Mulder references it himself, but this is essentially Speed inside a man. It's also very cool. Vince Gilligan is always reliable for high-concept standalone episodes, and from the atypical teaser sequence with its 'live breaking story' opener you're aware that you're watching an episode that's a little off the beaten track.
Like so many of Gilligan's episodes, the wacky concept only survives via strong characterization, and Patrick Crump is a memorable guest character. He's endearing and admirable, and that's some feat considering the ignorance and racism he spews for portions of the episode. I liked his interaction with Mulder, from its chaotic start, its sympathetic middle, right through to that sucker punch of an ending where it's cleverly revealed that nobody could save Crump. Elsewhere, there's nothing more powerful than that horribly human scene where Scully stumbles across a terrified deaf woman in her home.
Following The Beginning, there's still the obvious element of story that Mulder and Scully are no longer working for the X-Files. They've been reduced to pitifully mundane cases, and I liked that Scully was noticeably pissed off at the end of the episode. Kersh is another intriguing character, and I'm enjoying James Pickens, Jr.'s intentionally (well, hopefully anyway) vacant performance. A
Guest stars Bryan Cranston (Patrick Crump); Michael O'Neill (Captain); James Pickens, Jr. (Alvin Kersh); Harry Danner (Doctor); Junior Brown (Farmer)
Writer Vince Gilligan Director Rob Bowman