X-Files S04 E23,24 & Wrap Up

4x23 Demons

M wakes up in a motel in Rhode Island covered in blood. Not his blood! Didn’t they already do a version of this when Skinman had the hooker? Anyway M calls S and she comes to investigate these Jason Bourne shenanigans. They end up at an abandoned house with a dead lady. Dead from bullets from M’s gun! M makes a joke about being OJ, which, time and a place M.

He gets picked up by the local cops who as usual give no shits that he’s FBI and interrogate him using the most basic traps to try to get him to confess, despite the fact that he’s a federal fucking agent and knows what’s going on. Anyway he obviously doesn’t confess, not least because he has no memory of it. It seems like M was having some sort of wacky treatment to help him remember his childhood, CSM, Samantha, aliens etc. They go to visit his mother because M is mad that maybe CSM is his dad or they chose Samantha instead of him to be abducted or something. His mother doesn’t offer much clarity, big surprise. M finds the sketch doctor from before and has him plunge him deep into his childhood with drugs and by making a literal hole in his head. He’s a little messed up and his childhood memories still aren’t 100% but at least he didn’t kill those women. So that’s good?

Pretty good episode, I always like the trope of ‘person wakes up with no memory but an urgent mystery to solve.’ Usually pretty compelling. Didn’t really get much mythology revealed or have any monster of the week though so it sort of falls between two stools. Not bad.

4x24 Gethsemane

Oh shit M is dead! Or at least, there’s a dead body in his apartment and S comes in and says, yes, that’s him. This is the end! Maybe he will be back as a ghost, since every other episode is about ghosts.

Now S is testifying on the illegitimacy of his work. What!? Every week it’s all proven to be 100% true! Outrageous blasphemy. The opening card says “BELIEVE THE LIE” and oh man season finale things about to get weird/dumb.

Post credits we’re off to some snow bound mountain by helicopter. I kinda don’t like the narration construction of present day narration (via S in a committee) and rewinding to the thing happening previously. It takes you out of the story. I don’t like it in books and it’s even more annoying on TV. Anyway, they’re going to check out an alien corpse frozen in a mountain in Canada (Mount Seymour). For some reason S just totally doesn’t give a shit. Yeah so what, it’s not my life’s goal she tells M about the discovery of a FULL ACTUAL ALIEN BODY. What will proof mean she says (insanely.) I mean. What will it mean to discover proof of extra terrestrial life? Quite a lot!

Apparently short of a miracle, S’s cancer is going to kill her very soon. Wonder if that miracle is coming. Or maybe they’re both dead, show is over. S analyses the sample anyway. Hey, it’s something to do even though who cares if aliens are real. The lab guys is like ‘uh yeah seems real I don’t know what life form that is.’ So that seems like a big deal!

M goes to the mountain and it’s a big mess, maybe sabotage, everyone has been shot dead. Cool set, the ice caverns, the tent, the white snow against the blue sky against the yellow tents it really gives you a feeling of remoteness, isolation, it all looks really good. The grey they do the autopsy on though, hmm. Less convincing. For whatever reason it’s pretty much the size and shape of a small skinny human with the traditional gray face. But OK sure. But AHA! It looks bad because it’s all a prank, a lie! The whole thing not just this episode! It’s all been a trick, a long con!? So we end with really no clarity just M crying in his apartment and we’re meant to believe he killed himself because the whole alien life thing was a hoax. I mean it’s a pretty decent episode but it’s working so hard to set it up for next season and S saying he shot himself, just no. He didn’t.

I learned from Wiki that XF was so zeitgeist at this time that the New Yorker ran a cartoon speculating on M’s death. Huh. The more you know, monoculture, etc.

Season 4 Wrap Up

Not many good episodes in this season, too plodding and forgettable and lacking in levity. It gets a little formulaic eg:

  1. Something weird happens.
  2. M immediately guesses what the weird thing is.
  3. S comes up with an insanely contrived, totally implausible, ‘scientific’ explanation.
  4. She’s proven wrong but doesn’t accept it/doesn’t see it/doesn’t care because cancer ennui.
  5. All returns to normal with no evidence being collected because the shadow government covered it up or it got burned up or whatever.

Outside of that, the whole season is drenched in muddy sadness because S has cancer. And everything just seems to plod along. So. Very. Slowly.

Musings is an awesome episode, peaking behind the curtains of the CSM’s origin. Paper Hearts gives one of the best monsters, although he’s barely supernatural in any way, just a really creepy child killer. Home is an all time classic of course. The plane crash and stuff that goes in the Tempus Fugit 2-parter is impressive but never really grabbed me although it’s pretty good.

There’s a lot of drag in this season though, struggling to keep the mythology going and add to it, whilst still not actually granting M & S or the viewers any progress. It’s caught in that network TV trap of having to move things forward but not ruining any tension by having things change at all. Small Potatoes is about the only levity in the season and it’s so much the better, like a breath of fresh air from the rest of the dark grind. The season finale is OK but the idea that M killed himself is so dumb it kinda undermines it.

SeasBest episodes: 2, 7, 10, 20

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