I’m not entirely sure how to react to last night’s episode of The X-Files, “Babylon.” Confusion? Bewilderment? Irritation tinged with anger? What the hell was that, and what was it doing on my Hulu? It was like a fever dream of bad country music and The X-Files at its woo-wooist, as Agent Einstein might say. There’s no way to explain how baffling an episode of television that was, but we do know who to blame:
Chris Carter, who once again proved himself to be the George Lucas of The X-Files.
That was a bad episode of The X-Files, and not in the 8th season of the original run sense. It was bad in, like, the I Want to Believe sense. Chris Carter somehow took a header up his own asshole.
To recap for those who didn’t see the episode (and I implore those of you who have not to ignore “Babylon” and keep your fond memories of the series otherwise intact): Two Muslim men wearing suicide vests walk into a building and blow it up, killing eight people. However, one of the men manages to survive in a vegetative state.
Enter Agent Miller (Robbie Amell) and Agent Einstein (Lauren Ambrose), who are investigating the bombers’ connection to a terror cell. Agent Miller gets the bright idea that they should talk to Mulder and Scully about talking to the vegetative Muslim terrorist, and so the two teams divide themselves up: Miller and Scully try to communicate with his brain waves, while Agent Einstein gives Mulder some magic mushrooms and he ends up going on some bizarre trip in which he line dances to “Achy Breaky Heart” (which was admittedly amusing), sat court during a sleazy performance of “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk” (cringeworthy) had visions of the Lone Gunmen (a totally wasted cameo), and engaged in some kinky sex play with Agent Einstein (bizarre, pointless).
Oh, and also, the terrorist told him where the terror cell was in Arabic. Telepathically.
The episode made no goddamn sense, it did not advance the season-long arc (and there’s only one episode remaining) and aside from surreal sight of David Duchovny doing the “Achy Break Heart” and an unfortunately solid but wasted performance from Lauren Ambrose, the episode was an irredeemable failure.
I think our own Scully — one of our best and most beloved commenters — said it best. Here are her thoughts on the episode:
“One of the many reasons I was a big fan of The X-Files during its original run was because the show was, at that time, uniquely intelligent. While my friends watched Friends, 90210, and ER, The X-Files offered up dark and clever mysteries. The writing was often poignant, multilayered, and profound. The paranormal mysteries were beautifully intertwined with science, and even the silliest episodes inspired a degree of wonder and curiosity.
With the exception of “Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster” this intelligence has been absent in the miniseries, particularly in last night’s “Babylon.” The classic X-Files staples were nowhere to be found. There was no mystery. There was no science. There was nothing profound to contemplate. Mulder tripped on mushrooms, Scully scanned EEG readings, and … I was unable to locate The X-File here (besides the permanent death of my Mulder crush by the truly frightening dance sequence, RIP).
This was an episode written to appeal to the lowest common denominator. Sadly, in a world where the Kardashians rule supreme, where the media sources its news from Twitter, this level of writing might suffice for an X-Files reboot. I’m afraid that this is the only objective Chris Carter had in mind.”
Appalling is what it was, really, the kind of episode that makes some of us regret that Fox ever decided to bring back the X-Files at all.
That said, I’d watch a spin-off starring Agents Miller and Einstein, as long as it was written by anyone other than Chris Carter.