The X-Files: One Son

Case: Alien colonization, people! And it's all going to hell.

Destination: Washington D.C. and the D.C. adjacent Fort Marlene and El Rico AFBs, New York City

“Mulder, this stinks, and not just because I think that woman is a… well, I think you know what I think that woman is.”

No, actually, you hide your feelings very well. While 'One Son' is often a tedious, exposition-heavy, not that interesting, I-get-in-my-own-way conclusion to its partner, 'Two Fathers', there are some memorable things here happening to The X-Files that work, primarily because they benefit from the amount of time an XF fan has committed to the show.

I give the show a lot of credit though. Credit for trying to explain things and move the series forward from here. Credit for repeatedly dancing with complex themes within those about family, a patriarchal society, fighting for what you believe, interpersonal relationships and alienation. Sometimes there is a meta aspect to this show that deserves its own praise. An episode that deals with a patriarchy winding down that comes off sometimes as monotonous, blowhard-y and insensible? YES. EXACTLY! Does this mean these two episodes work? No. But it's not that they absolutely don't work, either. And they really did try.

More on the interpersonal relationship themes, though, for a long time I loathed Diana Fowley. We're supposed to. But many re-watchings later, I see that she provides an insight into Mulder (and to a lesser degree, Scully) that just isn't present most of the time. Our heroes are very insulated for most of their comings and goings in the series. This works very well, of course, but occasionally to have that privacy interrupted provides wisdom into their individual personalities, and ultimately their growth. I'd argue that there were others that challenged the dynamic in one way or another before Fowley including Clyde Bruckman. Back to Fowley though, her reflection of Mulder is a softer, more vulnerable one. She might be the person who most challenges his 'Trust No One', in fact, and on a molecular level. Their history represents, to us, a more idealistic Mulder. (Not to mention a Mulder that was able to have a seemingly productive longterm relationship with another person!) Finally, I've always resented the idea that Fowley is there to make Scully jealous. First of all, that's terrible writing! Second, isn't Scully written more deeply than that? I see her as protective of Mulder and rightly suspicious of Diana.


As for family values, well, those play out in multiple ways in this two-parter, as well, mostly within the Spender family who, different than the Mulders, are (were?) all still alive and able to symbolize the manifestation of the road to hell being paved with good intentions and the like. CSM and Jeffrey have the strongest arc here, the writers gave them more agency than poor Cassandra, and their stories sometimes run parallel in a poetic way while other times are at odds with the other -- how to go forward and what kind of man they are willing to be, being the two most interesting. By all accounts, CSM was able to shoot his son but not his son's mother. And both choices were made under wildly different circumstances. And Jeffrey dies a tragic hero.

In the end, though, there really is only one son. And he's in charge of the X-Files again.

The Outstanding Makeup Emmy was in part due to the reverse aging work done here, I suspect!

Other Thoughts -- The Playful Winks to the Audience In The Midst Of Lots Of Serious Seriousness Edition

*Scully's attitude in the first act -- A+++

*Kudos to Nicholas Lea, the only only actor who, consistently, has the tone right for the mythology eps. He mixes campy with dramatic successfully every damn time. (The hiss he says Spender's name with says it all. "Jeffrey...")

*Diana's apartment: I didn't think it was possible that a 'more Pottery Barn than Scully's apartment' note could manifest into being.

*Mulder's outfit at Fort Marlene. I couldn't even stay with the scene, on some level.

*Frohike unlocking his door to let Mulder in.

*At some point Marita slinking around the hospital became a bit comical. (Perhaps the third time she showed up.)

*The wig on the older gentleman as he infiltrates the cryogenic room.

*Mulder's reaction to Fowley when Scully storms off. Sort of like, 'Sorry, but isn't she actually great?!'

*Kersh is sympathetic and even kind for a moment there in the fourth act!

*"Grey is the new black." Haha because aliens.

Doesn't seem overly gratuitous yet...

...until the camera drifts over here! 

I think this is the same wardrobe from Invasion of the Body Snatchers even!

Quotes

Kersh: "You have answers now? Why didn't I hear about those answers before?"
Mulder: "I've had answers for years."

Spender: "I know more than enough about your past -- enough to hate you."

Final Analysis: A mixed bag for a conclusion of five seasons, a movie and a lot of mythology. On one hand, visually, it works. But don't look too closely because the narrative unraveled a long time ago. Some memorable Mulder and Scully moments, though!

3 comments:

Carey said...

I have to say that I loved this two parter. I personally felt a lot of resolution but I must admit that I was perhaps looking for resolution in a different place. For me I think this is a real moment of legitimacy for Mulder. And the destruction of the destruction of the syndicate (I hope that's not a spoiler for anyone) is a genuinely exciting moment that is, in hindsight, a moment that really alters the course of the mythology. I do agree that it's not perfect. Fowley (for me) is an irritating cipher but she will eventually gain some interesting mileage but she hasn't quite achieved it yet.

Favourite part of the episode is courtesy of Scully: "Sir...I wouldn't bet against him"

And onwards into phase two we go! Love these Files reviews guys and thanks so much for reliving it for all our pleasure. Only wish they were more frequent! :)

Heather said...

Carey,
I always love to hear when people are enjoying a show. Thanks for commenting. You're right that Mulder is the protagonist here and he does have to man up! It's his two-parter to arc in. I'm ecstatic that you are reliving this exceptional show with the Doux XF reviewers. It makes this process a gazillion times more awesome -- and it's already really fun! Haha.

ChrisB said...

Heather -- you are much more sympathetic towards these two episodes than I. These represent, for me, the end of my caring about the mythology. It was all just a bit too much, too silly, and too OTT for me.

But, kudos to you and your review is spectacular. As always.