The X-Files: Three of a Kind

Case: The Lone Gunmen infiltrate a Department of Defense convention in hopes to track down the love of Byers' life, Susanne Modeski.

Destination: Las Vegas, Nevada

"Well, I just can't decide who lights my fire."

'Three of a Kind' is a lovely little dalliance here at the near-end of the sixth season. The Lone Gunmen continue to unfold into three unique personalities, uniquely qualified to both intersect with Mulder and Scully, as well as to stand on their own for an hour. 'Three of a Kind' is a quasi-sequel to 'The Unusual Suspects'. Though a decade of time has lapsed between the events of these two moments in the lives of the Lone Gunmen, the person driving the plot of their former solo outing continues to drive the story here -- and by person, I mean woman, and by woman, I mean Susanne Modeski. The lovely, brilliant and troubled Susanne Modeski who famously told the three that they can never be paranoid enough. (One of my favorite as well as oft-used lines in my own life from this series.) All are reunited in a rare filmed-on-location The X-Files excursion to Las Vegas. But this time, they're joined by the "scrumptious Agent Scully."


This is probably a good time to mention that 'Three of a Kind' is written by Vince Gilligan, with an assist by John Shiban. Gilligan went on to showrun The Lone Gunmen spin-off which lasted a half season but not because it wasn't extremely well-executed. It just didn't have the viewership. (In hindsight, Gilligan recovered from the failure (haha and how) and wasn't even turned off of spin-offs -- incredible!) Between this episode and its casual predecessor, Gilligan added a flavor to the trio that was really all his own because he's old school cool and the Gunmen benefited heavily from it. One of his favorite films of all time is The Conversation and the homage to it is all over the place in 'Three of a Kind'. It's only the XF mind of Gilligan that would come up with that reveal, in the first five minutes, that Langly is talking to Byers in an ear device while Byers is penetrating a poker game.


It's a beautiful thing the way the story shakes out from beginning to end, though. John Fitzgerald Byers, as the romantic lead here, works wonderfully. The intrigue of the Defense world, the truth about Timmy and Jimmy (RIP) and Susanne's story all make for a terrific narrative that never gets snagged on anything. The tone is so perfectly Gilligan, too. (The only writer that could rival the level of awesomeness of Darin Morgan's tone, I submit!) He is the master of humor plus pathos with a dash of macabre. (Who else would dare to imprint the image on us of a bathtub of liquid human falling through a ceiling?) Anyway, is there another episode that Agent Dana Scully gets to be as giggly, adorable and hilarious, well-within the confines of the plot?


'Three of a Kind' is that extra unneeded episode that is pure bliss. It doesn't bear any weight on the show or its characters in the long run and that only adds to its charm.

Other Thoughts

*Love the return of Morris Fletcher. (Such a Gilligan move, too. Plus Michael McKean!)


*Gillian Anderson was just perfect. This episode would not be regarded the same way without her presence.


*Along with a wicked great story, a sublime tone and loads of comedy, the episode managed some incredible direction, too. Hooray, Bryan Spicer.


*Proof that the famous Breaking Bad POV shots originated (at least at one point) with Gilligan's writing, on the page, on The X-Files.


Quotes

Defense contractor: "Same ole black ops crapola. You know what it's like."

Langly: "Systems tests, error rates ... nothing. Stall 'em. And fold!"

Jimmy: "You just don't get it, man. This says that I'm on to them. This says that I comprehend the military industrial power dynamic. That's what this whole thing is about; wetworks, political assassination. That's their theme for this year."

Timmy: "Every good plan needs a patsy."

Scully: "Where's Agent Mulder, I've been trying to call him."
Langly: "He's, uh, I think that his phone's messed up."

Langly: "What if 'they' did something to him? You know, to make him pancake himself?"
Scully: "Who's 'they'?"
Langly: "You know, 'them'."

Langly: "Lord Manhammer will be in attendance."

Frohike: "I don't understand -- why does the government want to turn Scully into a bimbo?"

Timmy: "Hi, cutie."

Final Analysis: Fun, tight and kicky episode with a compelling, heartfelt story allowing the Lone Gunmen to shine, especially one of them. Gilligan scores again.

3 comments:

Mallena said...

Byers was the member of The Lone Gunmen that would have had the most normal life if he had never met the other two and that is kind of sad. Gillian A was so serious when this show started when she had to appear in public like a talk or award show. She would make this weird tight pout with her mouth and look scared to death. Gradually she started relaxing and then she would show her softer, giggly side. I like her performance in this one because you can see more than just serious Scully and Gillian.

Heather said...

Mallena, I agree with both points. Looking back, GA was so new at everything when the show first started! She is now, reliably, one of the most delightful interviewees I can imagine.

ChrisB said...

This is such a fun episode, I agree with you completely that Gilligan scores again. Masterful storyteller.