By Nanea Hoffman
The second to the last episode in this six-episode revival of The X-Files would probably have made more sense if I’d taken one of those niacin capsule “magic mushroom” placebos Mulder popped. At least then, the disorientation I felt would be understandable. I love a whimsical ep as much as the next fan, but a quirky suicide bombing investigation is pushing it, even for me.
The theme is best summed up in a question Mulder asks at the end of the episode: “How do we reconcile the two? The extremes of our nature?” And maybe we’re supposed to feel uncomfortable and off-balance, pondering that.
The story begins with a young Muslim man praying on his mat and then making himself the most typical of American lunches (a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a glass of milk). He listens to Arabic dubstep in his car while checking out some cute country girls who clearly have nothing but contempt for him. How do we reconcile these worlds?
We don’t, because soon after, our young man and his friend blow up a building. I was pretty disappointed with this because it’s such a stereotypical terrorist bad guy storyline. I get that Chris Carter, who wrote the ep, was trying to reflect the classic X-Files concepts of belief and faith versus identifiable truth, but the terrorist thing felt a little contrived.
I still found much to love, though.
Mulder and Scully, in the basement office, watching footage of “ear-witnesses” who appear to be hearing some kind of celestial music, like the biblical trumpets of the angels.
Miller and Einstein, the baby FBI agents who are clearly Mulder and Scully 2.0, knocking on the door, asking if anyone is down there, and Scully responding in a callback to the pilot: “Nobody but the FBI’s most unwanted!”
When Mulder and Scully learn that what Miller wants is their help communicating with the comatose surviving bomber (to Einstein’s utter exasperation), I love that it is Scully who ends up reaching out. She has so many questions she never got to ask her mother, and though Scully is the skeptic, she wants desperately to find some resolution. Can the dead (or nearly dead) communicate with us?
While Scully and Miller try to reach the bomber using an electroencephalogram to record his responses, Mulder secretly teams up with Einstein and tries to get her to give him drugs. (Which, by the way – you can’t tell me Spooky Mulder’s only option here for obtaining illicit substances is Einstein. I mean, he’s gotta know people, but whatever.) Mulder’s ensuing hallucinogenic trip yields fascinating results, not the least of which is line dancing.
And a quick flash of the Lone Gunmen! Hi, boys! HI!
The creepy government agents who accost Miller and Scully have us right back in conspiracy-land, which is where I like my X-Files. And I loved Einstein’s revelation that the capsules she gave Mulder contained nothing more than niacin. Whaaaaaa? Then how did he end up on that fantastic voyage? How did he communicate with Shiraz? Because he wanted to believe?
At the end, when the bad guys have been apprehended and the case is closed, Mulder and Scully have more questions than when they began. “Maybe it’s beyond words,” says Scully. “Maybe we should do like the prophets and open our hearts and truly listen.” Just then, heavenly screeching fills the air, as though an angelic orchestra is tuning up.