Destination: St. Paul, Minnesota
'Orison' is the sequel to the very memorably creepy and upsetting 'Irresistible', from Season 2. While I appreciate the effort, it's a convoluted and ultimately poorly executed attempt to bring back Donnie Pfaster. One good thing though, there's a lot of tenderness between Mulder and Scully.
It's hard to talk about this episode without reflecting on its predecessor, though. 'Irresistible', while not without its problems, challenged itself to dramatize both the aftermath of trauma and how we don't ever see the world quite the same, as well as the idea that a life or death experience has inherent effect on our own fragile mortality. Hey, what better way for The X-Files to dramatize that than with Mulder and Scully interfacing with a death fetishist. But that was then, and many many things have evolved in them, through them and with the two of them, especially. In 'Irresistible', Scully was terrified to tell Mulder she couldn't handle this (or any) case so close to her own traumatic abduction. Whereas now, she's still stubbornly attached herself to the case, even though it feels all kinds of bad. Wait a minute, maybe things don't change. Oh shite.
But, all kidding aside, Agents Dana Scully and Fox Mulder have grown, and have done so by honestly processing as much as they're able to, in respect to their own lives, humanity, and the like, over five seasons. Neither deserves such a clumsily-assembled reminder of how far they've come. And while I adore Scott Wilson and think he genuinely did the best he could with the material, his character doesn't work in this context. There are too many elements to list that took 'a bridge too far' to another level, and then to about 17 levels beyond that. If they had insisted on bringing back Donnie, do it without the retread of old territory. (We got it! Sex workers and shape-shifting.) Or, without the addition of new story that didn't make sense because its lack of lucidity, direction and purpose. Honestly, I think a sequel would have been better served with a good old-fashioned bottle episode, with three of the show's four acts, in Scully's apartment -- I mean, if she really was the one that got away.
As always, this show, even at a less-than-flattering angle, isn't without merit. Rob Bowman was at the top of his game by the seventh season and there are some extremely effective, masterful shots in 'Orison'. Bowman, Anderson and Duchovny ground this episode with a good deal of professionalism, where the story is lacking.
Three quarters the way into the fourth act, the slo-mo and shot sequence is wonderfully full of drama and suspense. It's truly startling to, not only, watch Scully shoot someone, but to watch it through Mulder's eyes. To me, it's this act where the episode does something very very good, because the stakes are finally properly high. And it all begins with what is essentially Mulder's 'Folie A Deux' moment, when he hears the song Scully has been hearing all episode, in his own apartment, and takes it as a sign, now for him, that she's in trouble. Ultimately, if there were more of an allusion to Scully's trauma, her evolution despite and because of it, this episode would have succeeded where it failed. But, it does remind us, however subconsciously, of a remarkably iconic image. And in its recreation, this time, there's a wholly different outcome.
So to that, glory, amen.
Other Thoughts (the visuals edition)
* My god, it's taken seven seasons to see them in bed.
*Albeit separately, I'll take it nonetheless.
*We got it, we got it! Candles.
*Let's drool over the sequence of slo-mo shots.
*I cannot believe that Scully's apt has gotten more Pottery Barn than before.
*And finally, time to gaze at Season Seven Mulder and Scully.
Mulder: "When God spoke to you, Reverend, did He happen to mention where Donnie was headed?"
Mulder: "Don't look any further, Scully." (Glory. Amen.)
Final Analysis: God, you want this one to work, as an X-Phile. And the fact that it doesn't is frustrating and a bit disheartening. But, all is not lost -- the direction and acting are quite good in moments.