Written by Chris Carter & Frank SpotnitzDirected by Rob Bowman
For an episode that was no doubt intended to serve as the climax of this part of the mythology (one needs only examine the DVD release of it to confirm as much) , the viewer of the series can’t help but feel a little dissatisfied by the fact that even now, Carter and Co. still couldn’t make up their mind about what was true and what wasn’t. One needs only look at the title of the two-parter. Considering what we would later be told about CSM and Fox Mulder, one couldn’t help but feel a more fitting title would’ve been ‘One Father’- ‘Two Sons’.
Then there’s the fact that while Carter no doubt intending this two-parter to wrap up the mythology, it doesn’t change the fact that there are so many part of this story that just don’t add up. The Smoking Man says outright that Samantha Mulder is still alive; less than a year from now, he’ll tell Scully he believes the opposite. Once again, we get an entirely different explanation as to why Samantha and everybody connected with the consortium was abducted, and we can’t fully say we trust this method. Having spent nearly two years dealing with the idea of a vaccine from the black oil, this entire plot line will be completely ignored. And now that we’ve brought the ideas of faceless rebels a vital part of the plotline, this particular story will never be dealt with again. It’s as if Mulder and Scully will finally get back on the X-Files after nearly half a season of being kept off it, and the fundamental backbone of their story has been whipped away without them being able to do anything about it. (There is, however, a delicious irony that the Syndicate’s death is the main instrument of their return to the story)
And yet, despite this frustration, this episode works very well. Most of it is due to the power of performances, particularly those of the Spender family. William B. Davis gives another rich and measured performance that may by far be the most human he’s ever been on the series. The seen where Mulder confronts him in Fowley’s apartment is one of his finest hours. One could say that it’s deluded by the fact that yet again, Mulder is waving a gun in his face, but the fact is, we get the feeling that for once Smokey is finally telling the truth to his arch nemesis. This is a man who has truly been beaten, who seems to be willing to sacrifice humanity for a chance at a future with his family. This is shown best in the only seen that he and Cassandra share, where he looks his most pathetic, trying to convince the woman he admits he’s never loved that they can have a future. Her other disdain for him is magnificent – almost good enough for the Emmy nomination she would receive.
Chris Owens is equally good as Jeffrey, playing a man, who at the eleventh hour, has realized how thoroughly and horribly he has been used, and who is determined to make things right with the man he has spent a year working against. It’s a triumphant moment, and one wishes that Carter hadn’t decided to pull the trigger on him in the final scene. It’s a good moment – the weariness in CSM’s eyes as he decides to shoot his son is a great one – but one can’t help but wonder what the show would’ve been like had he been able to stay on the series as an ally to Mulder and Scully. (Not even the writers had reached that point yet, though)
There are other good performances in the episode as well – of particular note is that of Laurie Holden as Covarrubias. Never the most well-drawn character, she suffered from the fact that the writers could not decided whose side she was on. She gives by far her most riveting performance, as a woman who has been used and cast aside by the Syndicate, and now that she has nothing left to lose, she has no problem telling all of their secrets to Mulder and Jeffrey. Again, one wishes Carter and company would’ve continued in this direction for her remaining appearances.
Most of the other performances don’t quite measure up as well – Mitch Pileggi is basically wasted as Skinner, and one still can’t figure out whose side Krycek is on. But perhaps the most irritating is that of Mimi Rogers as Diana Fowley. Considering that we’ve never been given any reason to trust her in this episode, and the laundry list against here that Scully lists with the Lone Gunmen’s help, its incredibly irritating that Mulder chooses to believe her over his own partner. But then, a lot of Mulder’s work in this episode is unsatisfying. He’s spent the last five and a half years trying to expose every element of the Consortium’s plans, and when he finally gets it handed to him, he basically gives up, trying to save only the people closest to him. For a man who’s been trying to get the truth, in humanity’s darkest hour, he’s little better than the Syndicate. Unfortunately, this is a pattern that will come back to bite us in the last couple of seasons.
As an episode that promised us “Full Exposure”, One Son, is a little unsatisfying. As an episode that brings us back to where we need to be, and closes doors that, frankly, had been weighing the series down the last two years, it is far more enjoyable. Considering that’s it’s supposed to be telling a story of global scale, it’s in the smaller moments that the series works. Watching Cassandra give a bitter smile as she is about to be burned along with the men who had destroyed her, to the way Jeffrey gently touches the shoulder of Mulder as he is about to leave the FBI for the last time, to William Davis’ shaken look as he leaves his son behind in the X-Files office, these moments provide closure – often in the most bitter way. The X-Files is finally ready to move forward again, and Scully and Mulder have been given a new purpose – or so it seems.My score: 4 stars.
1 April 2016 | 9:33 pm
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