Take Two: THE X-FILES Season 4 (Part 3) - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

Take Two: THE X-FILES Season 4 (Part 3)

August 3, 2023 by  

THE X-FILES Season 4 Part 3

Credit: Fox

On Friday, September 10, 1993, Fox debuted THE X-FILES. Now, ahead of the show’s 30th anniversary, Give Me My Remote is looking back at all 11 seasons (and the two feature films) in a new daily series Take Two.

If you’ve read About Last Night, this will be formatted in a similar way: Each episode will get its own subsection/reaction, though in this case there may be slight spoilers or alluding to what comes ahead in the series. In the event a major spoiler is discussed, there will be a warning to be extra safe. Each Take Two will cover approximately 5 episodes and will wrap up the Friday before the show’s 30th birthday.

(I’ll also note how I’m watching the episodes, because some of the streaming platforms have utilized syndicated cuts of this show.)

Today, we’re continuing season 4!

(These were viewed on the original season 4 DVD set—released back in 2001. The episodes are also streaming for free on Freevee or with a Hulu subscription.)

“Paper Hearts”:

I know I say this every time there’s an episode where Mulder has to contend with missing or hurt young girls, but David Duchovny is so good at navigating Mulder’s grief and trauma.

It also showcases just how desperate Mulder is for answers. He’s spent decades at this point wanting to know what happened to his sister, believing in a larger conspiracy, but he’s willing to jump to believe it might have been more grounded, more singularly evil for a brief moment. (He’s with it enough to test his theory and intentionally bring the man to the wrong house, but you can see how desperate he is for answers.)

It’s a damn good case, though. (It’s also insane to realize Samantha’s abduction was 50 years ago.)

“El Mundo Gira”:

I promise the dead animals aren’t the only reason I dislike this episode. It just absolutely does not land for me, in any regard.

At least Scully got to make a WEST SIDE STORY joke, I guess.

“Leonard Betts”:

Nearly a decade ago (timed to the show’s 20th anniversary!), I did a series of interviews where I spoke with showrunners about THE X-FILES’ influence on their work. Former FRINGE boss Jeff Pinkner specifically pointed to “Leonard Betts” as his favorite monster.

“​​The payoff of that episode was so brilliant and was such an awesome lesson in taking a standalone episode and then by the end, making it entirely about your main character,” he said at the time. “It was shockingly smart.”

I’ve thought about that quote every time I’ve rewatched this episode in the years since—and it’s been in the back of my mind when I’ve watched similar shows. Because he’s absolutely correct…for the first 90% of this episode, it’s a classic monster of the week case. Maybe a deeply forward-thinking fan or two may have realized what was to come, but it’s very likely that moment in the ambulance serves as an absolute gut punch.

“I’m sorry, but you’ve got something I need.”

Leonard implying Scully has cancer would be scary enough. But as viewers—and Scully—know, she met fellow abductees last season, many of whom were sick. The show had laid the ground for this, but gave it enough time and space that when they did turn the card over, it’s a genuinely earned shock. I’ve watched this episode easily 20 times and the moment when Leonard apologizes, and Scully comprehends what he’s actually telling her, still gives me chills. 

  • Paul McCrane’s characters really don’t have good luck with keeping their bodies intact, do they? At least no helicopter was involved this time. (IYKYK.) In all seriousness, though, he’s great in this role.
  • Also, Leonard might be the most polite serial killer ever? (That being said, how did he think he’d get away with returning to his field of work in the same area that soon after his death??)
  • It goes without saying, but also is worth repeating: Gillian Anderson is brilliant in the show’s final moments. She is stunning in Scully’s silence, conveying so much as she has a singular moment where it all hits her before Mulder gets in the car.
  • I’ll always wish the episode didn’t end with Scully getting the nosebleed in bed. I don’t know if it was a network note or if the writers wanted to make sure it was clear, but we didn’t need that extra “proof” something was wrong. We got it and Scully was clearly unnerved enough in the penultimate scene.

“Never Again”:

There is truly no episode of TV I’ve changed my mind about more times than this one. I’m not kidding when I say I never know how it will land for me until I actually watch it. This go-round, I liked it.

I know it wasn’t intended to air after “Leonard,” but it really works best if viewed through the lens of Scully finding out something potentially life-changing and needing to exert some control somewhere.

Would her gripes be valid even without the health scare lingering? Of course. The episode brushes up against—but doesn’t quite know how to handle—the inequality in Mulder and Scully’s partnership. It’s his office. His desk. His choice in assignments. Would Mulder literally die for Scully? Absolutely, no question about it. But he’s also focused on his mission, simultaneously indignant that she was assigned to the X-Files versus it being a choice she made (like he did), while also being hurt that every element of her life doesn’t include him. 

The show touches on it again at various points, but obviously Mulder and Scully get distracted by much more pressing things very, very, very soon. Frankly, had they gone from this unease into “Leonard,” when nothing was really out of the norm, it might have felt abnormal. But it makes sense this remains unsettled given where the next episode takes them/us.

  • Mulder complaining about having to take a vacation…sir, I’ll take those days from you, if you’d like?
  • Always fun to hear Jodie Foster as the voice of the tattoo.
  • I think a lot of my waffling on the episode falls on the shoulders of the Ed character. It makes sense Scully would be spiraling, even revealing so much of herself to a complete stranger. I just don’t always buy him as a character. And this is a show that has had so many really excellent portrayals of more human “monsters”; it’s a lot to live up to.
  • “This isn’t you, Ed”…Scully, you’ve known him for five seconds.
  • “All this because I didn’t get you a desk?” “Not everything is about you, Mulder. This is my life.” “Yes, but it’s—” Oh, it hurts. Always. Every time.

What did you think of these THE X-FILES episodes?


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