The X-Files Review by John Keegan

The X-Files 11.06: Kitten

The X-Files 11.06: Kitten

Written By:
Gabe Rotter
Directed By:
Carol Banker

My first thought when the promos showed a Skinner-centric episode with flashbacks to his Vietnam War experience was that the disappointing “origin” given in the recent line of comic books would be adapted for this installment.  Thankfully that wasn’t the case, but I can’t say that the new take on his wartime experiences brings much to the table, either.

 


 

For one thing, we’ve already had episodes like “One Breath” that delved into Skinner’s experiences during the war and seemed to cover the bases pretty well.  And ultimately this is one of those scenarios where the end of the episode seems to connect some thematic dots with the mind control methods of the Syndicate and even some of the ideas in “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat”, yet the presentation is cloying and almost too forgiving of the more ridiculous of conspiracy theories out in the interwebs.

 

It reinforces one of my long-standing issues with the series as a whole.  While Mulder and Scully were developed and explored in the most minute details, both separately and together, right down to their self-destructive co-dependent cores, the supporting cast was woefully under-represented.  And that has never been more obvious than with Skinner; just the sheer number of times his allegiances have shifted for the needs of the mythological moment is evidence enough.

 


 

The closest we get is that Skinner openly states that he will “kiss the ring” and play along with the Syndicate and their allies if that means he can get answers to his own questions.  And while that’s a nice enough sentiment for the past eleven seasons worth of flip-flopping, wouldn’t it have been better if his character had been given substantially more depth and motivation from the start? 

 

Later seasons of the original run basically made him one of the trusted few, but as with characters like Doggett and Reyes, he wasn’t given the kind of depth before the departure of Mulder to carry the weight organically.  And then the revival simply pushed him back into questionable territory instead of doing something so breathtakingly original as allowing the character to have a solid advancement in the intervening years.  (Notice even Kersh is pretty much in neutral since his original introduction!)

 


 

 

What this episode could have been was an exploration of those missing years and what they meant for Skinner, building on what Kersh says about how Skinner suffered for his advocacy of Mulder and Scully all this time.  It might make Mulder and Scully’s realization that Skinner can be trusted and they’ve been unnecessarily suspicious of him a lot more relevant and contemporary.  In fact, one thing that is very irritating is how the intervening years have never really been clearly addressed, so all of this still feels drastically disconnected from the first nine seasons.

 

It would be wrong to finish out this review without a word regarding Haley Joel Osment, who plays two roles in the episode and is all but unrecognizable from the young actor we all remember.  His role is essentially a man fueled by paranoia and chemically-induced rage and madness, but he plays the part well and keeps the episode from falling apart completely.

 



Our Grade:
C+
The Good:
  • Mulder and Scully finally seem to appreciate Skinner again
The Bad:
  • The fact that Skinner still gets criminally weak character exploration is galling

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 - 2/8/2018 12:59 PM364 views

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