4X13 - "Never Again" (2 February 1997)
In terms of the X-File, the story was too clean-cut. Everything took place within a strict set of boundaries: there was a clear beginning (Scully depressed, Ed having hallucinations), middle (the two meeting) and end (Scully figuring out what's going on with Ed, trying to stop him). In other words, it had a resolution (to the X-File theme, never to Scully's emotions!). And seeing a resolution in this program isn't very interesting. Even Jodie Foster doing the 'voice of the tattoo' was really unnecessary; it seemed like a hyped performance. Any good actor could have done the voice just as well; Foster really didn't bring in anything special to a role that wasn't special in the first place.
The things I did find interesting:
4X14 - "Leonard Betts" (26 January 1997)
This episode completely renewed my hope in the fourth season. This is a dynamic piece of collaborated writing (as it usually is in the Files), and thanks must go to Frank Spotnitz, John Shiban and Vince Gilligan. I think John Shiban (he did the not-so-great "El Mundo Gira") just came on this season as a new writer (to replace Darin Morgan on the team?), but Frank Spotnitz, as far as I know, has never participated in a bad episode. He usually works on the big 'mythology' multi-parters with Chris Carter (and the ones Spotnitz co-writes never miss). And Vince Gilligan came on last season (he wrote "Pusher", followed by this season's "Unruhe" and "Paper Hearts," which are all wonderful character-exploring stories).
Because of the last scene, this may be widely remembered as "the episode where Scully finds out she may have cancer," but the rest of the episode was marvelously handled. The iffy subject matter could have immediately stamped "Hokiness Alert" on the story, but the writers did a fantastic job with it. This is a great episode that not only has a Monster of the Week, but leads us into the extremely important Scully-and-cancer development (which is very much 'mythology' related); it even had some good, trademark X-Files humor at that (to pave a lighter-hearted road to "Memento Mori," most undoubtedly). It's very possible that I'm overrating this episode compared to season three, because after such a long drought of really great writing in this season, this reassured me that The X-Files is still my favorite show on television.
4X15 - "Memento Mori" (9 February 1997)
Now, I'm sure there are people who won't feel the same way I do, but when I think of the overall production for this particular show, I can't help but feel gratified. The writing surpasses anything I have ever witnessed in a regular television drama series, as it does many times with The X-Files, but this one was particularly special in its absolutely wonderful success in its goal. To spend an entire script conveying that Scully has cancer, and making it relevant and essential to the entire series is not an easy task. It's an important, landmark episode in both the fictional chronology as well as the history and experience of the TV series. And I have to say that although it was done through the remarkable writing team from the previous episode: Frank Spotnitz, John Shiban and Vince Gilligan, there was someone else who added some extra punch: Chris Carter. Being away working on "Millennium" really put a damper on things on the Files, from what I can tell, and his direct input here in this episode (he wrote Scully's breathtakingly moving monologue in the teaser sequence, for one thing) is something to be thankful for these days.
I could go on effortlessly about "Memento Mori," but suffice it to say that it is a great piece of writing, with some great acting by Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny. Even Bruce Harwood (Byers of the Lone Gunmen) left a heartfelt impression. My favorite things about the episode were undoubtedly Scully's monologues, which showcased the power of the writers as well as Anderson (not to mention the direction by Rob Bowman). Even Mark Snow's semblance of melodies during them contributed largely. The monologues were so moving that they actually brought me on the verge of tears; and that has never happened to me before while watching The X-Files. With this episode, the show once again enters the softer tones like the teaser from "Beyond the Sea," but here it progresses farther into the realm of poignancy. (At this point I'm thinking "I have to dedicate a page to this episode somewhere...")
4X16 - "Unrequited" (23 February 1997)
4X17 - "Tempus Fugit" (formerly titled "Flight
549") Part 1 of 2 (16 March 1997)
4X18 - "Max" Part 2 of 2 (23 March 1997)
4X19 - "Synchrony" (13 April 1997)
4X20 - "Small Potatoes" (20 April 1997)
4X21 - "Zero Sum" (27 April 1997)
4X23 - "Demons" (11 May 1997)
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