A/V Room








The X-Files: Seasons 4-6 (15)

Review: Jack Foley


THE X-FILES continued to throw up some interesting stand-alone episodes during the middle-period of its nine-season run, sustaining it through some pretty ordinary episodes.

Indeed, given the convoluted nature of the alien conspiracy story arc, and the fact that it never seemed to deliver satisfactory answers, it was the stand-alone efforts that made for the most stimulating viewing.

Season 4, in particular, tackled some difficult issues and pushed TV boundaries.

Principal among them was the second episode in the series, Home, during which a baby is found buried alive in shallow ground, with plenty of birth defects resulting from generations of inbreeding.

The ensuing investigation leads Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) to a reclusive family who have a history of inbred children.

The episode rates among the most difficult to watch in X-Files history, yet tackled its subject matter in an intelligent way. Sure, the dark humour that marked the series was apparent, but there were also a couple of genuinely tender moments between the two FBI agents, to offset some of the more horrific sequences.

Another series highlight, for markedly different reasons, was Small Potatoes, during which an investigation into babies in a small town who are all born with tails leads the agents to a simple man with a genetic deformity, who may have the ability to alter his appearance.

The comic episode that results sees the suspect in question taking over the appearance of Mulder, only to emerge at the other side with the conclusion that the agent leads a boring life.

The episode served up a further opportunity to explore the will they/won't they nature of the Mulder and Scully relationship, as the alternative Mulder sought to spice up his existence by wooing Scully.

Of the alien conspiracy story arc, season 4 began with yet more chases involving the bounty hunter and concluded with the apparent suicide of Mulder, while taking in the two-parters Tempus Fugit and Max, as well as Tunguska and Terma.

Another highlight, meanwhile, was the story of Leonard Betts (featuring former ER star, Paul McCrane), which threw in a genuinely startling surprise ending for Scully and the state of her health, post alien abduction.

Season five, meanwhile, contained more of the same, deftly blending alien conspiracy story arcs, the Lone Gunmen's back-story, and the ongoing search for Mulder's sister with other, more interesting stand-alone stories.

In truth, these were becoming fewer and further inbetween, given that there were only so many strange phenomena waiting to be re-discovered.

Hence, there were variations on vampire stories and serial killers, as well as the return of another series favourite, in the form of Pusher.

Kitsunegari was one of the season highlights, given that it took a very surprising turn midway through, while another stand-alone episode, Bad Blood, provided yet another excellent demonstration of how the show could take the mickey out of itself, while still providing credible entertainment.

The episode in question took a look at what happened after Mulder mistakenly shoots a man he believes to be a vampire, and is told from the different perspectives of the people involved.

Other highlights included the surreal computer-based thriller, Kill Switch, written by William Gibson, and Stephen King's X-Files bow, Chinga, which finds Mulder on vacation in Maine, but getting a lot more than he bargained for!

The alien conspiracy saga focused on Scully's health and her baby, producing some memorable moments between Mulder and Scully without necessarily reaching the highs of earlier alien episodes.

Perhaps that was because fans were beginning to tire of being strung along.

Still, the show's ability to produce memorable season finale's continued, as The End culminated in a fire which destroyed The X-Files.

Season six, meanwhile, marked the point at which the official X-Files movie ended, and the rest of the series began.

It also marked the point at which Mulder and Scully were taken off the X-Files and forced to find any excuse to further their investigations.

Classic episodes included the bizarre Triangle, which found Mulder and Scully forced to evade some very familiar-looking Nazis aboard a World War Two ocean liner (!), as well as the race against time episode, S.R. 819, in which Skinner is infected with a biogically-engineered disease.

Humour also abounded, with Arcadia another top example of the X-Files at its finest, featuring Mulder and Scully as a married couple.

But as season six drew to a close, it was beginning to become more and more apparent that the show needed an injection of life.

Duchovny was becoming increasingly disatisfied with his character and the first steps were taken to reduce his input.

Ironically, the show only got back on track with the arrival of Robert Patrick's Agent Doggett.

Of the seasons being released at this moment in time, Season four offers fans the most satisfaction - if they haven't already got the DVDs in their collection, of course!