4X01 - "Herrenvolk" Part 2 of 2 (4 October 1996)
(4th season premiere; the 'Jeremiah Smith, Samantha clones, angry bees'
episode. AKA 'The episode where X gets killed')
* * *
This was much better than the season finale
last spring, although I have to confess that it was just standard fare.
I think Carter may have tried to unleash too many plot devices and angles
than necessary (Marita, killing X, Cancerman & Mrs. Mulder, the Arnold
Schwarzeneggar-wannabe alien that could heal, Samantha clones...). With
all of that going on, I still didn't find the story very exciting; it
simply wasn't very well written. I did like:
- The scenes with X, most notably the ending where he gets shot and
still manages to drag himself to Mulder's apartment, and scrawls
SRSG in his blood before dying. It's an extremely important action that
reveals a lot about X's character and his principles.
- The wonderful sequence with the bees. This was a hum-dinger. All I
can ask, is "How did they do that??"
- Mulder finally letting himself collapse emotionally in front of Scully
at the hospital. This scene reminded me a lot of the last scene in "Paper
Clip", the second half of last season's premiere. The hospital
room, the words spoken -- both instances are similar. In "Paper
Clip," Scully mourns the death of her sister while Mulder comforts
her and tries to give her hope; in "Herrevolk," Mulder is
emotionally exhausted over his mother's condition and just having seen
Samantha clones, and Scully comforts him and tries to give him hope.
The rather hopeful ending of the episode does quite match with the rather
bleak "Everything Dies" tag line (replacing "The Truth
is Out There") this time around.
4X02 - "Unruhe" (27 October 1996)
(The 'Gerry and the icepick' episode)
* * * ½
Overall, the whole photograph/technical side was a bit less realistic
than I would have liked. The actor who played Gerry though, Pruitt Vince,
did a good job. It was almost a normal 'dark, creepy' X-File, but it was
much better than either "Home" or "Teliko" (to follow). It wasn't wonderful,
because it did bring to mind recycled ideas, but it still had some pretty
- I loved the Ford Explorer. I don't drive one, and I don't usually
single it out in 'real life,' but it was a great change of pace from
the usual sedans Mulder and Scully drive.
- A great series of shots: when Scully walks out of the drugstore towards
the Explorer alone (while Mulder waits for the tell-tale prints), it's
obvious that something's going to happen. The camera follows her, cutting
from a long shot of the street to eventually a close-up of her left
trouser leg, and slowly follows it down to her shoes. This whole series
is absolutely mesmerizing. I had no idea what was going on, and
then -- out of nowhere -- a hypodermic needle stabs her foot, and then
the camera pulls back to see her reaction. Wow.
- The scene after Scully's abduction (while she's strapped to the chair)
was great. I particularly mean the instance when she frantically
speaks German to catch Gerry's attention. Anderson did an excellent
job here. It fit and intensified the edginess of the situation. I found
it really impressive.
4X03 - "Home" (11 October 1996)
(The family incest episode)
I agree totally with Fox's decision to air the viewer discretion warning
before the show aired. This wasn't just a warning sign (which, by the
way, has never had to precede an X-Files show before -- so in that sense
it was ground-breaking), but it put me as an X-Phile in a different frame
of mind. I thought, 'What could this episode be about that warrants such
a warning?' It was 'dark and creepy' to the max, but perhaps too freakish
for me. Even the shadows didn't add much to the scenes -- they looked
too trite for this kind of episode, which I found more disgusting than
scary. And this is the second time we've heard Johnny Mathis in The X-Files.
This time it was "Wonderful, Wonderful," but last time, remember,
was in last season's "Pusher"
when Modell hums along to "Misty" at the supermarket in the
In any case, I didn't like it. The story was too much of a 'horror without
any brains' tale, and to me wasn't very involving. The parts I did like
were the dialogues Mulder & Scully had about 'genetic muster' and Scully
and motherhood: very personality-revealing material. Perhaps the episode
would have been better if it had aired when it was supposed to -- the
weekend before Halloween (like some alt.tv.x-files posters pointed out).
It would have made a lot more sense.
4X04 - "Teliko" (18 October 1996)
(The 'melanin-sucking man' episode)
This isn't much better than "Home," if at all. (There isn't even a 'personality
revealer' here like in "Home.") The black/white/grey tones were perhaps
a bit too obvious -- the episode might have even been better if the entire
thing was shot in B/W. The shots I found most annoying were the close-ups
of the killer's eyes staring out into the darkness, which was a device
also used in "Tooms (or was it "Squeeze"?) and other episodes; I thought
it was a bit too cliché.
The scenes that were so crucial (especially the ending where Scully
crawls through the vent tubing) reminded me of a kind of reverse "Tooms"
from the first season. And when she actually finds him, I can't believe
how long it takes for her to realize that Mulder's trying to get her to
look behind her. I mean, even after she finds Mulder, she should still
remember that the killer is still at large. The end also was a bit frustrating
-- there is no reference as to how Mulder survives the drug (what procedures
were taken, how long he was in that state, etc.), which definitely did
not help close the episode. I kept waiting for Scully to mention what
the drug turned out to be, but it never happened. Usually Carter changes
the normal "The Truth is Out There" tag line only when the story is important
enough, but "Teliko's" "Deceive, Inveigle, Obfuscate" tag line could have
and should have been used for a better episode.
4X05 - "The Field Where I Died" (3 November 1996)
(The 'Mulder recalls his past lives' episode)
The print ad was better than the actual show. Story-wise, it was a real
disappointment from Morgan & Wong, and it didn't have any consistency
with the previous one. It seemed completely out of place, out of nowhere.
Even the case itself was unbelievable -- I can't see how Mulder and Scully
could actually be called into a case like this. I admit that the only
things I was struck by was Kirsten Cloke's performance (especially as
Sidney), and Anderson trying to keep her cool as Scully. Oh, and of course
I can't forget the brief exchange between Mulder & Scully regarding their
four years working together (and the sly, comic remark directed toward
4X06 - "Sanguinarium" (10 November 1996)
(The 'plastic surgeon (Benjamin Horne!) and his messy scalpel' episode)
* * ½
This is your basic cut-and-dry X-File. It's a plot cranked out through
the 'standard' cookie-cutter of many previous X-Files episodes. Hey, it
even has a witch casting spells! ;-) It was your basic horrific/shock
value episode; not as horrible as "Home," but scary. It reminded me of
"Our Town" and "Die Hand Die Verletzt" from the second season: very widespread
use of color contrast. Even the title of the episode provokes lots of
red imagery. It was interesting to see Richard Beymer (Benjamin Horne
on "Twin Peaks"; yet another actor from "Twin Peaks" to appear) in another
(albeit more violent) bloodsucking role. ;-)
4X07 - "Musings of a Cigarette-Smoking Man" (17 November
(The Cancerman episode without (practically) Mulder or Scully)
* * *
This was a very different experience...how else can I categorize an episode
without Mulder or Scully? The story could have been very confusing, but
the editing was well done in the end. Although there were some inconsistencies
in the episode's history (the ages of Cancerman is questionable, and this
episode's facts conflict with those from the teaser in "Apocrypha").
Although it's mostly from the POV of Frohicke, I don't think it's all
from his mind.
4X08 - "Paper Hearts" (10 December 1996)
(The 'Mulder thinks Samantha may've been kidnapped by a vacuum salesman'
* * *
This episode had emotional overtones (and bleak at that), but I had to
remember that it comes before the events of "Terma." It deals pretty
well with Mulder (who ditches Scully again) and his conviction to find
out once and for all if this convict murdered his sister. But I felt that
the story's ending was easily predictable. It's completely obvious that
the criminal did not have anything to do with Samantha's disappearance,
but was only playing with Mulder's mind (how he knew, though, I don't
buy). Weak story, but very good character development for both Mulder
and Scully. I actually think that Scully would be getting a little less
patient with Mulder taking off on her, but even though it happens again
in the next episode, she demonstrates in "Terma" that she doesn't
let up. How does she do it??
4X09 - "Tunguska" part 1/2 (24 November 1996)
(The 'Mulder ditches Scully to go to Russia with Krycek' episode)
* * * ½
Carter may have once again tried to put in too many details in this episode.
The teaser was the best thing about it. It's completely different from
the usual 'here's how the crime was or will happen' in that it jumps right
into the plot, head first. We see Scully facing the Congressional panel,
and have no clue as to what's happened at all, and where Mulder may be.
I enjoyed this 'ahead of the action' teaser immensely. It caught my attention
probably more so than perhaps what might have been the original teaser
(which begins after the title sequence here). But I was bothered by a
lot of questions brought up by this episode. There were a lot of nitpicks
I had, and things that didn't make sense, among them:
- In the next-to-final scene, Mulder's facial scratches have mysteriously
- In the third act, there's some sort of spot on the camera lens that
can be seen for a few ongoing scenes.
- No snow in Russia for that time of year?
- The police don't mention that Skinner's place had been searched; they
just talk about the guy who fell from his balcony.
- Mulder ditches Scully again?? He's starting to annoy me.
4X10 - "Terma" part 2/2 (1 December 1996)
(The 'Krycek loses an arm, Mulder escapes Russia and Scully fights
* * * *
Wow. "Terma" certainly didn't have as many loose ends as "Tunguska" (which,
I think, was intended for a first-parter), but it still wasn't a fabulous
show. I liked it far better, though, because of the character development
- The tag line was different yet again: "E pur si muove." Although this
two-parter is partly set/based in Russia, it's definitely not Russian,
and it wasn't spoken in the episode, which is unusual. It looks Italian;
the "E" may mean "and," but I can't guess the rest.
- All of the prisoners in the Gulag were a bit too clean-cut for the
situation. Also, nobody stopped Mulder as he ran out to the truck; it's
hard to believe that he could have so much energy to run and then punch
Krycek out after spending X number of days being tortured, experimented
with, and going without food or water.
- Finally, we get to the point where the "Tunguska" teaser began: Congress.
At first I wasn't sure if the 'footage' was still the same -- that it
was just a repeat -- but after a while of watching, I knew that it wasn't
quite the same. I think that Scully's speech may also have differed,
but the cutting was definitely not the same. There are some new cuts
in this version (also it feels longer) that include Skinner in the background.
But one shot of her, one person, against a line of Congresspeople (an
overhead view, looking straight down) really proved effective.
- But the real story here was Scully. She maintained her position against
Congress, refusing to tell where Mulder was (she didn't even know herself)
and being charged for being in contempt of Congress. She went to jail
for Mulder, once again evidence that she sees herself as his protector
(to reaches she cannot herself accompany him, though). I felt sad for
Mulder for her sake. He ditched her again, but she looked past that
to protect him in the end. In the last scene, she chose not to pursue
the Russian infiltrator who knew about Krycek and the alien rock; she
instead found out if Mulder was okay or not. That's what I call devotion,
patience and loyalty.
4X11 - "El Mundo Gira" (12 January 1997)
(The 'yellow rain and the Chupacabra in California' episode)
* * ½
Rather standard fare. It was just another episode bringing out the skills
of the makeup artists. I should mention Ruben Blades and Raymond Cruz
-- although Cruz did a good job, I'm rather disappointed that Blades didn't
have a better role. I'm still, though, looking for an episode where minorities
aren't portrayed as migrant workers or people who speak with accents.
Although those people are out there too, stories focusing on them have
been done too many times, and I'd like to see a better story and a better
portrayal. Another thing...Mulder basically leaves Scully again here.
If we don't see him change soon, or her blow up at him soon, I am going
to be seriously disappointed. Scully cannot take this much longer.
4X12 - "Kaddish" (16 February 1997)
(The 'revenge of the golem' episode)
* * ½
Standard stuff. I don't know, maybe my standards for the show have increasingly
risen since last year... but this was your normal, everyday MOTW (Monster
of the Week) episode (with dark tones to boot) that really has no real
interest in the 'mythology' chronology of the shadowy government conspiracy.
This episode could have taken place in any season for that reason, and
it's no wonder the Fox Network has been choosing episodes like this to
postpone (only it still messes up the continuity of the show). For example,
this aired right after "Leonard Betts",
which certainly didn't make much sense. As for the episode (back to the
review now), I actually did find some of the historical and mythological
information interesting. And also, it was strange but refreshing to see
Mulder and Scully really dealing with discrimination head-on here; I say
strange because we've really never had a chance to see them in this sort
of situation before, and the writing in a nice and subtle way showed off
their responses. Perhaps the music could have used a bit of that subtlety
-- for a while it sounded as if Mark Snow was giving us a promo for "Millennium."