The X-Files: Hellbound

Case: Murder victims of a cyclical serial killer emerge once again.

Destination: Novi, VA.

Reyes relives her past, and by past I mean past lives (because The X-Files) in this lyrical addition to the ninth season.

I glanced down at my notes after my re-watch and had four things written down. They shall become the headers for each paragraph henceforth.

Reyes has two Scullys: Lest anyone look back at previous seasons and bemoan the skepticism that Mulder used to face, Reyes has Doggett and Scully giving her that concerned tilt of the head. In 'Hellbound,' she must explain her intuition about reincarnation to two stoic walls, whom I'll kindly refer to as incredulous and wary. (You can guess who is who.) What's more, her own involvement in this crime story actually makes more sense than anything else we see based on how fluidly she's able to solve the thing. But, at every turn she must explain, re-explain, breakdown, articulate and convince incredulous and wary that she's having one giant dej√° vu. There are shades of 'Tooms' and 'The Field Where I Died' in 'Hellbound.' In fact, 'history repeats itself' is a long-running theme in this series (too many episodes to cite them all), as is how these characters see themselves fitting into longer patterns of human history. Here, Reyes is so facile at accepting grooves that formed for her a hundred years ago that you can't help but think she's living a fuller, more interesting life than most. And just like Mulder, she must walk around, fairly lonely, with this extra understanding of the human experience.

Scully might be Reyes' one in five billion: Contrary to the chemistry between Doggett and Reyes, which we'll get to in a moment, I think Scully comes through here as Reyes' extraordinary support system. It's she who leaps into files that should never have even crossed her desk, to connect actual autopsies from one generation to another then actually orders bodies be exhumed to provide forensic evidence. And it's eventually Scully who does the death certificate/birthdate math that goes a long way to back up the reincarnation theory. There are a lot of non-verbal interactions between Scully and Reyes, it's like Scully knows but she can't really admit it fully. It's why I've characterized her as wary.

What in the lord is happening with Reyes and Doggett at 2am in separate rooms close enough to hear the other?: I watched this episode two times before I wrote this review. Okay, the first time I was on my phone 'doing things' while mostly paying attention and when the scene came on where Monica is in her negligee and John is in his pjs, I was like WHAAA?? You guys, I was positive I'd missed something, but confident I would catch it the second time around. You guys, there was nothing in this episode to explain why these two were scantily clad in adjacent rooms, in the middle of the night, much less where in the world they are in these separate but adjoining rooms and, most importantly, what this level of comfortableness and intimacy is a sign of, if anything? It took seven seasons to have something even remotely as interesting as this happen to Mulder and Scully. And yes, this is the kind of thing I find myself caring about at this juncture.

Gillian Anderson is drool-worthy gorgeous in this episode. As little as she was physically in 'Hellbound,' wow, did Scully just glow right through the screen. After the second watch, I concluded that it was the intersection of a perfect hair cut and sublime hair color. And yes, this is the kind of thing I find myself caring about at this juncture.

'Hellbound' and 'John Doe' might be favorite two episodes of season nine. Sadly, after 'John Doe,' right before 'Hellbound' aired, the show was canceled on FOX. That gives this episode a different lens to look through when considering it. Knowing what we do now, the show has had a kind of reincarnation. And, for better and worse, patterns of the past are repeated.

Other Thoughts

* Don Swayze.

* I love the character of Dr. Holland (and actress who plays her, Katy Boyer).

* Ugh, but the skinning was quite graphic.

* I didn't focus on the plot as I was way more concerned with Anderson's hair and Reyes' negligee. However, to me, the broad strokes of the plot were not great, nor worth spending time on, particularly the real killer.

* One more mention for 'The Field Where I Died' which, like 'Hellbound,' smartly chooses the reincarnation trope to graph meaning onto one's life. The former did it with more nuance but 'Hellbound' has a few moments of real rhapsody. I.E. When the fact that Monica knows what shape a body is in under a tarp is transmitted to John.

Quotes

Scully: "Well, maybe in this life you succeed."

Final Analysis: Definitely one of the shining stars in this ninth season.

2 comments:

drnanamom said...

Great review Heather and as always you tie it nicely to what was happening with the show. I enjoyed this one as well.

Mallena said...

Reyes is so interesting in this one. It's a little far-fetched to think that she happened to be that closely connected with the case, but it's still fascinating, nonetheless. I love watching Monica's dawning understanding of the circumstances. I think that Annabeth's biggest contribution to The X-Files is bringing back a sense of wonder.