The Red and the Black 5×14: I heard about this office. It really is in the basement.

Bon Voyage, Cassandra.

Cigarette-Smoking Man is back. You didn’t really think he was dead, did you? You can’t have Christmas without the Grinch.

Interestingly enough, he still fancies himself a sophisticated writer if the letters he’s vainly churning out for his son Agent Spender are anything to judge by.

That’s right. His son. And here we were puzzling over whether Mulder or his sister Samantha was Cigarette-Smoking Man’s illegitimate child. It turns out he had a legitimate one all along. If Cassandra’s tales of abduction have even a modicum of truth to them, then the Mulder family isn’t the only one to sacrifice a member to the Colonists. Does this have something to do with whatever arrangement the Syndicate has with the Alien Colonists? Regardless, it looks like that arrangement is in danger.

The Syndicate now realizes that there’s another species out there fighting the Colonists and they’re the ones staging these mass killings in an effort to prevent colonization. The Syndicate now has two choices, as Krycek so aptly put it, Resist or Serve; they can take up arms with the Rebels to avoid the enslavement of the human race and risk utter destruction at the hands of the Colonists, or they can continue to cooperate, save themselves, and secretly plan and scheme against the Colonists in hopes eventually being able to deliver humanity.

I’m not so sure one choice is actually more righteous than the other, but one is clearly more idealistic and that’s to joint the Rebels and openly fight. Well-Manicured Man is sure leaning that way, Krycek too, ostensibly, although he’ll lean any way the wind blows. The rest of the Syndicate, however, doesn’t see potential for success that’s worth bucking the status quo for and in order to preserve their relationship with the Colonists hand over the Rebel Alien they capture against Well-Manicured Man’s wishes. After all, if the more advanced vaccine that the Russian’s have developed can’t save Marita Covarrubias, how can they hope to oppose the Colonists? Too bad they made their decision before the vaccine kicked in.

Watching the tensions play out in these group is probably more enjoyable than it should be. Back in Season 3, Cigarette-Smoking Man was on the outs, held in loathing by Well-Manicured Man more than anyone. To say he saw him as…. Is to put it mildly. The whole thing culminated in an unsuccessful assassination attempt on Cigarette-Smoking Man’s life in “Redux II” (5×3). How many people know you can’t kill a cockroach?

Now it appears that new tensions are simmering as Well-Manicured Man’s conscience is the least seared among his peers and he’s desperate enough to enlist Krycek to beg Mulder for help behind the Syndicate’s collective back. How will it end? Wait for the movie.

Onto the subject of our two leads, the last time Scully was hypnotized in “The Blessing Way” (3×1), she thought it was nonsense and walked out. The last time Mulder went through a similar process, in “Demons” (4×23), it nearly killed him. So I’m not sure why Scully is so willing to jump into the experience again here except that recent events have scared her into being open and maybe in some perverse way Mulder’s resistance spurs her on because if Mulder is currently in denial about the existence of aliens, Scully believes her own story way too willingly. She’s nearly as well versed in abduction lingo at this point as Mulder is and yet it doesn’t occur to her without Spender’s prodding that she could have made up the memories she “recovered” during the hypnotherapy session?

Poor Mulder, for his part, is clearly uncomfortable with the whole thing. It’s touching, really, because his discomfort is both for and because of Scully. Mulder refuses to believe in aliens any longer because of what these men in the Syndicate have done to her and now here she is crossing over to the dark side herself. Now that he’s come to his senses she’s mentally abandoning him in a way. Mulder has a hard time hiding his disappointment at that.

Fortunately, it doesn’t last because Krycek kisses some sense into Mulder in a scene that’s probably my favorite ever between the two of them. By the end, Mulder and Scully’s reversed opinions are reversed yet again… sort of. They both still seem a little unsure of themselves.

I, on the other hand, am left more sure than I’ve ever been at the end of a mythology episode. “The Red and the Black” is the clearest, most straight-forward presentation of the mythology plot we’ve received to date and even I can follow it. No doubt we’re being prepped for the feature film.


I love Mulder and Scully. I love them. Love them. Love. As in I could bust out some Nat King Cole and sing L-O-V-E in their honor right now.

For all the distance that Mulder’s current belief system puts between them in “The Red and the Black”, this episode is kind of a Shipper’s Joy. The hair stroking, the handholding, the hypnosis scene where I melt into a puddle of DNA on cue – proof that these two are connected even on a subconscious level.

The X-Files is proof that make out scenes on television are grossly overrated.


Annoying Comments:

That Navajo story Cigarette-Smoking Man relates to Spender, about twin war gods coming to their father for magic to eliminate the monsters, is especially meaningful in retrospect. Wink, wink. Nudge, nudge.

I don’t want to give too much away too soon, but how familiar is that scene between Mulder and the military guard? “I’d hate for somebody to die because you were uninformed.” I’m glad Chris Carter is economical enough to reuse material. Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.

It sounds unlikely on the surface but Spender persuades Scully and Krycek convinces Mulder. What an odd turn of events.

Nagging Questions:

I still don’t have a handle on when the Black Oil “infects” vs. when it “possesses.”  It infected the young boy that Marita kidnapped but then decided to wake up and possess him when it saw a way of escape and hopped over into Marita’s body. But her infection was different than his infection. She was comatose whereas he was conscious. I guess the Black Oil just does what it wants when it wants to?

What was Syndicate minion Quiet Willy doing at the site of the mass murder? Was he an abductee too or was he sent to keep an eye on Cassandra Spender?

So what happened to the Alien Rebel and the Bounty Hunter? Who was abducted by whom?

Best Quotes:

Krycek: Remind me to complain to the captain about the service.
Well-Manicured Man: You may have that opportunity. This ship is bound back to Vladivostok tomorrow. I gather there’ll be quite an enthusiastic homecoming.


Mulder: The truth I’ve been searching for? That truth is in you.


Mulder: If those were my last words, I can do better.


Krycek: Here this, Agent Mulder. Listen very carefully because what I’m telling you is deadly serious. There is a war raging and unless you pull your head out of the sand you and I and about 10 billion other people are going to go the way of the dinosaur. I’m talking planned invasion, the colonization of this planet by an extraterrestrial race.

17 responses to “The Red and the Black 5×14: I heard about this office. It really is in the basement.

  1. Now this is more like it. Faster paced, better drama, the return of the CSM, Mulder being an ass (I love how when Mulder is skeptic he turns into a unsympathetic and quite deeply unlikeable character) and THAT hypnosis scene, I think this is The X Files at its most cinematic, with a joyous amount of explosions, Bounty Hunters, Rebels and wonderful special effects. The hypnosis sequence is one of the greatest X Files moments, visually stunning and possibly Chris Carter’s greatest moment as director.

    • Speaking of Mulder being unlikeable when he plays the skeptic, I watched All Souls today where he’s not just unlikeable, he’s a jackass. But we’ll get to that.

      Chris Carter really did outdo himself with that abduction scene. You’d think Rob Bowman had directed it’s so cinematic.

  2. One “Nagging Question” for me is why does the Well-Manicured Man send Krycek to Mulder in the first place? Why tell Mulder about the Rebels? What can one man like Mulder do against the alien invasion anyway? No one believes him or listens to what he says, so why bother? The Well-Manicured Man (and probably CSM) must know that Mulder has a pivotal role to play in the future, but what is it? Is he some kind of Messiah? We learn more in the FTF movie, but it will not be until the XF3 movie before we will know the final answers.

  3. one of my faves. GA is a great actress the inflection she uses on in the scene describing wha’s happening on the bridge. I wondered how someone could say that so many times…”Oh my God, the same thing ikn a different way. Yeah she is good and so pretty here.

  4. I just wanted to say thanks for the great reviews! I’ve been reading for a while now, making my way through the X files for the first time. I knew something big was coming when Chris Owens played Spender, does anyone ever die on this show?!? 🙂

    • For the first time?!?! How exciting!! I love that there’s a whole new generation of X-Philes popping up. It gives me the warm fuzzies. 😀 Please tell us what you think from a fresh, unbiased set of eyes!

      “No one ever really dies on The X-Files.”

  5. Like I said before, this is some of my faaaavorite mythology stuff. I remember seeing this when it first aired and that final scene with CSM was so shocking. It’s so fitting though. The more episodes I watch with the consortium, the more curious I get about them.

    And oh yes, the shippy stuff. 😀 Though I admit after watching some ATTHS vid someone put up on YouTube, I can no longer maturely watch that scene from the hypno-regression, where she’s all heavy-breathing and “OH MY GOD. OH MY GOD.” I cannot help but smirk. That video… it cannot be unseen.

    • Had no clue what ATTHS meant, so I googled it and came upon “thirty-five things I learned from X-Files fan-fiction”. HILARIOUS.

  6. Although I loved Mulder’s sweet treatment of Scully when she was in the hospital, I was very confused by his behavior after her hypnosis. Why was he so mad at her? I’ve never understood this and I have to say I was disappointed in him – he was acting like a jerk to her after she almost got burned to a crisp.

    • I don’t think he was mad at Scully so much as he was frustrated that now that he’d finally “come to his senses,” everyone around him had drunk the koolaid. Now Skinner and Scully were disappointed in him for not believing. I think Mulder felt alone in his beliefs, yet again. That, and deep down his disbelief came from anger over what had been done to Scully, not through lack of evidence. That’s why he resists the idea of what happened so violently and why he’s frustrated that Scully, of all people, would buy into the story.

  7. Wow, didn’t know Scully had that kind of…..gusto in her…I mean, Ms. Anderson probably does, but Scully….well, it kinda turned me on. And I normally don’t find her sexually attractive….

    And of course CSM is still alive! Though I wonder how many children he has in the governments of the world working with/against him, the Syndicate, etc….

  8. “The X-Files is proof that make out scenes on television are grossly overrated.” Brilliantly stated.

  9. I always assumed Marita was just drugged, to avoid her trying to avoid being cured. But would that work? I’m not so sure.

    I love the Krycek scene, too, but there is at least one moment that gives me pause. Krycek responds to some question of Mulder’s with “Not who, what!”, but in the long pause between “who” and “what” I always expect him to say “whom”!

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