It stopped being a fresh complaint around five seasons ago, but the total lack of direction in The X-Files' longer story arcs mortally wounded this show. In Provenance, we once again see the show pulling from long-dropped continuity, in this case the spaceship rubbings Scully made back at the start of season seven, and it entirely feels like the show randomly throwing darts at something from the past and deciding to run with it again. My memory is always hazy with The X-Files, but wasn't that story just dropped without question years ago? It's just too hacky, the work of people with absolutely zero forward thinking.
Provenance is absolutely a "part one" episode of a two-parter, with enough vagueness and intrigue to fill forty minutes but little above surface-level mystery. It's mostly concerned with Scully's baby, who the writers are making this quasi-Jesus figure for a bunch of alien cultists. Eh. Not only does this story fluctuate wildly whenever it's brought up, but it's disheartening to continue to see Scully written as this shrieky mother determined to drop anything for her sinister alien baby. Gillian seems off, too, barking at everybody and demanding the audience hit the mute button whenever she's confronted with somebody who may know something important.
Elsewhere, the characterization flails around, too. I have no idea why Skinner has adopted a personality transplant after his complete turnaround in allegiances cemented at the very beginning of season eight; and I'm still mystified by this obsession with Mulder. If he's not played by a body double and hidden in the shadows, it's hinted that he's been secretly dead for a while. God, show. Either get David Duchovny back to add some tangibility to these empty stories, or don't use Mulder as an emotion crutch whenever they want to raise the stakes in some way. D+
Guest stars James Pickens, Jr. (Alvin Kersh); Cary Elwes (Brad Follmer); Bruce Harwood (John Fitzgerald Byers); Tom Braidwood (Melvin Frohike); Dean Haglund (Ringo Langly); Sheila Larken (Margaret Scully); Neal McDonough (Robert Comer); Denis Forest (Zeke Josepho); McNally Sagal (Overcoat Woman); James Parks (Terry Sullivan); Alan Dale (Toothpick Man)
Writers Chris Carter, Frank Spotnitz Director Kim Manners