman determined to have a normal family no matter what. Initially, Mulder works the case on his own as Scully—no longer as defiant as she was earlier in the season—tries to rein him in, but to no avail. Before you know it, she’s right there with him, reviewing medical files and digging up skeletons buried in the Weinsider’s backyard. After six seasons, standalone Monsters-of-the-Week are still a vital part of the X-Files formula.

6x07 The Rain King 01/10/1999

Mulder and Scully fly to Kroner, Kansas to investigate Daryl Mootz, the self-proclaimed ‘Rain King’. Mootz is able to selectively create rain in the drought-stricken region—for a price. In a season with plenty of humourous episodes, this one stands out by being too silly for its own good, although it does make some interesting comments about the repressed nature of the relationship between Mulder and Scully. In the end, the extreme weather events that have followed Sheila Fontaine (Saturday Night Live alumnus Victoria Jackson) since high school are revealed to be caused by the pent-up emotions of TV weatherman Holman Hardt—which is fine until you realize that this leaves the Rain King’s abilities—the whole reason for the investigation—completely unexplained. And since Mulder and Scully are no longer assigned to the X-Files, why are they even looking into this case, anyway?

6x10 S.R. 819 01/17/1999

Mulder and Scully race to save a dying Skinner’s life, discovering in the process that the assistant director has been injected with a form of nanotechnology which has the ability to cut off the flow of blood in his circulatory system. This is another of those confusing episodes that refuses to make sense no matter how much you think about it. Mulder soon learns that Senator Richard Matheson—the man who supplied him with information in Season Two’s ‘Little Green Men’—is somehow involved. Of much greater interest is the revelation that the man controlling the microscopic robots in Skinner’s bloodstream is Krycek—unrecognizable in a beard and bad wig. As a result, Skinner is now under Krycek’s control and can no longer be trusted to act in Mulder and Scully’s best interests. This is a significant plot development that will have its payoff in the season finale.

6x09 Tithonus 01/24/1999

While Mulder remains in Washington doing background checks, Scully travels to New York with new partner Peyton Ritter to investigate Alfred Fellig, a crime-scene photographer with an uncanny knack for being in the right place at the right time. This is an excellent episode that benefits from both a first-rate script by Vince Gilligan, and another outstanding performance by Gillian Anderson, as Scully comes to realize the truth about Fellig, and tries hard to understand him. Blessed with both immortality and the ability to ‘see’ death, Fellig wants desperately to be able to die himself. He gets his chance when Ritter makes a mistake that has near-fatal consequences for Scully. If ‘Tithonus’ has a flaw, it’s in the ending, which is a little too reminiscent of Scully’s miraculous recovery from certain death at the beginning of Season Five.

6x11 Two Fathers 02/07/1999

Cassandra Spender is pronounced to be the first success in a 25-year Syndicate project to create a race of human/alien hybrids, intended to serve as slave labour during the coming alien invasion. We also learn that Cassandra is the ex-wife of the Cigarette-Smoking Man, whose ‘real’ name is G.C.B. Spender. CSM is using his son to keep the FBI from getting too close to the truth, but he clearly has a higher opinion of the son of his former associate Bill Mulder. There seems to be a lot happening in this episode, which also features a prominent appearance by Krycek (who apparently holds a position of some authority within the Syndicate) and a surprising appearance by Diana Fowley. For their efforts to help Cassandra, Mulder and Scully are suspended from the FBI, as the stage is set for the resolution of many of the Mythology Arc’s convoluted plot lines.

6x12 One Son 02/14/1999

Scully tries hard to tell Mulder something he doesn’t want to hear: that Diana Fowley has been working for the Syndicate for years. He finally does learn—from the Cigarette-Smoking Man himself—his father’s role in the conspiracy: Bill Mulder suggested using DNA from the alien fetus provided for the human/alien hybrid project to develop a vaccine against the Black Oil. The hybrid project—an attempt to forestall the invasion—was never meant to succeed. The Mythology Arc reaches a conclusion of sorts when the rebel aliens kill virtually all the Syndicate members: only CSM and Fowley manage to escape. It’s almost as though Carter and company were too bored (or confused) to keep it going, so they decided to end it instead. Eventually, Mulder and Scully are reinstated to the X-Files, while Jeffrey Spender apparently pays the ultimate price for switching his allegiances from his father’s ideals to Mulder’s.

6x14 Agua Mala 02/21/1999

In this slightly humourous and very wet remake of Season One’s ‘Ice’, Mulder and Scully are once again trapped in an isolated location by extreme weather conditions while they face an unexplained menace. This time, it’s a Florida condominium in the middle of a hurricane, and the menace is some kind of sea monster with an affinity for salt water. Arthur Dales, the former FBI agent who started the X-Files, calls Mulder into the investigation. As was the case with Season Five’s ‘Travelers’, Darren McGavin’s character, now living in a trailer park in Florida, is limited to brief appearances in just a couple of scenes. As Monsters-of-the-Week go, this one isn’t bad, but there’s little here that hasn’t been seen before.

6x15 Monday 02/28/1999

The waterbed that Mulder’s bedroom acquired in ‘Dreamland II’ reappears for the first and last time as Scully and her partner live the events of a Monday morning—culminating in a bank robbery in which everyone dies—over and over again. Mulder eventually becomes aware of what’s happening, and looks for a way to break the pattern. Vince Gilligan and John Shiban’s clever script is an effective reworking of a standard science fiction plot, and a strong guest cast helps bring it to life. Bernard the bank robber and his long-suffering girlfriend Pam are convincingly played by Darren Burrows (best known for playing Ed on Northern Exposure, and virtually unrecognizable here) and the late Carrie Hamilton (Carol Burnett’s daughter), respectively. Incidentally, there’s a good reason why Skinner’s secretary looks so much like Scully. She’s played by Mitch Pileggi’s wife Arlene, who first worked on The X-Files as Gillian Anderson’s stand-in.

6x13 Arcadia 03/07/1999

Mulder and Scully go undercover as a yuppie married couple in a seemingly idyllic planned community where a series of mysterious disappearances turn out to be related to the area’s former use as a landfill site. When we finally get to see the monster, it looks pretty silly, which probably explains why we barely see it at all. Faring slightly better are the attempts at humour. One highlight occurs when Mulder refers to Scully as ‘honeybunch’, and she calls him ‘poopyhead’ in return. Although this was the first episode to be produced after ‘One Son’, it was aired out of sequence, which explains Mulder’s confusing comment about this being “our first catch back on the X-Files.” It should also be noted that the watch Mulder is wearing is not the same as the one he was constantly looking at in ‘Monday’.

6x16 Alpha 03/28/1999

A series of vicious attacks places Mulder and Scully on the trail of what is allegedly an extinct breed of dog which has escaped from the ship that brought it from China. Mulder learns of the case from Karin Berquist, an expert in canine behaviour whom he met online. Scully’s immediate suspicion of Berquist’s motives pays off in the end, when even Mulder realizes that she’s being somewhat less than honest. The exact nature of Mulder’s relationship with Berquist is open to interpretation, but the mutual admiration they share is enough to make Scully more than a little jealous. The shape-shifting characteristics of the animal Mulder and Scully are seeking makes ‘Alpha’ reminiscent of Season One’s ‘Shapes’. This is reasonably entertaining while you’re watching it, but ultimately, it’s one of the less memorable episodes of the season.

6x17 Trevor 04/11/1999

Extreme weather events play an important role in an episode for the third time this season as a tornado somehow gives Mississippi prison inmate Pinker Rawls the ability to pass through solid objects, altering their molecular structure in the process. Mulder and Scully are always just a step or two behind Rawls, and it takes them a while to figure out what he means by the message ‘I Want What’s Mine’ that he leaves behind for them. Because Rawls’s ability is apparently electrical in nature, Mulder is able to deduce that the man is unable to pass through insulators like rubber or glass, a fact that leads to his eventual downfall. Like ‘Alpha’ before it, this is a competent but ultimately unremarkable episode, memorable mostly for Mulder’s joke about David Copperfield in the opening scene.

6x18 Milagro 04/18/1999

Scully finds herself the object of the unwelcome attentions of Phillip Padgett, a writer who lives in the apartment next door to Mulder’s. She encounters Padgett while she and Mulder are working to solve a series of murders in which the victims’ hearts have been mysteriously removed: murders that have all been described in great detail in Padgett’s novel-in-progress. Eventually, she finds herself attracted to Padgett for reasons she doesn’t quite understand—a fact which creates some friction between her and Mulder. With its languid pacing and emotionally intense scenes between Scully and Padgett (played by John Hawkes), ‘Milagro’ is quite unlike most other episodes of the series. It is most reminiscent of Season Four’s ‘Never Again’, which also gave us an intimate look at Scully’s life and the passions which she usually manages to keep well beneath the surface.

6x20 The Unnatural 04/25/1999

David Duchovny wrote and directed this minor masterpiece. It’s about a shape-shifting alien baseball player who’s trying not to draw too much attention to himself in Roswell, New Mexico in 1947, and about the power of love to physically transform an individual. Most of the story is told in flashback by former police officer Arthur Dales, played by M. Emmet Walsh. (Despite the identical name, he’s actually the brother of the character we’ve met before, most recently in ‘Aqua Mala’. Darren McGavin’s ill health prevented him from reprising the role). This is easily the best episode of Season Six. If it has any weakness at all, it’s that Mulder and Scully are barely in it. Duchovny made up for that by featuring the pair in a final scene as good as any in the entire series, as Mulder teaches Scully how to play baseball beneath a star-filled night sky.

6x19 Three Of A Kind 05/02/1999

Susanne Modeski returns in this sequel to Season Five’s ‘Unusual Suspects’. This time it’s Scully who teams up with the Lone Gunmen as they attempt to infiltrate a defense contractor’s convention in Las Vegas. Byers fears that Modeski has been brainwashed, but she claims to have been rescued by her fiancÚ Grant Snow (one-time Saturday Night Live regular Charles Rocket), who eventually turns out to have his own particular motives for his actions. Also appearing (briefly) at the convention is Michael McKean’s Morris Fletcher, although neither he nor Scully—drugged and very flirtatious—have any memory of their earlier meeting in ‘Dreamland’. Mulder is absent this week because David Duchovny was doing pre-production work on ‘The Unnatural’, which was produced after this episode, even though it aired first. Signey Coleman’s Modeski is such an interesting character that it’s a shame she only appeared in two episodes.

6x21 Field Trip 05/09/1999

The disappearance of a married couple on a hiking trip—and the discovery of their skeletons a couple of days later—lead Mulder and Scully into a case where the nature of reality is called into question. In the end, virtually all of the events depicted here are revealed to be hallucinations brought on by the mushroom spores that both Mulder and Scully have inhaled while conducting their investigation. There are a number of points where you think that you finally have everything figured out, only to see the current ‘reality’ melt away to reveal yet another reality behind it. The script uses this shifting background to comment on the fundamental differences between Mulder and Scully (the passionate believer versus the detached scientist), differences that have become increasing blurred in Season Six. If Philip K. Dick had ever written an X-Files script, it would have been just like this one.

6x22 Biogenesis 05/16/1999

After a brief hiatus, the Mythology Arc returns as Mulder and Scully strive to find out more about artifacts—allegedly of extraterrestrial origin—bearing symbols which translate to a passage from the book of Genesis. Exposure to a rubbing of the symbols is enough to cause Mulder to feel severe physical discomfort; in desperation, he turns to Diana Fowley for help. (Apparently, Scully’s arguments in ‘One Son’ made no impression.) The Cigarette-Smoking Man and Krycek also return. Following the events of ‘S.R. 819’, Skinner is now taking orders from Krycek, leaving Scully completely on her own. Anyone who hoped that killing off the Syndicate would clear the decks and make the series easier to follow will be sorely disappointed by ‘Biogenesis’. Better just to sit back and enjoy the imagery, especially the stunning overhead shot of the alien spacecraft on the African coast that ends the episode.

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