The X-Files Recap – “This”
The aftermath of last week’s X-Files season 11 premiere was quite furious and cast doubts on the rest of the season for all of us in the fandom. Thankfully, Glen Morgan is also executive producing this show, and he wrote tonight’s outing, entitled “This”. “This” is fantastic!!! Honestly, that was the best episode of The X-Files that I’ve seen in about 17 years, and that cold open was one of the best they’ve ever done. I loved the entire episode, so let’s get cracking.
The best cold open in 17 years included Mulder and Scully, all snuggled and asleep on the couch in their house, the same one from I Want to Believe and the same one Mulder was living in (sadly, by himself) last season. However, it appears that Scully has moved back in and I’m here for it! I also enjoyed the sweep over the house, with the X-Files poster (which means they have one in the office and one at home? Awww!), the sunflower seeds, and various files and trinkets. A Ramones video plays silently on the TV while our duo sleeps, but they wake up to Mulder’s phone shouting at them in Ringo Langly’s image – one of the Lone Gunmen is back!
Good thing they wake up, because three bad guys with big guns pull up in an old-model car and bust in. Mulder says “go” and he pushes back the couch and runs upstairs while Scully SLIDES UNDER THE TABLE LIKE A BADASS, grabs her gun off the kitchen table and turns the table over in one perfect, fluid movement. I die of joy and all of us scream collectively on Twitter. She drops one baddie immediately but another with long curly grey hair doesn’t get shot. The third guy shoots up the table – but without hitting Scully because duh – and heads upstairs but Mulder is waiting and takes him out. He calls to see if Scully is ok, and she tells him about bad guy #3…who escapes out the front door and gets away in the car.
After the credit roll (new tagline: “Accuse Your Enemies of That Which You Are Guilty”…ok) Scully calls the incident into the bureau and chides Mulder for tainting evidence. “You said taint!” Mulder replies. Then he says “we gotta take a trip to Ikea” after noting the house is all shot up. This episode is already the goddamn best.
Mulder asks if she ever saw Langly’s body – nope. Then some giant Humvees roll up with Russian dudes yelling. Suspicious! Scully calls Skinner and he tells them to surrender. Fat effing chance, bro. They get off a few shots before being subdued and laid out on the floor; Russian a-hole in charge (RAIC) says, in Russian, that “Price” is going to be mad. Aha. They work for Barbara Hershey. The goon squad handcuffs Mulder and Scully TOGETHER (MARRY ME, GLEN MORGAN) and they tackle a guy with an automatic assault rifle, shoot up their house even more, and then dive off the porch in hilarious fashion and run off into the woods, still handcuffed. The Skin-man greets them along some shady backroad and uncuffs them with a very handy multi-purpose tool. I am totally carrying one in my car from now on because who knows when you’ll need to take down conspiracies and break into server rooms?
Back to the actual plot – the Russians are from Priority Services and Skinner is “risking my own ass being out here” (you said ass!) and wearing the cutest FBI baseball cap, as if that is some kind of disguise. The baddies are American security contractors that are contracted via the executive branch – a dig at Cheeto Satan, no doubt. Mulder and Scully refuse to go with Skinner; he gives them money and won’t answer if Langly is dead…not really, anyway. Skinner says that he’s at Arlington Cemetery where they buried him.
Which is where our intrepid agents head while RAIC is trying to hack Mulder’s phone. It deactivates and he groans “Kill Switch” – episode title! Season 5, baby. One of my favorites – and “This” episode seems to have taken some cues from it. The concept they later describe (uploading consciousness to servers) was first introduced in “Kill Switch”.
Back to Arlington, where they spelled Byer’s middle name wrong (below) and Scully jokes that “Frohike looked 57 the day he was born.” Langly’s gravestone is facing the wrong way and there is a puzzle with the U.S. presidents’ birthdays, which Scully seems to have memorized. “Who needs google when you’ve got Scully?” Mulder quips. “Right!?” Scully is feeling her skillz right now and so are we. I am really enjoying that neither of them have a smart phone and they have to chase the clues like in the good old days.
Eventually, I guess Mulder figures out that Deep Throat of yore is buried nearby and his name is Ronald Pakula. There’s a gold disc with a QR code under the tombstone cross on his headstone and Scully pries out and Mulder pockets it…and then the long-haired dude is back and shooting at them. He is thankfully a stormtrooper shot and Mulder takes him down, hitting his head and bleeding on Deep Throat’s grave. OMINOUS BLOOD DRIPPING/cut to commercial.
Mulder and Scully hit up an internet café…do they still have those?…and indulge in some tasty muffins with this lovely exchange:
“I’m gonna open an x-file on this bran muffin. I gotta get to the bottom of why it’s so good.” – Mulder
“I don’t care if this came out of an alien’s butt I’m gonna eat the whole thing.” – Scully
Gillian Anderson noted on Twitter during her live-tweet that she ad-libbed that line. Glad it stuck! The QR code holds a short video of a building in NYC that Mulder recognizes as being part of Project Blarney and Titanpointe. Blah blah we need to get into the X-Files, so they go accost Skinner on his way to his car. This is where the “We need your help, Walter, even if we don’t trust you.” Line comes in from Scully.
Skinner is a bit indignant that he’s being held at gunpoint and bemoans “What is this, how did we get here?” and Scully lets loose with “What about us? We’re the ones who were just assaulted. We can’t go to our home, they’ll be waiting at our office. We’re not asking for you to get us out of this, but we do expect your help.” THAT IS RIGHT, WALTER. Also this is the actual good Scully dialogue instead of monologuing while driving or clutching her head and moaning. Takes note from Glen, Mr. Carter. This is how it’s done. THIS IS HOW WE LIKE OUR X-FILES.
Skinner takes them to what I presume is his house, where all the X-Files were digitized. The file for Home, PA shows up twice – a nice nod to a great Glen Morgan ep. Um, wouldn’t Mulder and Scully know that the X-Files were digitized? They’ve been back at work on them for the duration of season 10, however long that was. Skinner says they were digitized after 2002 and when Mulder gets grumpy and declares “The X-Files belong to us!” but Skinner, who I totally agree with here (sorry Mulder baby), says that “You two were gone…what’s in them belongs to everyone, that’s the point of them.” You go, Skin-man. I love ya.
Ok so while Skinner is on some phone call, Mulder opens Frohike’s folder and there’s a file with Scully’s picture on it called “spank bank” – good lord, Frohike! A completely in-character moment, however, and I was here for it. They find out that they need to be talking to one Dr. Karah Hamby so off they trot to find her.
Dr. Hamby explains that she and Langly had their consciousness uploaded to a giant server bank so that they’d live forever in the simulation…“our assimilated selves come into consciousness in that life once we died in this one.” So now instead of The Syndicate, there’s The Simulation. Much like Esther and her love from “Kill Switch,” Hamby and Langly “wanted a life eternal together” – so this was Langly’s girlfriend! He definitely did well, such a smart math professor! Her statement is followed by an intense glance at Mulder from Scully. She’s still got it bad for that giant nerd.
Langly hacked a way to reach out to them, so Hamby starts writing down some algorithm to help Mulder get in touch with him again…until long-haired bad guy is back and she gets shot! Ugh! Maybe she’ll join Langly in the simulation now? Scully shoots that guy dead, at least.
We cut to a skanky bar where Scully is catching some zzz’s in a booth while Mulder works across from her. The barkeep sets down two beers on the table, loudly, and the noise set Scully off from her wee nap and she almost shoots the guy. Mulder says she looks “adorbs” all curled up in the corner with her hand wrapped around an assassin’s Glock (is that a dick joke?) and I just love them to tiny pieces and if I ever see Glen Morgan again I will hug him a lot.
After this ADORBS exchange, Langly calls again, recognizes Scully, and cries (Awww!). He says “I’m not real though, right? I’m in a simulation.” And yes, he is not real and he’s in a simulation. It doesn’t sound so bad at first – The Ramones are there and they play California Sun and the Patriots never win ever! And then he says, “I’m begging you, destroy it, we’re living a lie. We’re digital slaves.” Apparently, Erica Price (Barbara Hershey) & co are developing ideas for space colonization and the minds in the Simulation have “no choice, no diversity, no dreams.” Langly notes that other great minds like Steve Jobs and Michael Critchton are there too and they all hate it. Gee, that’s not disturbing at all.
On the bus from DC to NYC, Mulder and Scully are sitting all close-like in those bus seats and talking about how to get into this building with the servers. Gillian’s kids, Oscar and Felix, make a cameo behind them being rowdy. Scully wonders how they’re going to get in “looking like this” and Mulder says “you look good.” And we all rejoice and decide that National Glen Morgan day is today.
Playing her no-nonsense FBI self, Scully and Mulder pull a Wookie in handcuffs trick as she pretends Mulder is her perp and winks – badly, but adorably – at the younger agent guarding the door. She asks for access to the tunnel and he agrees and then says maybe she’ll return the favor. Gross, dude! Mulder and Scully look at each other and Mulder makes the barf gesture while the guy’s back is turned. Best moment ever…except for the next best moment ever, when Gillian says she won’t take Mulder’s handcuffs off (he isn’t wearing any) because he’s a “HANNIBAL LECTER LEVEL PSYCHO” and Mulder makes a gross slurpy noise with his mouth. It is awesome. They both go through the turnstile together, which must have been fun to film.
Gross Dude leers at Scully and asks, “So hun, whats your home office?” Her response is classically disdainful: “Sorry bro, married to the Bureau.” They still got it, although the idea of climbing up 29 floors instead of taking the elevator does not appeal to Scully. When RAIC (remember him?) busts out with some goons, Mulder gets captured so Scully can escape. Our Russian friend is wearing a gold chain with a matching gold bracelet, because he’s stereotypical eurotrash. Just in case we weren’t sure!
Mulder’s put in a conference room with Price and, she calls the other dude we met in the premiere “Mr. Y” so I guess that’s his code name? She says she was disappointed by Mulder, but Mr. Y said she’d meet Mulder over and over and she’d change her mind. She calls him Fox while I frown. There’s a bunch of exposition but at least it happens while we watch Scully prowling about, kicking a dude’s ass behind a closed door (I would have liked to see it!) and Price yammers on about how “life on this earth – all human and most animal is about to be burned to the ground.” Ok.
Mulder plays along, asks if he can upload to the Simulation along with Scully, and wants to actually see this giant server situation. He says the money line: “Don’t get me wrong, I want to believe, but I’d just like to see it.” Price, I suppose, orders RAIC to take Mulder upstairs to see the server room but now he’s handcuffed for real. He still manages to knock the guy down and Scully pops out from behind a corner and frees him, and we have come to the HANDCUFF JOKE!
“Why do you operate so well with your hands cuffed behind your back? -Scully
“As if you didn’t know.” -Mulder (Scully smiles)
Scully goes into the server room to start the process, and we see her breaking the glass like she did in that shot from the promo we’ve been watching on repeat since October. Mulder is still fighting off the Russian as she says “Bye bye, Ringo” and shuts down the last of the servers. Someone bangs on the door to be let in, and Mulder has of course won the day. He leans forward and Scully puts her hand on his chest…they almost kiss, you guys. Toying with us, I see. Mulder leans in again and then says he was going to barf but he’s ok. Thank you for killing that mood, Mulder!
Mulder and Scully go home and collapse onto the couch. They are older now, guys. They need a nap before they can have we-just-survived-almost-being-murdered-ten-times sex. Again, Mulder’s phone crackles to life and its Langly calling again. He’s distraught – “they know that we know! Destroy the backup!” and then they see the long-haired assassin guy on the phone screen, and that’s the end!
I cannot stress how immensely perfect this episode was, and it was the best Glen Morgan episode since the last Glen Morgan episode (Home Again) but honestly, it was the best episode period since the season 8 finale, “Existence,” which aired in 2001. I might give it to you if you said since the series finale (season 9) since we did get some shooting bad guys action in that, and I loved the final scene. But we haven’t seen Scully (and Mulder!) kicking ass and taking names TOGETHER like that in a long, long, LONG time. What was it…since “First Person Shooter”? That was season 7 and aired in February 2000. I needed this episode like I need air!
Glen Morgan knows how to give Scully great moments and this episode was no exception. She was back in top form, and a quick line about the last time they’d spoken to Skinner – a few weeks – let us know that she’s recovered from her brain-frying and choking experiences in My Struggle 3. Thank Jebus. Of course, I love that they are back in the same house together and that they are a consummate team as in days of yore. They felt so in sync and like true partners. My husband noticed how this episode was more cohesive, they were comfortable with each other, and they were themselves and it created great storytelling. For him to say those things is possibly more meaningful than my saying them, since I am so close to the situation.
Next week: the doppelganger-intensive “Plus One” which is sadly written by
the devil Chris Carter. I will hold this episode and its banter close to my heart if that wastrel screws with us again. Here are two quotes I further enjoyed from “This” to tide us over:
“The Bureau’s not in good standing w the executive branch…these days.” -Skinner
“How about that! The FBI finally found what it’s like to be looked upon as a little spooky!” -Mulder
“Maybe he saw Mulder in his dreams.” – Scully, to Dr. Hamby about Langly
“Who hasn’t?” -Mulder
That last photo is for science. Follow me on Twitter @lightstar1013 for all things X-Files, including lots of gif-able moments from last night’s return to sanity.