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TV Review: The X-Files - Season 10 Episode 5 "Babylon"

02.15.2016

Episode 5: "Babylon"

Synopsis: When an art gallery that’s showing potentially offensive artwork is bombed, Mulder and Scully seek some way to communicate with the comatose bomber in order to prevent a future attack. Meanwhile, a pair of younger FBI agents on the case (guest stars Robbie Amell and Lauren Ambrose) push Mulder and Scully to examine their own beliefs as Scully seeks answers from neuroscience and Mulder from mysticism.

REVIEW: One of the big questions buzzing around before this event series came to fruition was the potential for The X-Files to be rebooted with two new agents assigned to The X-Files. I was all for the idea of bringing in fresh young actors while hoping the revival would still bring back David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson in more of a mentorship capacity. While this tactic didn't work out so well when Robert Patrick and Annabeth Gish were brought in during the original series' final seasons, there is still a way to do it right. Tonight's episode gives us a sneak peak at what that spin-off could look like if FOX decided to bring back more seasons of the show. Robbie Amell (The Flash, THE DUFF) and Lauren Ambrose (Six Feet Under) join the series as agents Miller and Einstein in what feels more like a backdoor pilot for a reboot rather than a proper episode.

In the timeliest storyline this season, Mulder and Scully are pulled into an investigation of an Islamic suicide bombing. The accused bomber is in critical condition at a hospital where he is unable to communicate and try to help the FBI locate the leader of the splinter cell before they can cause any further death and destruction. While Mulder and Scully helped investigate a bombing similar to the Oklahoma City terrorist attacks in the 1998 feature film, this would be their first true post-9/11 crime. The X-Files has not had a great track record dealing with multi-culturalism (see episodes like "Hell Money" or "Kaddish") but this episode doesn't really deal with the religion or political nature of the criminals at the case's core. This is more about linking the two senior agents to two younger ones.

Agents Miller and Einstein are very much clones of Mulder and Scully, down to their hairstyles and mannerisms. Miller is a believer or, more accurately, he wants to believe while Einstein is a skeptic and trained doctor who doesn't lend any creedence to hocus pocus or other weird things that cannot be explained via observation and reason. Sound familiar? This is in no way a knock on either Amell or Ambrose, who do a solid job in their roles, but the refresh of the characters seems a bit too on the nose. This could be a different attempt at recasting the stars because of how tonally different Robert Patrick and Annabeth Gish were in the final seasons of the original run, but it just comes across as a bit forced. Even the structure of the episode tries to drive home who these new agents are by pairing them off: Miller with Scully as they head to meet the hospitalized bomber while Einstein and Mulder follow less scientific methods of investigation.

While Miller tries to mildly persuade Scully into believing there could be more than meets the eye, the real centerpiece of this episode involves Mulder convincing Einstein to observe him as a medical professional while he goes under the influence of psychotropic mushrooms in an effort to try and unlock some mysteries of the unconscious within the mind of the supposed terrorist. The hallucinations that Mulder experiences are some of the trippiest visuals we have ever seen on the show and afford a chance for Chris Carter to bring back fan favorites The Lone Gunmen. It always bothered me that Byers, Langley, and Frohike were killed off and when I heard they would be back for the revival, I was crossing my fingers that it would follow the official Season 10 comic series. But, alas, they are just part of Mulder's vision quest, as is the Cigarette Smoking Man.

Ultimately, Mulder hears the words of the vegetative terrorist which, coupled with Miller's bilingual skills, leads the FBI to the terror cell before another bombing can be taken. Saving everyone in the knick of time comes with the unexplained phenomena in that Einstein claims Mulder was only given a placebo and never had any drugs in his system. How could the agent have seen what he did if drugs were not actually ingested? Unfortunately, this is never explained in any satisfactory way which seems to be par for the course this season. Instead, we get two coda sequences involving the pairs of agents. Einstein and Miller wait in an airport and discuss what they experienced in this episode while Mulder and Scully contemplate their lives and legacy. Both scenes are solidily acted but the Miller/Einstein scene feels very much the way a pilot for The X-Files 2.0 would have ended. 

Am I opposed to seeing these four headline future seasons of the show? Absolutely not. I did find Lauren Ambrose's portrayal of Einstein to be a bit rigid, but like Gillian Anderson's original seasons as Scully, that could easily develop into a much more layered character. My problem with this episode as a whole is that the main story about the terror cell feels underdeveloped and more of a conduit to introduce these characters to one another. The lack of a satisfactory conclusion to the story makes it feel like a tale half told. All four actors are given some solid work in this hour but the episode fails to drive home what could have otherwise been a great chapter. With only one episode left in the revival season, I am a bit concerned that only the premiere has dealt directly with the series mythology. Hopefully when we reflect on the season as a whole it will be fondly and not full of questions of what could have been.

Next on The X-Files: "My Struggle II" airs February 22nd - The investigations that Mulder and Scully previously began with conspiracy theorist and web-TVshow host Tad O’Malley (guest star Joel McHale) seem to have awakened powerful enemies. A widespread panic begins as people all over the country suddenly start falling gravely ill, and Scully must look within to try and find a cure. Meanwhile, Mulder confronts the man whom he believes to be behind it all, but another figure from Mulder and Scully’s past may prove to be the key to their salvation.

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Source: JoBlo.com

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5:22AM on 02/18/2016

Fucking racist bullshit

I thought the show would remain above stereotyping all Muslims as extremists, and that all Americans - especially in Texas - are fucking racist assholes who have no tolerance with diversity. I don't ever recall the series "tapping into the paranoia" in one of the most hideous displays of the most cliched and overwrought concepts being perpetuated by hate-mongers... and feeding into that. Moreover, the extended "mind trip" of Mulder was also embarrassing and retarded. FUCK this episode. This
I thought the show would remain above stereotyping all Muslims as extremists, and that all Americans - especially in Texas - are fucking racist assholes who have no tolerance with diversity. I don't ever recall the series "tapping into the paranoia" in one of the most hideous displays of the most cliched and overwrought concepts being perpetuated by hate-mongers... and feeding into that. Moreover, the extended "mind trip" of Mulder was also embarrassing and retarded. FUCK this episode. This season is thankfully one episode away from being done. If it comes back.... I'm not.
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1:52PM on 02/16/2016
Been loving all the episodes. The Tripping Mulder scene had me on the floor.
Been loving all the episodes. The Tripping Mulder scene had me on the floor.
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9:57AM on 02/16/2016
I don't get the need or purpose of this mini-series. It's on for 6 episodes, and so far the first 5 have all been unconnected from each other. It looks like episode 6 will be connected to episode 1, which begs the question - what was the point of episodes 2-5?

I get that they're quality stories, very much like an updated version of the show from the 90s. But with 6 episodes to bring back the show, shouldn't the series have taken on a more serialized approach? Shouldn't it have been 1
I don't get the need or purpose of this mini-series. It's on for 6 episodes, and so far the first 5 have all been unconnected from each other. It looks like episode 6 will be connected to episode 1, which begs the question - what was the point of episodes 2-5?

I get that they're quality stories, very much like an updated version of the show from the 90s. But with 6 episodes to bring back the show, shouldn't the series have taken on a more serialized approach? Shouldn't it have been 1 story told over 6 episodes, opposed to 5 stories told over 6?

As great as it is to see Mulder and Scully back, it just seems like a wasted opportunity to have told a better story.
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10:49AM on 02/16/2016
No one wants to watch 6 connected X-Files stories in a row. Have you even watched X-Files before? Maybe 40% of the episodes were continual while the rest are one-offs. This mini-series is picking up right where everything left off in season 9. Enjoy it!
No one wants to watch 6 connected X-Files stories in a row. Have you even watched X-Files before? Maybe 40% of the episodes were continual while the rest are one-offs. This mini-series is picking up right where everything left off in season 9. Enjoy it!
9:48PM on 02/16/2016
40%? More like 20% And I agree with Mickloud. Why do a miniseries if you're only going to 2 actual episode and the rest probably use old script that have been written 15 years ago.
40%? More like 20% And I agree with Mickloud. Why do a miniseries if you're only going to 2 actual episode and the rest probably use old script that have been written 15 years ago.
8:53AM on 02/16/2016
One of my favorite episodes of this mini-series. Hope to see the X-files 21st Century crew more.
One of my favorite episodes of this mini-series. Hope to see the X-files 21st Century crew more.
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7:33AM on 02/16/2016
This revival is a huge let down for me. There is not one single episode so far that I'd consider being any good or worth the wait.
This revival is a huge let down for me. There is not one single episode so far that I'd consider being any good or worth the wait.
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5:33AM on 02/18/2016
I agree. It's a real waste. I'd rather this "reboot" had never happened.
I agree. It's a real waste. I'd rather this "reboot" had never happened.
+0
2:06AM on 02/16/2016
love this X Files mini run but am I the only one who feels it was never this comedic? I mean sure over its course it had its funny moments but I always remember the overall tone being a bit more serious. Am I just going crazy or is it just that Fox and Dana have been through so much that they just don't give a fuck anymore. Especially Mulder. No fucks given.
love this X Files mini run but am I the only one who feels it was never this comedic? I mean sure over its course it had its funny moments but I always remember the overall tone being a bit more serious. Am I just going crazy or is it just that Fox and Dana have been through so much that they just don't give a fuck anymore. Especially Mulder. No fucks given.
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10:34AM on 02/16/2016
Seasons 5, 6 and 7 had their fair share of comedic episodes (The Post-Modern Prometheus, The Rain King, Hollywood A.D., Arcadia, etc...) But since they were "diluted" within 24 episode seasons, I think they had far less impact on the overall tone of the show. As much as I like seeing Scully and Mulder back, this new series feels overly comical and also quite frankly very cheap. It is nowhere near the quality of other series like Black Mirror, The Man In The High Castle and so on... very
Seasons 5, 6 and 7 had their fair share of comedic episodes (The Post-Modern Prometheus, The Rain King, Hollywood A.D., Arcadia, etc...) But since they were "diluted" within 24 episode seasons, I think they had far less impact on the overall tone of the show. As much as I like seeing Scully and Mulder back, this new series feels overly comical and also quite frankly very cheap. It is nowhere near the quality of other series like Black Mirror, The Man In The High Castle and so on... very disappointing return.
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