Monday, March 21, 2011

The X-Files: Kitsunegari (5.8)

Sequels are always problematic, and always pretty similar. They take the most successful elements from the original source material; replicate them enough to be consistent, while introducing shiny new elements which usually rely a little on contrivance. A lot of the time, a sequel can feel tiresomely familiar, but other times that feeling of 'we've seen this before' is exploited to positive effect, creating something that is as enjoyable as the original, but intriguing enough to feel like a distinct second half of the same story, instead of merely being tagged-on and unnecessary. It's funny that even with some of those standard 'sequel contrivances', such as a sexy new character and an 'evil twin' plot twist, Kitsunegari is so ridiculously awesome.

Pusher was such a landmark episode not only because of its effectively sinister villain with an ability that was as believable as it was fantastical, but also because it utilized the relationship between Mulder and Scully to such great effect, having them turn on each other through the use of gentle persuasion. Kitsunegari twists that element, with Mulder and Scully turning on each other because one of them thinks that the other has been compromised, not because they actually were. With this in mind, we have an array of juicy moments where we as an audience are left guessing as to what is happening.

The glee the show had in depicting various mind-distortions back in Pusher is once again replicated here, with great moments such as the blue-paint suicide, and that stunning scene where the physical therapist casually puts her hand into an electrical socket. Yikes. Similarly stunning is that wonderful reveal shot of Linda turning into Scully after a brief pan of the camera. I love that kind of thing.

Vince Gilligan has a way of making The X-Files both character-driven as well as fun. While Chris Carter is frequently bogged down by pretension and conspiracy, Gilligan is working overtime to deliver these kick-ass hours that rely just as much on human drama (the Mulder/Scully tension, Linda's murder of Modell) as they do on cool action sequences that just make you want to pump your fist in the air. A

Guest stars Mitch Pileggi (A.D. Walter Skinner); Diana Scarwid (Linda Bowman); Colleen Winton (Physical Therapist); Robert Wisden (Robert Patrick Modell)
Writers Vince Gilligan, Tim Minear Director Daniel Sackheim

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