Monday, April 25, 2011

The X-Files: Patient X (5.13)

I think scheduling impacted my opinion of this episode. Mulder is written as having pretty much given up on his conspiracy-leaden theories about elaborate government cover-ups, his moral beaten down by the events of the Redux two-parter. He's suddenly a man without a mission, brooding around the place while a desperate Scully tries to convince him to take extreme possibilities seriously once again. It's an effective plot twist, David Duchovny excellently portraying a broken man, and a neat reversal of the standard 'roles' Mulder and Scully inhabit. But, the problem lies with the fact that Patient X comes twelve episodes after the season premiere, Mulder for the first time exhibiting the same belief system he assumed in Redux. Such a sudden change in personality feels extremely jarring, like this is a different show that has been off the air for twelve weeks.

Away from that particular complaint, Patient X is another assured and confident conspiracy episode. The various stories set in motion are played well, in particular Scully's interaction with fellow abductee Cassandra Spender. I loved how Gillian played her identification with her, mixed with that familiar feeling that she shouldn't be buying into this stuff. Equally intriguing was the idea of all the abductees feeling that they're being called together somewhere.

I've never been a huge fan of Krycek, but his presence here was welcome. His scenes were surprisingly brutal, with folks getting their eyes and mouths sewed shut, oil leaking out of people. Yikes. I still haven't been sold on Marita Covarrubias, but I like the idea of a character like her's, somebody so ruthless she's willing to do anything (or do anyone) to get what she wants.

I was terrified when the episode opened up with yet another Chris Carter monologue of pretensions, but my fears were quickly erased by an engaging hour which manages to pull together a dozen abandoned plot strands and resurrect them all with few errors. I'm a little lost at times, but in general the hour works. The Mulder characterization is the only sore point, but I guess if it's a means to an end I'll excuse it. B

Guest stars Nicholas Lea (Alex Krycek); Veronica Cartwright (Cassandra Spender); Laurie Holden (Marita Covarrubias); Brian Thompson (Alien Bounty Hunter); Jim Jansen (Dr. Heitz Werber); John Neville (The Well-Manicured Man); Chris Owens (Jeffrey Spender)
Writers Chris Carter, Frank Spotnitz Director Kim Manners

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