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TV Review: The X-Files - Season 11 Episode 3 "Plus One"

Episode: "Plus One"

Synopsis: A spate of deaths, in which the victims were plagued by their own doppelgangers, lead Mulder and Scully to a pair of twins playing a dangerous game.

The X-Files, Drama, Science Fiction, TV Review, FOX, Gillian Anderson, David Duchovny

REVIEW: Long time fans of The X-Files know that this show is many things beyond being about aliens, monsters, and other supernatural events. Even if you took the paranormal out of the series, there would still be enough drama and tension purely from the dynamic between leads David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson. At one point in time, I felt that the moment Mulder and Scully became a couple was the moment the show began a descent into mediocrity. There has been an attempt since the second feature film to restore that chemistry by uncoupling the two FBI agents but it becomes very difficult to put toothpaste back in the tube. After last week's episode, it seemed that Mulder and Scully had returned to some sort of domestic partnership whereas in "Plus One" the duo are back to determining if they are better together or simply as coworkers.

Wrapped around that simmering plotline is a truly classic style Monster of the Week episode about dopplegangers whose appearance typically signals the impending demise of the person who spotted their double. The structure of this Chris Carter-penned episode is fairly formulaic X-Files but with some nice treats thrown in for good measure. Eagle eyed fans will notice callbacks to classic series trademarks like a clock reading 11:21 and the key guest role from actress Karin Konoval as siblings Judith and Chucky Poundstone. For those who don't recognize Konoval, she also played the character of Mrs. Peacock in the iconic episode "Home" as well as Madame Zelda in the episode "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose". Having her return in two roles is a perfect way to bring her back to the series and her performance here is a highlight to an episode that could have been a classic if not for a couple of predictable twists.

What makes this story an X-File is the unexplained dopplegangers. Mulder believes they could be supernatural or evil in nature whereas the always skeptical Scully feels there has to be a logical explanation for what is happening. When the agents notice that Judith, an incarcerated psych ward patient, has a room covered in hangman games, one of which features the name of the victim that introduced them to the case, they become intrigued. As it turns out, Judith and her brother Chucky share a connection that allows them to communicate remotely. As they focus on a person and the name becomes clearer in the hangman game, that victim sees their doppleganger. In a fit of paranoia, the victim ends up dead. The agents do their due diligence in investigating the crime which is at one gory and darkly funny in the way the best episodes of The X-Files are. 

When Mulder and Scully begin to see their own doubles, it sends them into a contemplative mood about their own mortality. All of this centers on the setup that the small town the crimes are taking place in only has one hotel room which Mulder scoops up. Being forced to share a single room (Scully in the bed, Mulder on the couch) prompts them to reminisce about their relationship. Mulder flirts and Scully sweetly rebuffs him before they eventually cuddle in bed together. During that time spooning, Scully questions where they will be once their careers come to an end: will they be with each other or will they find new relationships. Both mention the possibility of more children, even if Scully feels her time is past being a natural mother. It is a very endearing conversation and one that seems out of character for two people who were all but legally married at one point. At one point, Mulder awakens in the night and sees his double in the mirror and from Scully's state of undress, it seems to hint that they just had sex. But, it is never explicitly stated that they did.

The X-Files, Drama, Science Fiction, TV Review, FOX, Gillian Anderson, David Duchovny

Facing their own doubles, Mulder heads to Chucky's home and Scully rushes to Judith at the psych ward. The siblings are playing a contentious game of hangman which could be about either Mulder or Scully. The two begin to argue when Judith wants the victim to be Scully and Chucky wants it to be Mulder. Mulder fights himself, literally, before the twins invoke each other's name and end up killing themselves. The case now closed, Mulder and Scully return to their hotel room. Mulder hints that they should have sex but Scully sends him off to get some sleep. Eventually, she seems to change her mind and goes to the door. When she opens it, she finds Mulder standing on the other side, awaiting her. The episode ends there on the hint and promise that they may try for that second child they both seem to want.

This is a hard episode to rate simply because it has some truly great moments but are wrapped around an unsatisfying resolution. While Karin Konoval was stellar in her dual roles, there is never a clear explanation as to how or why their ability does what it does nor how anyone hasn't figured it out yet. There have been numerous episodes of this series that have not explained the phenomenon central to the tale but this one feels like it is wrapped up too quickly and too neatly. On the other hand, the dynamic between Mulder and Scully in this hour is the best it has been in years. It is hard to pin down exactly where they stand with each other as the relationship has been dramatically different in each of the first three episodes of this season. Are they together or not? Regardless, Duchovny and Anderson are still Mulder and Scully and just as entertaining to watch as they were twenty years ago.

 
Next on The X-Files: "The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat" airs January 24th - The episode explores “the idea of The Mandela Effect, in which large groups of people remember an alternate history, Mulder and Scully find out how the X-Files themselves may really have originated.
 
Source: JoBlo.com

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