Last season's Bad Blood showcased the vast differences between Mulder and Scully, the former increasingly frustrated with his partner's lack of interest and diminishing investment in pursuing 'the truth', while the latter having only grown tired of Mulder's relentless pursuit of evidence she knew he'd never find. It makes sense that, after a season of sweeping change that has thrown them closer than ever before, an episode exploring their respective psyches reveals how reliant they've become on one another, and that they've both drawn from each other's unique perspectives in order to become better agents.
Field Trip works on a variety of levels, but it was the growing similarity between Mulder and Scully that made me squee with delight. In Scully's mind, she immediately recognizes that something has happened, and begins to pursue the truth with the same reckless abandon that Mulder does every week. When even the Lone Gunmen buy into a contrived 'explanation' for Mulder's demise, it's only Scully that raises her head and declares that something is amiss. At the same time, it's Mulder taking on Scully's characteristics that break them out of their final 'trip', relying on scientific evidence to prove that they couldn't have possibly crawled out of the dirt themselves.
I loved the disorientation sparked via the script, scenes unfolding in such a way that we as an audience are almost begging for some confirmation that what we're seeing isn't real. Surely Scully can't just discover aliens like that? Surely it's not so easy? But even after we see both 'trips', there's that insanely awesome last twist in Skinner's office, which has to rank up there among the best sucker-punches I've seen in genre TV. This is The X-Files firing on all cylinders.
A couple of episodes back saw Chris Carter experimenting with the show dynamics and ending up with Milagro, an ambitious but ultimately flawed hour. Field Trip experiments with the series but within the universe of The X-Files as we know it already, creating something that's as daring and awesome as it is affecting. A real series classic. A+
Guest stars Mitch Pileggi (Walter Skinner); Robyn Lively (Angela Schiff); David Denman (Wallace Schiff); Jim Beaver (Coroner); Tom Braidwood (Melvin Frohike); Dean Haglund (Ringo Langly); Bruce Harwood (John Fitzgerald Byers)
Teleplay Vince Gilligan, John Shiban Story Frank Spotnitz Director Kim Manners