Kitten 11×6: He’s a good man.


 

Kitten_004.jpg

Do you see the dead person?

 

My first thought at the opening of this episode: FINALLY. A Skinner-centric X-File.

My second thought: Hey, that guy looks like a chubby Haley Joel Osment.

(!!!!!)

I guess this was just an episode for 90s reunions.

The last time we saw Kersh in “The Truth” (9×19/20), he was on our side. Color me confused. I guess when the Super Soldiers magically disappeared he began to doubt Mulder and Scully’s conspiracy theories? Weird.

What’s weirder is that I walked away from a Skinner episode without feeling like I understood Skinner any better. I mean, okay. I get that nuggets of government distrust were implanted deep down within his soul many years ago. And? So? This explains why he famously headbutted Mr. X so many years ago? This explains why he sold his soul to CSM for the cure to Scully’s cancer? This explains why he cradled a drugged and beaten Mulder in his arms on a dark and snowy night?

I know I’m being difficult and I don’t really mean it. “Kitten” doesn’t try to kid us that Skinner’s love for Mulder and Scully is primarily based on his latent doubts about the good old U. S. of A. But this just may explain why he never seemed completely at ease with CSM in his office even before he outed himself as an ally of the X-Files. Frankly, I always thought it was because he was a decent man with a moral compass who didn’t like being bossed around. I suppose it could have gone deeper.

Even so, outside of some internal emotional conflict over the war in Vietnam (and how many Americans already share those?) I honestly don’t feel like I know Skinner any better after this. He has the same moral core I always thought he did, even if his duty sometimes ran counter to his personal feelings. That, my friends, is what you call “a soldier”.

Regardless of how much we did or didn’t find out, I’m grateful for any extra attention paid to our too long unacknowledged third lead. Skinman for the win.

This episode, though… it’s just kind of “there”.

The Mulderisms are on point. Thank you for that, Gabe Rotter. But after watching and rewatching it, I can confirm that nothing much happens. Oh, a throwback to the mind-control cropdusters of “Blood” (2×3) happens, but not much else.

Wait, let me take that back. Mulder and Scully kinda sorta come to their senses without ever actually apologizing for the way they’ve treated their closest ally all season. Love means never having to say you’re sorry.

Verdict:

Let’s put to bed this ridiculous lack of trust Mulder and Scully have been showing Skinner lately, shall we? Because it is ridiculous. Walter Sergei Skinner has put not only his career but his very life on the line too many times for these two for them to treat him the way they have been.

The monster? Meh. It’s a half-caff episode of mythology disconnected government conspiracy mixed with a serial killer style “Monster” of the Week. Neither aspect of the mystery faired all that well.

As an episode of The X-Files, it falls flat for lack of plot. But at least it isn’t flat-out horrible.

C+

Uninventive Nicknames:

This town looks too big to only have one doctor. Just look at the number of cubbies in the morgue.

Okay, who can explain to me the tooth thing? I realize it’s a side effect of the gas. But why are all these people losing teeth without showing any symptoms of visions or violence? Have they been exposed to a more sophisticated version of the gas that the government is just waiting for the right opportunity to trigger? Was Skinner exposed before or after he came looking for Kitten? Is Kersh coming back???

If this has suddenly and understandably given you an itch for Skinner-centric episodes that you want to scratch, “Avatar” (3×21), “Zero Sum” (4×21), and “S.R. 819” (6×10) are all waiting at a Fox.com near you.

And, yes. They’re all better than this episode.

Funny, they’re all cases where Skinner’s in trouble and Mulder and (except for one instance) Scully have to save his reputation and/or his life. Pattern much?

I appreciate the diegetic use of John Cale.

Advertisements

22 responses to “Kitten 11×6: He’s a good man.

  1. I feel ya, girl! Heard this was going to be a Skinner-centric episode and though, “Cool.” Who doesn’t love Skinner? So, why not have an episode about him?

    You’re absolutely right, though. Didn’t walk away feeling like I knew much more about Skinner than I did before I watched this one. Not that I hated it, but it was just okay. The plot more or less seemed like it was created simply to have Skinner in his round-about way confess that Scully & Mulder mean more to him than just his employees. It was a nice moment, but not really a great story to back up that sentiment.

    The loss of teeth? I was wondering the same thing. Skinner likely had at least a little exposure in Vietnam, but very little in comparison to his buddy “Kitten”. Someone I discussed it with online suggested the teeth loss in this town was due to the spraying which effected everyone in the area. Guess Mulder & Scully weren’t around long enough to have any issues, and perhaps in the time since the Vietnam era, they found away around visions/violence? Who knows…it wasn’t essential to the plot, and have no idea why they felt it needed to be used.

    Is Kersh coming back??? One would hope, but no clue. Didn’t realize James Pickens Jr. was coming back for any of Season 11, so this came as a very pleasant surprise to see him. That said, your concerns about Skinner & Kersh not exactly seeing eye to eye in this episode, although they were working together in “The Truth”…I think you’re over-thinking this one. Kersh let his “boss” persona down for a small amount of time and did the right thing back then. Now that life is back to “normal” with Skinner supervising Mulder & Scully/reporting to Kersh, well, he’s put that wall back up again as middle-management. The Skinner/Kersh relationship does play in nice contrast to the Skinner/Mulder-Scully dynamic, though.

    In closing, I hope no one ever gives me a silly nickname like “kitten”. Nothing against cats, but it just feels weird.

    • So, like I said in the review I just put up, I’ve been rewatching The X-Files like streaming is about to disappear. And looking back and hearing Skinner’s backstory again, about his near-death experience during Vietnam, I wonder why they didn’t explore that a little more? ‘Cause a crazy man in a suit lacks the exquisite mystery this show used to be known for.

      I’m going to assume that the tooth loss phenomena is like what happened to Mulder in “Blood”, that even though he was only there for a short time, he too was affected by the chemicals the government was sneaking into the crop dusters. Actually, watching “Blood” again for the first time in a while, I’m even more struck by how similar the two premises are: The government uses agricultural chemical sprays as a cover to experiment on the population, subjecting them to chemicals that prey on their fears and incite them to violence.

      As far as Kersh, I don’t expect him to ever be touchy-feely. But I did think he had crossed a Rubicon of sorts. It’s just so odd that 1013 took all these characters past the point of no return and then returned them all to normalcy. Kersh should be afraid for his own life. He risked his life and career to help Mulder and Scully escape. But there he sits behind a desk, grumpy as the day is long.

  2. In a sense there’s not much more to know about Skinner in a patriarchal world: he’s an archetypal self-reliant American (seen from here in the UK), who has the strong moral core you mentioned, and has had the curtain pulled back just enough to know that “doing your duty” sometimes means “going against the people who are in charge”.

    In that sense he’s a fairly simple man. He was *always* going to come to M&S’s defence, always going to look out for them.

    Compare with Hersh. The last time we saw Hersh, he finally decided to do the right thing. But remember, he had clearly seen and experienced things that should’ve shown him that M&S were on the right side.

    So, he did the right thing once, but it didn’t change him from being fundamentally a man who absolutely believes in following the rules.

    In this episode he kind of goes as far as *his* lack of moral core will allow him. He kind of knows that Skinner is a good guy, and therefore needs to be saved. He kind of knows that Skinner wouldn’t do anything bad, so he sends the most understanding and sympathetic agents after him.

    That’s quite a move for Hersh. And for once, I feel they haven’t ruined an original series character in the revival.

    My real problem with this episode was that it was a complete re-tread of “Blood” and even “Wetwired”, both of which are episodes I absolutely love.

    Those episodes showed that “they” have been carrying out experiments on the population for a long time, aiming to ratchet up fear and paranoia. So this episode was nothing new at all.

    At this point, with the government having carried out very successful experiments in human/alien hybridisation, as well as powerful mind control, sleep deprivation, mass psychosis and paranoia, what is there to gain from them continuing to play with a chemical agent from the 1960s?

    Let’s see: they know how to carry an infectious agent to the whole population, they know how to cause paranoia and violence in a whole town, they know how to affect visual perception, they know how to spray crops, they know how to stop people sleeping forever. I don’t think there’s anything new to be said about this.

    This felt like a wasted episode for that reason.

    I actually longed for an episode where we saw the real consequences of the murder of all the Syndicate – rival factions falling apart, unleashing their experiments for corporate gain, causing chaos that might lead to moral ambiguity for M&S (they might have to work with CSM to actually make former Syndicate experiments secret again). I wish we could get more colourful stuff instead of repeats of previous stories.

    My real other problem with the episode was that once again it gave in to right-wing conspiracy nonsense, with the camera tilting up to show contrails/”chemtrails”.

    Maybe I shouldn’t have a problem with it – after all, original X Files was all about how bad the powerful were and the stuff they were doing to us. It’s just that things hadn’t become so completely bonkers out there in InfoWars land.

    • “In this episode he kind of goes as far as *his* lack of moral core will allow him. He kind of knows that Skinner is a good guy, and therefore needs to be saved. He kind of knows that Skinner wouldn’t do anything bad, so he sends the most understanding and sympathetic agents after him.”

      I think that makes sense and is about as good an explanation as we can hope for. That’s probably what 1013 was thinking.

      You know, I mentioned “Blood” in my review but as I commented above, I still didn’t appreciate just how similar it is to “Blood” until this rewatch. It’s an absolute rehash of the same basic conspiracy, complete with an Agent Orange reference. If only the Lone Gunmen were still here to be a part of it.

      “At this point, with the government having carried out very successful experiments in human/alien hybridisation, as well as powerful mind control, sleep deprivation, mass psychosis and paranoia, what is there to gain from them continuing to play with a chemical agent from the 1960s?”

      YES!!! Why does 1013 think that treading backwards is somehow bringing The X-Files back to life? With all the resources available to this shadow government that has now become so much larger than life than the Syndicate ever was, why are they playing trite mind games with ex-soldiers out in the country?

  3. Just watched 11×07. I hated it, absolutely hated it, until they completely redeemed it in the last 60 seconds. I cannot believe how much that made me feel. It was done so well.

    *SPOILER*

    *SPOILER*

    *SPOILER TIL THE END OF THE COMMENT*

    When Mulder said about Scully getting all her personal devices back and Scully said “not all of them”, I thought it was a crude joke about her “personal massager”.

    But OH MY GOD she was talking about Mulder. She wanted him back. I think that was one of the most well done surprises and scenes EVER.

    I’d love to know what others think – I literally just finished watching it, so this might be me jumping for joy a little too much.

    But the episode? After everything M&S have been through, they would NEVER, *ever* allow their homes to be run by intelligent systems. I mean, didn’t we see in 10×01 that Mulder even tapes up his laptop’s webcam?

    The episode’s premise never worked even for one second for me. Well, as 42 minutes leading into the last 60 seconds, it was a perfect set-up. But boy, I’d have loved 42 minutes of M&S together doing X Files stuff.

    *SPOILER*

    *SPOILER*

    *SPOILER*

    *SPOILER*

    • I found the premise too much on the nose and a bit dull, actually. I kept thinking they were attempting to replace alien colonization with runaway A.I. to a degree…make the show more current I guess.

      I like the message and agree that technology has and is becoming too homogeneous with our way of life.

      I thought GA looks as skinny as a rake in this…not a good look imo.

      • Yes! It was a little *too* current. They were trying so very hard to scare us with something relevant that it fell flat. It was all too familiar to scare a generation raised completely on smartphones. The X-Files was always at its best when it took us to the very edge of an unseen world and then pulled the curtain closed.

    • Feel weird commenting on this before Salome posts the review, but I’m really feeling your comments & can’t help myself (oddly enough…from typing on my computer to discuss this episode online after this episode).

      *SPOILER*
      *SPOILER*
      *SPOILER*

      I didn’t care for it much either, except for the touching moment at the end. Strange thing is, there are so many people out there who just loved it. However, think if you took away the shipper moment at the end think many would have a totally different opinion. Just my 2 cents worth.

      On the whole, the episode didn’t feel like an episode, except for Gillian Anderson & David Duchovny in the episode. The whole thing lacked so much of the usual Mulder/Scully banter that is one of the reasons I love the show so much. Instead we got a lot of silence. Maybe that was intentional to demonstrate technology taking over our lives, but in reality the entire episode felt more like “Black Mirror” than “The X-Files” to me. Swap out the two leads, and nothing about it makes it tied to the X-Files at all.

      It had a few amusing moments, but I could have told you how it was going to come full circle & end in the first 5 minutes of the show. Guess it was worth a watch, but I was hoping for more…

      *SPOILER*
      *SPOILER*
      *SPOILER*

      • Judging from what brief perusing of Twitter I did while I was watching it, I think some fans really were amused at the whole thing. Maybe it’s a generational thing? A cultural shift in taste? I dunno, but those last moments at the end weren’t even enough to move me.

        “On the whole, the episode didn’t feel like an episode… The whole thing lacked so much of the usual Mulder/Scully banter that is one of the reasons I love the show so much… Swap out the two leads, and nothing about it makes it tied to the X-Files at all.”

        Exactly, my friend. Exactly.

    • I definitely didn’t read “Mulder” into that line. Either way, I wouldn’t have been pleased.

  4. Yeah, this one was pretty dull. But on the upside, they FINALLY set an episode in my home state of Kentucky,

  5. This was passable compared to the rest of this season. Still, no real story again – just half-hearted character exposition. It seems as if the writers want to endear characters to new fans.. This late in the day? Distrusting Skinner again makes little sense to old fans though. Osment did a surprising turn, whilst Scully and Mulder continued to do their s11 sleep-walk. Did the story remind anyone else a little of the movie Universal Soldier?

    • I haven’t seen Universal Soldier, but it owes a lot, as do several X-Files episodes, to The Manchurian Candidate.

      And Skinner was risking his life for Mulder and Scully as early as Season 2. He was shot and nearly killed pursuing justice for Scully’s sister in Season 3, that after knowing he was under threat.

      I can’t with this. The very idea of them not being able to trust Skinner is absurd.

  6. Can we just talk about how dumb the Mulder and Scully side story was for a minute? “We ruined Skinner’s career. Ya want to go cry in a beer about it for three days?” Give me a break. Skinner has always taken agency for himself. No one ever forced him to be loyal to Mulder and Scully. Who singed off on this unabashed whining?! Oh, right; Chris Carter. ‘Nuff said.

    Aside from that, I found that whole thing with the “monster” (whom you know is actually just a psychopath in a costume, which to me is truly terrifying, because, ya know, it could happen) raising its head in the closet completely terrifying. But then, I watched this episode in the dark while working out and after staying late at work for a psychological treatment review committee meeting where we talked about psychopathology and then getting stuck in the post Eagle’s Superbowl parade traffic (i.e., drunk people driving on the interstate), so I just might have been on edge…I don’t know…

    I haven’t seen that actor since he was a kid. Has he really still been around this whole time?

    • LOL!!! This is real-world fear you’re talking about now. I’d say The X-Files has no business in the real world, but “Irresistible” is a classic for a reason. It can happen.

      It didn’t happen here, but it can happen.

  7. I was really pleased to get a Skinner episode; it’s about time. I was also happy to see Kersh back on the scene, as I loved his character back in the original series. I liked that we got to go back to Skinner’s past in Vietnam (although part of me was hoping to see his vision of the old woman), but everything else was all just a bit lack lustre. I quite liked the hark back to ‘Wetwired’/’Blood’, but the problem is that is made no advancement on the conspiracy. My main problem with the episode is this: Skinner gets impaled through the abdomen with a spike, yet not only is he able to stand up, but he climbs himself out of a hole. and then fights and wins against a man half his age.

    So for me, I enjoyed the episode because it was about Skinner, but other than that is was pretty forgettable.

    • It was sadly forgettable. And I was hoping for so much more for Skinner’s sake. Haley Joel Osment put in a good turn. It’s just too bad we didn’t get to see something more paranormal happen to Skinner a la “Avatar”, like you mentioned, or a la his near-death experience that he shared with Mulder in “One Breath”.

      • Yes, that also would have been good. They could have gone either route and made into a really interesting character development story, but they didn’t. They brought in an entirely different experience not mentioned before, and didn’t take it anywhere.

  8. This episode really shows how much the show does not belong in the second half of the 2010s.

    With that sort of governmental conspiracy, younger characters, and a bit of the dark moody execution of the early season it could have worked out to be an average, B-grade, episode had it aired back then. There were plenty of those kinds of episodes in the early seasons.

    But in 2018 there is simply nothing to capture the imagination there…

    • Not even that. This would have ended up in the trash pile with the justifiably forgotten “Unrequited”. But you’re right – I think these themes are one that capture the imagination of another generation, one that grew up hearing about Agent Orange and the Tuskeegee experiments. That said, from the beginning, The X-Files was written by a generation that lived through Watergate and the classic episodes are classic. If this story had been told well, if it had been a better story, it might have passed muster too.

  9. On seeing the location I immediately thought of Skinner and his speech in “One Breath”. And by the end of the teaser it was confirmed. I read somewhere there was going to be a skinner episode but I have mixed feelings about this. As there are so few episodes I’d rather have a Mulder & Scully episode as this is their quest. It’s fine to have episodes devoted to secondary characters if you have 20+ episodes a season. Anyway I hope they will show, or touch upon what he described in his speech, and maybe confirm what happened to Sharon Skinner? The footage in the teaser seems a bit grainy, but I supposed that is intentional as it’s a flashback. Some of the soliders don’t seem like ideal solider material for a mission like that.

    OMG Kersh! So glad he’s back. I like the set up of Skinner going missing, it’s intriguing. I like the way Kersh addresses the fact that Skinner’s career has stalled, a point I always wondered. As in the comics season 10, Skinner is deputy director. The FBI interiors all seem to have dark wood panels now, I like the new refurbishment. Didn’t Skinner live in Crystal City, Virginia?(“Tunguska”) Eww the reference to Mulder’s juices seemed a bit much. It seems safe to say M&S are going to feature heavily in the episode which is a relief. So I guess they were in Skinners apartment in “This” when he was showing them the digitised x files. Nice apartment by the way.

    Is Skinner a monster? What’s he doing out there trapping people in the forest. To be honest I hope this isn’t a typical motw story, I’m glad the new series has resisted that so far. The moment M&S witness Skinner on the tape reminds me of that scene in “Zero Sum”. I suspect by this point (as we know Skinner is on the side of light) he is trying to clean up, make amends, for the experience / experiment on them in Vietnam. The image of your teeth falling out is creepy because I think many people have had that dream. Thank you Scully for saying let’s give Skinner the benefit of the doubt after all Skinner has done for them. Pity they didn’t do that in “My Struggle III”. OMG Skinner fell in the trap – I bet he survives. Oh please stop already with the ford promotion. Every time Mulder & Scully get out the car now it’s very slowly.

    How did Skinner get himself un-impailed. Surely he could bleed to death doing that. Ah, that old no phone signal gag very convenient. Cool climax! But how come this has just ended up about a crazy guy living in the woods? And this guy looks exactly as his dad. I really liked the skinner speech at the end, it’s a sequel to his speech in “one breath”. So I hope all is well now between m&s and skinner. But still he didn’t revel to them what CSM claimed about William. The last shot reminded me of “Blood”. I get the feeling from all the clues in season 11 that something major will happen, I hope it’s not anti-climatic like the so called 2012 alien invasion. Overall I liked this episode and glad Skinner was used more, but not at the expense of Mulder and Scully.

    P.S oh my god. Yeah just realised that’s the sixth sense boy. He did seem familar.

    P.P.S. Is Skinner going to die?

    B

You Know You Want To...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s