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One of the other memorable things about the third series was the number of Darin Morgan episodes. Morgan joined the staff of the show at the beginning of this series as
story editor. His three scripts were probably the highlights of the series for many fans.
Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose was my favourite, and indeed won Darin Morgan and guest star Peter Boyle Emmys. Boyle was superb as the psychic with the talent to see how people die.
War of the Coprophages was another of Darin Morgan's best, as Mulder investigates an attack of killer cockroaches, meets the beautiful Dr Bambi, indulges in A LOT of cell phone chat with Scully, and ends up covered in manure!
Jose Chung's 'From Outer Space' was some people's favourite episode as Morgan goes wild on the in-jokes and parodies. Even the director admitted he had to read the script about fourteen or fifteen times to understand what was going on!
Like Humbug in series 2, these were very different from anything else the X Files produces (although Carter himself seemed to be trying to copy Morgan in Syzygy with Mulder and Scully acting very strangely.) Morgan's unique style and wit certainly work for me. His stories twist and turn unexpectedly, and keep your attention so you don't miss any of the jokes.
Mulder and Scully both had stories that affected them deeply in series 3. In Oubliette Mulder identifies strongly with a woman who has a strange link to the kidnapping of a teenage girl. In Revelations it is Scully who has the reaction to an allegedly stigmatic boy. She re-examines her faith in this case. Another strong episode for David Duchovny is Grotesque when Mulder helps out in the hunt for a serial killer obssessed with gargoyles.
Sadly, another feature of series 3 was an alarming number of poor episodes. Maybe we just expect a lot, but Teso Dos Bichos is possible one of the worst episodes ever.Hell Money was nasty and non-wierd, DPO was just dull, as wereThe Walk and The List.
Fans of the show noticed an alarming deterioration in Mulder and Scully's relationship during the first half of the series. This rift was denied by the producers, but the unsypathetic way they respond to the other's
emotional crises in Oubiette and Revelations was noticeable. Also, in Nisei and Piper Maru, Mulder is incredibly insensitive to Scully's discoveries of the women with the neck chips, and Scully's decision not to
tell him about the suspension of the investigation into her sister's death seems yet another symptom of two people not comminicating well.
Of course the most dysfunctional Mulder/Scully episode is Syzygy, but even while the planetary alignment is supposed to be responsible, they are arguing before and after they reach town. In contrast, Pusher sees them working together as closely as they ever have.
Anyway, lets go through those episodes one by one....
The Blessing Way and Paper Clip
Written by Chris Carter
Directed by RW Goodwin and Rob Bowman
Many fans felt a bit cheated by the way Mulder's escape from the burning boxcar was hurried over. Of course, Anasazi's cliffhanger was so exciting because it was hard to see how Mulder could escape, but they did cheat a bit I think. We see Scully out on her own after she is suspended, and I particularly enjoyed her stand off with Skinner in Mulder's apartment. As usual, Gillian Anderson is excellent, as she has quite a few fairly emotional or tense scenes with her family and the hynotherapist. Yet more moans though at her lack of grief for Mulder after his apparent death, and their lack of emotion at their reunuion when Mulder returns at the beginning of Paper Clip. Even Frohike gives him a hug! The Mulder and Scully families both lose a member as Melissa follows Bill Mulder to the morgue. I liked the scene with Mulder and Scully at the end of Paper Clip in Melissa's now empty room. It was an interesting idea to have Mulder say that 'the truth is in there', as opposed to 'out there'. He is talking about the X Files of course.
I thought this three part story was the show almost at its best. There was lots of tension and drama, use of a real conspiracy, the sheltering of Nazi scientists after the war, grief and loss for our two agents, and a minor victory over Cancer Man. But why was Skinner carrying that DAT tape around anyway? Did he really think that was the safest place for it? I was sorry to see Melissa killed off as I thought she was a good character. Still, the fight goes on.
Written by Howard Gordon
Directed by Kim Manners
After the excitement of the previous episodes, this was a bit of a let down. It's back to the ususal cases, and here it is a bratty kid who can control lightning. There is no mystery, the guest stars are not particularly memorable. The only noteworthy bit is the antagonistic Sherriff who almost gets the better of Scully while Mulder looks on. A dull episode.
Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose
Written by Darin Morgan
Directed by David Nutter
The series highlight for me. Darin Morgan's second script is a gem. This episode has many good points, but its success is largely thanks to Morgan and guest star Peter Boyle. Boyle has been around Hollwood for many years and was apparently quite unaware of the show. He is perfect as the second rate insurance man, conveying the humour and pathos of his situation very well. The episode begins strongly with the death of a fortune teller. The old joke about them not seeing that coming still works. The crime scene, often a grim and routine section in a tv show is hilarious here, with the arrival of the Stupendous Yappi, and his amazing eyebrows. We also get the facinating information that Mulder will die of auto-erotic asphyxiation, and Scully doesn't die! Of course, Clyde could just have been yanking their chains, but this has been a cause of much debate on the net. Is Scully an immortal?
Darin Morgan's script is brilliant, with a good mystery, brisk pace and lots of gags. I am sure everyone has their favourite. I particularly liked the final scene as Scully and her new dog watch tv and come face to face with the Stupendous Yappi again. Boyle and Morgan definately deserved those Emmys for this excellent episode.
Written and Directed by Chris Carter
The up and down nature of this series continues as we have another competent but unmemorable story. Here it is a death row prisoner who vows revenge on five people shortly before his death. This episode is also another gross one, a development in this series that began with lots of entrails in Clyde Bruckman, and is probably most disgusting in 2Shy. In this episode it is maggots, rotting corpses and severed heads. There is one nice scene between Mulder and Scully where he asks who she would have on her list, and Scully complains,'I only get five?' Written and directed by Chris Carter, and also nomiated for a Directors Guild award. I don't know why though, this is a pretty humdrum one.
Forrest Gump special effects are the best thing about this so-so story. A quadrplegic amputee projects his malevolent spirit on those he feels are responsible for his condition. This is another fairly nasty story that has Scully again holding her own against men trying to intimidate her. Lots of spirit effects, but another poor episode.
Mulder gets all emotional in this above average story. A girl is kidnapped, and another young woman who was herself kidnapped and help captive for years suffers sympathy pains, sort of. The cops think she is involved, while Mulder is sure that she is a victim too. What makes this episode work is the sensitive portrayal of the young woman Lucy Householder in the script, and by the actress Tracy Ellis. She is a sad and tragic figure who has clearly never recovered from her own trauma. However, the portrayal of Scully in this episode seems all wrong. She is very unsympathetic and insensitive to Mulder's feelings and Lucy's situation. She also gives up CPR far too quickly on the semi drowned girl. Duchovny gets to show off a bit here, in a very Mulder centred show. His crying routine is on show again.
Nisei and 731
We return to an old favourite- an alien autopsy. This two part story begins strongly as Mulder and Scully investigate an odd alien autopsy video taken in a boxcar. Their investigations lead to a group of Japanese scientists, and Scully meets a group of women who recognise her as one of them. Eventually Mulder finds himself in another train car with an assassin, a big bomb and a strange being he believes is an alien. Thank goodness for cell phones as Scully calls him with the exit code just in time. It's good to talk! This action packed story is especially memorable for Scully's spooky encounter with the women from MUFON who recognise her from her abduction. The bit where the women all get out their implants and wave them at Scully is a strange one. We also meet Agent Pendrell for the first time. He pops up a few times to assist Scully whenever he can. Mulder's lack of concern for Scully and aparent lack of interest in her discoveries about the abducted women including herself, is noticable. I enjoyed the first part(Nisei) much better than the second(731). Mulder locked in for an episode while Scully meets men in bad make-up is mot as exciting as alien videos, fights with shady Japanese diplomats and Scully's discoveries. Both agents have their own solutions in this story- alien or genetic test subject? Both would be disgraceful secrets. Pretty good pair of episodes.
This was one of my favourites of series 3 for a number of reasons. As a Catholic myself I have always been intrigued by the stigmata phenomena and the question of faith. I like the episodes that centre on Scully as I think Gillian Anderson is a more expressive and sensitive actor than David Duchovny. Also, the Scully centred episodes are rare, and usually well written. This one is no exception, although as in Oubliette, the depiction of her partner is very unsympathetic and not entirely convincing. Scully's faith is not examined in GREAT detail, but science and religion have always had an uneasy relationship. Religion requires faith, as absolute proof does not exist. Scully as a scientist constantly asks Mulder to give her proof of what he believes. Here the tables are turned. Scully is the one who believes that the boy Kevin is genuine and that she has been chosen to protect him. Very unScully like behaviour, but entirely plausible. I particularly liked the scenes between Scully and Kevin. However, a number of plot holes marr this episode. There is no way any child would be taken into care as quickly as Kevin was, with a few cuts on him. What exactly did Kevin's mother die of? We know she didn't go through the screen and Kevin was OK. If the man Gates was some sort of devil incarnate that can bend iron bars and unscrew steaming radiator caps, how come he can't throw a young boy into a machine? The agents lack of empathy is again evident as Scully chooses to talk over her feeling with an unseen priest. I thought it is was an intriguing idea to have Scully re-examine her beliefs and further development for the character, but will we see any more of this or any change in Scully? Gillian Anderson is excellent, as usual, particularly in that final scene.
War of the Coprophages
Darin Morgan has more fun with this tale of killer cockroaches. Mulder and Scully have one of their wierder relationships as they barely meet in this episode but talk non-stop on the phone-is Morgan taking the mickey? There is again so much to mention in Darin Morgan's script. Almost all Mulder and Scully's phone calls are classic dialogue. We get some nice domestic scenes of Scully cleaning her gun and washing her dog-she definitely needs a date! The Mulder/Bambi scenes are funny as he tries hard to impress her, and I loved Scully's trip to the supermarket where the panic stricken residents shopped for bug spray called Die Bug Die! Probably by the same company that make Die Flea Die! that Scully washes her dog with. When Scully finally arrives in town and meets up with Bambi outside the methane research plant, she is very snooty to Bambi.'This is no place for an entymologist' she says, slamming in her bullet clip. Even the explosion has the nasty(if funny) effect of coating Mulder and Scully in dung. While not as perfectly complete an episode as Clyde Bruckman, this is another memorable Darin Morgan contribution.
Following on we have another comedy episode. Chris Carter tries to do a Darin Morgan, but he doesn't quite have the wit. Mulder and Scully are called to a town where strange things are happening, and people are behaving oddly. Soon they too are not quite themselves. The two of them get to have a real arguement, and Mulder almost gets lucky AGAIN! The lady here is Detective White, who Scully bitchily speculates may not be a genuine blonde. The girls responsible are like something out of The Craft or Clueless, and not really very interesting. Mulder hits the bottle and Scully takes to the fags. Some people really disliked this episode, but I did quite enjoy it. I loved Mulder and Scully's row about who drives. Do you think Scully's little feet DO reach the pedals? Despite the row though, how come Detective White goes with Scully and not Mulder? And I don't really think having Scully say 'sure, fine, whatever' over and over is really all that funny. So while I did enjoy it, Carter really should leave the comedy to Darin Morgan I think.
Mulder gets a bit too close to a case when helping out an old pal from behavioral science. This is a very dark and atmospheric episode where the line between madness and sanity is a fine one. Scully becomes increasingly concerned about Mulder as he immerses himself in the gargoyle lore and spirit of a serial killer. We get a lot of conflict between Mulder's old mentor Agent Patterson and our favourite duo. What stands out from this episode though is the production design, look and indeed the whole tone. It is always night, and everywhere is deep in shadows and murkiness. This disturbing episode features a good performance from Duchovny, and another set of misunderstandings and non-communication between Mulder and Scully. Mulder operates completely on his own. Having see the first few episodes of Millenium, it reminds me of this more than any other X Files episode. John Bartley's cinematography deservedly won an Emmy for this episode.
Piper Maru and Apocrypha
This two part story is another really action packed one. It begins with Scully's distress over the suspension of the investigation into her sister's murder five months ago. Meanwhile Mulder is onto a strange case of radiation burns suffered by the crew of a French salvage ship. Before you know it we are off on the trail of the digital tape again, Krycek returns, poor Skinner is shot and Scully finds the man who shot her sister. Phew! A lot happens here, although again, Mulder and Scully are working independently. Mulder follows the salvage company owner to Hong Kong(is this the first time they've been out of the country? Since Dod Kalm anyway?) while Scully goes back to the navy base wher she grew up and remembers her and Melissa playing there. It is Scully who chases around looking after Skinner, and her who chases Luis Cardinale, the man who shot Skinner and Melissa. The excitement ends scarily with Krycek locked in an underground abandoned missile silo with the remains of a recovered alien ship.
The oily eyes look created for the possessed people is effective, and I particularly liked the flashback sequences when we saw a young Bill Mulder and a young Cancer Man hearing about the first contact with this alien. Piper Maru is the name of Gillian Anderson's daughter by the way.
Mulder and Scully's relationship is returned to normal in this excellent episode about a psychic who can control minds. He is traced by Mulder and soon Pusher draws him into a deadly game. Guest star Robert Wisden is very good as the manipulator who can kill with words and thoughts. Poor old Skinner gets done over again, and this time it is by a young secretary called Holly who maces him and kicks him-and he is still recovering from being shot! The climax of the story is a Russian Roulette session that Mulder is forced to play as Scully watched helplessly. He turns the gun on her and must battle to resist and not shoot her! There is a nice touch of humour and a lot of tension in this episode. The Mulder/Scully bond is strong again as we see them working together once more after all these independently investigated crimes recently. We get a couple of hand holding moments too! A good one.
Teso Dos Bichos
Oh dear! A complete waste of time. Writer John Shiban also wrote The Walk. I think he should be fired! This is a limp affair about a cursed set of bones brought to a museum, and killer cats. The script went through many many changes apparently, but it didn't do any good. The story is just rubbish. What didn't help was Anderson's cat allergy. Because of this, the attack on Scully near the end had to be done with a stuffed cat. Consequently, Anderson spends a few minutes wrestling with a soft toy! At least we get a laugh I suppose. A bad idea from start to finish.
Another weak episode sees Mulder and Scully investigate after a man is burned alive and writing is found inside the oven. Their investigation takes them to Chinatown, and they uncover the truth about a sinister game palyed for body parts. There is no real X File at all here, and the episode is ok, but not of the standard we've come to expect. I liked the chief baddie James Hong, who was JUST like a Chinese Cancer Man. Apart froma live frog jumping out of a corpse, that was about all of interest in this episode.
Jose Chung's 'From Outer Space'
Darin Morgan's final script gets in just about every joke and in-joke he had left in his drawer I should think. It begins with a young couple's close encounter with some very odd alien visitors. We then switch to Scully being interviewed by author Jose Chung for a new book on the case. Scully recalls the case for him as Mulder has refused to cooperate. We meet all sorts of characters including Detective Manners(named for XF director Kim Manners) whose bad language is censored by Scully. They saw a bleeping UFO apparently! Also involved is Roky Crikenson who had a strange ncounter with the aliens and some Men in Black, Blaine Faulkener, a loser kid who has strange memories of Mulder('his face was so blank and expressionless, like a mandroid or something')and Scully('her hair was red, but a little too red.') Scully recounts some odd events that include waking up to find Mulder in her room,('Oh!') and she is embarrassed to star in a video presentation by the Stupendous Yappi of an alien autopsy-actually a man in an alien suit.('There are two layers of epidermis and a metal strip. I think its..its a zipper.') There are so many comedy highlights I can't list them here, but for all the laughs, I do think Morgan is straying close to making fun of the show. I am not someone that takes the show too seriously, but you get the feeling that it was almost more fun to make than it was to watch. The in-jokes will go over most peoples heads, and are leaning towards schoolboy humour. However, I still think it is one of the best of the series. I loved guest star Charles Nelson Reilly as Jose Chung. He was so sweet and comical. Of course, this is another aliens/conspiracy story, but completely unlike any others in series 3.
We find out a bit more about AD Walter Skinner in this episode that came from a story by David Duchovny and Howard Gordon. Skinner's divorce papers are through but he is reluctant to sign. While out drowning his sorrows he meets a woman. Before you know it Skinner and the lady are in bed, but he gets a shock when he awakes to find her dead beside him. Mulder and Scully try to help their boss, but it seems he has been set up for a fall. We meet Mrs Sharon Skinner(Jennifer Hetrick, familiar to Star Trek fans), Mulder disappears on Scully again, Pendrell returns and Scully gets clobbered again. The plot is actually very complicated, I had to watch a few times to figure out exactly what Skinner had or hadn't done. In doesn't quite work as well as it could have. We know hardly anything more about Skinner's feelings by the end, only facts about his life. Mitch Pileggi plays it fairly grim throughout. I liked the device or the red coated figure, even if it was straight out of the film 'Don't Look Now', where Donald Sutherland chases a figure around Venice, although that turned out to be a homicidal dwarf, here it was Sharron Skinner. A bit muddled but ok.
A very thin story that is surprisingly entertaining thanks to a quirky script, and a brilliant Mulder/Scully scene. It begin with a very domestic scene as Mulder, Scully and Scully's dog Queequeg arrive at Heuvalman's Lake to investigate what Mulder thinks is a Nessie type monster. Scully is openly frustrated by her partner's wild ideas. However, bodies keep turning up, and after an ill advised walk, poor Queequeg is eaten. Scully and Mulder take a boat onto the lake to see what's around and get hit by a mystery object and are stranded on a rock where they have a long talk. After being rescued by Dr Farraday, a local scientist they encounter the beast, and Mulder must slay it! That chat on the rock is one of the most unusual and personal we have seen Mulder and Scully have for ages. Another point of slight note is that Muler and Scully are as casually dressed as we've seen since that nice trip to the forest in Darkness Falls, although Scully seems to have got a nice new coat and got rid of the shapeless old thing. Maybe that wa just to emphasise the bit when Mulder observes that she's lost weight recently. The CGI shot of the Nessie creature at the end is a silly add on.
The series ends strongly with this superior story by XF visual effects man Mat Beck about subliminal images and tv brainwashing. There have been a spate of killings where ordinary people have killed for no apparent reason. While investigating Scully begins to be convinced that Mulder is in league with Cancer Man, and that he is working for them. She fires her gun at him and flees. With the help of the Lone Gunmen, Mulder discovers the truth and also the conspiracy behind it involving X and Cancer Man. This episode is most memorable for Gillian Anderson's wonderfully paranoid Scully. She must have said 'where are you?' about 20 times in the series so far, but in this episode, Anderson conveys Scully's increasing paranoia in those three words extremely well. She also gets to hold her gun on Mulder yet again. This is another strong relationship episode as Mulder has a horrible time trying to track her down. At one point he has to go to identify a body that may be her. Duchovny shows his feelings well as Mulder braces himself for the worst. The ending where Mulder uncovers the actual conspiracy is a bit hurried and unconvincing, and the actual reason why these things were happening is unclear. Was it just a crude test? Anyway, definately worth seeing for the womderful performances.
Duchovny teamed up with Chris Carter to provide the story for the series 3 finale. The chief guest star is Roy Thinnes, who played Dr David Vincent in The Invaders. He is excellent as the mysterious Jeremiah Smith who heals a number of people shot in a fast food restaurant by a mad gunman. It turns out he is of the same species as the Bounty Hunter we saw in Colony/End Game, but he is on the side of good. Meanwhile, Mrs Mulder has a meeting with an old friend-Cancer Man- and then shortly after has a stroke. Mr X shows Mulder the photos. Her prospects are not good, and a worried Mulder is convinced there is a link to the Jeremiah Smith incident. Cancer Man has Smith taken captive and interrogates him, before sending for the bounty hunter to kill him. However, he escapes and goes to see Scully. They meet up with Mulder at a deserted warehouse only for the bounty hunter to turn up... This was a pretty good finale, although not as action packed as Anasazi. Thinnes is very good as the vaguely Christ-like Smith.The Mrs Mulder/Cancer Man relationship is one that has lots of possibilities. Duchovny apparently suggested the interrogation scene as being reminiscent of a scene from Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamatzov, where Christ returns to Earth and is quizzed by the Grand Inquisitor of the Spanish Inquisition. I have to say that scene is kind of wierd. There is a lot of talk about the people and what they want and who controls it. It is a bit hard to follow. Learning that it is inspired by Dostoevsky helps a bit I suppose. The effects as Smith transforms himself into Deep Throat and Bill Mulder are good, reminding us of a couple of Cancer Man's victims. Now we must wait to see if Mulder can defeat the bounty hunter, and to see if Mrs Mulder will be the latest victim of the curse on the Mulder and Scully families.
So there you have it. On the whole a good season, with many excellent episodes and a few duds. People's expectations are high for series 4. Will Carter and co be able to keep the momentum going?
My favourite episodes of this series were;