Take Two: THE X-FILES Season 4 (Part 5) - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

Take Two: THE X-FILES Season 4 (Part 5)

August 7, 2023 by  

THE X-FILES Season 4 (Part 5)

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 finishing 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.)

“Small Potatoes”:

When I thought about undertaking this rewatch project, this episode almost made me call the whole thing off. It’s a brilliant episode. It also represents one of the show’s biggest ongoing issues. (I’m not going to get into series-changing spoilers in this section, but it’s going to allude to things through the entire run of the show, so just be wary of that.)

Most shows have some elements that don’t age well/look worse in the context of their entire history. For THE X-FILES, I’d argue it’s how they handle sexual assault and reproductive abuse. (Sometimes they’re linked; sometimes it’s one without the other.) If this was a one-off issue, I’d probably grant the episode a bit more grace. It’s one I’ve deeply loved, watched easily 50 times, but have not watched at all (as far as I can recall) since my last rewatch precisely because of this issue. (And since that rewatch—in 2015—the revival seasons have made reproductive abuse a huge part of the ongoing mythology storyline.)

And to their credit, Skinner directly says Eddie is a rapist; he is correct. The show is a bit more clear about that, at least mid-episode, than I remembered, and I’m thankful for it. If I was watching this for the first time, with no awareness of what’s to come, there might be a lot more leniency about how they handle it. But now, with a larger picture of how this particular theme plays out overall, a lot of this episode just makes me sad. These women were manipulated and raped; Scully is nearly raped. The women are now raising children conceived from these encounters. I know this isn’t a show like LAW & ORDER: SVU (and even that show will occasionally sideline survivors to focus on the attacker/case), but there is so much trauma introduced that the series simply isn’t equipped to handle anything beyond Eddie getting put in jail. We don’t even get to see Scully process what almost happens to her; instead, Mulder has a sit-down with the man who briefly took over his life and Scully tries to reassure Mulder he’s not a loser. 

One of the things I wrote down in my notes for this episode is that it reminds me of a sad song set to a happy beat. This is a wildly funny episode—and, look, more on that in a second; this isn’t all going to be negative—and that allows the deep, twisted, really messed up darkness to be masked a little. Part of why I was hesitant to watch the episode again is because I knew I had affection for it and a rewatch would leave the above feelings at the forefront of my mind going forward. I don’t regret this project, but I deeply wish the show had more responsibly handled this topic in general.

That being said, the concept is brilliant. It’s one of the funniest episodes of the series, and I’d argue one of David Duchovny’s best comedic performances. (It could not have been easy to play Eddie-as-Mulder; the “F. B. I.” scene with the mirror has also never failed to make me laugh.) But it’s just hard to feel anything but bittersweet about it now.

  • Amanda straight-up believing she had a kid with Luke Skywalker…oh my God. And Mulder leaning back at that reveal, instantly realizing he was not going to find what he was looking for, was great acting/writing/directing.
  • Speaking of physicality, Scully’s “I think you’re right, Mulder” and Mulder just pausing in shock. Hilarious, perfect, no notes.
  • It is sad this is arguably the most ship-filled episode at this point. Mulder jokes about them getting married. They’re mistaken for a couple at the fertility clinic. Scully opens up and almost kisses Eddie-as-Mulder. Sigh.
  • I could write 2000 words on the scene in Scully’s apartment—and if you’ve read some of my ALNs, you know this is not a joke—but what hit me with this rewatch is how robbed I feel for Scully. We’re not that far removed from “Never Again,” when she tried to make Mulder see her as more than, basically, an accessory. Nothing changed since then, at least as far as his behavior toward her; she never got a desk, it was still basically business as usual. (Except for when directly dealing with her cancer diagnosis.) But this was Mulder (she thought), showing up for her, just wanting to connect. Even if you remove the romance element from the scene, this was Mulder caring about Scully beyond work and her diagnosis. And then she realized it wasn’t even real; it was just Eddie trying to manipulate her. Scully deserved/deserves to have the real Mulder express his care for her that way.
  • (I know these two are exceedingly good about denial/ignoring their close moments, but my goodness, WTF did they say when Mulder realized Scully was going to let “him” kiss her?! Which one of them blamed the booze first?)
  • Also, Scully can handwave a lot of what she sees away for a lot of different reasons. She saw Eddie transform from Mulder back into his true self. How did she excuse that?! (I’m sure she blamed the booze, but…)

“Zero Sum”:

It feels like a little bit of a cheat to not get to see Scully and Mulder in the aftermath of “Small Potatoes”—I know, I know, there’s no way it would have been addressed—but it’s an interesting choice to go from that into a Skinner-centric episode. (And crazy that Gillian Anderson is also entirely gone from the episode; I know there were production reasons, and it fits the story to have Scully be in the hospital for testing, but it’s still odd to see an episode without her.)

This is probably the best Skinner-centric episode of the series, with Skinner backed into a corner trying to cover up a crime (after his deal with CSM to try and save Scully) and getting framed in the process. While Mulder has reason to doubt his boss, as an audience, we know what went down. Again, it’s fascinating how Skinner was willing to take this (figurative) bullet for Mulder and Scully, because he likely saved both of their lives. But he (maybe?) should have taken his own advice.

  • Another needlessly long silent montage of action. (In this case, Skinner literally and figuratively cleaning up the crime.) Why?!
  • Always and forever: F— the bees.


This isn’t quite “Leonard Betts”-like of mixing mythology with a case (though it’s a good choice by the XF writers to have the three episodes leading up to the finale being a mix of mythology and monster), but it was a good balance of a sad, disturbing case and seeing how Scully’s own health issues were taking a toll on her.

For as much as the show mostly tries to play it as if everything is normal (outside of Scully missing the last case because of testing), Scully is still battling a serious cancer as she continues her work. While it can be easy to throw yourself into work in the midst of trauma and tragedy, it doesn’t change the fact that her body is dying.

But Scully’s denial, of sorts, also means she’s keeping things from Mulder—like the vision she has of a victim. Mulder, correctly, gets upset when Scully confesses what she saw later, and, look, he’s right. Not only does it speak to a possible clue to their case, but it also could imply she’s not going to tell him when she’s truly compromised and unable to work. They have deeply dangerous jobs, and need to be able to trust each other, at least physically. 

But, man, Anderson is great in the final scene when Scully is alone in her car…and then sees the dead Harold in her mirror.


Love the concept of this episode and love how Mulder, essentially, becomes their case. (And, yes, I love this episode as a whole.) He’s missing time, it sure as hell looks like he may have killed some people, so WTF happened?

Of course it ties into Mulder being desperate to get answers about Samantha. The thing is, as much as Mulder wants to believe—and as desperate as he is to get answers—his flashbacks prove once again we can’t really trust him. (Or at least his take on the situation.) Mulder has spent so much of his life trying to get to the bottom of this great mystery, but we’ve also seen him desperate to cling on to anything that might give him closure…and therefore his memories are malleable. 

  • “Why would you undergo something as dangerous and crazy as this?” Scully, uh, did you just meet this man?
  • Teena is a great liar. Also, Mulder kind of deserved that slap for pushing his mom about her relationship with CSM. (It’s fair he wants to know who his biological father is, but there is a way to ask this question, sir.)
  • Mulder being distraught and suicidal after his highly experimental medical procedure…not great. And Scully is lucky she was able to get through to him.
  • (That being said: Mulder, you could have just…put the gun down. You didn’t need to unload your weapon entirely, because you risked all the cops outside coming in and taking you and Scully out.)


This is arguably my favorite season finale of the entire series. There’s a mysterious meeting where Scully is seemingly throwing Mulder under a bus, while we see in flashbacks how everything around her/Mulder is falling apart. I’m hit/miss on the effectiveness of in medias res being used, but it works here.

For as much work as Scully has done to debunk Mulder’s work—and I say that with respect and no judgment; she’s coming at it from a scientific, respectful way of wanting to know the truth and fundamentally believing in something different. She’s not trying to sabotage or gaslight him—there is arguably nothing more effective in their first four years together than Kritschgau telling Scully she got cancer to make Mulder believe…and then Scully telling Mulder the same.

I understand why Scully tells Mulder (again, these people need to be honest), but it’s one of the worst things he could have been told, frankly. Mulder already is being buried alive by his guilt and determination to find out what happened to Samantha. Scully is one of the only people in his life, someone he would die for…and he’s told his quest for answers is going to lead to her premature, painful death? Even if you ignore his brain trauma and suicidal tendencies in “Demons,” that would have broken him. (Mulder silently crying in his apartment in the aftermath? Absolutely freaking brutal.)

And while it’s abundantly clear Mulder is not dead—like, so much so that I’m not going to even do a spoiler alert—it’s also my favorite of the “Mulder is dead?!?!?” fakeouts. Mulder is distraught, and had so many simultaneous blows, that his taking a drastic step is heartbreakingly plausible. The question and cliffhanger feels more like it’s centered around how would Mulder survive whatever the hell happened to him and did Scully know he was alive? (She really sells it in that meeting.)

  • (Sure, if you followed the show at the time, you knew FIGHT THE FUTURE was filming over the hiatus and also there was no way Mulder was dead. And if you watch this the first time after that, you know there are still seven seasons to go. But it works for me! I’m still shocked every time the cliffhanger is as effective as it is.)
  • Scully not wanting Bill to know about her cancer is…a choice. I know their relationship isn’t wildly close, but it’s not like this is a broken arm. The family has already been torn apart between losing their father and Melissa. You’d think even an “I’m fine, but I have cancer” warning would have been nice in case the worst happened? (But we also saw that Scully kept it from her therapist for months, so.)

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


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