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TV Review: The X-Files - Season 11 Episode 6 "Kitten"

Episode: "Kitten"

Synopsis: Skinner goes AWOL when his past comes back to haunt him. As Mulder and Scully try to track him down, their growing mistrust of him reaches its apex.

The X-Files, TV Review, Drama, FOX, David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Mitch Pileggi

REVIEW: Back during it's orignal run, The X-Files could do no wrong in my book. Even the weakest episodes were great for a die hard fan like me. Today, as I watch this new season twenty years older and wiser, I am able to give a more critical eye to my all time favorite television series while still maintaining a love for it. Sometimes, The X-Files can be maddening as you want to applaud the effort it makes to tell a good story even if it doesn't come close to sticking the landing. "Kitten" is an example of an episode that tries to do too much and barely accomplishes what it set out to do. With a good guest role from Haley Joel Osment, this is possibly the weakest entry in the eleventh season.

"Kitten" opens with a flashback to the Vietnam War where a young Lance Corporal Walter Skinner and his platoon mate (Osment) are transporting a mysterious crate beyond enemy lines. Almost immediately, the soldiers are taking enemy fire and the aforementioned crate is damaged and begins leaking a yellow gas. The substance causes hallucinations which permanently turns John "Kitten" James into a murderous monster. After the war, Skinner speaks at James' court martial, dooming his comrade to years in a psychiatric facility. Skinner was forbidden by superiors to speak about the gas but now feels compelled to help his former friend's son, Davey (alsmo played by Osment). Skinner goes AWOL which forces Deputy Directory Kersh (remember that guy?) to give Mulder and Scully a dressing down and says that Skinner has not been the same since they returned to the Bureau.

Mulder and Scully, who themselves have not trusted Skinner since the premiere of this season, head to his apartment to try and figure out where their boss disappeared to. There they find a sparsely furnished abode to which Scully comments that they really don't know much about Skinner outside of work. As an audience, we don't know much about the man either who has only had one other substantial episode focused on him and that did not delve much into his past. The agents find an envelope that they trace back to Mud Lick, Kentucky that contains a severed human ear. Travelling to the backwater burg, Mulder and Scully partner with a local sherrif and stumble onto a series of crimes against Vietnam veterans that connects to a government hospital outside of town. Many local vets have been losing their teeth and one body is in the vicinity of a deer camera that catches both Skinner and a hooded monster.

It doesn't take a genius to figure out what is going on here, especially when Haley Joel Osment appears as the younger James. Blaming Skinner for his father's imprisonment and eventual death, James has been dressing up as the masked creature that the agents spotted on camera as he has been enduring the effects of the yellow gas just like his dad. Leading Skinner into the woods, Davey knocks him into a pit where Skinner is impaled on a spear. Eventually, Mulder and Scully find Davey and then Skinner. They tussle with each other which results in a decent action sequence involving spears and Davey in the monster costume. Scully shoots Davey who eventually appears to die, leaving Mulder and Scully alive and able to save Skinner.

The X-Files, TV Review, Drama, FOX, David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Mitch Pileggi

Back at Davey's house, whil the authorities clean up the mess of bodies left by the insane Davey, they confront Skinner about what Kersh told them earlier in the episode: that Skinner's career had stalled due to Mulder, Scully and The X-Files unit. Skinner professes admiration for the duo and that their dedication to the truth made him realize he needed to stand up for what is right instead of blindly following the puppet masters in the government., When all is said and done, Skinner never tells Mulder and Scully the truth of what Cigarette Smoking Man told him in the season premiere, but Mulder and Scully's faith is restored in their boss. The episode ends with Skinner pulling a loose tooth from his jaw, a side effect of the toxic gas. We then see a plane flying over the town of Mud Lick, spraying the gas and serving as a creepy omen that even after everything, those in power still continue their evil machinations.

In many ways, this episode recalls early X-Files episodes like "Blood" which featured murderous electronics. It is a paranoid episode that plays to the conspiracy laden government plots that were the bread and butter of early 90s X-Files. It also tries to give us some meat to Walter Skinner's origin that we have never gotten before. It also tries to tell a story about a killer. The problem is that none of these elements really come together and feel like only part of a story. There are significant plot holes throughout (how did Skinner find that body early in the episode? How did Skinner not bleed out in the pit? Why did Mulder and Scully forgive so easily? How is Kersh still in the same job at the FBI?) that fail to really capitalize on the momentum of this season which has done a good job of blending the mythology and standalone stories. "Kitten" is the first episode this season not to be written or directed by an X-Files veteran and it shows. Rookie writer Gabe Rotter, a former assistant to Chris Carter, and director Carol Banker don't really do much aside from reunite the agents and their boss for the impending showdown with Cigarette Smoking Man in a few episodes. It is not the worst X-Files episode, but it is the worst this season so far.

 
Next on The X-Files: New episodes resume after the 2018 Winter Olympics with the first of the final four episodes of the season debuting February 28th..
 
Source: JoBlo.com

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