Okay, so I was wrong about the unimportance of the vial. Redux II is a major improvement on part one, an episode that cuts the obnoxious voice-over, seems to have more of a drive and a purpose, and puts character before shiny action sequences. There are certain areas which stink, however, but the general quality of the hour makes it pretty fun. The episode is most successful in reshaping the series for the future, at least in regards to Mulder and Scully. Both experience major growth here, which should echo throughout the rest of the season.
Mulder gives up on his pursuit and his quest for revelations to protect Scully, while Scully herself shows huge amounts of evolution in both her offer to Mulder at the beginning of the episode, and in her questioning of her faith when talking to her mom. Far removed from the denial-prone science lady of the pilot, Scully is now willing to take the fall for the murder Mulder is connected to, determined to ensure her death isn't in vain. Of course, this proves unnecessary, but the idea says so much about her character at this point.
Another moment I loved was Bill's confrontation with Mulder. This is a man who, at the time, is about to lose his second sister to Mulder's cause, and you can entirely understand his anger. Mulder has always been guilty of putting his own pursuit above the lives and safety of others, and this was a wake-up call to him. While the truth behind Scully's recovery is annoyingly vague, it's the messages created via the episode that make the hour so strong. The warmth and chemistry between Mulder and Scully is truly palpable here.
The rest of Redux II is a little 'off'. The revelation that Blevins is the mole is almost embarrassingly annoying, as if Chris Carter felt like he needed some shocking 'reveal' and rested it on the shoulders of one of the most perfunctory characters imaginable. So it falls to a guy we haven't seen since the pilot to be the big bad. It's ridiculously lazy. At the same time, Samantha's return (which I'm assuming is another fraud) feels out-of-place in the episode. She's there, then she goes again. Mulder is already consumed with a half dozen other subplots that he doesn't even react to it afterwards. Eh.
Redux II has a bunch of illogical and plain weird plot twists, but the great character work at its heart saves the whole thing. It's at least a promising start to the season. B-
Guest stars Mitch Pileggi (A.D. Walter Skinner); William B. Davis (The Cigarette-Smoking Man); Charles Cioffi (Scott Blevins); Sheila Larken (Margaret Scully); Pat Skipper (Bill Scully, Jr.); Megan Leitch (Samantha Mulder); Tom Braidwood (Melvin Frohike); Dean Haglun (Ringo Langly); Bruce Harwood (John Fitzgerald Byers); John Finn (Michael Kritschgau)
Writer Chris Carter Director R.W. Goodwin