Season Seven

7x03 The Sixth Extinction 11/07/1999

On the Ivory Coast, Scully examines the alien spacecraft, hoping that the symbols found on the exterior will provide clues to the mysterious affliction from which Mulder is suffering. Eventually, she discovers passages from a number of sacred texts, as well as a map of the human genome. Meanwhile, in Washington, Skinner is trying his best to help a hospitalized Mulder, despite the fact that the assistant director is under Krycek’s control. With the aid of Michael Kritschgau (last seen in Season Five’s ‘Redux’ and ‘Redux II’), Skinner learns that Mulder has heightened brain activity which allows him to read people’s minds. Thanks to this, Mulder finally realizes the truth about Diana Fowley; she herself admits that her loyalties have been divided. This is a perfect example of ‘middle episode’ syndrome: with no real beginning or ending, its primary purpose is to set the stage for the finale to come.

7x04 The Sixth Extinction II: Amor Fati 11/14/1999

The Cigarette-Smoking Man finally confirms what most viewers already knew: that he’s Fox Mulder’s father. We also learn that Mulder’s current mental condition is due to the Black Oil that he was infected with back in Season Four’s ‘Tunguska’ and ‘Terma’ and that (somehow) he is immune to its effects, a fact which leads (somehow) to an operation to transplant some of his genetic material to CSM. Confused? Meanwhile, Scully is seeing ghosts, and is able to rescue Mulder with some help from a remorseful Diana Fowley, an action which leads to Fowley’s off-screen death. This is an episode full of powerful imagery, along with many revelations and the resolution of plot threads that have been dangling for up to three seasons. Even so, it all feels very anti-climactic. By this point, it appears that the producers were more interested in visual content than in simple, straight-forward storytelling.

7x01 Hungry 11/21/1999

With the Mythology Arc long since reduced to an incomprehensible mess, it’s up to Monster-of-the-Week episodes like ‘Hungry’ to carry the series. This one concerns a fast-food worker who’s a genetic mutant with a compulsion to eat people’s brains. The twist is that this episode, which was actually the first one in Season Seven to be filmed, is told from the viewpoint of the antagonist. With both Duchovny and Anderson finishing other commitments, Mulder and Scully are limited to walk-on roles, as they show up periodically to ask a few questions, then disappear again. While the script was an innovative solution to a practical problem, it still doesn’t make for a very entertaining episode. The interplay between the two leads, which is what drives the best installments of the series, is all but absent here.

7x05 Millennium 11/28/1999

The desecrated graves of four former FBI agents, each of whom committed suicide, eventually lead Mulder and Scully to an investigation of the Millennium Group. It’s too bad that this cross-over with Chris Carter’s other series didn’t occur while Millennium was still on the air. While it’s nice to see Lance Henrickson reprising his role as Frank Black, his appearance here is somewhat disappointing: the script doesn’t really give him much to do for most of the hour except sit there and say that he doesn’t want to get involved. Of primary interest to most fans is the fact that this is the episode in which Mulder and Scully finally kiss each other on the lips. The long-anticipated event occurs as the clock ticks past midnight on New Years Eve, 1999. Somehow, it doesn’t seem worth the wait.

7x06 Rush 12/05/1999

A pair of high school students has discovered a mysterious cave that somehow gives them the ability to move at super-human speed, and a new student at the school becomes involved with them without understanding what’s going on. The catch is that the ‘rush’ provided by the cave is addictive, and the more they’re exposed to it, the more damage they cause to their bodies. The basic concept has lots of potential, but none of the students are particularly interesting as characters, and Mulder and Scully are relatively ineffectual. They figure out what’s going on, but not in time to stop the first two students from killing themselves. While there’s certainly nothing really wrong with ‘Rush’, there’s nothing very memorable about it, either. It’s a competent production of an idea that should have resulted in a much better episode.

7x02 The Goldberg Variation 12/12/1999

This charming installment is all about the luckiest man in the world. The problem is that he has to be careful how he uses his gift: in this study of cause and effect, good luck and bad luck are present in equal amounts. The subject matter lends itself naturally to humour, and there are some truly amusing sight gags here, made all the more humorous by Scully’s reactions to them. In the end, things work out exactly as they should, giving this episode a sense of closure rarely encountered in the series. ‘Heart warming’ is not an expression that leaps to mind when thinking of The X-Files, but it’s a description that ‘The Goldberg Variation’ clearly deserves.

7x07 Orison 01/09/2000

The title character is an ex-con who uses his powers of mass hypnosis to help prisoners escape from jail so he can give them their ‘true’ punishment. In this sequel to Season Two’s ‘Irresistible,’ Donnie Pfaster is Orison’s next victim. As with the first episode, there’s a pointless attempt to show that Pfaster possesses some sort of supernatural powers. The real focus of ‘Orison’ is on Scully, as she confronts her fears of a man who almost killed her five years ago, and as she sees and hears things that cause her to re-examine her religious beliefs. There have been a number of other episodes that let us see Scully wrestling with her inner demons in a similar manner. Unfortunately, most of them are better than this one. This is really just a rehash of ‘Irresistible’ that fails to tell us anything new about either Scully or Pfaster.

7x08 The Amazing Maleeni 01/16/2000

This story about a bizarre death and a pair of apparently feuding magicians is merely a cover for what’s really going on: an elaborate bank-robbery scheme. Unfortunately, the scheme is a bit too elaborate to be believable, with many of the plot elements relying on little more than coincidence. On the other hand, if you can overlook all that, then this episode is actually reasonably entertaining. Much of the credit belongs to guest star Ricky Jay, who plays the title character with a real sense of flair. By the way, this is the second time that the teaser of an episode involved decapitation (the first was Season Four’s ‘Leonard Betts’). How many other TV series can make that claim?

7x09 Signs And Wonders 01/23/2000

Mulder and Scully investigate The Church of Signs and Wonders, where the minister and his worshippers handle poisonous snakes as a demonstration of their faith. Some effective editing is used to compare and contrast the practices of the church with those of a more conventional congregation. Viewers with an aversion to snakes will be well-advised to skip this episode, since the reptiles are visible in virtually every scene. Mulder’s ability to leap to the correct conclusion on the flimsiest of evidence is well known, but even so, some of his guesses here defy all logic. For everyone else, the script manages to present a few unexpected twists along the way, but it’s all very drawn-out and somewhat tedious. If you’re watching this on DVD, look closely for the crewmember briefly visible on the left-hand edge of the widescreen image as the partners enter the church for the first time.

7x10 Sein Und Zeit 02/06/2000

Mulder is drawn into the investigation of the mysterious disappearance of a little girl in California. At the same time, his mother indicates that she has something important to tell him, but before he can talk to her, she commits suicide. The obvious implication is that Mrs. Mulder was going to tell her son something about the similar disappearance of his sister, but neither he nor the audience finds out what she had to say. It turns out the Mrs. Mulder had cancer, but if she wanted to say something important, why didn’t she at least leave a note? There’s a lot going on in this episode, but less plot and more emphasis on the characters would have resulted in a much more satisfying hour.

7x11 Closure 02/13/2000

In this one, we find out what really happened to Mulder’s sister. We also find out that much of the previous episode was a red herring. How you react to all of this will depend on how willing you are to accept the concept of ‘walk-ins’, the spirits that come to take troubled children, such as Mulder’s sister—the subject of medical experiments while being raised by the Cigarette-Smoking Man—to a better place. Certainly, Mulder seems a bit too complacent about the whole thing. Would you be willing to abandon a life-long quest on the basis of a vision? David Duchovny gives a superior performance here—the emotion in his voice as Mulder reads excerpts from his sister’s diary is almost tangible. Still, this is a disappointing resolution to one of the series’ main story arcs. Mulder may have achieved ‘Closure’, but few viewers will share his opinion.

7x12 X-Cops 02/20/2000

Mulder and Scully join some Los Angeles police officers in the search for an entity that attacks only during the full moon, and that preys on the fears of its victims. The trick is that everyone is being followed by a couple of crews with video cameras, and so the episode is presented, cinema verité style, as an episode of the Fox reality series Cops. Naturally, Mulder welcomes the chance to pursue the paranormal on national TV, but Scully is a good deal more reticent—until Skinner reminds her “the FBI has nothing to hide.” Due to the fact that the entity will disappear with the sunrise, there’s a sense of urgency to the events that makes them well suited to the Blair Witch style of storytelling. What could have been just a gimmick results instead in an effective, yet very different, episode.

7x13 First Person Shooter 02/27/2000

The Lone Gunmen make a rare Season Seven appearance in this episode as investors in a new virtual reality game called First Person Shooter. The script by William Gibson and Tom Maddox covers a lot of the same territory as their superior Season Five effort ‘Kill Switch’, without adding anything new. And while their earlier story made it clear that your physical body was left behind when you entered a virtual world, this one makes no effort to explain how the opposite is now true. There’s a lot of footage of grown adults running around playing a high-tech version of a child’s game, but little more. Ultimately, ‘First Person Shooter’ is every bit as silly as the fanboy mentality that it attempts to ridicule.

7x14 Theef 03/12/2000

The bizarre deaths of Dr. Robert Wieder’s father-in-law and of his wife turn out to be revenge killings committed by an Appalachian man who blames the doctor for failing to save his daughter from the injuries she sustained in a bus crash. There are some genuinely creepy moments in this one, first when Peattie puts the hexcraft doll in the microwave just as the doctor’s wife begins her MRI scan, and later when he pokes nails in the eyes of his ‘Scully’ doll. This episode succeeds largely on the strength of its casting. James Morrison presents just the right air of authority in the part of Dr. Wieder, and Billie Drago brings menace and anguish to his portrayal of Peattie. Overall, this is one of the better installments in Season Seven.

7x15 En Ami 03/19/2000

William B. Davis scripted this episode, in which the Cigarette-Smoking Man uses Scully as bait to lure the scientist who developed the chip-in-the-neck cure for cancer into the open. What should have been an interesting footnote to the Mythology Arc falls short of its potential due to an extremely confusing script. Did CSM have a last minute change of heart about killing Scully, or did his gunman decide to take matters into his own hands? Why did the gunman try to shoot Scully before she returned to shore and handed over the computer disc? And how can someone who ‘smokes like a chimney’ outrun a speeding motorboat? On the plus side, this is a great looking episode, with fine performances all around. Scully's unease with the situation in which she finds herself is readily apparent, as is the tension between her and Mulder once he finds out what she's done.

7x16 Chimera 04/02/2000

Mulder finds himself in the middle of a scene of seeming domestic bliss as a case involving ravens and broken mirrors leads him to a modern-day Jekyll and Hyde: a wife who has unknowingly killed the two women with whom her husband is having affairs. The only real flaw with this well-scripted episode is the almost total absence of Scully. With Gillian Anderson spending most of her time doing pre-production work for ‘all things’, Scully appears only briefly as Mulder solves this one by himself. ‘Chimera’ does a good job of balancing the horror of some fairly brutal murders with the humour of Mulder trapped in a Martha Stewart fantasy. The Monster-of-the-Week premise yields another winner.

7x17 all things 04/09/2000

Gillian Anderson’s debut as a writer and director opens with an attention-grabbing scene that will have repercussions throughout the rest of the series: Scully getting dressed in Mulder’s bathroom while her partner lies sleeping in the next room. Anderson’s ambitious script tries to present a spiritual journey for Scully, but what will impress some as a profound meditation on the choices we make in life will be seen by others as pretentious nonsense. A chance encounter with a former boyfriend—a former teacher at medical school—eventually leads Scully to seek the services of a holistic healer after she experiences a vision in a Buddhist temple. Does this shift towards spiritualism signal a fundamental change in Scully, or is it merely the author inserting a little too much of herself into her character? Full of interesting images, ‘all things’ is one of the more thought-provoking episodes of Season Seven.

7x19 Brand X 04/16/2000

The very grotesque death of a tobacco company executive who was about to testify before a senate sub-committee brings Mulder and Scully into a case that involves genetically engineered tobacco and mutated tobacco beetles. This is the creepiest episode in a long time, and the script really gives Mitch Pileggi a chance to stretch his acting legs. With Duchovny and Anderson finishing post-production on the episodes they wrote and directed, their limited appearances here force Skinner’s character to take a major role. (Although it seems unlikely that an Assistant Director would have such a hands-on involvement in what starts out as a simple witness protection case.) Perhaps the most bizarre thing about ‘Brand X’ is the realization that it’s an episode about smoking that never once mentions the Cigarette-Smoking Man. This despite the fact that the tobacco company being investigated—Morley—is CSM’s brand of choice.

7x18 Hollywood A.D. 04/30/2000

David Duchovny’s second episode as writer and director proves that Season Six’s ‘The Unnatural’ was no fluke. In fact, the only problem with ‘Hollywood A.D.’ is that it’s too short. It tries to tell two stories without quite doing full justice to either. One involves the forgery of some religious documents and artifacts. The other is about a movie producer—a friend of Skinner—who makes a movie based, very loosely, on the case. Along the way, Mulder and Scully seem more like real people than they have since Duchovny’s previous script. In-jokes abound, beginning with the casting of Garry Shandling and Tea Leoni, playing themselves, as the actors who portray ‘Mulder’ and ‘Scully’. The audience at the movie premiere has some familiar faces as well. With Duchovny’s departure from The X-Files imminent, this is his fond farewell to the character and the series that made him a star.

7x20 Fight Club 05/07/2000

Stand-up comic Kathy Griffin stars in this one as identical half-sisters with some sort of psychic connection that causes pandemonium to break out whenever they’re together. They’ve left a trail of mayhem behind them for years as they move around the country in pursuit of a semi-professional wrestler, played by Randall ‘Tex’ Cobb, who also has a doppelganger: in this case, an identical half-brother. This is supposed to be funny, but the laughs are few and far between. Chris Carter has many talents, but as ‘Fight Club’ amply demonstrates, writing humorous X-Files scripts is not one of them. The end result is a disappointing throwaway, especially at a time when it looked like the series was winding down, and many fans were hoping that the few remaining episodes would be used to wrap up at least some of the outstanding story lines.

7x21 Je Souhaite 05/14/2000

Long-time X-Files scribe Vince Gilligan joins the ranks of Season Seven writer/directors with a real gem—a low-key episode about a genie who grants three wishes to anyone who releases her from imprisonment. The result is full of delights, not the least of which is the sight of Scully so excited at the prospect of examining the corpse of an invisible man that she’s almost giddy. Of course, the old adage ‘be careful what you wish for’ proves true. In the end, Mulder does the right thing by using his third wish in a very unselfish manner. Throw in the scene in Mulder’s apartment where the two agents settle in to watch Caddyshack, and the result is a virtually perfect example of the series at its most whimsical.

7x22 Requiem 05/21/2000

Mulder and Scully return to the scene of their first case—Oregon—to investigate reports of a crashed UFO. Meanwhile, Marita Covarrubias (last seen as a test subject for the Black Oil vaccine in ‘One Son’) springs Alex Krycek (last seen controlling Skinner in ‘The Sixth Extinction II’) from a Tunisian prison at the behest of an ailing Cigarette-Smoking Man, who’s intent on reviving the Syndicate’s project before he dies. It’s all a typical Chris Carter script, which means that it’s a collection of great scenes that somehow add up to less than the sum of their parts. That may be because ‘Requiem’ was written and filmed before anyone knew whether or not it would be the series finale. In the end, Krycek and Covarrubias leave CSM for dead, Scully tells Skinner she’s pregnant, and Mulder is abducted, clearing the way for Duchovny’s absence for much of the next season.

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