The X-Files Season 9
December 11, 2003
As the last ever series of the unexplained paranormal phenomena draws to a close, will we finally discover the truth?
After the decidedly wonky season eight, which saw Duchovny jump ship and replacements Annabeth Gish and Robert Patrick brought in as mirror versions of Mulder and Scully (this time the man is the skeptic and the woman a total believer), The X-Files thankfully improves for the last ever run, with slightly less time spent on the silly Mulder/Scully/super-soldier-baby story and more time on stand-alone episodes. After ten years of conspiracy theories and paranoia, can Chris Carter wrap things up in a way that will please the fans?
When we left Agents Mulder and Scully at the end of season eight, all seemed right in the world. Their ‘love-child’ was safe, Mulder was home, and apart from the impending alien invasion, things looked pretty good. But now we find Mulder has gone walk-about again and Scully is left changing diapers as Doggett and Reyes handle the X-Files. Another new addition is Cary Elwes as shady new assistant director Brad Follmer (who also happens to be Reyes’ ex) – it’s a part we’ve seen from him many times now; the weasely aw-shucks guy whose eyes shift suspiciously when no-one’s looking so we know he’s not to be trusted.
As more information arises about the nature of Scully’s baby (he can move stuff with his mind!), Doggett and Reyes are meanwhile caught up in a dimensional hoo-ha where Reyes is murdered and Doggett shot and left paralysed. In the excellent episode ‘4-D’, Doggett then wakes up to find Reyes alive, and if that wasn’t odd enough, he discovers he was in two places at once during the shooting. It’s a touching episode that shows the growing relationship between the two characters, later touched more directly upon in ‘Audrey Pauley’, when Reyes is in a coma and a mysterious woman named Audrey is Doggett’s only link to bringing her back to the waking world. It’s a shame the series ended just when Robert Patrick and Annabeth Gish were hitting their stride, and you sense a spin-off series was probably on the cards for a while with Fox (Twentieth Century, not Mulder). Patrick especially gets to stretch his acting muscles for a change, and in ‘John Doe’ you get to see a much more vu lnerable side to his character when his memory is wiped and he later remembers that the son he’s been dreaming about was murdered years ago. It shows he can do much more than stare and be the hard man and only The Sopranos has really been brave enough to cast him against type as a loser.
Other stand-out episodes include ‘Lord of the Flies’, which seems to start off as a rather snobbish spoof of Jackass, but then turns into something far more sinister as a loner at school uses his gift of controlling flies to protect the girl he has a crush on, in ‘Release’ Doggett finally learns the truth about who murdered his son thanks to an insightful young forensic pathologist, and ‘Sunshine Days’ sees a lighter story about a man who can control his surroundings so his house looks like something from The Brady Bunch. The moment when he is sat before a panel of FBI men and uses his powers to spin a shell-shocked Skinner in mid-air like an acrobat is priceless.
I won’t mention the Burt Reynolds episode. We’ll kindly overlook it.
So overall this series is a vast improvement, but the irony is that the reappearance of Mulder actually dampens things with his now-tired spoutings of alien invasions and how Scully’s baby is actually a super-soldier (riiiight). This element is pushing the sci-fi aspect a tad too far into unbelievability, but having Mulder and Scully as parents has got to be asking for trouble.
The boys inside Fox (Twentieth Century, not Mulder) have done a great job rounding up material, the bulk of which is split over two discs. The main discs have the odd deleted scene or commentary, but hover over to the two bonus discs and you’ll find a 30 minute ‘Truth About Season Nine’ documentary, more deleted scenes, character profiles for Reyes and Follmer, nine special effects clips and thirty promo spots.
Next up is ‘Secrets Of The X-Files’ – a shameless clip show snatched from TV, ‘More Secrets Of The X-Files’, which is pretty much another clip-show, although this time there are interviews with the creators/stars and it’s narrated (blandly) by Mitch Pileggi, and the third and best documentary ‘Reflections On The X-Files’ is slightly more engaging as celebs like Cher and Kevin Smith point out their favourite moments and why they love the show. “I started watching this episode where a mutated family keep their mother tied under the bed and I was just hooked,” grins Cher before cursing herself for turning down a cameo in season five. To finish up there are trailers and some sneak peeks at the movies ‘I, Robot’ with Will Smith, and ‘Alien vs Predator’.
The X-Files has secured itself as one of the most iconic TV programmes of a generation (moody flashlights in dim rooms, crazy alien conspiracies and FBI Agents in trenchcoats were ten-a-penny in the late nineties thanks to Mr Chris Carter) and, if perhaps it’s outstayed its welcome with the odd dodgy episode and the ship-is-sinking disappearance of Mr Duchovny in season eight, season nine mostly reminds us what we loved about the show in the first place; it’s creepy, funny, smart and just plain weird.