All Lies Lead to the Truth: Looking Back at Season Six of The X-Files

MULDER: “Dear Diary, today my heart leapt when Agent Scully suggested spontaneous human combustion…”

SCULLY: Shut up!

For all that The X-Files is a show about the crazy, the unpredictable, and the inexplicable, it's funny how many things stay the same.

Six seasons in, and Mulder still can't make decent life choices; he's still, to crib a Parks and Recreations joke, Fox Mulder: Human Disaster. He claims that he “does not gaze at Agent Scully,” yet everyone they meet immediately assumes they're a couple.

Probably because their chemistry is powerful enough to give bystanders third degree burns—and because there's an awful lot of gazing. From both parties.

Six seasons in, and Scully remains ever skeptical in the face of the impossible. She's seen tentacled monsters, shape-shifting assassins, and men who can phase through solid objects—yet she's the voice of doubt nearly every time. Each time I dive back into this show, I'm reminded of a great Eddie Izzard bit:

Scully will be like, “Look, Mulder, I don't believe that big-elbowed aliens are trying to invade Kent,” and by the end of the episode she'll be thwacking big-elbowed aliens with a tennis racket screaming, “I believe you, Mulder, I believe you!“

And six seasons in, our heroes' positions with the FBI are still perpetually threatened, their work on the X-Files continually hampered or thwarted, while they face betrayal at every turn—from within their own ranks and thanks to the insidious conspiracy permeating everything.

It's just another day at the office for Mulder and Scully…

“TRIANGLE” (6.03)

A search for the fabled Queen Anne in the Bermuda triangle sends Mulder back to 1939, where he encounters several familiar faces—and dodges Nazis. As if the juicy story weren't enough, this episode's also one of the more technically impressive ones. They utilize a skillful use of split screens and an extended single tracking shot, following Scully though the levels of the FBI as she struggles to get information that will save Mulder.

We also get a Mulder/Scully kiss, though technically Scully isn't really Scully. There's a Wizard of Oz reference, though the original quote of, ”You were there!“ didn't end, ”…with the Nazis!“ And Mulder tells Sculls he loves her, though she just scoffs and walks away.

Typical.

“HOW THE GHOSTS STOLE CHRISTMAS” (6.06)

Two ghosts + Christmas Eve + Mulder and Scully = some very dangerous mind games. With only four actors—Anderson and Duchovny are joined by Ed Asner as Maurice and Lily Tomlin as Lyda, the tricky ghosts—and a single spooky set, this episode is claustrophobic and especially tense.

“TERMS OF ENDEARMENT” (6.07)

Ash Williams himself (AKA B-movie god Bruce Campbell) stars as a demon who just wants a house with a white picket fence and a couple of blond, all-American children—unfortunately, all of his wives' babies take after Daddy too much. Sure, it's Rosemary's Baby, X-Files-style, and there are dead demon babies galore, but it's Bruce Campbell! Of course you're gonna tune in.

“TWO FATHERS” (6.11) / “ONE SON” (6.12)

Cassandra (Veronica Cartwright), the mother of Agent Spender (Chris Owens) and ex-wife of the Cigarette Smoking Man (William B. Davis), reappears after her Season Five exit in ”The Red and the Black.“ But she's no longer a human woman—she's a successful human/alien hybrid, who may bring about the colonization of the earth if she falls into the wrong hands. Naturally.

Our heroes find an unlikely ally and finally see the fall of the Syndicate: the shadowy cabal of evil geezers who have been secretly manipulating world events for the last fifty years. And, the Cigarette Smoking Man just continues to prove himself an irredeemable asshole. I wanna punch him straight in the teeth (and then knee him in the goolies for good measure) so hard.

“MONDAY” (6.14)

I've always hated it when someone says, ”Sounds like you've got a case of the Mondays,“ but in this case, it's apropos. Talk about the worst Groundhog Day ever: a woman is stuck reliving a day that includes a bank robbery, a bomb, and our heroes right smack dab in the thick of it.

The sheer number of times Mulder or Sculls has to hold the other as they die is quite alarming—I swear Carter and Co. looked at more than one fanfic for inspiration through the course of the series.

“ARCADIA” (6.15)

Speaking of fanfiction premises: in this little slice of fried gold, we see Mulder and Scully play house as they go undercover in a gated community that's more than a little reminiscent of The Stepford Wives. Except instead of robots, there's a monster made of trash. You can never trust suburbia…

“MILAGRO” (6.18)

”I made a mistake. In my book, I wrote that Agent Scully falls in love, but that's impossible. She already is in love.” A mysterious writer bewitches Scully and knows far more than he should about a series of murders in this dark romance reminiscent of Stranger Than Fiction. This is one helluva charged episode and—as a writer myself—of course it's high on my list of personal faves.

“THE UNNATURAL” (6.19)

In 1940s Roswell, an alien (Jesse L. Martin) hides amongst African American baseball players—a wacky premise, sure, but that's what you get when you let David Duchovny write and direct an episode. And it's absolutely worth watching for the comedy value, Martin's incandescent smile/beautiful voice, and Mulder teaching Scully how to swing a baseball bat. But fair warning: there are some racial slurs and a scene featuring the KKK.

“THREE OF A KIND” (6.20)

The Lone Gunmen run into Susanne Modeski (Signy Coleman)—the woman who brought them together ten years ago and set them on their conspiracy path—at a defense conference in Las Vegas. Sweet, romantic Byers (Bruce Harwood) is still hung up on Susanne and, as is often the case, the Lone Gunmen's paranoia proves justified as they uncover another government plot involving a brainwashing drug that reduces Scully to a ridiculous flirt. That scene alone makes this a must-see, and it's always nice to see the loveable Lone Gunmen get a full episode to shine.

“BIOGENESIS” (6.22)

An alien craft is found on the Ivory Coast, and the symbols on its hull have a catastrophic effect on Mulder. With his brain kicked into overdrive, sending him careening into madness, Scully rushes to Africa in search of answers—answers that suggest human life originated in the stars.

Season Six ends on a depressing but wholly predictable note: Mulder raving in a padded cell. The only real surprise is that it took six seasons for Fox to get himself in such a position—and for all the questions the finale leaves us with, the most pressing is: how is Scully going to get him out of this one?

Guess we'll just have to put in Season Seven to find out.

See also: Believe the Lie: Looking Back at Season Five of The X-Files

 


Angie Barry wrote her thesis on the socio-political commentary in zombie films. Meeting George Romero is high on her bucket list, and she has spent hours putting together her zombie apocalypse survival plan. She also writes horror and fantasy in her spare time, and watches far too much Doctor Who. Come find the angie bee at Tumblr.

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