The X-Files Review by John Keegan

The X-Files 10.05: Babylon

The X-Files 10.05: Babylon

Written By:
Chris Carter
Directed By:
Chris Carter

It didn’t take long for me to realize that this was another pure dose of Chris Carter.  Unlike the previous three episodes, all of which had been excellent examples of what a revival of the series could offer, this was an absolute muddled mess.  Once again, we have definitive proof that the series flourished not because of Chris Carter, but in spite of him.

               


 

It’s hard to know what the intent of the episode even was.  Was it an attempt at self-parody, trying to be another “Mulder and Scully Meets the Were-Monster”?  Was it an attempt to offer the audience a new generation of agents to assess as potential replacements for Mulder and Scully?  Was it something Carter wrote on a dare after being forced to go to a country bar?  Or was it really just a terrible attempt at commentary on perceptions of Muslim extremism?

 

I joked while watching the episode that the extended honky-tonk sequence alone was worth knocking this one down a peg, but upon further reflection, that’s only a symptom of the overall disease.  Carter just doesn’t understand how to deliver a subtle point; he mistakes complication for complexity.  It’s always been so, but it’s especially obvious this far removed from the original run, in contrast to other writers.  The “trip” sequence alone is proof positive; it felt like Carter was trying for what came naturally during a similar sequence with Roger Sterling and LSD on Mad Men.

 


 

If the new agents are potential replacements, they are far too satirical in their conception to ever work as such.  They are too obviously commentaries on Mulder and Scully themselves vs. characters on their own; very little is done to make them viable long-term additions to the supporting cast, let alone leads.  Which is too bad, since it means Robbie Amell and Lauren Ambrose are all but wasted in their roles.  It doesn’t help that Amell’s Agent Miller had less energy and presence than a black hole.

 

The idea that religious teachings (and in this instance, the Quran) induce a placebo effect that allows otherwise rational people to commit horrible acts of violence or hatred is an interesting one, but the execution was too baldly conceived.  It’s as if Carter can’t stand the notion that so much has been said about religious extremism in the wake of 9/11 without him.  He addressed other post-9/11 concepts in “My Struggle” with just as little elegance.  Not to mention that suggesting how easily Mulder himself is led to believe (or at least want to believe) as a placebo effect is way too obvious.  The rest of the episode tries to salvage it, but whatever commentary Carter was going for was lost in the middle of line-dancing.  (And that’s why the Lone Gunmen were back?  For that?!?)

 


 

What struck me during the entire episode was how differently the story could have gone.  Why not use Mulder’s oft-forgotten profiling skills to resolve the situation, instead of all that “placebo effect” nonsense?  Carter references so much of what we found out about Scully at the start of the series, yet doesn’t take full advantage of Mulder’s own background?  But that’s part of Carter’s problem: he prefer style over substance, the “cool” over the consequential.


Our Grade:
C
The Good:
  • There are some interesting ideas underneath the noise
The Bad:
  • That endless “trip” sequence, especially the countrified parts
  • What exactly is the endgame with the new agents?

John Keegan aka "criticalmyth", is one of the hosts of the "Critical Myth" podcast heard here on VOG Network's radio feed Monday, Wednesday & Friday. You can follow him on twitter at @criticalmyth

The X-Files by - 2/16/2016 9:11 AM177 views

Your Responses

Flaco_Jones
Flaco_Jones
DISSENTING OPINION

Grade: B
I don't know, I didn't think it was bad as this review makes it sound and I liked it as much if not more than the premiere. It's definitely not as good as the non-Carter penned episodes this year, but I had a good time watching it and I enjoyed the goofy cameos. I have a feeling we're going to see all the characters in a more serious light next week anyway, so it was nice to get a sort of calm before the storm, even if it was silly.

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