Fight Club 7×20: It’s better just to avoid these encounters altogether and at all costs.


I got grills. They’re multiplyin’.

The first rule of “Fight Club” is: You do not talk about “Fight Club”.

That is, unless you’re morally obligated to write a review.

As I said to another Phile friend on Twitter today, I’m not sure whether I should apologize to Chris Carter for hating it so much or demand an apology for having to watch it.

Shameless snarkiness aside, I know he must have been trying to create yet another golden moment for his baby, his show, his beautiful show that I adore. But “the best laid plans” and all that.

I’m sorry, Chris. I’m really, very sorry. You still love me?

Oh, you don’t know me? Oh, okay. Nevermind.

For all its presupposed good intentions, “Fight Club” comes across as desperately chaotic instead of energetically quirky. We have two women, and later two men, who can’t be in the same vicinity as each other without fixtures rattling and the world nearly coming to an end. You know what was a better take on this theme? “Syzygy” (3×13), also penned, though not directed, by Chris Carter.

But where “Syzygy” takes the idea of two people with a close affinity being destined to clash and slowly builds the antagonism to a crescendo, “Fight Club” starts at a ten and then pushes it up to a fifteen. I feel like I’m being yelled at for almost the full forty-three minutes.

Just like wrestler Bert Zupanic, I have a hard time keeping track of when he’s with which version of Kathy Griffin. Let me try to get one part straight, though. Mulder and Scully track down Bert Zupanic because he’s in a picture with a woman they believe is Betty Templeton. Only he doesn’t know Betty Templeton, he knows Lulu Pfeiffer. Mulder and Scully don’t know about Lulu Pfeiffer yet. They only know about Betty Templeton. That’s who they have background information on and that’s who they’re looking for. Ergo, it’s hard to believe they stumbled upon a newspaper clipping of a random guy with Lulu Pfeiffer. But I’m going to assume for the sake of the plot that somewhere the F.B.I. got a hold of a clipping of Lulu Pfeiffer that was assumed to be Betty Templeton, because it’s not like newspapers include names usually. </sarcasm>

That’s enough of me trying to follow the plot. The plot doesn’t even matter. Betty and Lulu are caricatures that merely exist to facilitate the anarchy. Over the course of the episode they change not, neither does their situation. Scully’s closing synopsis doesn’t so much as address their recovery. Let’s move on.

You would think, you would think, that the banter between Mulder and Scully would be a payoff, especially that opening scene. Instead, I find myself weary of the “Look at us, we’re Mulder and Scully of the Unstoppable UST” schtick. Yes, I know you’re not like that other F.B.I. couple, the ones who have worked together for seven years without nary a hint of romance.

Five of the past six episodes have overtly questioned the sexually ambiguous nature of Mulder and Scully’s relationship. The 1013 crew may actually be overestimating how interested we are, or our tolerance for being strung along.

Haven’t we established that they’re together? I’m glad they’re together. They should be together. Now, stop winking at me like you have a bug in your eye.

All that opening scene in the office tells me is that they’ve been doing this too long. And by “they” I mean Mulder and Scully but am afraid that in truth, “they” might have been 1013. There’s a desperation to exude superficial charm in this episode, like they were mimicking their own magic instead of creating all new magic. I don’t know what was happening behind the scenes, but what I’m seeing on the screen reeks of stress, boredom, and joylessness instead of fun and excitement. Is it getting dull to write for Mulder and Scully? If not, then instead of yet another episode about how familiar the beats of The X-Files are I’d like a better X-File, please.

Back when this aired, I remember thinking the show needed an electric shock to the heart fast or someone needed to put it out of its misery before my memories were tainted. Somebody has to do something because right now I’m thinking nostalgic thoughts about “Teso Dos Bichos” (3×18) over here.


In defense of my love for you, Chris, “The Post-Modern Prometheus” (5×6) and “Triangle” (6×3) are two of my all-time favorite moments of television. So there.



Why would you give your future employer all your old addresses? Old jobs, yes. Old addresses, no.

I love Scully’s happy little smirk when she brings Bert Zupanic’s doppelganger into the arena.

Best Quotes:

Mulder: The interesting thing about these agents is they had worked together for seven years previously without any incident.

Scully: Seven years?

Mulder: Yeah, but they are not … romantically involved if that’s what you’re thinking.

Scully: Not even I would be so farfetched.


Scully: [On phone] Where have you been?

Mulder: [On phone] Seeing a side of Kansas City few men have the privilege to see.

28 responses to “Fight Club 7×20: It’s better just to avoid these encounters altogether and at all costs.

  1. No earth shattering, insightful comment here but I’m chuckling over your caption for Mulder’s picture above. I’ve got the song is stuck in my head now.

  2. I’ve always been curious/frustrated by the polarity if chris carter’s writing. You’re right about Triangle and Prometheous..and then this. Or just think first movie vs. the second… How does he slide from one extreme to another? Is it a lack of self editing? Or is everyone so in awe of his creation of mulder and scully that they follow blindly without the proper criticism? Maybe the universe needs to balance out the amazing things he has created with this. Ying and Yang. 🙂

    • Needless to say, as a television writer, he has a penchant for drama. When his writing is elevated it’s high drama and glossy intrigue, and then it occasionally slides into melodrama and exaggeration. A writer’s woe? I don’t know.

      I think it’s like those stories you make up in your own head for your own entertainment. Sometimes, they might actually be something someone else wants to hear. Other times, they’re an over-indulgence that will entertain you and only you and even you yourself sometimes want to roll your eyes.

      And I’ve pretty much just described the fanfic phenomenon. Yes.

  3. Great review I don’t like it either. But I love it when Mulder pops out of the sewer and snaps his head around

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  5. At this point, do you know if they knew whether X-Files got the green light for season 8 yet? It DOES feel like they’re bored with…the entire show. If they thought this was the end, wouldn’t they have tried to go out with some top quality episodes that they always wanted to make? Or are they trying to emphasize how routine everything feels because things are about to get very shaken up? So many questions. But my main one is WHO, other than CC, thought this was a great story idea? The only good thing is Scully’s smirk.

    • They had no idea! The show didn’t get renewed until a week before “Requiem” even aired. I think they could have/would have done a lot more if the show’s fate hadn’t been hanging in the balance. They didn’t know whether to wind things down, wrap things up, or ramp things up. “Fight Club” feels like they’re slowly letting the time run down until the end.

  6. Okay, one Kathy Griffin in torture. Two is literally Bloody Hell on Earth. I mean, Jesus died to save us from torture such as her “acting”/”comedy” routines. Kathy Griffin is LITERALLY her character from Sienfeld: the worst comic ever. WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU, CHRIS CARTER!!! YOU GAVE ME SCULLY! WHY WOULD YOU SUBJECT ME TO 43 MINUTES OF THE LITERAL WORST COMIC/ACTRESS EVER???!!!!!

    There. I got that off my chest.

  7. Yeah, it’s like they wanted to do a D. Morgan type story with quirky characters, turning M&S on their ear but missed in every way possible. It comes out like they resent M&S and want to kick the crap outta them in the most passive-aggressive way they could find. Also Kathy Griffin is just horrible. She gets a different camera shot for every line of dialog she performs and it sounds like a youtube clip mashup. Also…who gets sucked into a sewer? I’m a Phile so I’ll follow you if you tell me something fantastic happened, but a cartoon style manhole blowout that then sucks Mulder *in* and the lid falls right back into place….nope. Nope, nope, nope. Also he woulda smelled pretty bad and I always love it when Scully can make a joke at Mulder’s expense and that never happened. ALSO, WHY AM I SO FRUSTRATED…’s ok…it’s over. Good thing the genie episode is next cause I wish to not watch this episode again unless for the sole purpose of MST3K’ing the **** out of it.
    Side note: Feels cool to be a part of your review. 🙂

    • I love Chris Carter, but his writing is more thoughtful and dramatic than naturally quirky. Even “The Post-Modern Prometheus”, while a strange cast of characters, is eerie and romantic, almost literary in style. It’s a homage rather than a free for all, and it includes his deep musings on creating life, acceptance and difference. That’s why it still worked. “Triangle” was different, but that’s because it was cinematic and, again, dramatic.

      When he goes all loose and zany on us, with all humble apologies, I don’t think it works. Like you said, it comes across as an attempt to give us what we love about Darin Morgan’s work. But Morgan’s quirk comes from his genuine outlook on life, just like Chris’ most successful work does, just like The X-Files does.

      And, yes, it feels like a cartoon. The cartoon level of surrealism is part of what gives me pause in “Je Souhaite” too, if I’m being honest.

      I probably should have included your Twitter responses, yes?

    • “WHY AM I SO FRUSTRADED…” I’m with you, bro, I’m sooo with you.
      Inmate whining and frustration<frustration with this episode.


  8. I’ve managed to ignore this particular train wreck. “Syzygy” is considered an improvement over this episode? E-gad. I watched “Syzygy” when it first aired and I’m still wincing from the memory, it was dreadful. This will remain one of my “avoid this and remember my Golden Years” X Files episodes. Ignorance is bliss!

    My issue with Post-Modern Prometheus is even stronger than with Small Potatoes: non-consensual/unaware sex is assault and it’s not funny (even with the voice of Babe).

    I stopped loving Chris Carter before this episode aired. He had his moments (Pilot, Irresistible) but the reality is (IMO) he was gifted with actors whose chemistry far outweighed his creativity, writing and long term planning abilities.

    *backs away slowly*

    • Why you wanna start a real Fight Club up in here?

      No, I’m sure Chris has thick skin. He created the writers room for The X-Files, after all. It sounds like there were some pretty passionate opinions being thrown around in there.

      It needles me that that aspect of “Small Potatoes” doesn’t bug me like it should. That’s self-exploration for another day. But, someone explained to me recently… and I can’t remember who… that TPMP didn’t involve sex. A violation, absolutely. But no rape. The farmer father was the one impregnating those women medically. The Great Mutato was just dancing around. So see? No rape, just impregnation without consent. Yeah.

      Bottom line: Avoid it. There’s no need to frustrate yourself.

  9. For sure, there are just some things I don’t want to know (FC, FPS) or attempt to understand (PMP, SP).

  10. This was literally the worst episode I’ve seen so far.

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  12. This has been the lamest, most lackluster episode I’ve seen so far.

    Nothing was funny, the story line simply not believable (in that Ty Cobb would not understand what the hell was happening on some level). The attempts at comedy landed with a thud. GA and DD looked like they’d rather be under the dentist light.


  13. Wow you guys are not pro wrestling fans I take it? This episode, like “FPS” and “El Mundo Gira,” is in part a play on a pop culture genre. TXF already showed its pro wrestling stripes with Jesse Ventura’s cameo in “Jose Chung,” too.

    What about Scully’s “Pilot” reference?? “That’s why they put the ‘I’ in FBI??” Come on people. This is an homage and it’s too precious to burn at the stake.

  14. I watched this today, oh boy. It was bad. In fact most of season 7 was pretty weak. I knew that coming into it, but still I was not ready for it. There were no real scary moments, or creepy monsters, there were too many quirky attempts at humour, and the Mulder and Scully relationship was just treading water and bored.

  15. I refuse point blank to rewatch this episode, even during my huge marathon rewatch. I saw it a few times when I bought the vhs boxset back in 2000. But it is so bad I like to believe that season seven has 21 episodes in my mind. This episode and one other has the distinction of being the worst ever episodes, that being Babylon 10X04. Also Babylon I’ll never watch again. Both written by Chris Carter. Funny he can be one of the best and worst writers. But considering season 10, he should have long retired.

    The only thing worth taking away in my mind was a line Scully made, “that’s why they put the I in the FBI” (referring to the Pilot 1X79). But I won’t even watch it for that.

    It’s so bad especially considering these were potentially the last episodes. Rumour has it they were planning a Krycek episode for this season. Imagine if that had took this episodes place. Or another prospect 1013 was considering was a multi-part episode at the end of the season. But what did we get…Kathy Gritths. She is so jarring, and annoying, and completely miscast in this episode. She doesn’t fit into the x Files universe.

    This review is based on memory, not rewatching it.


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  17. When one of my friends was binging the show for the first time- about 10 years ago- he told me that when he got to season 7, he actually didnt watch “Fight Club”, all because I told him one day that this episode represented everything that was wrong with the show in its last year with Mulder. I dunno if he watched it since, but I saw it again recently. And knowing what to expect, what not to expect, I was hoping to get a good guilty laugh from it. It couldnt still be that bad?

    ‘Cept it is!! This really really is the nadir of the show, frequently and rightfully comin’ first in “worst episode ever” categories online. For all the undeserved negativity slung at season 8, -and even season 9 with all its failures in its sporadic good moments- I would rather look at any of those episodes again than this. Man, its awful. Not even so bad, its good. Its a total non grade stinker for its ridiculous, stupid premise dumbed down beyond self parody.

    Its not funny- its annoying. Annoying for its annoying co-stars. Annoying for being boring, lazy, silly, and having absolutly none of the intellect, wit, or zesty charm that initially made the first batch of novelty of the week episodes so memorable in the first place. . Watch this monstrosity after the magnificence of say “Humbug”, “War of the Coprohagues”. or any of yer personal faves in that zany vein, and see.

    Its also annoying for its total waste of time. This was right at the end of the season- the uncertainties about the shows future was boiling over, nobody knew if DD was coming back- or he even wanted to return, even if the show itself was. The supposed finale was a coupla episodes away,and precious time for important stories and character wrap ups was squandered on this waste of time. Many people who were dismayed with the tone the show took from some of season 6 to this were justifiably right in protest, when it came to this episode!

    Thank God season 8’s stand alone shows were a return to horror and tight storytelling, as an obvious reaction to this here. I just wish Mulder was around to see it all!

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