Recaps

The X-Files “Babylon”

Photo Credit: Ed Araquel/Fox Broadcasting Co.

Photo Credit: Ed Araquel/Fox Broadcasting Co.

 

[Warning: Spoilers for “Babylon.”]

When this episode went into production last summer, there was chatter that they might be setting up a spinoff. I really, really, genuinely hope that chatter ends where it began, because while Miller and Einstein were fine, and I liked Amell tremendously in this role, I’m ride or die Mulder and Scully. No apologies.

As I said in my preview, the hour was all over the place in tone, beginning with a sympathetic run-up to a young man’s horrific act. The aftermath of that weighs heavily on Scully and Miller, but seems to be addressed with a much lighter hand by Mulder and Einstein as the former team pursue answers through science, and the latter team turn to drugs, or so Mulder thinks.

And that’s where we get our disparity–Miller is almost reverential, and Scully is respectful of him when he tells her he believes the young man, Shiraz, can hear them, and help them avert another attack. When he tries to talk to Miller while wondering how Shiraz could have been so easily incited to hate and mass murder, she’s annoyed and turns the discussion back to the victims and stopping any other attacks.

Photo Credit: Ed Araquel/Fox Broadcasting Co.

Photo Credit: Ed Araquel/Fox Broadcasting Co.

Scully calls Miller and says she knows of something that might work to contact Shiraz, and she comes to Texas. She explains this is something of a personal mission for her because of the loss of her mother. He’s sympathetic and thrilled for the assist. She explains that recent studies have used an MRI to contact a comatose patient and she believes an ECG can do the same. They set it up, after working around a potentially murderous nurse and sketchy DHS agents, Miller starts to speak to Shiraz in Arabic and something somewhere inside hears him.

Separately, Mulder talks Einstein into dosing him with a hallucinogenic, and she balks but then changes her mind hen she realizes Scully is in Texas. She summons Mulder to Texas and tells him she’ll do it. He so believes that what she gives him is real that he trips on what she later tells him is a niacin pill. While travelling through his mind in a wildly wacky scene, he line dances and downs beers with The Lone Gunmen (and Skinner) in a honky-tonk, which segues to a 50 Shades scenario that has Einstein whipping him, which segues to CSM whipping him on a slave boat, and then he finally sees the comatose, wounded Shiraz cradled by a woman. He approaches them and Shiraz begins whispering something in Arabic.

THE X-FILES: L-R: Guest stars Bruce Harwood, Tom Braidwood and Dean Haglund in the "Babylon" episode of THE X-FILES airing Monday, Feb. 15 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2016 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Ed Araquel/FOX

Photo Credit: Ed Araquel/Fox Broadcasting Co.

When he comes to, a less-than-happy Skinner has flown in to do damage control, and Einstein comes clean about what she did (or didn’t) do. As she’s wheeling him out of the hospital, he hears a woman outside pleading for entry and he recognizes her from his vision. He brings her to Shiraz’s room, and announces to a stunned Scully and Miller that this is Shiraz’s mother. She tells them he has been speaking to her from his coma, that he didn’t detonate his vest.  Shiraz dies and Mulder says he spoke to him, too. They clear the room to leave Noora to grieve over her son.

Out in the hall, Mulder pieces together the Arabic words Shiraz spoke to him and Miller translates it as Babylon Hotel. In the next moment, the terror cell is raided at the hotel and the agents go home. Miller and Einstein talk about new perspectives and who actually saved the day, and Scully goes to see Mulder at home. She asks why he didn’t tell her what he was planning and he said she wouldn’t have gone for it. She agrees and he asks her how a placebo worked and she laughs, “only you, Mulder.”

He extends his hand to her and asks her to walk with him. They head down into the yard, hand in hand (and I die a little bit because this is a first). They talk about the God of the Bible and the God of the Koran, and how the division of languages divided people and now there’s all this hate and love in the world and no middle ground. They wonder how you get back to love. They agree that maybe it’s unspoken. As they cast their eyes upward, Mulder hears trumpets, harking back to a case they were discussing before Miller and Einstein arrived. Scully hears nothing.

Photo Credit: Ed Araquel/Fox Broadcasting Co.

Photo Credit: Ed Araquel/Fox Broadcasting Co.

Next week is the finale, and I have to say I have enjoyed the hell out of these episodes. Instead of it feeling like a one-off epic journey, it feels like a gorgeously warm and funny nod to the OG and a teaser for the new fans. Things like Scully’s throwaway line about “Nobody here but the FBI’s most unwanted” is a nod to Mulder’s first scene with Scully in the pilot. And they acknowledge that she’s waited 23 years to say that. The Lone Gunmen were much beloved, and threaded throughout several seasons before their (presumed) demise so to have them drop in without dialogue and a literal tip of the hat was fantastic.

As for Miller and Einstein, I loved Miller’s soft and quiet nature, and it’s the most I’ve ever liked Amell, and I already liked him plenty. I’m not sure whether it was a case of writing or direction, but, to me, Einstein was super shrill and exasperated in a way that was sort of beyond the immediate storytelling. I generally enjoy Ambrose, but I felt like Einstein was coming off as too aggressively anti-Mulder and anti-non-science with someone she just met, unless she was supposed to be taking out the general animosity she feels about Miller’s fascination with the same but can’t express to him on Mulder.

Regarding the larger plot of the episode and fanaticism and hate, I did like that the focus came back around to love. That works for me.  I’m a firm believer that hate propagates hate, anger, illness, and all manner of negative energy. Love doesn’t always fix everything, but it’s a start in the right direction.

The use of music was interesting. It was over the top country for Mulder’s mindwalk, which was a fantastical journey across the landscape of Mulder’s sense of humor and love of the absurd to help him locate a tiny, crucial, and deadly serious piece of information. Then it was dialed down at the end–Miller closed out with Ron Sexsmith’s “Secret Heart” and Mulder listened to The Lumineers’ (overused but still appropriate) “Ho Hey.” I preferred the softer moments in this episode, as the (sometimes literal) din died down, they reached Shiraz, his mother got to say goodbye, Miller and Einstein put down their distaste for each other’s mindset, and Mulder and Scully talked and held hands. Peace. Even if just for a moment.

The X-Files concludes (for now) Monday at 8/7c on FOX. I hope before next week’s finalet we hear they are coming back.

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