Do you think that people in the F.B.I. have a problem with Mulder and Scully being partners, then a couple, then one of them being a fugitive, then both retired from the F.B.I. then being welcomed back to the F.B.I. with open arms? Is that a conflict of interest of any sort? Like Skinner is keeping these guys afloat, because he can, because he likes them, and because he has the power to. I just feel like this was a weird ass 25 year trajectory that these two have been through. Like these two were literally put into the X-Files division to be thrown away to the bottom of the barrel, yet they seem to still get special treatment (Thanks Skinner). Do you think that agents of the F.B.I. are tired of these two, and their antics? “We’re trying to catch actual criminals! Like, real life terrorists! Why the hell are you guys so focused on this supernatural mumbo-jumbo?” they would say. But we’re not here for that story, we’re here for Mulder and Scully. The people whose entire professional relationship is for Mulder to say, “There’s some supernatural things happening! Let’s check it out!” and for Scully to say, “Let me find every way to prove you wrong!” and usually failing.
The B-Plot of this episode is all about retrospective. There are scenes where it’s just Mulder and Scully, talking about the past, wondering what they want for the future. These are really sweet scenes. Just them conversing about whether or not Scully is getting old, whether they wanted to have another child, what they would want to do when they aren’t working for the F.B.I. anymore (which was already kind of answered, Scully works for a hospital, Mulder just runs away as a fugitive… this happens twice by the way, at least.). This is really the heart of the episode, and it brings forward a “Will they, Won’t they” type relationship that was also happening through almost the entirety of the series. I didn’t think I would care about a “Will they, Won’t they” relationship after they did several times over the years, but they found a way, and all it took was some nice, quiet, introspective conversations.
But if this episode was just introspective conversations, it wouldn’t quite be X-Files, so we got to find a metaphor somewhere to scare the audience… Doppelgangers will do.
The doppelganger plot doesn’t quite go into the metaphor like I would hope. There is a bit, like how we bring ourselves down by our limited mind, and how our sins of what we enjoy can eventually bring us down, but I had to go in deep into the subconscious of the episode to find that. There doesn’t seem to be a lesson learned in this, which is fine, because we’re here to have fun.
I do like how these doppelganger scenes play out, even if it’s a bit formulaic. The characters are usually at a place that seems standard, that plays into they’re deadly sin (punk rock barn party, expensive coffee shop), and they immediately run to a place of safety (their truck, their home), and get attacked by their doppelganger who make it look like a suicide. The first person lives, for a time, to tell our agents that he’s basically trying to kill himself (is that a doppelganger joke?). At first we think it’s a mental illness, some kind of schizophrenia, but things start getting weirder, and consistently so. As most of these episodes do, a lot of the episode is Mulder getting giddier as things get weirder, and Scully getting more disappointed in that same spectrum.
We find out that the perpetrators of this crime is a brother (who is a prison guard) and sister (who has multiple personalities, and is in the mental ward), who telepathically play hangman with victims names. We learn this pretty early in the episode, and how I like how weird, and eccentric they both are, but I wish they would have used this opportunity to play with the death scenes a bit. They could have made it into more of a horror movie, where they’re doppelgangers are hunting their doubles down. But these scenes usually end with the doppelganger showing up, and the scene just ends, because we know they’re going to die. The lack of build up is disappointing in these scenes, but it’s ok, because we need that scene where the sister throws dookie at the walls… I mean, that was a good scene, but I digress.
Overall, this episode is good, but has a tone problem. It’s funny, but not overly. It’s creepy, but never scary. They play mystery, but we know the answer for most of the episode. What works best, like I said before, was the introspective conversations that Mulder and Scully have. The conversations that made them think of their past and future, and made me think of that as well.
I love these characters. I love the fact that the dry delivery they have works with literally every tone that the show throws at them. I love the fact that after everything that has happened to them in the span of their lifetimes, Scully is still the skeptic, and Mulder will always want to believe. There’s not much of a series arc with these characters, but you still feel like they’ve been through several lifetimes worth of adventures. It doesn’t make much sense, but that’s ok. Things don’t have to make sense to be good, sometimes it’s ok to just have the comfort of the familiar. I mean, you should take risks, and I’ll always give you bonus points for that (except the first episode of the season, which was garbage), but know when to strike a balance. This episode strikes a good balance sticking with the monster of the week, while looking itself in the mirror, and knowing that it can’t exist forever. I like that. We should all be so lucky to get a two season reboot from FOX after being gone for 15 years to get a chance to do this.