Sunday, February 19, 2012

The X-Files: En Ami (7.15)

There's a remarkable simplicity to this story, even if it concerns mythological elements that became tired a long time ago. En Ami is a lengthy tête-à-tête between two characters, an elaborate ruse orchestrated by the Cigarette-Smoking Man in order to get hold of answers that are important to him. Scully is initially distrusting, but gradually comes around to seeing the human behind the smoker. In the end, Scully believes that she's been betrayed again, but the journey getting there and the ambiguity of the ending are both extremely perceptive.

William B. Davis takes the reigns here, scripting an hour that is essentially one long seduction. The sexual longing that the CSM exhibits over Scully is arguably a little forced, but that also could fold into the 'game' that he's playing. With that in mind, there's an enjoyable sexual undercurrent to a lot of the hour, from Scully's anger at being drugged and waking up in a bed somewhere, to the CSM purchasing her that slinky black dress and taking her to dinner. Plus the gratuitious cleavage shot. Heh.

It's understandable that Davis would want to give his character additional layers, and that riverside coda at the end feeds into the idea that the CSM, deep down, is a man trying to do the right thing. There's been corruption and murder along the way, but in the end he knows what is right and wrong for humanity. With all that comes the argument that En Ami works more as a vanity piece than anything else, but the structure is so strong and the performances so believable that you can kind of excuse some of the weaker elements of the story.

This has always been one of my favorites, a suspense thriller with a subtle glint of erotica every once in a while. It's very self-contained as an episode, finding new areas to explore within arguably stale story arcs, and that's something worth praising. A

Guest stars William B. Davis (The Cigarette-Smoking Man); Mitch Pileggi (Walter Skinner); Michael Shamus Wiles (The Black-Haired Man); Louise Latham (Marjorie Butters); Tom Braidwood (Melvin Frohike); Dean Haglund (Ringo Langly); Bruce Harwood (John Fitzgerald Byers)
Writer William B. Davis Director Rob Bowman

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