The Unnatural 6×20: Trust the tale… not the teller.

You rebel.

I really didn’t know if I wanted to watch an X-File written and directed by David Duchovny. It’s not personal. It’s impersonal. In order to preserve the integrity of the fantasy that is the character I love, I’m one of those viewers who religiously avoids certain actors in any outside roles… including the ones they play in the movie called Real Life. That’s right, I’m a David Duchovny ascetic. I can probably count on one hand the number of interviews with him I’ve actually watched or read in the whole 14 years I’ve been obsessing over this show – clichéd but true. I was even reluctant to go hunting down background information on “The Unnatural” for this review, lest mine eyes alight on anything that might tarnish their purity.

Now, I know he’s gotten story credit before on various mythology episodes like “Colony” (2×16) and even on the Skinner-centric “Avatar” (3×21), but contributing ideas and even lines is mighty different from helming an entire episode, one that would be his vision from start to finish. I don’t know if I want to know how David Duchovny sees Mulder… or The X-Files for that matter. And I can’t say that “The Unnatural” reveals nothing about his mindset, but fortunately for me (and fortunately for David Duchovny?), what it does reveal I’m OK with. Actually, I’m more than OK with. And the way I realized that went something like this…

[Sitting bracingly on the edge of the bed] Well, here we go. Just try to ignore what it says on the credits. There are no credits. There is no spoon. This is just another X-File. If you don’t like it, you can always pretend it never happened. David Duchovny? What David Duchovny? I see what you did there with that “Is it a UFO?” shot. OK, that was cute. Not that anyone in his or her right mind is going to take on a shotgun with a baseball. Still it’s cute. Stories about race tend to bore this black girl, but whatever. I’m going to keep an open mind. I am. I am. I AM. And theeeere’s the alien. A comedy episode, I see. [Sigh] Well, we’ve made it through the teaser just fine. Look alive, we’re back at the F.B.I. Oh, casual Friday at the office? Oh, casual Saturday at the office. Wait. Did she just… huh? Is that… huh? Am I watching flirty repartee? I mean, openly flirty repartee?? Did Scully just smile? Did Scully just laugh? Wait. What’s happening here? Hold on. Wait. What??? [Massive intake of breath] David Duchovny is a Shipper!

Holy Queen of the Reticulans. Congratulations. You now have my full attention.

And at that point, whatever else happened, I was already appeased. So, Mulder and Scully jones satisfied, I sat back to watch the rest of the action almost indifferent as to whether it was good or not. But lo and behold, the meat of this episode, yes, even without our two leads, is a joy all on its own.

An X-File with a comedic bent is nothing new, but we’ve never had an episode that turned the deadly serious backbone of the series, the mythology itself into a kind of playful romp. The Alien Bounty Hunter affecting a Southern drawl and being knocked out by a baseball? Who could have predicted this would work?

By some extra-terrestrial miracle, it does. Helped along by a lovely, memorable soundtrack and some joyful performances. I don’t know because I wasn’t there, but I get the distinct impression that all the actors involved were having a good time. Maybe it’s because there’s nothing routine about this episode – they probably relished the chance to jump out of the box.

But, ironically, the character that this episode is mostly about is only in maybe a third of it. That’s right, cleverly disguised in an ode to baseball is a loving jab to Fox Mulder’s ribs.

Mulder: Let me tell you something; I have been ripe for years. I am way past ripe. I’m so ripe I’m rotten.

Mulder: Whatever. I don’t really care about the baseball, so much, sir. What I care about is this man in the picture with you, I believe to be an alien bounty hunter.
Arthur Dales: Of course you don’t care about the baseball, Mr. Mulder. You only bothered my brother about the important things like government conspiracies and alien bounty hunters and the truth with a capital ‘T’.

Mulder: It’s official. I am a horse’s ass.

Similarly to writer Darin Morgan, though I think with a little more actual love for the character, Duchovny seems to have a healthy disdain for Mulder’s self-righteousness. This episode is a life lesson astutely aimed in Mulder’s direction – Get out of the basement, dude.

More than Mulder, though, “The Unnatural” is clearly about the game. The game I’ve only ever been to one time… and it was for a Shakespeare class… which may say deeper things about my life than I should probably be sharing, but anyway… I have to admit that even my grossly uncoordinated self wants to go out and play a pick-up game of baseball after watching this. I love the retro clothing, the old-fashioned stadium, the sun shining on the grass, the hick accents, all of it.

And casting Jesse L. Martin, then of Ally McBeal and now of Law & Order fame, was brilliant. His good-natured performance sets the tone for all the flashback scenes, which means he sets the tone for pretty much the entire episode. It doesn’t hurt that he’s nice to look at, either. And I don’t mean that in a skeevy, lustful sort of way. I mean that he has a pleasant, all-American sort of face. It’s a face you can trust, which makes it easy to believe in him as the darling of his community.

And while I’m gushing, I make no secret of the fact that I love the character of Arthur Dales. Alas, after filming two days worth of his scenes, actor Darren McGavin suffered a stroke and was unable to return, which meant his scenes had to be scrapped. M. Emmet Walsh was able to fill in at the last minute as Arthur Dales, brother of… Arthur Dales. It’s a sad loss, but if you have the DVDs you can check out the deleted scenes with Darren McGavin for yourself and confirm that they would have been just as charming. And I say it’s a loss only because I’m already attached to Darren McGavin and his character, but M. Emmet Walsh stole the show. If only both men had been able to come back and guest star. Ah, my list of X-Files shoulda-woulda-couldas grows longer.

“Darling” is the word that comes to mind when I think of this episode. From beginning to end, it’s cute without being queasy. Between the MSR and the nostalgia and the not-so-latent messages about cross-racial understanding it could have easily turned to schmaltz, but it stays just this side of it. It’s a meaningful love letter written with cheeky irreverence.


Here’s the thing about my David Duchovny boycott. It’s not just David Duchovny, it’s also Gillian Anderson. And here’s the thing about my David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson boycott, it’s to protect my own Fangirl health. Imagine if I watched Gillian in something I’m itching to see like Moby Dick, and there I observed a tick, a look, a tone of voice that in my head is Scully’s exclusively. If the thought, “That’s not Scully’s thing, that’s Gillian Anderson’s thing” were to intrude on my X-Files viewing I’d be horrified, let alone if her love life, political opinions, or anything other frustrating non-essential bit of gossip were to trouble me while I was trying to watch.

I’ll not have it. I can’t have it. And so I abstain.

It’s not that I know nothing or hear nothing about them. I just don’t seek information out and try to avoid it when I can. Being able to watch The X-Files in peace is all I care about. And episodes like “The Unnatural” remind me why I want to work so hard to protect that peace.

Nothing is allowed to interfere with this little corner of my joy.

Mulder: You’ve never hit a baseball, have you, Scully?
Scully: No, I guess I have, uh… found more necessary things to do with my time than… slap a piece of horsehide with a stick.

Josh Exley: It was like music to me… First unnecessary thing I ever done in my life and I fell in love. I didn’t know the unnecessary could feel so good.

It’s quite lovely. An homage not only to baseball, but to all the unnecessary things in life that give us joy. The unnecessary that gives us the joy and the strength to go about our necessary business.

Hint. Hint.


Bottom of the 9th:

Yes, that’s Vin Scully, our Scully’s namesake, announcing the game.

One of the more wonderful little moments in this episode: The music seamlessly changes from “I got a brother in that land” to “I got a sister in that land” when we open on Mulder and Scully’s famous nighttime baseball lesson.

I’ve never hit a baseball either. But no strapping, if oddly named, Fox Mulder has offered to put his arms around me and show me how it’s done. Imbalance in the Force?

Oh, and by the way, that midnight baseball epilogue is more full of sexual suggestiveness than I ever fully appreciated. I mean, I always knew it was there, but dang. o_O

We already established back in “Agua Mala” (6×14) that Arthur Dales was down in Florida. I guess we’re to assume he was merely a Snowbird who divided his time between there and the D.C. area and now he’s officially moved?

Best Quotes:

Arthur Dales: What you fail to understand in your joyless myopia, is that baseball is the key to life — the Rosetta Stone, if you will. If you just understood baseball better all your other questions your, your… the, uh… the aliens, the conspiracies they would all, in their way, be answered by the baseball gods.


Arthur Dales #2: You say “shape-shifting.” Agent Mulder, do you believe that love can make a man shape-shift?
Mulder: I guess… women change men all the time.
Arthur Dales: I’m not talking about women. I’m talking about love. Passion. Like the passion you have for proving extra-terrestrial life. Do you believe that that passion can change your very nature? Can make you shape-shift from a man into something other than a man?
Mulder: …What exactly has your brother told you about me?


Mulder: You’re making me feel like a child.
Arthur Dales: Perfect. That’s exactly the right place to start from, then, isn’t it?


Scully: Mulder, this is a needle in a haystack. These poor souls have been dead for 50 years. Let them rest in peace. Let sleeping dogs lie.
Mulder: No, I won’t sit idly by as you hurl clichés at me. Preparation is the father of inspiration.
Scully: Necessity is the mother of invention.
Mulder: The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom.
Scully: Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we may die.
Mulder: I scream, you scream, we all scream for non-fat tofutti rice dreamcicles. [Much giggling ensues]

45 responses to “The Unnatural 6×20: Trust the tale… not the teller.

  1. I don’t think you’re missing much by avoiding DD’s other stuff, but GA is a truly fine actress and you are missing out by avoiding her performances. Her performance in “Bleak House” as Lady Dedlock was superb and she in no way resembled Scully. I’m sure the same will be true of “Great Expectations.” There is a lot of David in Mulder. But Gillian is nothing like the characters she plays.

  2. Firstly, I agree with Wendelah. You are missing out big time on not seeing any of Gillian’s stuff. She was AMAZING as Lady Dedlock and AMAZING as Miss Havisham. And I think the English accent really helps with her departure from Scully. Playing By Heart I was not able to separate Gillian from Scully.

    Anyway. Can I tell you all a secret? I ADORE the beginning and the end of The Unnatural. ADORE it so so so much. But the other stuff in the middle? Snooze. Maybe I’m just running on the “Agent Scully is already in love” high, but after the nonfat rice tofutti dreamcicle and we move on to the meat and potatoes of the episode, I found myself saying, “No wait! Come back!!!!!” But the ending of this episode makes it all worth it.

    Shut up, Mulder. I’m playing baseball.

    • I know. I know. I expected vehement protests from rabid GA fans. You all are a loyal lot. And when I see her in anything it will be Dickens because Dickens = Life.

      I’m trying to rack my mental catalogue but I think this may be the Shippiest episode ever. Yes, Shippier than Triangle, Milagro and even Millennium. I dunno, the flirting is just so hot and heavy. I can see how the meat of the middle might taste a little bland sandwiched between all those hormones.

  3. Fox Mulder = David Duchovny = Frank Moody (is that his Californication character’s name?). I can’t separate them. I can see Gillian Anderson in other things, however and separate her from Scully. Perhaps because she is a much more talented actor than Duchovny. She was quite good in “The House of Mirth.”

    Salome, do I have to apologize for pointing out all of the not so subtle nods to DD’s sex addiction? And the end of this episode was rife with them! In this season when he got to write his own character he really ran with the whole porn thing. Well, and you know how meta things got with the Tea Leoni & Garry Shandling episode “Hollywood AD.” I don’t know which dinner post it was that I went off on that.

    And now he’s playing an all-out sex addict. It’s like when Robert Downey Jr. was a drug addict playing a drug addict in “Less Than Zero.” How method!

    What was the point of this…? Oh, I think that this was shot beautifully, the banter between Mulder and Scully and Dales were well-written, and Martin is endearing as the alien, but the whole racial aspect of it was a little too heavy-handed for my taste.

    • Hank Moody. And I feel like Hank is an extension of Mulder. Though Mulder seems to keep his lewd behavior private and Hank doesn’t give a shit. I think both are an extension of David. But I don’t have an issue separating Mulder and Hank. Maybe it’s because David looks different in Californication. Older. Longer hair.

    • First of all, love means never having to say you’re sorry. That’s BS, of course, but you get the idea. 😉

      By some miracle of God, and it is a miracle of God, I can watch The X-Files without knowledge of DD’s sex addiction intruding. Maybe I’ve finally reached adult maturity?

      I still stay away from the headlines, discussions, etc. I can’t let it worm its way to the forefront of my mind.

      And now he’s playing an all-out sex addict. It’s like when Robert Downey Jr. was a drug addict playing a drug addict in “Less Than Zero.” How method! LOL!!!

  4. “Holy Queen of the Reticulans. Congratulations. You now have my full attention.”

    I honestly don’t know what’s funnier. Your writing about the opening of this episode or me sitting in an office full of people trying to hold in laughter while on my lunch hour!

    “‘Darling’ is the word that comes to mind when I think of this episode.”

    I whole-heartily agree on your assessment there. Generally, I am a fan of heavy mytharc instead of the comedic ones, but this episode is a keeper! I’m no fan of baseball either, but this episode has given the game a special place in my heart.

    Excellent episode & another great review! 🙂

    • I’m going to have to attempt to bring out my inner American and watch some baseball again. The one Giants game I went to was a lot of fun, even though I had no idea what was going on. It’s just that on TV it’s. so. boring.

      Thank you as always, Agent Summer!

  5. I know the feeling, this episode makes me wish I loved baseball. It’s a great, great episode that makes you feel great about this slice of Americana and about tolerance and about baseball-playing aliens, and the beginning and end are wonderful and the middle is wonderful.

    But mostly I reviewed to say that like other reviewers, I would like to urge you in the strongest terms to see Bleak House. She’s fantastic in it and thoroughly unlike Scully.

    • Yeah, this episode makes me feel like I’m missing out on baseball. And then I move on to the poker episode and the feeling passes. ^^

      Ah, one day. One day, Lord willing, I shall. But not today. And definitely not during the rewatch! Maybe by the time I hit thirty I’ll be mentally prepared.

  6. I have to jump on the bandwagon, you’re missing out with not watching more of DD/GA works.
    Especially in the case with Gillian… to be honest, I appreciate her much, much more since I’ve gained some insight on her other work (although I still have to watch Bleak House, though, keeping that in store for until I have the perfect mood) and interviews with her… seriously, while I have all the love for Scully, being aware of Gillian’s other work has made her for one of those actresses for me whom I want to love forever.
    As for having “Scullyisms” in her other roles, so far *spoilers* I haven’t seen much of that, especially since Gillian both tries to take diverse roles AND avoid said manners.

    As for David, I haven’t seen much else outside Californication. As much as I love Mulder, I’m not sure how I feel about David as an actor.

    And for one last bit, I was quite scared before I watched anything else with either of them, especially Gillian – in fact, I had some movies with her sitting around for months until I braced myself to watched and hey! it turned out that I could stomach them quite well and that watching her acting and reading/watching her non-X-Files-related interviews is an all-around joyful experience.
    I hope you get there some day, too. c:

  7. Salome, I enjoyed the ep for many reasons already mentioned.
    Then I scrolled down to the comments section and the most important thing here seems to be the GA vs. DD competition! Where he of course comes up short because oh, he is not actually acting, he is merely extending himself, cruising along, etc etc. It´s so frigging old by now. It´s like comparing two siblings – but ask yourselves, does that seriously say anything about either of them? Does it contribute to their lives or the world in general ? Isn´t it more about honking your own horn essentially? I don´t get the need to compare, never did.
    And I don´t get why it would be so scary to watch anything else they´ve been in outside of XF. Breathe in, breathe out.
    Those who can´t separate Mulder from Hank Moody – no, that is actually so mindboggling that I can´t be bothered to comment on it. Watch Californication. Learn the character´s name, for starters, and continue from there..

    • Well, you won’t see me comparing the two! I love them both equally. The instinct to compare is probably another reason I should ration out what I watch with them in it.

      But, ah. It’s not scary because I can’t separate them, it’s scary because I can. I can tell the difference between the actor and the character and I don’t want the actor intruding on my reading of the character. Tom Hanks explained it best in an interview once – He said that the reason he doesn’t put his personal life out there is that when he sees a movie with an actor, he wants to see the character and not the actor. so the less people know about him the better. Otherwise, they’ll start to see Tom Hanks. I feel the same way except that, for me, with certain actors, it also extends to seeing them too often in too many roles. The similarities in the characters they play start creeping in.

  8. I love this episode. With icecream, hot fudge, caramel, and walnuts on top love this episode. And every single time I think about baseball I think, “Hips before hands.” LMAO. I’m going to have to rewatch it. it’s too priceless. I really wish we’d gotten a glimpse into what happened after that closing scene. I giggle every time.

  9. Back in the day, I wasn’t much interested in the rest of the story; just the Mulder & Scully bits (and I think we can all agree they didn’t disappoint) and I would often fast forward through most of the ep, or just keep myself occupied with other stuff. Of course, realizing that Duchovny was a shipper was an epic moment–it didn’t really get any better than that. However, as time has passed, I enjoy the ep as a whole. Is it a little goofy at times? Sure! I don’t find that offensive, though–it’s fun and charming and sweet, and Jesse Martin did a bang up job with the ep. I can now appreciate the whole ep, and even be moved by it at times.

    And to briefly throw my hat in the DD/GA acting ability ring…first, I’ll say I can’t understand your media blackout, mainly because I’m extraordinarily nosy and wanted to know everything that was going on with the two of them. Beyond that, though, I wouldn’t say that GA is a better actor than DD, just that they’re different. When David does something, it’s always kind of like “David Duchovny as so-and-so,” while Gillian more fully submerges herself in each character. She’s more chameleon-like. Does this make her a better actor? Not necessarily. Look at someone like Cary Grant–he pretty much always felt like, “Cary Grant as…” but that didn’t stop anyone from enjoying one of his movies. For the most part, I’ve enjoyed DD’s outside work–the only one that felt like Mulder was Evolution, but heck…it was a fun movie. As for GA–I’ll reiterate what’s been said about House Of Mirth; it’s simply breathtaking and heartbreaking. I don’t ever see Scully in her roles. I will say, and I’ve only seen parts of it, that Closure/Straightheads felt like too much of a departure for her–like she was trying too hard to prove that she’s not Scully, but that’s just me. But speaking as someone who has very strong opinions about DD, I still enjoy his work and those personal views don’t ever seem to negatively affect his other work–in fact, it sometimes enhances the experience.

    I’ll step off my soap box now, but when you’re ready to venture out to their other works, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

    • So, I have to correct what I said. It was brought to my attention last week that I saw Last King of Scotland several years ago, so I HAVE seen GA play someone other than Scully. However, I think it’s telling that I either subconsciously blocked that out or didn’t care enough to remember.

      • Ha! I’ve not seen that one; it’s very possible the movie was so mediocre it left no impression. Of course, if you’ve seen Working Girl, Beethoven, or Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead, you’ve inadvertently seen some of DD’s early work and not even known.

  10. Salome, I want to back you up on not watching David and Gillian in other projects because I also avoid them like the plague. I’m not totally sure why – I agree that part of it is that I want to keep the characters apart from the actors, but that’s only part of it. In truth, I’m not a fan of either of them. They’re both beautiful, they’re both talented, but they just don’t do it for me like Mulder and Scully do.

    That said, I adore this episode. While I don’t have the same love for Hollywood, A.D., the way that David writes these characters speaks to me. They are what I imagine they would be on a Saturday at the office. It seems like whenever he has the chance to write Mulder and Scully, they’re more open with each other, and dare I say more happy? Yep, he’s a shipper alright.

    I didn’t realize that so many fans skipped the eppy aside from its bookends until I became part of the online fandom about 10 years ago. What’s not to love about it? Jesse L. Martin does a fantastic job and his voice…just, his voice. I could listen to him talk all day long.

    And yeah, I’m one of those people that does rewind the final scene over and over. It’s like they’re on a first date, but they already know everything about each other. Mulder’s “get over here Scully” makes me shiver. Ahh.

    • Ah ha! An ally. Much love my lone comrade.

      I’m sad to say I don’t have the same affection for Hollywood, A.D. either, and I really wanted to after this 43 minutes of joy. But We’ll get to that later.

      They are what I imagine they would be on a Saturday at the office.

      That’s why this feels like an incredibly well-written piece of fanfic to me. It puts the characters in a “loose” sort of situation, the kind we don’t expect to see them in on the show proper, and shows them having fun. Then it takes something really fanciful and borderline absurd and runs with it. It sounds like something a fan would want to see/write.

  11. Its official im addicted to reading your reviews lol. You are a great writer and I have to say I was a little nervous when I started reading this one thinking you weren’t going to like it. I haven’t really seen anything of these actors outside of the x-files although I did watch some californication episodes and loved David in them, I really do think he is a great actor his characters always have such depth to them. I too try not to look at all the gossipy stuff about them I respect the right to privacy too much and truely believe we can’t really know someone through the eyes of the media and gossip collums. I do love watching them being interviewed though – when they are talking about the show that is, they are actually really funny people. Mulder and Scully have such a great relationship and so does DD and GA they have worked together for so long they are great friends and its cool to see them interacting together, I think they seem to have quite similar personalitys. I haven’t seen much of GA outside the x-files here work doesn’t seem to stretch to my little country, with the exception of “how to loose friends and influence people” and the recent one she did with Rowan Atkinson that doesn’t get me too excited. I might see if I can hunt down some of her work now I have read some of the Gillian fans opinions of them. I have great respect for GA though, being a mum of young children myself I can’t believe 1. how she can still look that stunning and 2. work so hard. I guess that can be said about a lot of celebritys. But she was working on the x-files through her whole pregnancy with Piper and didn’t appear to have hardly taken anytime off after she had her thats pretty amazing in my books.

    David is a very smart guy and a big sports fan and this shines through in this “darling” episode. The storyline is very clever and I think very metaphorical. Our heros who we look up to and idolise really are actually quite alien to us……..

    I like how David lets the characters relax! In Hollywood ad and the Unnatural scully smiles, laughs even god knows that girl needed to do a whole lot more of that! I loved Arthur Dales, he was a fun character and you are right Jesse Martin has cheeks you just want to pinch he is such an honest looking guy with a great smile. Thank you for writing these it’s gonna take me ages to read through them all ….. yah 🙂

  12. What a great episode! My favorite part of the entire episode is the way Scully says “Mulder!” after he commandeers her cone. I may have rewound that part a few times. 🙂 Anyone who really enjoys this episode should watch the movie Bull Durham. I can’t help but wonder if the movie was an influence on Duchovny as a writer for this episode. MANY of the same elements: baseball, great chemistry love affair, sexual innuendo, humor, batting practice date, etc…

  13. There’s a lot of talk about Duchovny’s acting. Am I the only one that sees a considerable difference between his Mulder in season 1 thru 5, and Mulder season 6 thru IWTB? I used to think that it was that he had lost interest in TXF, and was just phoning in his performance, but judging from the couple of Californication eps I ever saw, I now think that’s just how he acts. Heck, even his cameo in Zoolander felt like the Mulder from the L.A. years.

    As for The Unnatural, I never liked it much. The scenes with Scully are fun, but that’s about it.

  14. I actually enjoyed Hollywood, A.D. almost as much as I enjoyed The Unnatural. I don’t know if that means it was as good as The Unnatural, but I still thought it was very different and very clever. David Duchovny, however many problems he may have as an actor or a person, is no idiot, and you can tell he really knows and loves these characters. And I can’t imagine anyone better to play the part of Mulder. I really can’t.

  15. “I’m one of those viewers who religiously avoids certain actors in any outside roles… including the ones they play in the movie called Real Life…. I’ll not have it. I can’t have it. And so I abstain.”

    Me, too. Also, I feel the same way about the authors of my favourite books.

  16. Pingback: all things 7×17: That’s like saying you’re having David Crosby’s baby. | Musings of an X-Phile

  17. I feel bad for David Duchovny. Anytime this episode is brought up, 90% of the time only the first and last scenes (particularly the latter) are referenced. This has a fun story with great period gospel.

  18. Pingback: Hollywood A.D. 7×18: Is this a real fake or a fake fake? | Musings of an X-Phile

  19. I love the Gay subtext between Exley and Dales. Makes me love the episode that much more.

  20. 20 years later and this ep can still make me grin like a goof 🙂

  21. This episode has my favorite Mulder/Scully banter up until now (I’m an X-Files newbie), David Duchovny should be in charge of Mulder/Scully banter, lol!
    Also, I love the way Mulder cheats on his own assignment. As if bringing her to his office is just a ruse to spend time with her, but I probably just have my shipper goggles on too tightly :).

    • He should. Oh, he should! And it’s not you. DD (and his ex wife Tea) are famous for their devotion to the Mulder/Scully ship. You’re seeing everything you’re supposed to.

  22. This is one of the cutest episodes ever. And not only because of MSR and the freaking epilogue but because everybody and everything was perfectly portrayed. Had no idea David was such a talented writer/director. Even the bounty hunter had a soft spot!

    Man. I can’t contain the joy after this episode. Perfect review, as always.

  23. This is an absolutely wonderful episode in terms of mythology, character writing, and plot. I always watch this one with my sister whenever we bust out the box sets. Oh, and you might like to know that Gillian Anderson has a starring role in the new American Gods series as the goddess of Media. Thought you might enjoy that little meta joke.

  24. Maybe it’s because I’m British and baseball is not a national sport here, or maybe because I’m not sporty, but I find this episode….. boring.

    Also when the x files deals with racism issues I feel it bogs down the story, it because less entertainment, and more a political commentary.

    In addition the lion share of this episode is a period piece (somewhat like Travellers 5×15) therefore no Mulder and Scully. Coming off the last episode, Three of a Kind, we were already without Mulder, and had minimal Scully. They only have wrap around scenes at the beginning and end of the episode, and frankly these scenes are the only enjoyable ones for me in the episode. And speaking of these scenes, Scully seems out of character to me. Too girly, and giddy. Maybe it’s the side effects of the injection she had in Three of a kind? The best scene, and what saves the whole episode is undoubtedly the final scene.

    The scene when Arthur Dales discovers Exely as an alien, his real self, and has a conversation with him is ridiculous. The moment when them scream at each other is embarrassing, and not funny. The only point for me where it gets mildly interesting is when the Alien bounty hunter turns up.

    I just feel this episode is DD pet project, and free reign to do what he likes, without considering the series as a whole, or the implications on the mythology. I feel CC should have stepped in and said is this right for the show, or is there any adjustments we can do to improve it, or even better change the whole story.


  25. Ahhh, such an utterly wonderful review that resonates with me SO much! I too avoid all interviews etc with DD/GA for EXACTLY the reason you mention. I can’t really handle anything that might suggest that Mulder and Scully aren’t real, so I just bury my head in the sand and ignore them. I remember watching the GA/DD commentary of the deleted FTF kiss and it made me feel SO WEIRD… like, who are you people and why are you talking about Mulder and Scully like that? Strange but true. I guess it links a lot to everything you so astutely mentioned in your Milagro review. These characters are our friends, they exist within us. After 20 years and many many hours of thinking about them and their lives, anything that contradicts that is just too confusing. Wow, writing this down makes me feel like a loon but there you go…

    Therefore, my experience of first watching this episode was VERY much like yours and your description made me laugh out loud. I too was so happy to realise that DD is a shipper, and I absolutely loved the way he wrote Mulder and Scully… hats off.

    I’m actually not that much of a fan of the rest of the episode, it’s cute but that’s about it. But to be honest I’d give it an A+ for the last scene alone. Definitely a contender for the first time they had sex, although I have yet to re-watch the following episodes so I may change my tune later.

    Loving season 6 more and more this re-watch.

  26. Something strange is happening to me while rewatching the whole series. I’m finding myself incredibly moved when I see the love and care that everyone put into some parts of the series.

    This episode is a perfect example. It’s a shame that so many commenters never saw it the way I see it, but:

    You’ve got a star who actually really understands not only his character but his co-star’s character too, and who understands the weaknesses of his own character – the fact that Mulder can’t ever just relax and enjoy life and has to admit that he’s a horse’s ass, for example.

    But what moves me is remembering the enormous amount of love that went into the making of this episode. Clearly DD asked Snow to come up with a very different soundtrack, and it’s surprisingly emotional – Snow doesn’t normally do emotional chord progressions but this episode is full of them. And I’d never noticed that “I’ve got a brother” changes to “I’ve got a sister” when Scully joins in at the end. See, it moves me that they chose to do that.

    This emotional response is happening a lot. I despair of what Carter did to TXF after season 6 – how Scully dropped her scepticism entirely and lost a core part of her character, as well as essentially becoming a whining whispering crying weak person in seasons 8 and 9.

    But when they got it right, my god they got it SO right.

    I think back to Nisei. Until the advent of streaming, with its ability to have longer episodes, every minute or screen time had to be accounted for. And yet TXF spent FOUR MINUTES on the Nisei teaser, all of which was simply a beautiful set of shots of trains, and only 30 seconds of which mattered. I almost wanna cry when I remember the passion that has to go into filming 4 minutes of establishing shots.

    Aside from the clunky racial issues, which let’s face it, as white people we can rarely get right in fiction, the episode is beautiful. It’s such a shame that people fast forward through the baseball stuff. There’s so much affection between Ex and Dales, and so much affection between the players. You have to be a special writer, director, cast and crew to capture that kind of affection.

    Sadly, DD messes up the mythology big time, which is odd given that the whole alien bounty hunter was his idea. Once again we see the green blood not being toxic even though we know it is. Once again we see aliens being able to shapeshift when we’ve been led to believe that only hybrids can do that.

    And then, in 1947, we have the ABH saying “you who would put the whole project at risk for a game”. In X Files lore there was no “project” in 1947. At some point between 1947 and 1973 people in the state Department became aware that aliens were planning on colonisation. We can assume that in 1947 the aliens didn’t have much of a project, given that the syndicate had to convince the aliens not to simply wipe us out.

    But the one thing this rewatch has really driven home is how badly written the mythology was. If you read it the right way, the syndicate knew there were other alien races trying to interfere with colonisation right back in “End Game” in season 2 – X tells Mulder that the military planned to stop the bounty hunter who had been killing the colonist hybrids. By the logic of that episode, the rebels were already interfering in colonisation. Except we know that was nonsense: it was just bad plotting and a lack of a show bible that led to such stuff going into the script.

    So, I can forgive what DD did to the mythology in this episode, because somehow the love he has for the characters, and the love he has for storytelling in the first ever piece of television he ever directed, wipes away all of the bad stuff in this episode.

    I feel stronger about good X Files episodes now than I did when I was a major fan in real time. And what makes it even more moving is, now I’m 20 years older and wiser, I can watch these episodes and remember how people felt when they first saw them.

    Do you remember? I never ever read spoilers, so I remember not knowing when there was a “conspiracy episode” (as I called them) coming up. I still remember the intense incredible excitement I felt when the teaser made it clear that this was gonna be something of world historical importance in the X Files universe.

  27. Btw, back then when the “The truth is out there” titles tagline changed, it meant something really serious was about to happen in TXF world. But I *loved* DD’s “in the big inning” tagline; I sometimes wonder if we are supposed to take more about the colonisation project from the “in the beginning” joke, but I’ve been burned too many times from expecting TXF to have internal consistency.

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