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

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

August 17, 2023 by  

THE X-FILES Season 5 (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 5!

(These were viewed on the original season 5 DVD set—released back in 2002. The episodes are also streaming for free on Freevee or with a Hulu subscription.)

“All Souls”:

Much like “Kill Switch,” this is an episode that works for me at its core, but has some silly elements that detract from it being actually GREAT. 

For as much as the trauma Scully deals with is frequently swept under the rug, the Emily of it all is complex and really does need its own showcase like this. Scully lost a biological daughter, a child she barely knew but was desperate to have in her life. There’s trauma and loss, both from Emily and the idea of her/the non-consensual conception. (Which doesn’t even dive into the additional loss of knowing she’s seemingly barren and this brief bit of biological motherhood is the only one she thinks she’ll have.)

It also speaks to Scully’s mindset that when she sees Emily, the girl calls her “mommy.” It’s a lot. It’s deeply traumatizing. But it also means Scully’s perspective is extraordinarily compromised during this case. There’s a gorgeous, quiet, intimacy between Mulder and Scully when she acknowledges she saw Emily, because he knows instantly what that means—and what it takes for her to acknowledge it. There’s a physicality to Mulder’s instinct to comfort Scully…you can almost see David Duchovny soften the second he hears what’s going on.

But there are also silly visuals with Scully’s vision. And not just, “Oh, this is the late ‘90s,” it’s just silly, period, given what they can do. I get what they’re going for, but it reads as camp.

That being said, still a solid episode, with a great performance from Gillian Anderson. I’m glad they didn’t entirely erase the trauma of the Emily arc, even if I’ll always wish we got more.

“The Pine Bluff Variant”:

I love this episode, in part because it’s so different from the series as a whole. (Admittedly, this would have fit in really well in season 6, too, when, spoiler alert, Mulder and Scully are off the X-Files.) I’m also a sucker for the episode picking up midway through a story and having the audience follow along for the end. (When done right, to be fair.)

We’ve seen Mulder be shady with Scully, so it wasn’t entirely outside of the realm of possibility that he would be working behind her back. (The fact that this was job-sanctioned and they expected her not to find out? A great twist and wild stupidity from their bosses. We’ve seen these two will die for each other, so…) Mulder is effective as a double-agent, and he’s the exact kind of law enforcement officer who could plausibly be lured into something like this.

Not gonna lie, though: contaminated money is even scarier in a world where we’re still in the midst of a global pandemic than it was when this aired. Sigh.

  • “He got away.” Anyone else think of “Pusher” when Mulder said that? Just my crazy brain? Okay. 
  • For as frequently as Mulder does lie, he’s shockingly not good at it.
  • This episode includes my least-favorite scene of the entire series, and let me tell you…it does not matter how many times I see it, I do not handle it well. 

“Folie a Deux”:

Should I love this episode? I don’t know. Do I? Absolutely. 

Admittedly, part of it is that Mulder (of course) gets sucked into the madness. Of course Mulder seeing the creature would be read as him going crazy. (“Five years together, Scully. You must have seen this coming.” Forever LOLOL.) But it’s also the right amount of camp and seriousness mixed together. Mulder’s right, but it doesn’t end up ultimately doing much good.

  • “I’m monster boy, right?” Oh, buddy.
  • Mulder asks for Scully to find something in an old case file…IN THE DAYS BEFORE DIGITAL SCANNING AND HAVING EVERYTHING ONLINE?! I mean, it’s accidental (I assume) foreshadowing, but also…HOW. He owes her like a million dinners for that.
  • I could watch a million more hours of TV and “You’re my one in five billion” will still be one of my favorite understated romantic declarations. In this case, it’s not even overly romantic, it’s just true. Romantic, platonic, every single way…Scully is Mulder’s partner. For better or worse, she’s the only one for him.

“The End”:

Oh, we have mess. (I love it.)

On a basic level—and I can’t wait to dive into this tomorrow—they’ve been quasi-building up to this ending all season because the film is next. And the film was done, largely, before any of this season started. But it’s also interesting how very little of this plot (beyond the very last moments, and, arguably, CSM’s reintroduction into the Syndicate) carries over to the film. But that’s a thing for tomorrow.

But, oh, the introduction of Fowley is messy as hell, coming after a deeply rough/vulnerable year for Scully, and puts the partners in arguably their most conflicted place in the series. So much of their general rough spots come from Mulder ditching Scully or keeping things from her. Or, you know, her trying to find a life outside of him/the work. But Fowley represents a woman from Mulder’s past who not only has a tie to their current work (a la Phoebe), but also was there for him when he found the X-Files. 

And, look, this is not about pitting women against each other. Fowley directly compares herself to Scully, including how a Mulder/Fowley partnership might have been easier on some cases, with Mulder not having to defend his reasoning and work. (Mulder, to his credit, is quick to shut that down.) 

We’ve seen Scully uncomfortable and discombobulated when faced with other women in Mulder’s life, but nothing has thrown her quite like this. (Heck, she even goes to the Lone Gunmen for information.) And Gibson is an absolute pot-stirrer, whipping up the insecurity in both Scully and Fowley. (Of course they’re working on a case where a kid can read minds.) 

As a kid, when this was airing, I hated Fowley. Haaaated her. I didn’t think she’d replace Scully, but I hated how miserable Scully was when she was around. Hated how Mulder was tricked and blindsided by someone he once loved. I’ve never particularly loved her in the rewatch—with no offense to Mimi Rogers; she’s playing the role well and it is entirely in line for the show for Fowley to go the route she does—but I’m curious how it’ll play after cramming so much of the show this fast.

Of course, as we reach the end of the season, once again we’ve found ourselves back at an expected cliffhanger: The X-Files have been closed. And, look, again, this is overdone, but this is my favorite of the times where they lose their work. Part of it is the insult to injury…CSM burning their work is terrible, awful, violating, and just deeply evil. It adds to the overall helplessness permeating the finale, and the final shot of Mulder and Scully standing amongst the wreckage is just haunting. 

  •  “What do you hope to find in the end?” It’s actually a deeply interesting question Skinner asks Mulder. On paper, we can easily say, “Oh, he wants to find out the truth about Samantha.” Which, sure. But Mulder has sacrificed so much for his cause, and very frequently he seems to be reactionary—he acts and deals with the consequences later. I don’t know if Mulder could really answer where he saw himself in 5, 10, 20 years. 
  • Of course I love THE SIMPSONS’ “The Cartridge Family” being in this episode. And I think of this episode every time I watch this episode/scene of THE SIMPSONS. 
  • Gillian Anderson is great as Scully is slowly realizing she’s the outsider amongst Mulder and Fowley. 
  • Speaking of the triangle, there is no denying Mulder and Scully are an insane slow-burn. Yes, it was the norm back then, but my God, it took (quasi-spoiler alert) forever and a half for them to share a kiss. Even longer for them to share a kiss when there was absolutely zero doubt it was romantic. But for as repressed as they are—and they are—it’s also fascinating how blatant their relationship is, too. So much of Mulder and Scully’s relationship is intimate, physically and emotionally, in a deeply undeniable way. I know there were and are people who didn’t want them to become romantic, but I just don’t know how you watch Scully in this episode and not think at least part of her reaction is romantic unease.
  • Also, in the category of “People Who Have No Chill”: CSM meeting Spender is so funny, because he’s clearly so nervous around his son. (You’d think he’d handle it better after surviving his encounter with Krycek and the Well-Manicured Man.)
  • It’s bittersweet this is the final episode filmed in Vancouver. (Of the first run.) I love what comes next, but it’s undeniable Vancouver has a very distinctive look that LA can’t exactly replicate.

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


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