A necessary episode, but one that travels down predictable roads. Mulder and Doggett's relationship has quickly devolved into a macho pissing contest, barking demands at each other and undermining each other's vastly different methods of investigation. Unfortunately, there's little of the deeper shading to this tension. While recent episodes have tread similar ground, they at least rooted their animosity in some kind of fear or personal trauma, here they're like mismatched agents in a buddy cop movie.
Furthering that feeling, Vienen's ending turns into this elaborate Die Hard pastiche, with menacing bad guys appearing out of every corner and a enormous leap-from-a-fiery-oil-rig closer. It's a strange development, alienating a lot of the truth in Mulder and Doggett's respective anguish.
The middle portion of the episode is sort of entertaining, but I don't understand the reasoning for bringing back the black oil... especially since we haven't seen it since the movie. Steven Maeda struggles to do anything fresh or interesting with it here, either. It just seems like a vacuous decision, presumably made for enticing TV promos rather than something that makes sense for the show at this point.
Then again, maybe the presence of the black oil was irrelevant? This is a bridge episode, designed to get Mulder and Doggett from point A to point B and I guess it does that pretty successfully, especially once the two of them finally get off the damn rig and Mulder begins to appreciate what Doggett brings to the X-Files. It sure is a long road to go down before that neat conclusion, though. C-
Guest stars Mitch Pileggi (Walter Skinner); Miguel Sandoval (Martin Ortega); Casey Biggs (Saksa); Gregory Norman Cruz (Diego Garza); James Pickens, Jr. (Alvin Kersh); M.C. Gainey (Bo Taylor); Lee Reherman (Yuri Volkoff)
Writer Steven Maeda Director Rod Hardy