|9x01||Nothing Important Happened Today||11/11/2001|
With Doggett and Reyes moving to center stage, this Ninth Season premiere is really the first episode of The X-Files: The Next Generation. While Doggett searches for proof that Deputy Director Kersh has some connection to the Super Soldiers, Reyes renews her acquaintance with Assistant Director Brad Follmer, a former boyfriend. Meanwhile, Scully begins to fear that her son William may not be quite as normal as she keeps insisting he is. As if all that isn’t enough, Mulder (who doesn’t actually appear on-screen) decides to save himself by deserting Scully and their baby, and a mysterious dark-haired woman drowns two men for reasons yet to be explained. That creaking sound you hear in the background is the entire series about to collapse under its own weight, an event that becomes more and more inevitable with each passing episode.
|9x02||Nothing Important Happened Today II||11/18/2001|
Doggett learns that the mysterious dark-haired woman—played by Lucy Lawless—is actually Shannon McMahon, a former fellow Marine who is now one of the bio-engineered Super Soldiers. Scully’s worst fears are realized when McMahon tells her that her son is a genetic mutation, courtesy of a ‘harmless’ chemical being added to the water supply. Meanwhile, back at the FBI, it appears that Doggett was wrong about Deputy Director Kersh, just as it becomes apparent that Assistant Director Follmer is not to be trusted. This opening two-parter tries hard to reinvent the show’s mythology one more time. Unfortunately, long-time fans had seen it all before, while first time viewers (if, in fact, there were any at this point) were probably left hopelessly confused.
Writer/director Frank Spotnitz has crafted a Monster-Of-The-Week tale that’s long on style, but short on content. While Scully settles into her new job as an instructor at the FBI Academy at Quantico, Doggett and Reyes are called upon to look into a series of deaths that appear to involve satanic rituals. With Scully not actively involved in the investigation, Reyes takes over the role of passionate believer that Scully had inherited from Mulder a year earlier. Despite Scully’s urging that he consider ‘extreme possibilities’, Doggett remains as skeptical as ever, right up to the ambiguous ending. The whole thing will remind viewers with long memories of Season One’s vastly superior ‘Beyond The Sea’, which also featured a prison inmate who may or may not have been in possession of supernatural abilities.
Irwin Lukesh is a serial killer who has found a doorway which allows him to slip back and forth between two parallel universes. At first glance, that premise seems more appropriate for an episode of Star Trek than it does for The X-Files—something Doggett himself notes when the idea is first mentioned. However, it does provide a showcase for Annabeth Gish, as Reyes tries to understand how her partner could have been shot with her gun, at the exact moment that he was visiting her in her new apartment miles from the scene of the shooting. The case is investigated by both Skinner and Follmer, and there’s certainly no love lost between them, as Follmer is clearly being set up as one of the season’s villains. While no classic, ‘4-D’ is a credible effort for a series that, in general, seems to have lasted well past its expiration date.
|9x06||Lord Of The Flies||12/16/2001|
First Doggett and Reyes, and then Scully are called upon to investigate the bizarre death of a high school student who was participating in the taping of a cable TV reality show aptly named Dumbass. They quickly focus on a classmate named Dylan Lokensgard, whom they discover to be some sort of human-insect hybrid. There are moments of comic relief here, but in the end, the episode can’t seem to decide whether it wants to be a comedy or a drama. Lokensgard’s ability to manipulate insects is reminiscent of Darren Peter Oswald’s capacity to do the same with electricity in Season Three’s ‘D.P.O.’. The surprise ending, in which we learn why Lokensgard is the way he is, is telegraphed well in advance by a scene with his mother that was wisely deleted from the broadcast version of the episode. That scene can be seen as a supplement on the DVD.
|9x08||Trust No 1||01/06/2002|
An opening voice-over monologue delivered by Scully can mean only one thing—a Mythology Arc episode written by Chris Carter (this time with co-author Frank Spotnitz). Scully’s desire to see Mulder again leads to a lapse in judgment, as she initiates a pre-arranged rendezvous in response to an offer for information about the mysterious Super Soldiers. The whole thing turns out to be a set-up, and Mulder disappears into the night without being seen by either Scully or the audience. The unnamed ‘Shadow Man’ who’s trying to draw Mulder out of hiding is played by TenThirteen Productions regular Terry O’Quinn (billed here as ‘Terrance Quinn’). Unfortunately, the script gives him little to do but deliver cryptic lines in a menacing tone of voice. His statement to Sully that “on one lonely night you invited Mulder to your bed” is a clear contradiction to the opening of Season Seven’s ‘all things’.
Doggett wakes up in a small town in Mexico with no idea who he is or how he got there. As he finds himself working for a benefactor who smuggles illegal immigrants across the border, Reyes fights FBI bureaucracy to track down her partner, who disappeared two weeks earlier while investigating a drug cartel in Texas. Vince Gilligan has written another first-rate script here, leaving the viewer just as confused as Doggett, and revealing the how and why of the agent’s predicament in small, logical pieces. Equally as good is the work of first time X-Files director Michelle MacLaren. She gives the episode a very unique look by filming it with the same sort of heightened colour scheme that director Steven Soderburgh used to good effect in the Mexican sequences in his 2000 film Traffic.
Reyes takes an unexplained interest in a series of killings in which the victims have been skinned alive. The somewhat contrived plot eventually involves both a killer and a set of victims who are continually reincarnated, so they can keep going through the same sequence of events over and over again. Reyes herself is part of the cycle, although she never quite figures out who she was in a former life, or—more importantly—why she’s able to affect things differently this time around. The end result is a competent episode, although not exactly a memorable one. One noteworthy aspect is the makeup effects, which are some of the grossest yet. They manage to leave little doubt as to exactly what the killer’s victims would look like.
After a UFO cult in Alberta uncovers a buried alien spacecraft just like the one that turned up in Africa in Season Six’s ‘Biogenesis’, an undercover FBI agent who infiltrated the cult returns to Washington with one motive in mind: to kill Scully’s son William. Unable to trust her superiors at the FBI, Scully is pretty much on her own as she tries to figure out why everyone is taking such an interest in her baby. There’s a lot happening in ‘Provenance’, but little of it makes much sense. It’s full of Chris Carter’s trademark dialogue, in which a lot of questions get asked, but no one ever gives anyone else a straight answer. On the plus side, this episode does feature a welcome appearance by the Lone Gunmen, who haven’t been seen nearly often enough in the wake of David Duchovny’s departure.
With an abducted William in the hands of the UFO cult and Doggett in a coma following a failed attempt to stop the kidnapper, Scully sets out to find her son, with the assistance of the Lone Gunmen, as well as a reluctant Reyes. Along the way, Scully learns that William has, in some fashion, been chosen to lead the fight against the coming alien invasion, and that, for some reason, he must die to save the human race. In the end, the spacecraft in Alberta departs, killing the members of the cult, but leaving William unharmed. There are hints along the way that the Super Soldiers will play a role in the fight against the aliens, but beyond that, what’s going on is not exactly clear. As always, viewers are left wondering just how much of the Mythology Arc has actually been thought out in advance.
The X-Files meets The Twilight Zone when an automobile accident leaves Reyes trapped somewhere between life and death, while Doggett refuses to give up hope that she’ll survive. Tracey Ellis, who played Lucy Householder in Season Three’s ‘Oubliette’, here plays Audrey Pauley, a patient aide who’s able to communicate with Reyes, and relay messages between her and Doggett. This is one of the better episodes of the season, although it’s let down somewhat by a less than satisfying ending that fails to resolve much of anything. Along the way, we learn that Doggett and Reyes have feelings for each other. It’s a predictable plot development that had to happen sooner or later. Fortunately, in the teaser, Robert Patrick and Annabeth Gish display just enough chemistry that they might actually have been able to pull it off, given the chance. Incidentally, this was director Kim Manners’ fiftieth episode.
1989: NYPD officer John Doggett helps arrest serial killer Robert Fassl. 2002: Fassl’s conviction is overturned by new DNA testing, and Doggett, convinced he did the right thing in 1989, makes it his personal crusade to see that Fassl is returned to prison where he belongs. As the mounting evidence points to Fassl’s innocence, Reyes makes a Mulderesque leap and comes up with a bizarre theory about the killer’s ‘sinful side’ that just happens to be correct. Writer/director John Shiban has stumbled here, crafting a bland, forgettable episode full of bland, forgettable characters. He’s also left a glaring plot hole, offering no explanation for something that can’t be a coincidence: the fact that the sewer where the killer has hidden ‘lots of bodies’—presumably before the 1989 arrest—just happens to be close to the home of Fassl’s lawyer Jana Fain.
Reyes demonstrates the flightier side of her nature when she uses numerology to establish a connection between a series of seemingly unrelated murders, determining them to be the work of a serial killer. Writer/director Chris Carter attempts to deal with some weighty issues in this episode, which examines the concept of fate versus free will, and looks at the hidden patterns that are everywhere in the world around us. He tells the story through the eyes of God, played here by Burt Reynolds. (Alanis Morissette must have been busy that week). This is the first humourous episode in a long time, although ‘weird’ and ‘tedious’ might be better adjectives. The scene where Scully and Reyes play a game of checkers in a parking garage, while God dances in the background, is surely one of the most bizarre images ever presented in The X-Files. And not in a good way, either.
Leyla Harrison, making her first appearance since her introduction in Season Eight’s ‘Alone’, successfully tricks Doggett and Reyes into investigating a case involving the safety of a young child with a really frightening imagination. For once, Doggett’s unwavering skepticism serves him well, allowing him to save the day by fighting fire with fire, so to speak. This is a fairly intense episode, although it does have some moments of levity. Most of these come courtesy of Scully, who ends up performing an autopsy on a cat on her kitchen table. (Don’t ask.) Some elements of ‘Scary Monsters’ are reminiscent of ‘It’s A Good Life’, a 1961 episode of The Twilight Zone which was based on a 1953 short story of the same name by Jerome Bixby. ‘Scary Monsters’, it should be noted, is also the title of a 1980 album by David Bowie.
|9x15||Jump The Shark||04/21/2002|
Although aired as an episode of The X-Files, this is actually the series finale for The Lone Gunmen, the short-lived spin-off that ran for 13 weeks in the spring of 2001. Along with the three Lone Gunmen—Langly, Byers and Frohike—the busy script features former ‘Man In Black’ Morris Fletcher (introduced in the Season Six ‘Dreamland’ two-parter), and also Lone Gunmen regulars Yves Adele Harlow, Jimmy Bond and Kimmy The Geek. (Doggett, Reyes, Scully and Skinner are in it, too). They’re all racing against time in the search for a terrorist armed with a deadly bio-toxin. In the end, the Lone Gunmen go out in a blaze of glory, making the ultimate sacrifice to prevent the terrorist from succeeding with his mission. It’s a bittersweet ending for the series’ most popular supporting players, and a clear indication that The X-Files itself will soon be coming to a close.
A badly disfigured Jeffrey Spender returns in an episode directed and co-written by David Duchovy. After surviving being shot by his father in Season Six’s ‘One Son’, Spender claims that he was used as a guinea pig in experiments that are part of a new alien conspiracy. Somehow realizing that Scully’s son William is a key part of that conspiracy, Spender’s goal is to remove William’s powers (whatever they may be) by injecting the baby with some mysterious substance. In the end, Scully realizes that William will never be safe as long as he’s with her, so she gives him up for adoption. Once again, an episode that should be a high point of the entire series turns out to be anti-climactic. A decision as monumental as the one that Scully makes here deserves much more than the single scene and the few lines of dialogue that it receives.
An anonymous tip puts Doggett on the trail of a killer who may have been involved with the 1993 death of his son Luke. The connections are made by Rudolph Hayes, one of Scully's students whose near-psychic insights are reminiscent of Frank Black's abilities in Millennium. In the end, we learn that AD Brad Follmer killed Luke; an indirect result of his involvement with organized crime figures while he and Reyes worked in the FBI's New York office. This is meant to be a shocking revelation, but it's merely another contrived plot development: Follmer's character has appeared too infrequently for the audience to know—or care—much about him. Otherwise, this is a very good episode that features a memorably intense performance from Jared Poe as Hayes, and fine work from Robert Patrick's wife Barbara as Doggett's ex.
Writer/director Vince Gilligan offers his skewed view of The X-Files universe one last time with a whimsical story about Anthony Fogelman, a man with unbelievable telekinetic powers as well as a particular fascination for The Brady Bunch. For once it looks like Scully finally has something that’s eluded her for nine years: incontrovertible proof of the paranormal. It’s no surprise when that proof slips from her grasp. What is surprising is her realization that it doesn’t really matter. ‘Sunshine Days’ is a little more sentimental in nature than most other installments of the series, but with 199 episodes down and only one to go, they’d clearly earned to right to be as sentimental as they wished. Of particular note is the fact that everyone gets to smile in this one. Even Skinner is seen grinning from ear to ear: a very rare occurrence, indeed.
Arrested while infiltrating a secret government facility, Mulder is charged with the murder of Super Soldier Knowle Rohrer. Following a farce of a trial, Mulder is found guilty and sentenced to death. Escaping from prison, he heads for the New Mexico desert with Scully for a final showdown with the still-living Cigarette-Smoking Man. Mulder’s trial—a military tribunal presided over by Deputy Director Kersh—provides a convenient way for writer Chris Carter to summarize nine seasons of confusing plot lines. He has Skinner—Mulder’s defense counsel—call a series of witnesses in an attempt to explain Mulder’s actions. The witnesses include Jeffrey Spender, Marita Covarrubias and Gibson Praise, as well as Scully, Doggett and Reyes. Despite the publicity for this finale promising that all the secrets would be revealed, there's really nothing here that's new to anyone who's been paying attention. Not even the secret that Mulder refuses to tell anyone, including Scully, is that big a deal. CSM finally reveals that the date for the alien invasion has been set: December 22, 2012. But all the way back in Season Five’s ‘Patient X’, broadcast in early 1998, a member of the Syndicate had stated that the invasion was ‘fifteen years away’. About the only piece of really new information is what Mulder has been doing for the past year: hiding out in New Mexico with Praise. The parade of returning guest stars also includes Krycek, X and The Lone Gunmen, all of whom appear to Mulder at crucial moments as ghosts. The series ends with a scene similar to one in the pilot: Mulder and Scully talking about the conspiracy in a nondescript motel room, the two of them alone together against the world. A lot has happened in the intervening nine years, but some things clearly never change.