The X-Files Recap: Kitten
We’ve got a Skinner-centric episode on our hands, everyone! Last night’s “Kitten” dove into our favorite assistant director’s past, his time in Vietnam as a Marine, and some current spooky goings-on with his old Marine buddies. Were the monsters really there? Read onward to find out!
Also, this is our last episode for THREE ENTIRE WEEKS as we take a break for the 2018 Winter Olympics. I am impatient, but I do enjoy me some snowboard cross and bobsledding, not to mention the drama of figure skating. For now, we must be content with the Skinner drama and the anticipation for the seventh episode.
We open in Vietnam with an 18-year-old Skinner in thick black glasses (and hair!), played by Mitch Pileggi’s nephew, Cory Rempel. He and his company are guarding a box labeled MK Naomi, which they are not supposed to look inside of. They make it inside a hut, but still take damage and noxious yellow smoke leaks out of the box. Skinner’s comrade, John, (played by Haley Joel Osment) starts to hallucinate and sees Skinner as a monster with a ram-like skull. Credits! New tag: A War Is Never Over.
Note: Carol J Banker directed this episode and it marks the first time that a woman has directed The X-Files in over FIFTEEN YEARS! She joins only a few women to ever direct the show’s 200+ episodes. Hooray, Carol! Awesome job!
At the FBI, Mulder and Scully are called into a still-very-grumpy Deputy Director Kersh’s office. Kersh seems to think they are bluffing about not knowing where Skinner is (he’s gone AWOL) and angrily points out that Skinner’s career stalled because of his “blind loyalty to both of you and your misguided search for some imaginary truth”. This seems to upset Scully more than Mulder, which we’ll get back to shortly. Kersh mentions that Skinner hasn’t been the same recently, and on their way into his apartment Scully wonders if it has to do with William.
At Skinner’s very sparse apartment, Scully finds an envelope addressed to Skinner as his “Lance Corporal” Marine self, which contains a HUMAN EAR ewwwww! Wrapped in newspaper from Mud Lick, Kentucky and containing a note that says “the monsters are here,” our agents have a lead. Off to Kentucky and the podunk sheriff, who has a town doctor in the morgue missing an ear. He died via hunting trap.
The corpse is also missing some teeth, which seems to be a theme in Mud Lick. The sheriff lost two in the last month and mentioned that his wife did too; one of the guys who goes to the crime scene with Mulder and Scully is also missing teeth. The sheriff mentions the “craziness” in town and that people are seeing a monster out in the woods. Mulder perks right up! Monsters in the woods are his fave! (And my fave type of X-File too, let’s be real.)
Another dude dies via trap, and a hunting camera is spotted at the crime scene. When the footage is uploaded at the sheriff’s station, we see Skinner standing over the hole where the new victim lies. Mulder and Scully are quite bad at concealing that they know him, and the sheriff gets all uppity and mad that his new suspect is being given a very big benefit of the doubt. He puts out some calls as Mulder and Scully head off to continue without the sheriff’s help – they see the “monster” on the tape as well. Definitely looks like the “monster” in The Village. Remember that? Mulder also thinks it is a man in a mask and not an actual monster. Scully also speculates that Skinner might be suffering from delayed PTSD – not a bad thought.
Skinner is ahead of our duo and goes to the trailer in the woods belonging to John “Kitten” James, his platoon-mate from the opening credits. He finds no one home but the door unlocked. He looks around, pulling out a photo album with photos from their old Marine days. Another flashback to Vietnam, where Kitten is showing off his necklace of severed ears. Yep. Real nice. Skinner is cleaning his gun when an enemy comes into their camp holding a bunch of grenades – Skinner shoots him down straight away.
Haley Joel Osment comes into the house back in the present, annoyed at finding Skinner in his house – he is also playing John’s son, Davey. Obviously, Skinner mistakes him for his father. Davey is pretty pissed with Skinner because Skinner sold his father out at a trial after the way. Clearly, the evil yellow gas really messed with John’s mind and he descended into paranoia and violence. Skinner tells Davey that he was ordered to lie under oath because the gas was a secret, and that he regrets it every day. Poor Skinner!
Davey leads Skinner outside to see his dad – who is hanging from a tree by the neck wearing his Marine uniform. Skinner is horrified and steps forward, falling into a trap Davey set and getting impaled on by a pointy stick through his lower left abdomen! Noooo!
Mulder and Scully are in the car, musing about Skinner’s loyalties and how they need to find him. They head to John and Davey’s trailer. Skinner is yelling for help from his hole but Davey puts on some music and pretends not to know anything when they question him. He does go on at length about the government poisoning American citizens via chem trails and fertilizer, saying they are turning people’s fear against them. Mulder sees the photo album and realizes Davey is lying.
They leave Davey to his trailer, but Mulder tells Scully to get to where she can call for backup and he hops out of the car, heading back into the woods. What the…Skinner needs a MEDICAL DOCTOR. Scully should head back to save him! Mulder hears Skinner yelling and pulls the leaf tarp back. Turning, he sees the “monster” running toward him, but it’s just Davey in the creepy costume…who knocks Mulder into the hole too. I had to laugh at that. The boys are in trouble! You know what that means.
Davey dumps gasoline on Mulder and Skinner in the hole – Skinner has somehow managed to stand up despite having been impaled (that was probably the most unbelievable part of the evening). Just as Davey is going to shoot them or light them up or whatever, Scully takes him out from behind a tree. Yasss! She lowers the rope down and manages to pull Mulder up first. Sorry Skinner, Scully gotta rescue her bae first. Skinner tells them to find Davey, who is not dead, apparently, and has run off into the woods.
Flashlights and guns out, like the good ol’ days, Mulder and Scully pursue. Davey waits for them near another trap, this one overhead. Just as they’re about to trip the wire, Skinner pops outta nowhere and tackles Davey to the ground. He trips the wire and the spike-trap falls, impaling him. Dead!
Back at the trailer, Scully is tending to Skinner’s wound (he got IMPALED and she’s basically putting a BAND-AID on it…what) and they discuss Kersh’s words about Skinner’s career being stalled because of the X-Files. Skinner gives a lovely heartfelt speech about how he doesn’t need prestige in the Bureau and that Mulder and Scully inspired him, “taught him to shine a light into the darkest corners” with their ability to speak out against the conspiracy and such. He didn’t want to be “blindly loyal to faceless puppeteers pulling strings from the shadows” and if given the choice to do it differently, he wouldn’t. It was very sweet and Scully was clearly touched; Mulder had been very skeptical of Skinner but tells him “we’re with you” and that was really nice. Hugs to everyone!!!
Skinner heads out to deal with local law enforcement, and pauses, then pulls a tooth out of his mouth. Ah! I hope he’s ok. We also see a plane gassing up and then distributing the yellow gas over the crops of Mud Lick, Kentucky. So Davey was paranoid…but he wasn’t wrong.
I really loved this episode for the sheer fact that it was an X-File, but also a bit conspiracy-ish, with that shadow government nonsense and conducting secret tests, and we also got some character development for a fan favorite. Mitch Pileggi got some really nice moments to shine and the story made us love Skinner even more. He’s a good dude. Glad Skinner’s getting impaled didn’t kill him and brought everyone closer together. Group hug, bring it in.
After our longgggg three-week break, we will see an episode all about drones! Everyone’s been talking about this one, entitled “Rm9sbG93ZXJz,” which I am going to call Rm9 until there is a distinguishing characteristic of this episode besides drones and only about 20 lines of dialogue. I’m hoping there’s only 20 lines of dialogue because there is also some kissing, of course. Rm9 is the first X-Files episode in a legitimate 17 years written by women! Kristen Cloke Morgan and Shannon Hamblin will do the honors, and I’m interviewing them both right after the episode airs. So excited!
Until then, I’ll be rewatching Ghouli and Plus One and tweeting about figure skating. See you February 28!