If it looks like a The X-Files episode, swims like a The X-Files episode, and quacks like a The X-Files episode, then it probably is a The X-Files episode, no? From the twin flashlight beams chasing each other in an abandoned building, to the vaguely autumnal rain-soaked streets of Vancouver, and the ever-present nefarious Men in Black, it certainly looked like a typical The X-Files episode. But pay close attention and you’ll find recycled material. From the old ship Chimera at the beginning of the show which could have been a copy to the Piper Maru vessel in season three (bonus Pajiba points if you know who that ship is named after), to Mulder’s quote “dreams are today’s answers to tomorrow’s questions” which strikes too close to “dreams are answers to questions we haven’t yet figured out how to ask” from season two, this episode was an empty shell, a paint-by-numbers story which will hopefully end the William arc.
The episode begins with two teen girls attacking each other on an abandoned ship Chimera, believing the other to be a Ghouli, a monster James Wong surely modeled after the Slenderman case in Wisconsin. This Monster-of-the-Week X-File is tied into the mythology story when Scully experiences sleep paralysis in which she sees the Chimera ship in a snow globe. Interviewing both girls leads Mulder and Scully to discover that the girls share a boyfriend, Jackson. When they arrive at Jackson’s home, they discover that Jackson, as well as his parents, are dead. While looking through Jackson’s possessions, Scully becomes convinced that Jackson is her son, William. Are you bored? I’m bored. This episode is tedious. Scully takes a couple of cheek swabs to run a DNA comparison and then proceeds to apologize to Jackson’s dead body. This is the point at which I looked up to the ceiling and said a small but forceful prayer that this would be the last episode in which we have to endure this particular storyline. No one cares about William, Chris Carter. Just let it go. Please. I beg you. Anyway, the body goes missing, because of course Jackson isn’t truly dead. Mulder and Scully go back to Jackson’s home, find a hidden computer, and discover that it’s full of files from the DOD, just as DOD agents run up the stairs to claim the computer. Because sure, why not. This is when Skinner shows up because it’s time for painful exposition. He tells Mulder about “Project Crossroads,” where human and alien DNA were merged, and that Jackson is a product of that project. Mulder then reveals the most unsurprising news that Jackson is William. Scully and Mulder rush back to the hospital, where Jackson/William is visiting his girlfriends, but he escapes. The episode ends with Scully and a disguised Jackson/William having, hopefully, a final goodbye. I need this William plotline to be done forever.
I really wanted to like this episode. All the visual elements were there. The atmosphere was there. The dark, tense, and moody scenes were nicely offset with the lighthearted, relaxed moments with Mulder and Scully at the cafe. Unfortunately, this was an empty plot, one stitched from past episodes and woven with a touch of modern news. It felt hollow and empty and completely divorced from the previous episode. This one might be better watched on mute.
Ursula refuses to believe that Scully wouldn’t know a famous Malcolm X quote. You can chat with her here.