Thursday, November 25, 2010

The X-Files: Kaddish (4.15)

Kaddish is a slow-burner episode, one which takes a while to get going but once it does proves to be a surprising improvement on similarly plotted X-Files hours. We're pretty used to both minority group exploration and revenge tales on this show, and both types have been done with varying success in the past. Kaddish goes a little deeper than similar hours, with an interesting script that is by turns horror movie, cultural expose and love story.

The ending is one of the strongest in a while. It's pretty heartbreaking when we discover that Ariel had brought back her husband so they can spend their wedding day together, and the scene where she enables him to turn to ash is undeniably moving. The twist comes out of left-field, not only in terms of character, but also as it completely changes the episode as a whole. What we assumed was a simple revenge tale suddenly becomes something far more tragic and something surprisingly romantic. It's a brave choice.

The racism depicted here is a little on-the-nose, but still powerful. The owner of the printing press is depicted as the worst kind of coward, somebody who sends his redneck acquaintances to do his dirty work while he stays behind doors spinning racial rhetoric and printing baseless propaganda. Ugh. I know it's hard to not make crazy racists so appalling, but the actors cast really were repulsive. They captured it perfectly.

No mention is made of Scully's cancer, which is a little frustrating (a similar thing happened right after her abduction in season two), but Kaddish is surprisingly decent everywhere else. It's not the most fast-paced of hours, but it features universally strong performances and a killer ending. B

Guest stars Justine Miceli (Ariel Weiss); David Groh (Jacob Weiss); David Wohl (Kenneth Ungar); Channon Roe (Derek Banks)
Writer Howard Gordon Director Kim Manners

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